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Drought Research. Read where droughts are predicted, and what can be done about them.
Last updated on  February 24th, 2018
Metalens combined with an artificial muscle: Click here
Inspired by the human eye, researchers have developed an adaptive metalens that is essentially a flat, electronically controlled artificial eye. The adaptive metalens simultaneously controls for three of the major contributors to blurry images: focus, astigmatism, and image shift.
Crop-saving soil tests now at farmers' fingertips: Click here
Soil pathogen testing -- critical to farming, but painstakingly slow and expensive -- will soon be done accurately, quickly, inexpensively and onsite, thanks to new research.
Why are there so many types of lizards?: Click here
Researchers have sequenced the complete genetic code -- the genome -- of several vertebrate species from Panama. They found that changes in genes involved in the interbrain (the site of the pineal gland and other endocrine glands), for color vision, hormones and the colorful dewlap that males bob to attract females, may contribute to the formation of boundaries between species. Genes regulating limb development also evolved especially quickly.
Domestic goat dating back to the Neolithic Corded Ware period identified in Finland: Click here
Goat hairs have been found in a grave structure that was discovered in the 1930s in Kauhava, western Finland. These are the oldest animal hairs found in Finland. From the perspective of Finnish prehistory, the finding supports the evidence of animal husbandry practised during the Corded Ware period, while also revealing details of burial rituals.
New approach to improve nitrogen use, enhance yield, and promote flowering in rice: Click here
Using nitrogen fertilizer increases crop yields, but excess runoff causes environmental pollution. Moreover, in grains such as rice, large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer can delay flowering, leaving the crop vulnerable to late-season cold weather. A recent study has identified a rice nitrate transporter that can be overexpressed to increase grain yield and accelerate flowering. This approach has the potential to improve grain yields while avoiding the downside of late maturation.
New link between gut bacteria and obesity: Click here
Researchers have discovered a new link between gut bacteria and obesity. They found that certain amino acids in our blood can be connected to both obesity and the composition of the gut microbiome.
Playing both ends: Amphibian adapted to varied evolutionary pressures: Click here
Caecilian, Siphonops annulatus, a limbless amphibian found throughout Brazil, has a concentration of enlarged mucous glands in its head region and a concentration of enlarged poison glands in its posterior region. These concentration appear to have evolved from different selective pressures: the ability to tunnel into the ground and to defend oneself from predators.
Mutation explains why some people are more vulnerable to viral brain infection: Click here
Scientists identified mutations in a single gene that impair immunity to viruses in a region of the brain called the brain stem.
Sweet, bitter, fat: Genetics play a role in kids' snacking patterns: Click here
The types of snacks a child chooses could be linked to genetics, a new study found. The study investigated whether genetic variants in taste receptors related to sweet, fat and bitter tastes influence the snacks preschoolers choose and found nearly 80 per cent carried at least one of these genotypes that could predispose them to poor snacking habits. These findings could help parents tailor their kids' diets based on their genetics of taste.
The global footprint of fisheries: Click here
The global fishing fleet is so big it can be seen from space. Really.
Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients: Click here
Beetroot juice supplements may help enhance exercise capacity in patients with heart failure, according to a new proof-of-concept study. Exercise capacity is a key factor linked to these patients' quality of life and even survival.
New crystal structures reveal mysterious mechanism of gene regulation by the 'magic spot': Click here
Using an innovative crystallization technique for studying 3D structures of gene transcription machinery, researchers revealed new insights into the long debated action of the 'magic spot' -- a molecule that controls gene expression in E. coli and many other bacteria when the bacteria are stressed. The study contributes to fundamental understanding of how bacteria adapt and survive under adverse conditions and provides clues about key processes that could be targeted in the search for new antibiotics.
Researchers adapt HIV test in developing rapid diagnostic test for Zika virus: Click here
Researchers are developing a novel test for Zika virus that uses saliva to identify diagnostic markers of the virus in a fraction of the time of current commercial tests.
Monkey Vocabulary Decoded: Click here
From short 'tsiks' and 'ekks' to drawn-out 'phees' -- all the sounds produced by marmoset monkeys are made up of individual syllables of fixed length, according to a new study. The smallest units of vocalization and their rhythmic production in the brain of our relatives could also have been a prerequisite of human speech.
Surprising new study redraws family tree of domesticated and 'wild' horses: Click here
New research overturns a long-held assumption that Przewalski's horses, native to the Eurasian steppes, are the last wild horse species on Earth.
DNA gets away: Scientists catch the rogue molecule that can trigger autoimmunity: Click here
A research team has discovered the process -- and filmed the actual moment -- that can change the body's response to a dying cell. Importantly, what they call the 'Great Escape' moment may one day prove to be the crucial trigger for autoimmune diseases like arthritis.
Evolutionary change in protein function respects biophysical principles: Click here
Some molecular biologists who study the proteins that regulate cell operations do not confine their research to understanding the molecules' current roles. They also look deep into the proteins' evolutionary past to explore what structures have allowed proteins with new functions to develop in response to new needs.
The Australian government's plan for the biocontrol of the common carp presents several risks: Click here
Scientists are calling on the Australian authorities to review their decision to introduce the carp herpes virus as a way to combat the common carp having colonized the country's rivers. They not only believe that this measure will be ineffective but that it also represents a risk to ecosystems.
Toenail fungus gives up sex to infect human hosts: Click here
The fungus that causes athlete's foot and other skin and toenail infections may have lost its ability to sexually reproduce as it adapted to grow on human hosts. The discovery that this species may be asexual -- and therefore nearly identical at the genetic level -- uncovers potential vulnerabilities that researchers could exploit in designing better antifungal medications. The findings appear online in Genetics.
C-sections and gut bacteria increase risk of childhood obesity: Click here
New research has found that overweight and obese women are more like to have children who are overweight or obese by three years of age -- and that bacteria in the gut may be partially to blame.
Animal diversity improves reproducibility of pre-clinical research: Click here
Pre-clinical animal research is typically based on single laboratory studies conducted under highly standardized conditions. But in a new study, researchers show that this near-universal practice may actually help to explain the poor reproducibility of pre-clinical animal research. Instead of standardized conditions, diversity may be better.
In living color: Seeing cells from outside the body with synthetic bioluminescence: Click here
Glowing creatures like fireflies and jellyfish are captivating to look at but also a boon for science, as their bioluminescent molecules contribute to visualizing a host of biological processes. Now, scientists have supercharged these molecules, making them hundreds of times brighter in deep tissues and allowing for imaging of cells from outside the body. The bioengineered light source was used to track cancer cells in mice and brain-cell activity in monkeys, but its applications extend beyond the lab.
Alternative methods needed to detect all schistosomiasis cases: Click here
To detect detect intestinal schistosome infections, the World Health Organization recommends using the Kato-Katz technique, which analyzes slides of fecal matter. But the approach often misses people who are infected with only a low burden of parasites and, as a consequence, shed only a few eggs in fecal samples. Researchers have now analyzed the efficacy of other testing approaches in a setting with low parasite burden.
Scientists gain new insight on how antibodies interact with widespread respiratory virus: Click here
Scientists have found and characterized the activity of four antibodies produced by the human immune system that target an important protein found in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to new research.
Loops, loops, and more loops: This is how your DNA gets organized: Click here
A living cell is able to neatly package a big jumble of DNA into chromosomes while preparing for cell division. For over a century, scientists have been puzzled for decades on how the process works. Researchers now managed for the first time to isolate and film the process, and witnessed -- in real time -- how a single protein complex called condensin reels in DNA to extrude a loop.
How bats carry viruses without getting sick: Click here
Bats are known to harbor highly pathogenic viruses like Ebola or Marburg and yet they do not show clinical signs of disease. Scientists find that in bats, an antiviral immune pathway called the STING-interferon pathway is dampened, and bats can maintain just enough defense against illness without triggering a heightened immune reaction.
Gut microbes protect against sepsis: Mouse study: Click here
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers found that giving mice particular microbes increased blood levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies, which protected against the kind of widespread bacterial invasion that leads to sepsis.
A look at the space between mouse brain cells: Click here
Between the brain's neurons and glial cells is a critical but understudied structure that's been called neuroscience's final frontier: the extracellular space. With a new imaging paradigm, scientists can now see into and study this complex fluid-filled matrix.
Descriptive phrases for how often food should be eaten helps preschoolers better understand healthy eating: Click here
Preschool is a critical period for children to begin to make their own dietary decisions to develop life-long healthy eating habits. A new study found that preschoolers who learned how to classify food as healthy or unhealthy were more likely to say they would choose healthy food as a snack.
When every fish counts: Genetic tools can ensure accuracy of identification of endangered fish: Click here
Genetic analysis showed about one-third of endangered delta smelt were misidentified in surveys of the Yolo Bypass. Their study found that genetic tools can be a powerful complement to visual identification of endangered fish.
DNA origami: Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Click here
A team of researchers has generated 3-D images from 129 individual molecules of flexible DNA origami particles. Their work provides the first experimental verification of the theoretical model of DNA origami.
Drier conditions could doom Rocky Mountain spruce and fir trees: Click here
Drier summers and a decline in average snowpack over the past 40 years have severely hampered the establishment of two foundational tree species in subalpine regions of Colorado's Front Range, suggesting that climate warming is already taking a toll on forest health in some areas of the southern Rocky Mountains.
Tracking dormant malaria: Click here
In an advance that could help scientist discover new malaria drugs, researchers have shown that they can grow dormant human malaria parasites in engineered human liver tissue for several weeks, allowing them to closely study how the parasite becomes dormant, what vulnerabilities it may have, and how it springs back to life.
Distinguishing males from females among king penguins: Click here
It is difficult to distinguish males from females among King Penguins, but a new study reveals that King Penguins can be sexed with an accuracy of 100% based on the sex-specific syllable pattern of their vocalizations. Using the beak length, King Penguin individuals can be sexed with an accuracy of 79%.
New tool tells bioengineers when to build microbial teams: Click here
Researchers have created a framework for helping bioengineers determine when to use multiple lines of cells to manufacture a product. The work could help a variety of industries that use bacteria to produce chemicals ranging from pharmaceuticals to fragrances.
Climate warming causes local extinction of Rocky Mountain wildflower species: Click here
New research has established a causal link between climate warming and the localized extinction of a common Rocky Mountain flowering plant, a result that could serve as a herald of future population declines.
Locomotion of bipedal dinosaurs might be predicted from that of ground-running birds: Click here
A new model based on ground-running birds could predict locomotion of bipedal dinosaurs based on their speed and body size, according to a new study.
Sea urchins erode rock reefs, excavate pits for themselves: Click here
Through their grazing activity, sea urchins excavate rock and form the pits they occupy. This activity may cause significant bioerosion of temperate reefs, according to a study published Feb. 21, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Michael Russell from Villanova University, US, and colleagues.
Scientists create 'Evolutionwatch' for plants: Click here
Using a hitchhiking weed, scientists reveal for the first time the mutation rate of a plant growing in the wild.
Tropical trees use unique method to resist drought: Click here
Tropical trees in the Amazon Rainforest may be more drought resistant than previously thought, according to a new study. That's good news, since the Amazon stores about 20 percent of all carbon in the Earth's biomass, which helps reduce global warming by lowering the planet's greenhouse gas levels.
New interaction mechanism of proteins discovered: Click here
Researchers have discovered a previously unknown way in which proteins interact with one another and cells organize themselves. This new mechanism involves two fully unstructured proteins forming an ultra-high-affinity complex due to their opposite net charge. Proteins usually bind one another as a result of perfectly matching shapes in their three-dimensional structures.
Cross-bred flies reveal new clues about how proteins are regulated: Click here
The investigators used a technique called bottom-up proteomics (sometimes called shotgun proteomics) to reveal which proteins of each species were present in the hybrid flies.
Tomatoes of the same quality as normal, but using only half the water: Click here
When reducing the water used to water cherry tomato crops by more than 50%, the product not only maintains its quality, both commercially and nutritionally, but it also even increases the level of carotenoids, compounds of great interest in the food-processing industry. In addition to being natural colorings, some are Vitamin-A precursors, which are beneficial for the health and have cosmetic uses.
Getting sleepy? Fruit flies constantly tune into environmental temperature to time sleep: Click here
Humans and fruit flies may have not shared a common ancestor for hundreds of millions of years, but the neurons that govern our circadian clocks are strikingly similar.
Theory suggests root efficiency, independence drove global spread of flora: Click here
Researchers suggest that plants spread worldwide thanks to root adaptations that allowed them to become more efficient and independent. As plant species spread, roots became thinner so they could more efficiently explore poor soils for nutrients, and they shed their reliance on symbiotic fungi. The researchers report that root diameter and reliance on fungi most consistently characterize the plant communities across entire biomes such as deserts, savannas and temperate forests.
First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals: Click here
A new analysis of the natural temperature archives stored in coral reefs shows the ocean around the Galápagos Islands has been warming since the 1970s. The finding surprised the research team, because the sparse instrumental records for sea surface temperature for that part of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean did not show warming. Scientists thought strong upwelling of colder deep waters spared the region from the warming seen in other parts of the Pacific.
Unexpected discovery about essential enzyme: Click here
The enzyme that produces DNA building blocks plays an important role when cells divide. In a new study, researchers have discovered for the first time that the so-called master switch of the enzyme can change locations -- while still performing the same task.
Listening to data could be the best way to track salmon migration: Click here
Sound could be the key to understanding ecological data: in a new study, researchers have turned chemical data that shows salmon migration patterns into sound, helping people hear when they move towards the ocean from one river to another. The approach - called sonification - enables even untrained listeners to interpret large amounts of complex data, providing an easier way to interpret 'big data.'
'Chameleon' ocean bacteria can shift their colors: Click here
Cyanobacteria -- which propel the ocean engine and help sustain marine life -- can shift their color like chameleons to match different colored light across the world's seas, according to new research.
Zika virus could help combat brain cancer: Click here
Researchers show that infection by Zika caused death of cells from glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive kind of malignant brain tumor in adults. Scientists foresee the use of genetic engineering to neutralize Zika virus' infectious whilst preserving the viral particles which induce the death of tumoral cells.
Movement behavior of an anole species surprisingly dynamic: Click here
Anolis lizards have a thing or two to teach humans about love -- or in scientific speak, sexual selection -- at least when it comes to territoriality. Decades of behavioral research on the lizard's mating systems have resulted in near-unanimous agreement among scientists that the males maintain restricted, static territories to defend exclusive mating access to females within these territories and are consequently polygamous.
Bacteria produce more substances than hitherto assumed: Click here
The bacterium Streptomyces chartreusis is an antibiotic-producing bacterium that releases more metabolites into the surrounding medium than scientists assumed based on the analysis of the genome. Many of the substances are likely released to mediate interactions with its environment. They might also include molecules that are of interest as potential pharmaceutical agents. A research team analysed a broad spectrum of the bacterium's metabolic products under various culture conditions.
Evolution plays many tricks against large-scale bioproduction: Click here
Ultra-deep DNA sequencing of thousands of cells uncovers many competing mechanisms of evolution as a threat to efficient scale-up of biobased chemicals production. Evolution plays an underestimated role in bioprocesses and limits yields much more than previously anticipated.
Asian elephants have different personality traits just like humans: Click here
Researchers have studied a timber elephant population in Myanmar and discovered that Asian elephant personality manifests through three different factors. The personality factors identified by the researchers are Attentiveness, Sociability and Aggressiveness.
How bacteria manipulate plants: Click here
Attack at the protein front: Xanthomonas bacteria cause diseases in tomato and pepper plants and inject harmful proteins into plant cells. Researchers have now discovered how one of these proteins manipulates the nutrient supply and hormonal balance of plants.
The conflict between males and females could replace the evolution of new species: Click here
New research shows that males and females of the same species can evolve to be so different that they prevent other species from evolving or colonizing habitats, challenging long-held theories on the way natural selection drives the evolution of biodiversity.
New weakness discovered in the sleeping sickness pathogen: Click here
Trypanosomes are single-celled parasites that cause diseases such as human African sleeping sickness and Nagana in animals. But they are also used in basic research as a model system to study fundamental biological questions. Researchers have now investigated how trypanosomes equally distribute their “power plant” to the daughter cells during cell division. The discovered mechanism potentially opens new avenues for drug interventions.
Long incubation times may defend birds against parasites: Click here
Some tropical birds have longer egg incubation times than their temperate cousins, even though their habitat is teeming with egg-eating predators. The reason why has long been a mystery, but a new study applies new methods to confirm the evidence for an old hypothesis -- that a longer development period leads to a stronger, more efficient immune system.
Are flamingos returning to Florida?: Click here
Flamingos are a Florida cultural icon, and sightings in the state have been on the rise in recent decades. However, whether they're truly native to the US or only arrive via escape from captivity has long been subject to debate, making developing a plan for managing Florida's flamingo population challenging. A new study reviews the evidence and provides a fresh argument that the birds should be considered part of the Sunshine State's native fauna.
Wine polyphenols could fend off bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease: Click here
Evidence suggests that sipping wine may be good for your colon and heart, possibly because of the beverage's abundant and structurally diverse polyphenols. Now researchers report that wine polyphenols might also be good for your oral health.
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