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Drought Research. Read where droughts are predicted, and what can be done about them.
Last updated on  June 26th, 2017
Cloning thousands of genes for massive protein libraries: Click here
Discovering the function of a gene requires cloning a DNA sequence and expressing it. Until now, this was performed on a one-gene-at-a-time basis, causing a bottleneck. Scientists have invented a technology to clone thousands of genes simultaneously and create massive libraries of proteins from DNA samples, potentially ushering in a new era of functional genomics.
New mechanism for bacterial division discovered in some bacteria: Click here
Scientists show how some pathogenic bacteria -- such as the mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis -- use a previously unknown mechanism to coordinate their division. The discovery could help develop new ways to fight them.
Previously unknown extinction of marine megafauna discovered: Click here
Over two million years ago, a third of the largest marine animals like sharks, whales, sea birds and sea turtles disappeared. This previously unknown extinction event not only had a considerable impact on the earth's historical biodiversity but also on the functioning of ecosystems.
The beach time capsule: Click here
And to think it was all right there in her garage. A load of boxes pulled from a biologist's home yielded a veritable treasure trove for researchers studying the impact of climate change on coastal biodiversity in California.
Microbes from ships may help distinguish one port from another: Click here
Much the way every person has a unique microbial cloud around them, ships might also carry distinct microbial signatures. The key is testing the right waters -- the bilge water from the bottoms of ships.
Eating more vegetable protein may protect against early menopause: Click here
Long-term, high intake of vegetable protein from such foods as whole grains, soy and tofu, may protect women from early menopause and could prolong reproductive function, results of a new study from epidemiologists suggest.
Hot cities spell bad news for bees: Click here
Common wild bee species decline as urban temperatures increase, a new research study concludes.
Amazon basin deforestation could disrupt distant rainforest by remote climate connection: Click here
The ongoing deforestation around the fringes of the Amazon may have serious consequences for the untouched deeper parts of the rainforest. A new research study shows that it is not only the climate that is adversely affected by deforestation. In fact, the very stability of the ecosystem in the entire Amazon region is altered when deforestation takes place in the outermost regions.
Fungal toxins easily become airborne, creating potential indoor health risk: Click here
Toxins produced by three different species of fungus growing indoors on wallpaper may become aerosolized, and easily inhaled. The findings likely have implications for 'sick building syndrome.
Sweet bribes for ants are key to crops bearing fruit, study shows: Click here
Some flowering crops, such as beans and cotton, carefully manage the amount and sweetness of nectar produced on their flowers and leaves, to recruit colonizing ants which deter herbivores. This strategy balances their needs for defense and reproduction.
Scientists work to develop heat-resistant 'cow of the future': Click here
More than half the cattle in the world live in hot and humid environments, including about 40 percent of beef cows in the United States. By using genomic tools, researchers aim to produce an animal with superior ability to adapt to hot living conditions and produce top-quality beef.
Tropical viruses: Coming soon to Europe?: Click here
The mosquito-borne viral disease Chikungunya is usually found in tropical areas. Researchers have now discovered how climate change is facilitating the spread of the Chikungunya virus. Even if climate change only progresses moderately – as scientists are currently observing – the risk of infection will continue to increase in many regions of the world through the end of the 21st century. If climate change continues unchecked, the virus could even spread to southern Europe and the United States.
Dune ecosystem modelling: Click here
Acacia longifolia, which is native to Australia, is a species which was cultivated in Portugal primarily to stabilize dunes and as an ornamental plant; now it has spread out uncontrollably in Portugal and into many ecosystems around the world. Using the acacia as an example, researchers show that the location has an effect on interaction with other species.
Turtle 'go-slow zone' extensions needed: Click here
Marine scientists are calling for an extension of go-slow zones in turtle habitats to reduce boat strikes on the threatened creatures.
Lowering health risks of cannabis use with new public health guidelines: Click here
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks. The guidelines are based on a scientific review by an international team of experts.
Plants sacrifice 'daughters' to survive chilly weather: Click here
Plants adopt different strategies to survive the changing temperatures of their natural environments. This is most evident in temperate regions where forest trees shed their leaves to conserve energy during the cold season. In a new study, a team of plant biologists found that some plants may selectively kill part of their roots to survive under cold weather conditions.
Protein mingling under blue light: Click here
One of the current challenges in biology is to understand rapidly-changing phenomena. Interestingly, only a small fraction of them is due to proteins acting in isolation, the majority of biological events are regulated by proteins acting together in clusters. Researchers have developed a new tool, called "CRY2clust", to trigger protein cluster formation in response to blue light. This new technique has a much faster response rate and higher sensitivity to light than existent methods.
How a single chemical bond balances cells between life and death: Click here
With SLAC's X-ray laser and synchrotron, scientists measured exactly how much energy goes into keeping a crucial chemical bond from triggering a cell's death spiral.
Snake fungal disease identified in wild British snakes for first time: Click here
Europe's wild snakes could face a growing threat from a fungal skin disease that has contributed to wild snake deaths in North America, according to an international collaborative study.
Seafood poisoning bug thwarts a key host defense by attacking the cell's cytoskeleton: Click here
The leading cause of acute gastroenteritis linked to eating raw seafood disarms a key host defense system in a novel way: It paralyzes a cell's skeleton, or cytoskeleton.
How pheromones trigger female sexual behavior: Click here
A new study showed how a male pheromone in mice enhances sexual behaviors in females -- and how it may enhance a different behavior, aggression, in males -- by identifying distinct neural circuits and neurons that generate a particular behavioral response to specific chemical signals. The findings point to a model for further investigating how sex-specific innate behaviors in living things are controlled.
How eggs got their shapes: Click here
The evolution of the amniotic egg -- complete with membrane and shell -- was key to vertebrates leaving the oceans and colonizing the land and air but how bird eggs evolved into so many different shapes and sizes has long been a mystery. Now, an international team of scientists took a quantitative approach to that question and found that adaptations for flight may have been critical drivers of egg-shape variation in birds.
Catalyst mimics the z-scheme of photosynthesis: Click here
A new study demonstrates a process with great potential for developing technologies for reducing CO2 levels.
Previously unknown pine marten diversity discovered: Click here
The elusive American pine marten, a little-studied member of the weasel family, might be more diverse than originally thought, according to new research.
How do genes get new jobs? Wasp venom offers new insights: Click here
A new study describes how four closely related species of parasitic wasps change their venoms rapidly in order to adapt to new hosts, and proposes that co-option of single copy genes may be a common but relatively understudied mechanism of evolution for new gene functions, particularly under conditions of rapid evolutionary change.
A rising star: Researchers dissect the process by which blood vessels shrink, which could have important implications for human health: Click here
It's a tiny marine invertebrate, no more than 3 millimeters in size. But closely related to humans, Botryllus schlosseri might hold the key to new treatments for cancer and a host of vascular diseases.
First Chikungunya-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes found in Brazil: Click here
While more than 13,000 cases of Chikungunya viral disease were reported in Brazil in 2015, scientists had never before detected the virus in a captured mosquito in this country. Now, researchers have identified a mosquito -- caught in the Brazilian city of Aracaju -- that's naturally infected with the East-Central-South-African (ECSA) genotype of Chikungunya.
Simulated honeybees can use simple brain circuits for complex learning: Click here
Honeybees may not need key brain structures known as mushroom bodies in order to learn complex associations between odors and rewards, according to new research.
How bacterial organelles assemble: Click here
Scientists are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle's protein shell. This work could benefit research in bioenergy and pathogenesis, and it could lead to new methods of bioengineering bacteria for beneficial purposes.
Switchable DNA mini-machines store information: Click here
Biomedical engineers have built simple machines out of DNA, consisting of arrays whose units switch reversibly between two different shapes. The arrays' inventors say they could be harnessed to make nanotech sensors or amplifiers. Potentially, they could be combined to form logic gates, the parts of a molecular computer.
UV-sensing protein in brain of marine annelid zooplankton: Click here
Larvae of a marine ragworm Platynereis dumerilii have been studied as a zooplankton model, and possess photoreceptor cells in the brain to regulate circadian swimming behavior. This study revealed that a photoreceptive protein in the brain photoreceptor cells is UV (ultra-violet) sensitive. Since avoidance of UV irradiation is a major cause of a large-scale daily movement of zooplankton, the UV sensor in the brain would be important for physiology and ecology of the zooplankton model.
Cells in fish's spinal discs repair themselves: Click here
A unique repair mechanism has been discovered in the developing backbone of zebrafish that could give insight into why spinal discs of longer-lived organisms like humans degenerate with age. The repair mechanism protects fluid-filled cells of the notochord, the precursor of the spine, from mechanical stress. Notochord cells eventually form the gelatinous center of intervertebral discs, the structures that often degenerate with age to cause back and neck pain.
Select memories can be erased, leaving others intact: Click here
Different types of memories stored in the same neuron of the marine snail Aplysia can be selectively erased, according to a new study.
Satellite data to map endangered monkey populations on Earth: Click here
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, a research team can map multiple indicators of monkey distribution, including human activity zones as inferred from roads and settlements, direct detections from mosquito-derived iDNA, animal sound recordings, plus detections of other species that are usually found when monkeys are present, such as other large vertebrates.
Ecology insights improve plant biomass degradation by microorganisms: Click here
Microbes are widely used to break down plant biomass into sugars, which can be used as sustainable building blocks for novel biocompounds. Getting the right microbial community for this process is still a matter of trial and error. New insights by ecologists could make a rational design possible.
How pythons regenerate their organs and other secrets of the snake genome: Click here
Snakes exhibit incredible evolutionary adaptations, including the ability to rapidly regenerate their organs and produce venom. Scientists studied these adaptations using genetic sequencing and advanced computing. Supercomputers helped the team identify a number of genes associated with organ growth in Burmese pythons, study secondary contact in related rattlesnake species, and develop tools to recognize evolutionary changes caused by natural selection.
Sea sponges stay put with anchors that bend but don't break: Click here
The anchors that hold Venus' flower basket sea sponges to the ocean floor have an internal architecture that increases their ability to bend, according to a new study. Understanding that natural architecture could inform future human-made materials.
Lessons from whale population collapse could help future species at risk: Click here
There were warning signs that populations of commercially harvested whales were heading for global collapse up to 40 years before the event, a study of historic whaling records has revealed.
Critical gaps in our knowledge of where infectious diseases occur: Click here
Scientists have called for action to a serious lack of data on the worldwide distribution of disease-causing organisms. Without this knowledge, predicting where and when the next disease outbreak will emerge is hardly possible. Macroecologists hold the expertise to create the needed data network and close the knowledge gaps.
Moth eyes inspire new screen coating, making reading in sunlight a lot easier: Click here
Screens on even the newest phones and tablets can be hard to read outside in bright sunlight. Inspired by the nanostructures found on moth eyes, researchers have developed a new antireflection film that could keep people from having to run to the shade to look at their mobile devices.
Australian origin likely for iconic New Zealand tree: Click here
Ancestors of the iconic New Zealand Christmas Tree, Phutukawa, may have originated in Australia, new fossil research suggests.
New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport: Click here
New research results show how active transport of potassium can be achieved by a membrane protein complex that has roots in both ion pump and ion channel super-families. The results shed new light on what define channels and pumps.
'Star dust' wasp is a new extinct species named after David Bowie's alter ego: Click here
During her study on fossil insects at China's Capitol Normal University, a student visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA, carrying two unidentified wasp specimens that were exceptionally well-preserved and 100 million years old. Close examination revealed that both were species new to science. Furthermore, one of them was found to belong to a genus of modern wasps.
Don't lose sleep over sharing your bed with your pet or kids: Click here
About half of all pet owners share their beds or bedrooms with their pets. Studies about co-sleeping are limited to the bedtime arrangements of adults, or parents and their children. Researchers say that society regards both human-animal and adult-child co-sleeping with apprehension. These concerns should be set aside because both practices have their benefits, says the lead author of a new study.
The two faces of rot fungi: Click here
Yogurt, beer, bread and specialties such as tasty blue cheeses or good wine -- special microorganisms and refining processes first produce the pleasant flavors and enticing aromas of many foodstuffs. Researchers have now investigated the formation of rot in grapes and have shown that when this is caused by certain kinds of mold fungi, the resultant wine can have not only moldy but also floral aromas.
Bug spray accumulation in the home: Click here
Pyrethroids, a common household pesticide known to cause skin irritation, headache, dizziness and nausea, persists in the home for up over one year, a new investigation has found.
Look inside your own pantry or fridge to find the top culprit of food waste: Click here
Did you know you throw out about 20 pounds of food every month? Nearly 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. Experts have tips for reducing waste at home, and look at how the food service industry is working to do the same.
Biologist develops new method to calculate populations of elusive species: Click here
An innovative new method of estimating the density of snake populations without employing the capture-mark-recapture technique has been created by a biologist.
Can animal diet mitigate greenhouse emissions?: Click here
The inclusion of agroindustrial by-products in pig feed can reduce the nitrous oxide emissions (N2O) of the slurry used as manures up to 65%, suggests new research.
Dogs to sniff out chemicals that identify human remains: Click here
New research to help improve accuracy of criminal investigations involves a partnership between humans and their canine coworkers.
Pathogen that causes sleeping sickness: Promising new target: Click here
The life-threatening African trypanosomiasis, also called sleeping sickness, is caused by protozoa of the species Trypanosoma brucei. A team of researchers has studied the pathogens and reported exciting news: The trypanosomes have a so far unknown enzyme which does not exist in humans and other vertebrates. This makes it a promising target for therapy.
African leopards revealed: Study documents minute-to-minute behavior of elusive cats: Click here
The elusive behavior of the African leopard has been revealed in great detail for the first time as part of a sophisticated study that links the majestic cat's caloric demands and its drive to kill.
Pollinator extinctions alter structure of ecological networks: Click here
The absence of a single dominant bumblebee species from an ecosystem disrupts foraging patterns among a broad range of remaining pollinators in the system -- from other bees to butterflies, beetles and more, field experiments show.
Algae: The final frontier: Click here
Algae dominate the oceans that cover nearly three-quarters of our planet, and produce half of the oxygen that we breathe. And yet fewer than 10 percent of the algae have been formally described in the scientific literature, as noted in a new review.
Fossil holds new insights into how fish evolved onto land: Click here
The fossil of an early snake-like animal -- called Lethiscus stocki -- has kept its evolutionary secrets for the last 340-million years. Now, an international team of researchers has revealed new insights into the ancient Scottish fossil that dramatically challenge our understanding of the early evolution of tetrapods, or four-limbed animals with backbones.
Trash-picking seagulls excrete tons of nutrients: Click here
At least 1.4 million seagulls feed at landfills in North America. Aside from the nuisance they pose, a study finds their nutrient-rich feces may threaten the health of nearby waters. The study estimates North American gulls deposit 240 tons of nitrogen and 39 tons of phosphorus into nearby lakes and reservoirs each year, fertilizing algae and weeds and costing local governments about $100 million in nutrient offset costs.
Reconstruction of ancient chromosomes offers insight into mammalian evolution: Click here
Researchers have gone back in time, at least virtually, computationally recreating the chromosomes of the first eutherian mammal, the long-extinct, shrewlike ancestor of all placental mammals.
How did bird babysitting co-ops evolve?: Click here
It's easy to make up a story to explain an evolved trait; proving that's what happened is much harder. Here scientists test ideas about cooperative breeding in birds and find a solution that resolves earlier disagreements.
New mechanism for genome regulation discovered: Click here
The mechanisms that separate mixtures of oil and water may also help the organization of a part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new study. Researchers found that liquid-liquid phase separation helps heterochromatin organize large parts of the genome into specific regions of the nucleus. The work addresses a long-standing question about how DNA functions are organized in space and time, including how genes are silenced or expressed.
Zika: Studying the 'rebound virus': Click here
Scientists are investigating how the Zika virus is able to find a safe harbor in an infected host's tissue and stage a rebound weeks after the virus was seemingly cleared by the immune system.
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