How, in the animal world, a daughter avoids mating with her father: Paternal ‘voice’ recognition

How, in the animal world, a daughter avoids mating with her father: Paternal ‘voice’ recognition

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:26 PM PST

Paternal recognition – being able to identify males from your father’s line – is important for the avoidance of inbreeding, and one way that mammals can do this is through recognizing the calls of paternal kin. This was thought to occur only in large-brained animals with complex social groups, but a new study provides evidence in a tiny, solitary primate that challenges this theory.

First direct evidence linking TB infection in cattle to local badger populations

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 02:39 PM PST

Transmission of tuberculosis between cattle and badgers has been tracked at a local scale for the first time, using a combination of bacterial whole genome DNA sequencing and mathematical modelling. The study highlights the potential for the use of next generation sequencing as a tool for disentangling the impact of badgers on TB outbreaks in cows at the farm level.

New insights into mosquitoes’ role as involuntary bioterrorists

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 02:37 PM PST

Biologists have discovered mosquitoes possess a previously unknown mechanism for destroying pathogens that takes advantage of the peculiarities of the insect’s circulatory system to increase its effectiveness.

Garbage bug may help lower the cost of biofuel

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 01:21 PM PST

One reason that biofuels are expensive to make is that the organisms used to ferment the biomass cannot make effective use of hemicellulose, the next most abundant cell wall component after cellulose. They convert only the glucose in the cellulose, thus using less than half of the available plant material. Researchers have been doing research on an organism that they think could be used to solve this problem.

Human-caused climate change signal emerges from the noise

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 11:35 AM PST

By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, climate scientists have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities.

Adapting fish defenses to block human infections: Antimicrobial peptide of fish gills inspire clean surfaces

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 11:35 AM PST

Living in an environment teaming with bacteria and fungi, fish have evolved powerful defenses, including antimicrobial peptides located in their gills. Undergraduate researchers are studying the biology and mechanics of one of those peptides with the aim of creating engineered surfaces that can kill bacteria responsible for foodborne illnesses and hospital-acquired infections.

More solid measure of melting in polar ice sheets: Planet’s two largest ice sheets losing ice fast

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 11:33 AM PST

Climatologists have reconciled their measurements of ice loss in Antarctica and Greenland over the past two decades. A second article looks at how to monitor and understand accelerating losses from the planet’s two largest continental ice sheets.

X-ray laser helps fight sleeping sickness: Exploiting parasite’s weak spot may lead to new treatments

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 11:33 AM PST

Scientists have mapped a weak spot in the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, pinpointing a promising new target for treating a disease that kills tens of thousands of people each year.

Grand Canyon as old as the dinosaurs: Dates for carving of western Grand Canyon pushed back 60 million years

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 11:33 AM PST

An analysis of mineral grains from the bottom of the western Grand Canyon indicates it was largely carved out by about 70 million years ago — a time when dinosaurs were around and may have even peeked over the rim, says a new study.

Oceanic crust breakthrough: Solving a magma mystery

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:06 AM PST

Oceanic crust covers two-thirds of Earth’s solid surface, but scientists still don’t entirely understand the process by which it is made. Analysis of more than 600 samples of oceanic crust reveals a systemic pattern that alters long-held beliefs about how this process works, explaining a crucial step in understanding Earth’s geological deep processes.

Sources of E. coli are not always what they seem

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:06 AM PST

Scientists have identified sources of Escherichia coli bacteria that could help restore the reputation of local livestock. Studies suggest that in some parts of California, pathogens in local waterways are more often carried there via runoff from urban areas, not from animal production facilities.

New approach allows past data to be used to improve future climate projections

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:06 AM PST

Climate scientists are still grappling with one of the main questions of modern times: how high will global temperatures rise if the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide doubles. Many researchers are turning to the past because it holds clues to how nature reacted to climate change before the anthropogenic impact. The divergent results of this research, however, have made it difficult to make precise predictions about the impact of increased carbon dioxide on future warming.

Roadmap to metabolic reprogramming for aging

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:05 AM PST

To survey previously uncharted territory, a team of researchers have created an “atlas” that maps more than 1,500 unique landmarks within mitochondria that could provide clues to the metabolic connections between caloric restriction and aging.

Insects beware: The sea anemone is coming

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:18 AM PST

Insects are becoming resistant to insecticides, presenting a growing need to develop novel ways of pest control. New research shows that the sea anemone’s venom harbors toxins that could pose a new generation of environmentally friendly insecticides, which avoid insect resistance. These toxins disable ion channels that mediate pain and inflammation, and could also spur drug development aimed at pain, cardiac disorders, epilepsy and seizure disorders, and immunological diseases.

First-ever hyperspectral images of Earth’s auroras: New camera provides tantalizing clues of new atmospheric phenomenon

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:18 AM PST

Hoping to expand our understanding of auroras and other fleeting atmospheric events, a team of space-weather researchers designed and built a new camera with unprecedented capabilities that can simultaneously image multiple spectral bands, in essence different wavelengths or colors, of light. The camera produced the first-ever hyperspectral images of auroras — commonly referred to as “the Northern (or Southern) Lights”– and may already have revealed a previously unknown atmospheric phenomenon.

Camera trap photo of rare cat wins prize

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:17 AM PST

A photo of a little known Bolivian cat species called an oncilla has been taken by a camera trap.

An ocean away: Two new encrusting anemones found in unexpected locations

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 07:35 AM PST

A group of marine biologists from Japan has discovered two new species of encrusting anemone, thousands of kilometers away from the single other known species of the group. The first species from Madagascar was found in 1972 and never reported again, while the new species are from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and southern Japan.

Travels in northeastern Brazil: Unfolding the reptile fauna of Lençóis Maranhenses

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 07:35 AM PST

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park contains a dune field measuring about 120,000 hectares in the Amazonian transition with Cerrado and Caatinga. In this peculiar Brazilian ecosystem, which reptiles would you expect to encounter most frequently? In order to answer a question like this, biologists spent 235 days in fieldwork, and eventually produced the first list of reptile species in the park.

Rules devised for building ideal protein molecules from scratch

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 06:39 AM PST

By following certain rules, scientists can prepare architectural plans for building ideal protein molecules not found in the real world. Based on computer renditions, previously non-existent proteins can be produced from scratch in the lab. In our imperfect world, proteins can be beset by bulges, kinks, strains, and improperly buried parts, and many diseases arise from protein malformations. The researchers achieved a library of several ideal structures. The principles could aid in designing drugs, vaccines, industrial enzymes, fuels, and pollutant removers.