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Infected Butterflies Lead Geneticists Up the Garden Path

November 7, 2013 1:32 pm | News | Comments

For animal species that cannot be distinguished using their external characteristics, genetic techniques such as DNA barcoding can help to identify cryptic species. Now, an international team of researchers has demonstrated how a bacterial infection can mimic cryptic speciation in butterflies.

Scientists Solve Major Biological Complexity Mystery

November 6, 2013 1:29 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have solved a big piece of the puzzle of how and why multicellular organisms evolved the trait of using single cells to reproduce by applying experimental evolution to transform a single-celled algae into a multicellular one that reproduces by dispersing single cells.

Scientists Study Some Fishy Behavior to Solve an Animal Locomotion Mystery

November 5, 2013 12:18 pm | Videos | Comments

A multi-institutional research team, led by Johns Hopkins engineers, says it has solved the puzzle of why animals push in directions that don’t point toward their goal, like the side-to-side sashaying of a running lizard or cockroach.      

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Wound Healing Mechanisms Clarified in Zebrafish

October 30, 2013 3:11 pm | News | Comments

A new study clarifies the role of calcium signaling in the medically significant communication between skin cells that occurs during wound healing.                             

Growing Up in Poverty Can Change Brain Anatomy

October 29, 2013 1:02 pm | News | Comments

Growing up in poverty can have long-lasting, negative consequences for a child. But for poor children raised by parents who lack nurturing skills, the effects may be particularly worrisome, according to a new study that shows children living in poverty exhibit changes in the brain that can lead to lifelong problems.

Stem Cells Reveal Differences Between Humans, Apes

October 24, 2013 1:41 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have, for the first time, taken chimpanzee and bonobo skin cells and turned them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a type of cell that has the ability to form any other cell or tissue in the body.         

Vinyl Flooring Exposes Kids to Harmful Substances

October 23, 2013 12:15 pm | News | Comments

Large areas of vinyl flooring in daycares and schools appear to expose children to a group of compounds called phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, scientists are reporting.          

Virus Confirms Ancient Human Migration Patterns

October 22, 2013 12:43 pm | News | Comments

A study of the full genetic code of a common human virus offers a dramatic confirmation of the "out-of-Africa" pattern of human migration, which had previously been documented by anthropologists and studies of the human genome.       

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DNA Links Mysterious Yeti to Ancient Polar Bear

October 17, 2013 3:26 pm | by JILL LAWLESS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

DNA analysis conducted by a British genetics professor suggests that he has solved the mystery of the Abominable Snowman— the elusive ape-like creature of the Himalayas. He thinks it's a bear.               

Air Pollution Causes Cancer, Experts Say

October 17, 2013 5:30 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

What many commuters choking on smog have long suspected has finally been scientifically validated: air pollution causes lung cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared today that air pollution is a carcinogen.     

Genetic Engineering Could Rescue Animals, Plants from Extinction

September 26, 2013 12:56 pm | News | Comments

With estimates of losing 15 to 40 percent of the world’s species over the next four decades– due to climate change and habitat loss, researchers ponder whether science should employ genetic engineering to the rescue.  The technique would involve “rescuing a target population or species with adaptive alleles, or gene variants, using genetic engineering,” say the authors of new commentary on the subject.

Blue-green Algae Linked to Motor Neuron Disease

September 26, 2013 12:22 pm | News | Comments

A recently identified link between a toxic amino acid found in blue-green algae and several motor neuron diseases could help researchers devise a therapy for the fatal conditions. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), most often associated with nutrient runoff in coastal waters, produce a neurotoxic amino acid called β-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA.

Current Generation Lives Two Years Longer than Last

September 13, 2013 12:14 pm | News | Comments

Average Americans today can look forward to two more years of healthy life than they could have just a generation ago, researchers have found. By synthesizing the data collected in government-sponsored health surveys conducted over recent decades, researchers were able to measure how the quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) of Americans has changed over time.

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Functioning Gears Found in Nature for the First Time

September 13, 2013 11:17 am | Videos | Comments

Previously believed to be only man-made, a natural example of a functioning gear mechanism has been discovered in a common insect- showing that evolution developed interlocking cogs long before we did. The juvenile Issus has hind-leg joints with curved cog-like strips of opposing “teeth” that intermesh, rotating like mechanical gears to synchronize the animal’s legs when it launches into a jump.

Substance that Gives Grapefruit Its Flavor and Aroma Could Give Insects the Boot

September 11, 2013 11:55 am | News | Comments

The citrus flavor and aroma of grapefruit—already used in fruit juices, citrus-flavored beverages, and prestige perfumes and colognes—may be heading for a new use in battling mosquitoes, ticks, head lice and bedbugs thanks to a less expensive way of making large amounts of the once rare and pricey ingredient

Ozone Linked to Heart Disease Deaths

September 6, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

Chronic exposure to ground level ozone, a powerful greenhouse gas and a widespread air pollutant in many major cities, is linked to premature death from cardiovascular disease, finds a new study. The analysis also found a strong link between nitrogen dioxide, a marker for traffic pollution, and increased risk of death from lung cancer.

Autonomous Deep-sea Explorer Searches for New Forms of Microbial Life

August 14, 2013 11:14 am | News | Comments

Scientists are reporting “a significant step forward” in proving the feasibility of launching fleets of autonomous robots that search Earth’s deep oceans for exotic new life forms. They describe the successful deployment of the trailblazer for such a project—an autonomous seafloor lander equipped with a mini-laboratory the size of a kitchen trash can that is able to detect minute traces of DNA in the deep ocean.

Monogamy Evolved as Mating Strategy

July 30, 2013 10:28 am | News | Comments

Social monogamy, where one breeding female and one breeding male are closely associated with each other over several breeding seasons, appears to have evolved as a mating strategy, new research reveals. It was previously suspected that social monogamy resulted from a need for extra parental care by the father.

Biomaterials Can Benefit from 'Mussel' Strength

July 24, 2013 10:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers have unraveled the secret to byssus threads, the tiny natural bungee cords that mussels use to dangle loosely from rocks, piers or ships. Byssus threads, they found, are composed of a well-designed combination of soft, stretchy material on one end and much stiffer material on the other.

Microbes Influence Evolution of Their Hosts

July 18, 2013 3:42 pm | News | Comments

Contrary to current scientific understanding, it also appears that our microbial companions play an important role in evolution. A new study has provided direct evidence that these microbes can contribute to the origin of new species by reducing the viability of hybrids produced between males and females of different species.

Mammals 'Choose' Sex of Offspring

July 11, 2013 11:27 am | News | Comments

A new study shows that mammalian species can "choose" the sex of their offspring in order to beat the odds and produce extra grandchildren. In analyzing 90 years of breeding records, the researchers were able to prove what has been a fundamental theory of evolutionary biology: that mammals rely on some unknown mechanism to manipulate the sex ratios of their offspring as part of a highly adaptive evolutionary strategy.

Detecting DNA in Space

July 9, 2013 11:07 am | News | Comments

In a step toward the goal of sending a DNA sequencer to Mars, where it can analyze soil and ice samples for traces of DNA and other genetic material, researchers have created a DNA-sequencing microchip that can survive space radiation. 

Air Pollution Cut Lifespans in China

July 8, 2013 3:53 pm | by LOUISE WATT - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new study links heavy air pollution from coal burning to shorter lives in northern China. Researchers estimate that the half-billion people alive there in the 1990s will live an average of 5½ years less than their southern counterparts because they breathed dirtier air.

Competing Sensory Cells Control Salt Preference

June 14, 2013 9:47 am | News | Comments

Researchers report that in fruit flies, at least, that the process of how our tongues and brains can tell when the saltiness of our food has crossed the line from yummy to yucky is controlled by competing input from two different types of taste-sensing cells.

Genetic Mutations Crucial to Evolution

June 14, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

A new study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 million to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off. The study provides evidence for a 40-year-old hypothesis that regulation of genes must play an important role in evolution.

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