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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Biology

Superfast evolution in sea stars
How quickly can new species arise? In as little as 6,000 years, according to a study of Australian sea stars.

Earliest spiral galaxy surprises astronomers
In the beginning, galaxies were hot and clumpy - too hot to settle down and form grand spirals like the Milky Way and other galaxies seen in the nearby universe today. But astronomers have now been surprised by the discovery of a solitary grand design spiral galaxy in the early universe which could hold clues to how spirals start to take shape. The find was announced in a report in the July 19 edition of the journal Nature.

Nanoscale scaffolds and stem cells show promise in cartilage repair
Johns Hopkins tissue engineers have used tiny, artificial fiber scaffolds thousands of times smaller than a human hair to help coax stem cells into developing into cartilage, the shock-absorbing lining of elbows and knees that often wears thin from injury or age. Reporting online June 4 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, investigators produce an important component of cartilage in both laboratory and animal models. While the findings are still years away from use in people, the researchers say the results hold promise for devising new techniques to help the millions who endure joint pain.

Copper's previously unknown exit strategy
Scientists have long known that the body rids itself of excess copper and various other minerals by collecting them in the liver and excreting them through the liver's bile. However, a new study led by Johns Hopkins researchers and published June 22 in PLoS One suggests that when this route is impaired there's another exit route just for copper: A molecule sequesters only that mineral and routes it from the body through urine.

Sweat glands grown from newly identified stem cells
To date, few fundamentals have been known about the most common gland in the body, the sweat glands that are essential to controlling body temperature, allowing humans to live in the world's diverse climates. Now, in a tour de force, researchers at The Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have identified, in mice, the stem cell from which sweat glands initially develop as well as stem cells that regenerate adult sweat glands.

Rare glimpse into the origin of species
A new species of monkey flower, created by the union of two foreign plant species, has been discovered on the bank of a stream in Scotland. Genetic changes in this attractive yellow-flowered hybrid have allowed it to overcome infertility and made it a rare example of a brand new species that has originated in the wild in the last 150 years. Thousands of wild species and some crops are thought to have originated in this way, yet only a handful of examples exist where this type of species formation has occurred in recent history.

Why powerlines confuse the internal compass
Migratory birds and fish use the Earth's magnetic field to find their way. LMU researchers have now identified cells with internal compass needles for the perception of the field - and can explain why high-tension cables perturb the magnetic orientation.

Humidity increases odour perception in terrestrial hermit crabs
Max Planck scientists have found out that the olfactory system in hermit crabs is still underdeveloped in comparison to that of vinegar flies.

Two species fused to give rise to plant pest
Zymoseptoria tritici is often a headache for European farmers. This ascomycete originating from the Middle East attacks the leaves of wheat plants triggering "speckled leaf blotch", which can cut crop yields by up to 50 percent.

The big sleep
All zoo animals - and sometimes also wild animals - occasionally need veterinary treatment and anaesthesia is clearly required in many cases. For most animals the procedures are well established but for a variety of reasons it has proven difficulty to anaesthetize hippopotamuses. The thick skin and the dense subcutaneous tissue make it difficult to introduce sufficient amounts of anaesthetics and opioid-based anaesthetics often cause breathing irregularities and occasionally even death. In addition, the level of anaesthesia is only rarely sufficient to enable surgery to be undertaken: few vets wish to be around when a drugged hippopotamus starts to wake up.



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