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Category: Biology

Achieving complete breakdown of plant biomass for energy conversion in industrialized bioreactors remains a complex challenge, but new research shows that termite fungus farmers solved this problem more than 30 million years ago. The new insight reveals that the great success of termite farmers as plant decomposers is due to division of labor between a fungus breaking down complex plant components and gut bacteria contributing enzymes for final digestion.

Full articleSeptember 23, 2014 06:19 PM372 views
Category: Molecular & Cell Biology

Most organisms, including humans, have parasitic DNA fragments called "jumping genes" that insert themselves into DNA molecules, disrupting genetic instructions in the process. And that phenomenon can result in age-related diseases such as cancer. But researchers at the University of Rochester now report that the "jumping genes" in mice become active as the mice age when a multi-function protein stops keeping them in check in order to take on another role.

Full articleSeptember 23, 2014 06:19 PM247 views
Category: Biology

Although the immediate welfare consequences of removing infant chimpanzees from their mothers are well documented, little is known about the long-term impacts of this type of early life experience. In a year-long study, scientists from Lincoln Park Zoon observed 60 chimpanzees and concluded that those who were removed from their mothers early in life and raised by humans as pets or performers are likely to show behavioral and social deficiencies as adults.

Full articleSeptember 23, 2014 06:19 PM292 views
Category: Molecular & Cell Biology


Victoria Lundblad and Timothy Tucey are researchers at the Salk Institute.
Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off "switch" in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing and generating, for example, new lung or liver tissue, even in old age.

Full articleSeptember 22, 2014 04:29 PM1448 views
Category: Biology


Rhinorex, a newly discovered dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period, had an impressive nose.
Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

Full articleSeptember 19, 2014 06:16 PM1669 views
Category: Health & Medicine

New research published today in the online journal PLoS Outbreaks predicts new Ebola cases could reach 6,800 in West Africa by the end of the month if new control measures are not enacted.

Full articleSeptember 19, 2014 06:16 PM1465 views
Category: Health & Medicine

A leading Dartmouth researcher, working with The Melanoma Genetics Consortium, GenoMEL, an international research consortium, co-authored a paper published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that proves longer telomeres increase the risk of melanoma.

Full articleSeptember 19, 2014 06:16 PM1052 views
Category: Bioinformatics

Researchers in Biomedical Informatics at IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) and at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have recently published a study in eLife showing that RNA called non-coding (IncRNA) plays an important role in the evolution of new proteins, some of which could have important cell functions yet to be discovered.

Full articleSeptember 17, 2014 05:48 PM1762 views
Category: Bioinformatics

A team of Spanish researchers have obtained the first partial genome sequence of an ancient pig. Extracted from a sixteenth century pig found at the site of the Montsoriu Castle in Girona, the data obtained indicates that this ancient pig is closely related to today's Iberian pig. Researchers also discard the hypothesis that Asian pigs were crossed with modern Iberian pigs.

Full articleSeptember 17, 2014 05:48 PM1203 views
Category: Biology


These are adult marine (top) and freshwater (bottom) threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) stained with a red dye that labels calcified bone.
Sticklebacks, the roaches of the fish world, are the ideal animal in which to study the genes that control body shape. They've moved from the ocean into tens of thousands of freshwater streams and lakes around the world, each time changing their skeleton to adapt to the new environment.

Full articleSeptember 17, 2014 05:48 PM2042 views
Category: Health & Medicine


This image depicts gut microbiota.
Artificial sweeteners, promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention, could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease; and they do it in a surprising way: by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota – the substantial population of bacteria residing in our intestines. These findings, the results of experiments in mice and humans, were published today in Nature. Among other things, says Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department, who led this research together with Prof. Eran Segal of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department, the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.

Full articleSeptember 17, 2014 05:48 PM2067 views
Category: Microbiology


This is a ribbon diagram showing the tertiary structure with secondary-structure elements identified and labeled.
The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed more than 2000 lives, has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the molecular biology of the virus that could be critical in the development of vaccines or antiviral drugs to treat or prevent Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Now, a team at the University of Virginia (UVA), USA – under the leadership of Dr Dan Engel, a virologist, and Dr Zygmunt Derewenda, a structural biologist – has obtained the crystal structure of a key protein involved in Ebola virus replication, the C-terminal domain of the Zaire Ebola virus nucleoprotein (NP) [Dziubanska et al. (2014). Acta Cryst. D70, 2420-2429; doi:10.1107/S1399004714014710].

Full articleSeptember 15, 2014 05:20 PM3258 views
Category: Molecular & Cell Biology

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine on September 15, may explain why these patients suffer from recurrent bacterial infections.

Full articleSeptember 15, 2014 05:20 PM1403 views
Category: Molecular & Cell Biology

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified a highly sensitive means of analyzing very tiny amounts of DNA. The discovery, they say, could increase the ability of forensic scientists to match genetic material in some criminal investigations. It could also prevent the need for a painful, invasive test given to transplant patients at risk of rejecting their donor organs and replace it with a blood test that reveals traces of donor DNA.

Full articleSeptember 15, 2014 05:20 PM1554 views

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