Simplifying SNP discovery in the cotton genome

The term "single-nucleotide polymorphism" (SNP) refers to a single base change in DNA sequence between two individuals. SNPs are the most common type of genetic variation in plant and animal genomes and are, thus, an important resource to biologists. The...

Polar bears unlikely to thrive on land-based foods

A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries,...

Bacteria play an important role in the long term storage of carbon in the ocean

Algae and bacteria in the ocean have a great impact on the equilibrium between the drawdown and release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and therefore on the global climate. However, only using detailed chemical and microbiological methods enables investigation on the mechanisms driving the organic carbon cycle and predicting future climate.The ocean is a large reservoir of dissolved organic molecules, and many of these molecules are stable against microbial utilization for hundreds to thousands of years. They contain a similar...

Oxygen-depleted toxic oceans had key role in mass extinction over 200 million years ago

Life of the Triassic met a choking end in a runaway greenhouse climate, heating the seas into warm stagnation. The greenhouse was caused by CO2 released by massive outpourings of basalt from fissure eruptions associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. The resulting boom in marine microbes consumed oxygen and released poisonous hydrogen sulfide into water and air, creating "dead zones" above and below, worldwide. Hydrogen sulfide poisoning is detected by molecular fossils (biomarkers), depicted in lenses.Changes in the biochemical balance of the ocean were a crucial factor in the end-Triassic mass extinction, during which half of all plant, animal and marine life on Earth perished,...

Tiny songbird discovered to migrate non-stop, 1,500 miles over the Atlantic

Blackpoll warbler fitted with a miniaturized light-sensing geolocator on its back that enabled researchers to track their exact migration routes from eastern Canada and New England south toward wintering grounds.For more than 50 years, scientists had tantalizing clues suggesting that a tiny, boreal forest songbird known as the blackpoll warbler departs each fall from New England and eastern Canada...

Better method for forecasting hurricane season

The GOES-13 satellite captured this stunning visible image of Hurricane Irene at 8:32 a.m. EDT on Aug. 28, 2011, just 28 minutes before Irene's landfall in New York City. The image showed Irene's huge cloud cover blanketing New England, New York and over Toronto, Canada. Shadows in Irene's clouds indicate the bands of thunderstorms that surround now tropical storm Irene.A better method for predicting the number of hurricanes in an upcoming season has been developed by a team of University of Arizona atmospheric scientists.

How a deadly fungus evades the immune system

New research from the University of Toronto has scientists re-thinking how a lethal fungus grows and kills immune cells. The study hints at a new approach to therapy for Candida...

Skin tough

(Left) Collagen fibrils in the dermis of the skin are normally curvy and highly disordered, but (right) in response to a tear align themselves with the tension axis (arrow) to resist further damage.When weighing the pluses and minuses of your skin add this to the plus column: Your skin -- like that of all vertebrates -- is remarkably resistant to tearing. Now,...

200th anniversary of Tambora eruption a reminder of volcanic perils

The summit caldera of Tambora, which is about 6 kilometers wide and 7 kilometers long and more than 1 kilometer deep, was created by the 1815 eruption. Gray eruptive products form the top of the caldera wall (foreground) and appear to be 200-year-old pyroclastic flow or late surge deposits. On the floor of the caldera is an ephemeral lake (center) and a small cone from a post-1815 eruption (lower right of lake).The 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallaj√∂kull grounded thousands of air flights and spread ash over much of western Europe, yet it was puny compared to the eruption 200...

Astronomers discover likely precursors of galaxy clusters we see today

The Planck all-sky map at submillimeter wavelengths (545 GHz). The band running through the middle corresponds to dust in our Milky Way galaxy. The black dots indicate the location of the proto-cluster candidates identified by Planck and subsequently observed by Herschel. The inset images showcase some of the observations made by Herschel's SPIRE instrument; the contours represent the density of galaxies.By combining observations of the distant Universe made with ESA's Herschel and Planck space observatories, cosmologists have discovered what could be the precursors of the vast clusters of galaxies that...

Scientists link unexplained childhood paralysis to enterovirus D68

This is a three-dimensional image of enterovirus D68 (center) reconstructed from cryo-electron micrographs (background).A research team led by UC San Francisco scientists has found the genetic signature of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in half of California and Colorado children diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis...

Three of the newly described species, <i>Conus carlottae</i> (left column), <i>Conus garrisoni</i> (middle column), and <i>Conus bellacoensis </i>(right column) photographed under regular light (top row) and ultraviolet light (middle row). The brightly fluorescing regions revealed under ultraviolet light would have been darkly pigmented in life (bottom row).

New instrument dates old skeleton; 'Little Foot' 3.67 million years old

Purdue University professors Darryl Granger (left) and Marc Caffee stand in front of the gas-filled magnet detector in the Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory. The detector was used to date the Little Foot skeleton.A skeleton named Little Foot is among the oldest hominid skeletons ever dated at 3.67 million years old, according to an advanced dating method.

Widespread agricultural contaminant impacts fish reproductive behavior

A common growth-promoting hormone used worldwide in the cattle industry has been found to affect the sexual behaviors of fish at a very low concentration in waterways -- with potentially...

Mice sing like songbirds to woo mates

After smelling the urine of a female mouse, a male mouse starts to call to her using a complex string of utterances (depicted in the sonogram which shows frequency of sound over time). Researchers think that such songs give way to simpler tunes after the male is in the physical presence of the female.Male mice sing surprisingly complex songs to seduce females, sort of like songbirds, according to a new Duke study appearing April 1 in the Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience.

Using Twitter to probe political polarization

This map shows the political results of the 2013 Venezuelan local elections (Libertador, in red, for officialism; Chacao, Sucre, Baruta and El Hatillo in blue for the opposition). White represents unpopulated areas, yellow urbanized areas and pink the poorer neighborhoods.

The contour lines shown represent the density functions of the probability that a tweet associated with the officialism or the opposition had been posted by a geolocated user at a given position.We'd like to believe that our opinions are nuanced, balanced, high-minded, wise and above all, unique, but alas they are not -- or so says Twitter. Most often, those we...

How are ordinary consumers transforming the fashion business?

One of the most important shifts of the 21st century is the ability of consumers to participate in markets they love such as music and fashion. A new study in...

The 100 million year-old piggyback

<p>The new fossil is the only record of an adult female insect from the Mesozoic, an era that spanned roughly 180 million years. The Mesozoic era was the age of the reptiles and saw both the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, as well as the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea.
 
<p>The female ensign scale insect is preserved in a piece of amber retrieved from a mine in northern Myanmar (Burma). The specimen was trapped while carrying around 60 eggs and her first freshly hatched nymphs. The eggs and nymphs are encased in a wax-coated egg sac on the abdomen. This primitive form of brood care protects young nymphs from wet and dry conditions and from natural enemies until they have acquired their own thin covering of wax.Scientists have uncovered the earliest fossilised evidence of an insect caring for its young.

The rapid rise of human language

At some point, probably 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, humans began talking to one another in a uniquely complex form. It is easy to imagine this epochal change as cavemen...

Scientists discover elusive secret of how continents formed

Esteban Gazel, a geoscientist at Virginia Tech, collects samples of lava in a variety of locations, in this case Etna, Italy, to probe the chemical evolution of the planet.An international research team, led by a Virginia Tech geoscientist, has revealed information about how continents were generated on Earth more than 2.5 billion years ago -- and how those...

Biology in a twist -- deciphering the origins of cell behavior

Figure 1: This is a schematic showing Left-Right (L-R) asymmetry can develop by actin cytoskeleton (green) dynamics. Remarkably, the actin cytoskeleton always assembles into the anticlockwise orientation, but never achieves the clockwise "mirror" orientation. This internal organization allows the cell to distinguish left from right.Researchers at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) at the National University of Singapore have discovered that the inherent 'handedness' of molecular structures directs the behaviour of individual cells and confers them...

Pesticides in fruit and vegetables linked to semen quality

The first study to investigate the relationship between eating fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues and the quality of men's semen has shown a link with lower sperm counts and...