Biology articlesResearchers find nature's shut-off switch for cellulose production
Purdue University researchers found a mechanism that naturally shuts down cellulose production in plants, and learning how to keep that switch turned on may be key to enhancing biomass production for plant-based biofuels.
Ancient african exodus mostly involved men
Modern humans left Africa over 60,000 years ago in a migration that many believe was responsible for nearly all of the human population that exist outside Africa today.
Honeybees as plant 'bodyguards'
Honeybees are important to plants for reasons that go beyond pollination, according to a new study published in the December 23rd issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The insects' buzz also defends plants against the caterpillars that would otherwise munch on them undisturbed.
Snails and humans use same genes to tell right from left
Biologists have tracked down genes that control the handedness of snail shells, and they turn out to be similar to the genes used by humans to set up the left and right sides of the body.
Researcher 'sings' for a living to decode bird songs
To many people, bird song can herald the coming of spring, reveal what kind of bird is perched nearby or be merely an unwelcome early morning intrusion. But to Sandra Vehrencamp, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior, bird song is a code from which to glean insights into avian behavior.
Grazing animals help spread plant disease
Researchers have discovered that grazing animals including deer and rabbits are actually helping to spread plant disease - quadrupling its prevalence in some cases - and encouraging an invasion of annual grasses that threatens more than 20 million acres of native grasslands in California.
More food at lower cost
In the face of climate change, being able to increase crop yields by enabling plants to take up nutrients and water more efficiently becomes increasingly important, as fertiliser and water supplies incur significant energy and environmental costs.
Scientists discover an ancient odor-detecting mechanism in insects
In 1913 Theodore Roosevelt added cartographer to his resume when he and his crew ventured up an unspeakably dangerous and uncharted tributary named the River of Doubt. Now, on a charting expedition of their own, Rockefeller University scientists have completed a journey that has also defied expectation. In work to be published in the January 9 issue of Cell, the team reports the discovery of a new family of receptors in the fly nose, a finding that not only fills in a missing piece in the organizational logic of the insect olfactory system but also unearths one of the most ancient mechanisms that organisms have evolved to smell.
Mosquitoes create harmonic love song before mating
That pesky buzz of a nearby mosquito is the sound of love, scientists have known for some time. But a new Cornell study reports that males and females flap their wings and change their tune to create a harmonic duet just before mating.
Hair of tasmanian tiger yields genes of extinct species
All the genes that the exotic Tasmanian Tiger inherited only from its mother were revealed by an international team of scientists in a research paper in the online edition of Genome Research. The research marks the first successful sequencing of genes from this carnivorous marsupial, which looked like a large tiger-striped dog and became extinct in 1936. The research also opens the door to the widespread, nondestructive use of museum specimens to learn why mammals become extinct and how extinctions might be prevented.
Stanford researchers show adaptation plays a significant role in human evolution
For years researchers have puzzled over whether adaptation plays a major role in human evolution or whether most changes are due to neutral, random selection of genes and traits.
Now you see it, now you don't: MBL scientists unraveling the mystery of camouflage
At Hogwarts, Harry Potter uses an invisibility cloak to hide from his enemies. In nature, animals like cuttlefish and chameleons use the awe-inspiring tricks of camouflage to hide from theirs.
Mice without key enzyme eat without becoming obese
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have identified a new enzyme that plays a far more important role than expected in controlling the breakdown of fat. In a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers report that mice that have had this enzyme disabled remained lean despite eating a high-fat diet and losing a hormone that suppresses appetite.
Primate culture is just a stone's throw away from human evolution
For 30 years, scientists have been studying stone-handling behavior in several troops of Japanese macaques to catch a unique glimpse of primate culture. By watching these monkeys acquire and maintain behavioral traditions from generation to generation, the scientists have gained insight into the cultural evolution of humans.
Humans as super-predators driving evolution
Hunting and fishing are having broad, swift impacts on the body size and reproductive abilities of fish, big game and other commercially-harvested species, potentially jeopardizing the ability of entire populations to recover, according to the results of a new study co-authored by University of Calgary adjunct professor Paul Paquet.
Human DNA repair process recorded in action
A key phase in the repair process of damaged human DNA has been observed and visually recorded by a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis. The recordings provide new information about the role played by a protein known as Rad51, which is linked to breast cancer, in this complex and critical process.
The path to History is through the stomach
Helicobacter pylori can cause stomach ulcers and cancers. Over half of the world's inhabitants carries this bacterium, but different variants are present on different continents. Up to now, biologists have differentiated between five populations of these bacteria. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin and at the University of Cork in Ireland have now discovered a new population of Helicobacter pylori bacteria that attests to the shared origin of the earliest inhabitants of Australia and New Guinea.
Names give cows a lotta bottle
A cow with a name produces more milk than one without, scientists at Newcastle University have found.
Researchers 'unzip' molecules to measure interactions keeping DNA packed in cells
Anyone who has ever battled a stuck zipper knows it's a good idea to see what's stuck, where and how badly -- and then to pull hard. A Cornell research team's experiments involve the "unzipping" of single DNA molecules. By mapping the hiccups, stoppages and forces along the way, they have gained new insight into how genes are packed and expressed within cells.
Dinosaur fossils fit perfectly into the evolutionary tree of life
A recent study by researchers at the University of Bath and London's Natural History Museum has found that scientists' knowledge of the evolution of dinosaurs is remarkably complete.