BiologyHow cells dispose of their waste
Defective proteins that are not disposed of by the body can cause diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry recently succeeded in revealing the structure of the cellular protein degradation machinery (26S proteasome) by combining different methods of structural biology.
Bonobos' unusual success story
Mate competition by males over females is common in many animal species. During mating season male testosterone levels rise, resulting in an increase in aggressive behavior and masculine features. Male bonobos, however, invest much more into friendly relationships with females. Elevated testosterone and aggression levels would collide with this increased tendency towards forming pair-relationships.
Why bats, rats and cats store different amounts of fat
Why different animals carry different amounts of fat depends on how they have solved the problem of avoiding both starving to death and being killed by predators, new research from the University of Bristol suggests.
Ferroelectric switching discovered for first time in soft biological tissue
The heart's inner workings are mysterious, perhaps even more so with a new finding. Engineers at the University of Washington have discovered an electrical property in arteries not seen before in mammalian tissues.
Scientists reveal how cholera bacterium gains a foothold in the gut
A team of biologists at the University of York has made an important advance in our understanding of the way cholera attacks the body. The discovery could help scientists target treatments for the globally significant intestinal disease which kills more than 100,000 people every year.
Study unravels 'worm speak' that uses chemicals to communicate
These small, transparent roundworms have a highly evolved language -- they combine chemical fragments to create precise molecular messages that control social behavior, reports a new study co-authored by scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute.
Watching the engine of life, in real time, to understand how things go wrong
Ruben Gonzalez views ribosomes-the minute particles in cells that make proteins-as the "machines" of life. Naturally, the associate professor of chemistry is interested in watching these little protein-producing factories in real time, especially when they malfunction and cause disease.
Scientists turn skin cells into neural precursors, bypassing stem-cell stage
Mouse skin cells can be converted directly into cells that become the three main parts of the nervous system, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The finding is an extension of a previous study by the same group showing that mouse and human skin cells can be directly converted into functional neurons.
Penn anthropologists clarify link between asians and early native americans
A tiny mountainous region in southern Siberia may have been the genetic source of the earliest Native Americans, according to new research by a University of Pennsylvania-led team of anthropologists.
Exercise triggers stem cells in muscle
University of Illinois researchers determined that an adult stem cell present in muscle is responsive to exercise, a discovery that may provide a link between exercise and muscle health. The findings could lead to new therapeutic techniques using these cells to rehabilitate injured muscle and prevent or restore muscle loss with age.
Genetic information migrates from plant to plant
Plant scientists were confounded by the fact that the DNA extracted from the plants' green chloroplasts sometimes showed the greatest similarities when related species grew in the same area. They tried to explain this phenomenon, for which they coined the term "chloroplast capture" with the assumption that every once in a while those normally sexually incompatible species crossed and produced offspring with a new combination of nuclear and chloroplast genomes.
Plants use circadian rhythms to prepare for battle with insects
In a study of the molecular underpinnings of plants' pest resistance, Rice University biologists have shown that plants both anticipate daytime raids by hungry insects and make sophisticated preparations to fend them off.
X-rays reveal why sea urchins are no easy prey
The spine of a sea urchin is 99.9% chalk, a very common material forming tiny crystals that are very hard but easy to break apart. Scientists have now discovered how these marine animals use chalk or lime to grow spines combining this hardness with shock-absorbing flexibility. Tiny calcite crystals are embedded, like bricks in a wall, into a mortar of amorphous lime mixed with minute amounts of biological proteins. This points the way to the design and synthesis of new hi-tech composite materials, and a project has already begun involving a major concrete manufacturer.
Color is key in controlling flies
As a carrier of as many as 100 types of germs, the common house fly is hardly as innocuous as its name might suggest.
Plant toughness: Key to cracking biofuels?
Along with photosynthesis, the plant cell wall is one of the features that most set plants apart from animals. A structural molecule called cellulose is necessary for the manufacture of these walls. Cellulose is synthesized in a semi-crystalline state that is essential for its function in the cell wall function, but the mechanisms controlling its crystallinity are poorly understood.
Blood mystery solved
You probably know your blood type: A, B, AB or O. You may even know if you're Rhesus positive or negative. But how about the Langereis blood type? Or the Junior blood type? Positive or negative? Most people have never even heard of these.
Mysterious electron acceleration explained
A mysterious phenomenon detected by space probes has finally been explained, thanks to a massive computer simulation that was able to precisely align with details of spacecraft observations. The finding could not only solve an astrophysical puzzle, but might also lead to a better ability to predict high-energy electron streams in space that could damage satellites.
Inherited epigenetics produced record fast evolution
The domestication of chickens has given rise to rapid and extensive changes in genome function. A research team at Linköping University in Sweden has established that the changes are heritable, although they do not affect the DNA structure.
How training gets your fat fit
Researchers at the Universities of Bath, Oxford and Toulouse have been looking at how adipose tissue (fat) plays a dynamic and active role during exercise and physical activity.
Stinging and seeing
New research from the University of California shows how the ability to detect light could have evolved before anything like an eye.