BiologyAmoeba may offer key clue to photosynthetic evolution
The major difference between plant and animal cells is the photosynthetic process, which converts light energy into chemical energy. When light isn't available, energy is generated by breaking down carbohydrates and sugars, just as it is in animal and some bacterial cells. Two cellular organelles are responsible for these two processes: the chloroplasts for photosynthesis and the mitochondria for sugar breakdown. New research from Carnegie's Eva Nowack and Arthur Grossman has opened a window into the early stages of chloroplast evolution. Their work is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the week of February 27-March 2.
Russian dolls of the bug world
Parasitic wasps using tiny insects known as aphids as living nurseries for their brood can sniff out whether the host insect is protected by symbiotic bacteria, researchers have discovered.
Basque roots revealed through DNA analysis
The Genographic Project announced today the most comprehensive analysis to date of Basque genetic patterns, showing that Basque genetic uniqueness predates the arrival of agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula some 7,000 years ago. Through detailed DNA analysis of samples from the French and Spanish Basque regions, the Genographic team found that Basques share unique genetic patterns that distinguish them from the surrounding non-Basque populations.
Telomere stress reveals insight into ageing
Scientists at Newcastle University have unlocked clues that give us a greater understanding of the ageing process.
The cutting edge: Exploring the efficiency of bladed tooth shape
Using a combination of guillotine-based experiments and cutting-edge computer modelling, researchers at the University of Bristol have explored the most efficient ways for teeth to slice food.
Giant squids' giant eyes
It's no surprise that giant and colossal squid are big, but it's their eyes that are the real standouts when it comes to size, with diameters measuring two or three times that of any other animal. Now, researchers reporting online on March 15 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, have used complex computations to explain those massive peepers. Giant squids' 10-inch eyes allow them to see very large and hungry sperm whales from a distance in the pitch darkness of their deep-sea home.
Genetic analysis of ancient 'Iceman' mummy traces ancestry from Alps to Mediterranean isle
The Iceman mummy, also known as Otzi, is about 5,300 years old. Scientists studying his body since his discovery in the Italian Alps in 1991 have learned many things, including the cause of his death (an arrow to the back) and his last meal (ibex meat). An analysis of the corpse's chemical composition suggested that he was born and lived his entire life in the Tyrol area where his body was found. Now they're delving deeper to unearth more clues in the mummy's DNA.
How the smell of food affects how much you eat
Bite size depends on the familiarly and texture of food. Smaller bite sizes are taken for foods which need more chewing and smaller bite sizes are often linked to a sensation of feeling fuller sooner. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Flavour, launched today, shows that strong aromas lead to smaller bite sizes and suggests that aroma may be used as a means to control portion size.
Why getting healthy can seem worse than getting sick
A new article in The Quarterly Review of Biology helps explain why the immune system often makes us worse while trying to make us well.
Electricity from trees
Plants have long been known as the lungs of the earth, but a new finding has found they may also play a role in electrifying the atmosphere.
Specialization for underwater hearing by the tympanic middle ear of the turtle
A group of biologists from Denmark and the US led by Jakob Christensen-Dalsgaard, University of Southern Denmark, and Catherine Carr, University of Maryland, have shown that the turtle ear is specialized for underwater hearing.
Of mice and men: House mice used to track human migration
They may be small, but the information mice can convey about the movements of humans throughout history is mighty, according to a Cornell researcher.
Why can't you sprint a marathon?
Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have discovered a new memory mechanism within the nervous system that helps to avoid exhaustion.
Researchers discover why humans began walking upright
Most of us walk and carry items in our hands every day. These are seemingly simple activities that the majority of us don't question. But an international team of researchers, including Brian Richmond at the George Washington University, have discovered that human bipedalism, or walking upright, may have originated millions of years ago as an adaptation to carrying scarce, high-quality resources. This latest research was published in this month's "Current Biology."
New research suggests European Neandertals were almost extinct long before humans showed up
Western Europe has long been held to be the "cradle" of Neandertal evolution since many of the earliest discoveries were from sites in this region. But when Neandertals started disappearing around 30,000 years ago, anthropologists figured that climactic factors or competition from modern humans were the likely causes. Intriguingly, new research suggests that Western European Neandertals were on the verge of extinction long before modern humans showed up.
DNA traces cattle back to a small herd domesticated around 10,500 years ago
All cattle are descended from as few as 80 animals that were domesticated from wild ox in the Near East some 10,500 years ago, according to a new genetic study.
Plants may absorb more carbon dioxide than previously thought
The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide emissions from human activity may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change, which looks at how plants react to environmental change. The authors say these results improve our ability to look into the planet's future and predict the magnitude of climate change before it happens.
Bats save energy by drawing in wings on upstroke
Whether people are building a flying machine or nature is evolving one, there is pressure to optimize efficiency. A new analysis by biologists, physicists, and engineers at Brown University reveals the subtle but important degree to which that pressure has literally shaped the flapping wings of bats.
The green light gives the game away
The immune system is a vital part of our defenses against pathogens, but it can also attack host tissues, resulting in autoimmune disease. The antigens that induce destructive immune reactions can now be identified directly - without any prior knowledge of their possible structure.
Diet may treat some gene mutations
Scientists have moved a step closer to correcting some unhealthy gene mutations with diet, according to a new research report appearing in the April 2012 issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org/).