Popular Science articles about Biology & Nature

SyAMs recognize disease cells and bind with a specific protein on their surface. They also bind with a receptor on an immune cell.

DNA sheds light on why largest lemurs disappeared

Using DNA extracted from the remains of extinct giant lemurs like this sloth lemur (genus <i>Palaeopropithecus</i>), researchers aim to better understand why Madagascar's largest lemurs were wiped out, and what makes some lemur species more vulnerable to hunting and habitat loss today.Ancient DNA extracted from the bones and teeth of giant lemurs that lived thousands of years ago in Madagascar may help explain why the giant lemurs went extinct. It also...

Commensal bacteria were critical shapers of early human populations

Using mathematical modeling, researchers at New York and Vanderbilt universities have shown that commensal bacteria that cause problems later in life most likely played a key role in stabilizing early...

A beetle named Marco Polo

This image shows the new species, <I>Hycleus marcipoli</I>.A team of Chinese and Italian scientists has joined efforts to provide a key to the understudied phaleratus group of blister beetles. During their research the scientists have also discovered...

Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

A new study from MIT implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can...

Baby cells learn to communicate using the Lsd1 gene

Fruit fly ovarian follicle progenitor cells, with different colors marking a specific kind of activity (red) specific gene expression (green) and nuclear DNA (blue).We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young cells, only recently...

MBL imaging technique reveals that bacterial biofilms are associated with colon cancer

Bacteria forms a mixed biofilm on colon cancer tissue.Since the first "catalog" of the normal bacterial makeup of the human body was published in 2012, numerous connections between illness and disturbances in the human microbiota have been found....

New insights into the origins of agriculture could help shape the future of food

Agricultural decisions made by our ancestors more than 10,000 years ago could hold the key to food security in the future, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

Cells can use dynamic patterns to pluck signals from noise

Scientists have discovered a general principle for how cells could accurately transmit chemical signals despite high levels of noise in the system, they report in Science this week.

Ebola virus may replicate in an exotic way

This illustration depicts an exotic mechanism by which a family of viruses named NNS RNA viruses may replicate to make copies of themselves, according to a University of Utah study. The family includes a livestock virus named VSV as well as viruses responsible for Ebola, measles, rabies and a common respiratory virus, RSV. The mechanism may serve as a target for new drugs against Ebola in five to 10 years. The yellowish strand is a viral genetic blueprint made of RNA and covered by bead-like proteins. The orange, ball-shaped objects are enzymes called polymerases, which normally read and copy the RNA to make new virus particles.  That process can begin only when some polymerases attach to the correct end of the RNA and start reading it, which the two polymerases on the left are doing. The other polymerases (the four on the right side) are attached to the protein-covered RNA but slide along it until they collide with the polymerases that already are reading the RNA. Those collisions kick sliding polymerases loose (top center) so they can float to the proper end of the RNA and start reading it. Researchers hope future drugs can be developed to target this sliding mechanism as a new treatment for Ebola.University of Utah researchers ran biochemical analysis and computer simulations of a livestock virus to discover a likely and exotic mechanism to explain the replication of related viruses such as...

How birds get by without external ears

The figures  display the sound volumes displayed at the right ear for multiple sound positions -- for chicken, rook and duck, respectively.Unlike mammals, birds have no external ears. The outer ears of mammals play an important function in that they help the animal identify sounds coming from different elevations. But birds...

New Notre Dame paper offers novel insights into pathogen behavior

A new study by a team of researchers that includes University of Notre Dame scientists Joshua Shrout and Mark Alber provides new insights into the behavior of an important bacterial pathogen.

Syracuse biologist reveals how whales may 'sing' for their supper

Syracuse University Assistant Professor Susan Parks is shown.Humpback whales have a trick or two when it comes to finding a quick snack at the bottom of the ocean. But how they pinpoint that meal at night, with...

Discovery aims to fight destructive bee disease

University of Guelph researchers hope their new discovery will help combat a disease killing honeybee populations around the world.

New technology directly reprograms skin fibroblasts for a new role

Dermal fibroblasts are directly reprogrammed to pigmented melanocytes by three transcription factors (SOX10, MITF and PAX3).As the main component of connective tissue in the body, fibroblasts are the most common type of cell. Taking advantage of that ready availability, scientists from the Perelman School of...

Linguistic methods uncover sophisticated meanings, monkey dialects

The same species of monkeys located in separate geographic regions use their alarm calls differently to warn of approaching predators, a linguistic analysis by a team of scientists reveals. The...

University of Toronto cell biologists discover on-off switch for key stem cell gene

These are images of mouse embryonic stem cells which grow in a round colony of cells (A) and express Sox2 (B), shown in red.  Sox2 control region-deleted cells have lost the typical appearance of embryonic stem cells (C) and do not express Sox2 (D).  The DNA is shown in blue in B and D.Consider the relationship between an air traffic controller and a pilot. The pilot gets the passengers to their destination, but the air traffic controller decides when the plane can take...

A new trout species described from the Alakır Stream in Antalya, Turkey

This image shows the new trout species <i>Salmo kottelati</i>.A group of researchers from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University, Faculty of Fisheries in Turkey discovered a new trout species. The newly described species Salmo kottelati, belongs to the Salmonidae family,...

Human DNA shows traces of 40 million-year battle for survival between primate and pathogen

When bacteria that cause infectious diseases invade, the host starves the bacteria by hiding circulating iron, an essential nutrient it needs for survival, within the folds of a protein called transferrin. LEFT - When the bacterial protein, TbpA, grasps hold of the primate protein, transferrin, it can steal transferrin's iron. CENTER - Over evolutionary time, transferrin has evolved mutations (green circles, green arrow points to most recent mutation) that allow transferrin to evade TbpA. RIGHT - TbpA, in turn, has evolved mutations (blue circles, blue arrows points to most recent mutation) that again enable it to grasp hold of transferrin and steal it's iron. The evolutionary arms race has lasted 40 million years, highlighting the importance of the primate defense mechanism, called nutritional immunity, in the conflict between host and bacterial pathogen.Examination of DNA from 21 primate species -- from squirrel monkeys to humans -- exposes an evolutionary war against infectious bacteria over iron that circulates in the host's bloodstream. Supported...

Texas Tech biologist leads group that mapped crocodilian genomes

David Ray and others recently mapped the complete genomes of a crocodile, an alligator and a true gharial.A Texas Tech University biologist led a team of more than 50 scientists who mapped the genomes of three crocodilians.

New method helps map species' genetic heritage

Where did the songbird get its song? What branch of the bird family tree is closer to the flamingo -- the heron or the sparrow?

The story of a bizarre deep-sea bone worm takes an unexpected twist

The saga of the Osedax "bone-eating" worms began 12 years ago, with the first discovery of these deep-sea creatures that feast on the bones of dead animals. The Osedax story...

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