BiologyA bit touchy: plants' insect defenses activated by touch
A new study by Rice University scientists reveals that plants can use the sense of touch to fight off fungal infections and insects. The study, which was published in the April 24 issue of Current Biology, finds that plant defenses are enhanced when plants are touched.
Vomiting caterpillars weigh up costs and benefits of group living
A type of caterpillar which defends itself by regurgitating on its predators is less likely to do so when in groups than when alone, a new study by researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Liverpool has found. Such reluctance is sufficient to cancel out the benefits of being in a group.
That is why plants grow towards the light!
Have you ever wondered why stems grow upwards and roots downwards? Why plants always seem to turn towards the light and climbing plants run up the trellis rather than down?
Chimpanzee ground nests offer new insight into our ancestors descent from the trees
The first study into rarely documented ground-nest building by wild chimpanzees offers new clues about the ancient transition of early hominins from sleeping in trees to sleeping on the ground. While most apes build nests in trees, this study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, focused on a group of wild West African chimpanzees that often shows ground-nesting behaviour.
Meat eating behind humans' spreading over the globe
Carnivory is behind the evolutionary success of humankind. When early humans started to eat meat and eventually hunt, their new, higher-quality diet meant that women could wean their children earlier. Women could then give birth to more children during their reproductive life, which is a possible contribution to the population gradually spreading over the world.
Leeches are DNA bloodhounds in the jungle
Copenhagen Zoo and University of Copenhagen have in collaboration developed a new and revolutionary, yet simple and cheap, method for tracking mammals in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. They collect leeches from tropical jungles, which have been sucking blood from mammals, and subsequently analyse the blood for mammal DNA. By using this method, the researchers can get an overview of the biodiversity of the mammals without having to find them. The groundbreaking results are to be published in the prestigious scientific journal Current Biology.
Compressed sensing allows super-resolution microscopy imaging of live cell structures
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of California San Francisco have advanced scientists' ability to view a clear picture of a single cellular structure in motion. By identifying molecules using compressed sensing, this new method provides needed spatial resolution plus a faster temporal resolution than previously possible.
Plant perfumes woo beneficial bugs
Scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have discovered that maize crops emit chemical signals which attract growth-promoting microbes to live amongst their roots. This is the first chemical signal that has been shown to attract beneficial bacteria to the maize root environment.
Orangutans harbor ancient primate Alu
Alu elements infiltrated the ancestral primate genome about 65 million years ago. Once gained an Alu element is rarely lost so comparison of Alu between species can be used to map primate evolution and diversity. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Mobile DNA has found a single Alu, which appears to be an ancestral great ape Alu, that has uniquely multiplied within the orangutan genome.
Not all altruism is alike, says new study
Not all acts of altruism are alike, says a new study. From bees and wasps that die defending their nests, to elephants that cooperate to care for young, a new mathematical model pinpoints the environmental conditions that favor one form of altruism over another.
Why bigger animals aren't always faster
New research in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology shows why bigger isn't always better when it comes to sprinting speed.
LED lights cause unexpected results
In late March, Meriam Karlsson, a horticulture professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, gazed at rows and rows of cheery sunflowers with a look of puzzlement.
Men can rest easy - sex chromosomes are here to stay
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), looked at how genes on sex-linked chromosomes are passed down generations and linked to fertility, using the specific example of the W chromosome in female chickens.
Research on ancient ballgame reveals more about early mesoamerican society
George Washington University Professor Jeffrey P. Blomster's latest research explores the importance of the ballgame to ancient Mesoamerican societies. Dr. Blomster's findings show how the discovery of a ballplayer figurine in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca demonstrates the early participation of the region in the iconography and ideology of the game, a point that had not been previously documented by other researchers. Dr. Blomster's paper, Early evidence of the ballgame in Oaxaca, Mexico, is featured in the latest issue of Proceedings in the National Academies of Science (PNAS).
Cell membrane is patterned like a patchwork quilt
As the interface between the cell and its environment, the cell membrane, which consists of fats and proteins, fulfils a variety of vital functions. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich have performed the first comprehensive analysis of the molecular structure of this boundary layer, and revealed precisely how it is organised.
Repeat act: parallel selection tweaks many of the same genes to make big and heavy mice
Organisms are adapted to their environment through their individual characteristics, like body size and body weight. Such complex traits are usually controlled by many genes. As a result, individuals show tremendous variations and can also show subtle gradations. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön have now investigated how evolution alters such traits through selection.
5-limbed brittle stars move bilaterally, like people
It appears that the brittle star, the humble, five-limbed dragnet of the seabed, moves very similarly to us.
Chimpanzee uses innovative foresighted methods to fool humans
Chimpanzee Santino achieved international fame in 2009 for his habit of gathering stones and manufacturing concrete projectiles to throw at zoo visitors. A new study shows that Santino's innovativeness when he plans his stone-throwing is greater than researchers have previously observed. He not only gathers stones and manufactures projectiles in advance; he also finds innovative ways of fooling the visitors. The study, which was carried out at Lund University, has been published in PLoS One.
Big-mouthed babies drove the evolution of giant island snakes
Some populations of tiger snakes stranded for thousands of years on tiny islands surrounding Australia have evolved to be giants, growing to nearly twice the size of their mainland cousins. Now, new research in The American Naturalist suggests that the enormity of these elapids was driven by the need to have big-mouthed babies.
An incisive design solution: the spider's venomous fang
Among the factors that make spiders successful predators is the ingeniously composed and structured material of their fangs.