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Plants & Animals News -- ScienceDaily



Drought Research. Read where droughts are predicted, and what can be done about them.



Published: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 04:44:03 EST

Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 04:44:03 EST

 



Pausing evolution makes bioproduction of chemicals affordable and efficient

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:50:34 EST

Circumventing evolution in cell factories can pave the way for commercializing new biobased chemicals to large-scale.



In living color: Brightly-colored bacteria could be used to 'grow' paints and coatings

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:50:22 EST

Researchers have unlocked the genetic code behind some of the brightest and most vibrant colors in nature. The article is the first study of the genetics of structural color -- as seen in butterfly wings and peacock feathers -- and paves the way for genetic research in a variety of structurally colored organisms.



Biodiversity loss raises risk of 'extinction cascades'

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:50:19 EST

New research shows that the loss of biodiversity can increase the risk of 'extinction cascades', where an initial species loss leads to a domino effect of further extinctions.



Plants colonized Earth 100 million years earlier than previously thought

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:50:15 EST

A new study on the timescale of plant evolution has concluded that the first plants to colonize the Earth originated around 500 million years ago -- 100 million years earlier than previously thought.



Some viruses produce insulin-like hormones that can stimulate human cells -- and have potential to cause disease

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:50:12 EST

Scientists have identified four viruses that can produce insulin-like hormones that are active on human cells. The discovery brings new possibilities for revealing biological mechanisms that may cause diabetes or cancer.



First video of 'Dumbo' octopod hatchling shows that they look like mini-adults

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:48:00 EST

Researchers who've gotten the first look at a deep-sea 'dumbo' octopod hatchling report that the young octopods look and act much like adults from the moment they emerge from an egg capsule. Dumbo octopods are so named because their fins resemble Dumbo the elephant's ears.



You are what you eat: Diet-specific adaptations in vampire bats

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:54:39 EST

Vampire bats feed exclusively on blood, a mode of feeding unique amongst mammals. It has therefore been long suspected that vampire bats have highly specific evolutionary adaptations, which would be documented in their genome, and most likely also have an unusual microbiome, the community of micro-organisms assembled in their digestive tract which may help with the digestion of blood.



Pattern formation: The paradoxical role of turbulence

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:53:04 EST

The formation of self-organizing molecular patterns in cells is a critical component of many biological processes. Researchers have proposed a new theory to explain how such patterns emerge in complex natural systems.



Duplicate genes help animals resolve sexual conflict

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:52:58 EST

Duplicate copies of a gene shared by male and female fruit flies have evolved to resolve competing demands between the sexes. New genetic analysis describes how these copies have evolved separate male- and female-specific functions that are crucial to reproduction and fertility.



Farming crops with rocks to reduce CO2 and improve global food security

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:52:52 EST

Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and reduce the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere, a new study has found.



Global grazing lands increasingly vulnerable to a changing climate

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:52:44 EST

A new study shows precipitation variability has increased significantly on 49 percent of the world's grazing lands.



Spatial perception of odorants in cockroaches

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:39:04 EST

A recent study has described the first neural architecture capable of encoding the spatial location of odorants.



The starry sky shows nocturnal animals the way

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:39:02 EST

Nocturnal animals can use the stars and the Milky Way to find their way during the darkest hours.



A Matter of Dynamics

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:33:00 EST

Most ion channels are very selective about the ions, which may or may not pass through them. They may be conductive for potassium ions and non-conductive for sodium ions or vice versa. However, a number of ion channels allows for the efficient passage of both kinds of ions. How do these channel proteins accomplish this?



Dispersal of fish eggs by water birds – just a myth?

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:32:58 EST

How do fish end up in isolated bodies of water when they can't swim there themselves? For centuries, researchers have assumed that water birds transfer fish eggs into these waters -- however, a systematic literature review by researchers at the University of Basel has shown that there is no evidence of this to date.



How the insulin receptor works

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:32:56 EST

As we are approaching the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, a wide array of its signaling pathways has been defined. However, the initial step in insulin action, i.e. the engagement with its cell-surface receptor and the resulting conformational change, which propagates across the plasma membrane to the intracellular module, remains poorly understood.



Electric eel-inspired device reaches 110 volts

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:24:19 EST

In an effort to create a power source for future implantable technologies, a team of researchers developed an electric eel-inspired device that produced 110 volts from gels filled with water, called hydrogels. Their results show potential for a soft power source to draw on a biological system's chemical energy.



An enzyme's evolution from changing electric fields and resisting antibiotics

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:24:13 EST

Bacteria can produce enzymes that make them resistant to antibiotics; one example is the TEM beta-lactamase enzyme, which enables bacteria to develop a resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics, such as penicillin and cephalosporins. Researchers are now studying how an enzyme changes and becomes antibiotic-resistant.



Why bees soared and slime flopped as inspirations for systems engineering

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:21:10 EST

Honeybees gathering nectar inspired an algorithm that eased the burden of host servers handling unpredictable traffic by about 25 percent. Nature can inspire some great engineering, but it can also lead to some flops. Take slime mold: Standard algorithms beat it hands down to model connectivity.



Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:59:07 EST

Cell division is an intricately choreographed ballet of proteins and molecules that divide the cell. During mitosis, microtubule-organizing centers assemble the spindle fibers that separate the copying chromosomes of DNA. While scientists are familiar with MTOCs' existence and the role they play in cell division, their actual physical structure remains poorly understood. Researchers are now trying to decipher their molecular architecture.



What makes circadian clocks tick?

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:59:04 EST

Circadian clocks arose as an adaptation to dramatic swings in daylight hours and temperature caused by the Earth's rotation, but we still don't fully understand how they work. Scientists studying the circadian clock of blue-green colored cyanobacteria. The group discovered that how the proteins move hour by hour is central to cyanobacteria's circadian clock function.



Ras protein's role in spreading cancer

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:59:01 EST

Protein systems make up the complex signaling pathways that control whether a cell divides or, in some cases, metastasizes. Ras proteins have long been the focus of cancer research because of their role as 'on/off switch' signaling pathways that control cell division and failure to die like healthy cells do. Now, a team of researchers has been able to study precisely how Ras proteins interact with cell membrane surfaces.






Illegal global trade of pangolins

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 11:39:16 EST

Animal traffickers are taking advantage of remote ivory trade routes to smuggle pangolins – one of the world’s most endangered animals – out of Central Africa, a new study has found.



Scientists shed light on biological roots of individuality

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:47:38 EST

A new study illuminates the biology that guides behavior across different stages of life in worms, and suggests how variations in specific neuromodulators in the developing nervous system may lead to occasional variations.



Cells communicate in a dynamic code

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:03:38 EST

Scientists discover an unexpectedly dynamic vocabulary for the language of cellular communication.



Pilot study in Kenya shows link between chronic pain and glutamate consumption

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:27:02 EST

Preliminary research from a small pilot study carried out in Meru, in eastern Kenya, shows a link between chronic pain and consumption of glutamate, a common flavor enhancer found in Western and non-Western diets worldwide.



Rural ranchers face less access to water during drought than urban counterparts

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:38 EST

The findings highlight a rural-urban divide and show that ranchers' access to water was neither equal nor valued during the drought in Mexico's Baja California Sur state from 2006 to 2012.



Newly-hatched salmon use geomagnetic field to learn which way is up

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:35 EST

Researchers who confirmed in recent years that salmon use the Earth's geomagnetic field to guide their long-distance migrations have found that the fish also use the field for a much simpler and smaller-scale migration: When the young emerge from gravel nests to reach surface waters.



First multiplex test for tick-borne diseases

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:32 EST

A new blood test called the Tick-Borne Disease Serochip (TBD Serochip) promises to revolutionize the diagnosis of tick-borne disease by offering a single test to identify and distinguish between Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease, and seven other tick-borne pathogens.



Evolutionary origin of termite gut microbiome revealed

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:30 EST

Researchers have shown that the bacterial communities in termite guts came about through both inheritance and transfer between colonies.



New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:27 EST

Biomimetics offers an innovative approach to solving human problems by imitating strategies found in nature. Medical research could also benefit from biomimetics as scientists point out using the example of chronic kidney disease. In future research, they intend to study the mechanisms that protect the muscles, organs and bones of certain animals during extreme conditions such as hibernation.



Fungal enzymes could hold secret to making renewable energy from wood

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:22 EST

Researchers have discovered a set of enzymes found in fungi that are capable of breaking down one of the main components of wood. The enzymes could now potentially be used to sustainably convert wood biomass into valuable chemical commodities such as biofuels.



New light shed on how plants get their nitrogen fix

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:18 EST

Legumes are widely-consumed plants that use soil bacteria to obtain nitrogen through root nodulation. The process is energetically costly, and so legumes inhibit nodulation when soil nitrate is available. However, the mechanism that drives this inhibition is unknown. Researchers found that NRSYM1 is responsible for inhibiting nodulation in the presence of nitrate, and acts by directly regulating gene expression. The findings may aid agricultural efforts to improve the crop efficiency of legumes.



High levels of microplastics found in Northwest Atlantic fish

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:13 EST

A new study finds 73 percent of mesopelagic fish caught in the Northwest Atlantic had microplastics in their stomachs -- one of the highest levels globally. Typically living at depths of 200-1,000 meters, these fish could spread microplastic pollution throughout the marine ecosystem, by carrying microplastics from the surface down to deeper waters. They are also prey for fish eaten by humans, meaning that microplastics could indirectly contaminate our food supply.



Texas' first federally endangered mussel species

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:08 EST

Scientists are working to understand the ecology and taxonomy of Texas' first federally endangered mussel species.



Soft tissue fossil clues could help search for ancient life on Earth and other planets

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:49:15 EST

Fossils that preserve entire organisms (including both hard and soft body parts) are critical to our understanding of evolution and ancient life on Earth. However, these exceptional deposits are extremely rare. New research suggests that the mineralogy of the surrounding earth is key to conserving soft parts of organisms, and finding more exceptional fossils. The work could potentially support the Mars Rover Curiosity in its sample analysis, and speed up the search for traces of life on other planets.



Birds and beans: Study shows best coffee for bird diversity

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:48:08 EST

It's an age-old debate for coffee lovers. Which is better: Arabica beans with their sweeter, softer taste, or the bold, deep flavor of Robusta beans? A new study has taken the question to unlikely coffee aficionados: birds.



New guideline warns pain benefits of medical cannabis overstated

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:39:23 EST

A new medical guideline suggests Canada's family physicians should take a sober second thought before prescribing medical cannabis to most patients.



At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:39:02 EST

Butterflies offer key insights into community ecology, how species originate and evolve, climate change and interactions between plants and insects. But a comprehensive map of how butterflies are related to each other has been lacking -- until now.



Antioxidant treatment prevents sexual transmission of Zika in mice

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:18:43 EST

The antioxidant drug ebselen can prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus from male to female mice, according to new research. The results hint at a potential role for ebselen in preventing Zika spread among humans.



How the cuttlefish spikes out its skin: Neurological study reveals surprising control

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:18:03 EST

Wouldn't it be useful to suddenly erect 3-D spikes out of your skin, hold them for an hour, then even faster retract them and swim away? Octopus and cuttlefish can do this as a camouflage tactic. A new study clarifies the neural and muscular mechanisms that underlie this extraordinary defense tactic.



'Evolutionary rescue' areas for animals threatened by climate change

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:18:01 EST

As winters arrive later and snow melts earlier, the worldwide decrease in snow cover already may have dramatic impacts on animals that change coat colors with the seasons. An international scientific team has set out to discover whether adaptive evolution can rescue these animals in the face of rapidly changing climate.



Researchers challenge claims that sugar industry shifted blame to fat

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:55 EST

In recent years, high-profile claims in the academic literature and popular press have alleged that the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and emphasize instead the dangers of dietary fat. Historians challenge those claims through a careful examination of the evidence.



Biochemical networks mapped in midgut of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:47 EST

Scientists have mapped for the first time the midgut metabolites of the Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can transmit viruses that cause dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever to humans.



Plant survival under high salinity: Plant cell wall sensing mechanism

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:27 EST

How cells sense their physical state and compensate for cell wall damage is poorly understood. But a new analysis of plants exposed to salt stress offers the first experimental evidence and molecular mechanisms showing how FERONIA is essential for the cellular responses that ensure survival under high salinity.



New CRISPR-Cas9 tool edits both RNA and DNA precisely, U-M team reports

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:24 EST

A tool that has already revolutionized disease research may soon get even better, thanks to an accidental discovery in the bacteria that cause many of the worst cases of meningitis.



Eating yogurt may reduce cardiovascular disease risk

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:22 EST

A new study suggests that higher yogurt intake is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.



Birds and primates share brain cell types linked to intelligence

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:19 EST

In a new study scientists show that some neurons in bird brains form the same kind of circuitry and have the same molecular signature as cells that enable connectivity between different areas of the mammalian neocortex. The researchers found that alligators share these cell types as well, suggesting that while mammal, bird and reptile brains have very different anatomical structures, they operate using the same shared set of brain cell types.



The more kinds of bees, the better for humans

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:17:07 EST

The bigger the area to pollinate, the more species of wild bees you need to pollinate it.



Comes naturally? Using stick insects, scientists explore natural selection, predictability

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:16:41 EST

Predicting evolution remains difficult. Scientists have studied evolution of cryptic body coloration and pattern in stick insects for insights.



World's most venomous spiders are actually cousins

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:11:54 EST

Two lineages of dangerous arachnids found in Australia -- long classified as distantly related in the official taxonomy -- are, in fact, relatively close evolutionary cousins. The lineages include the most venomous spiders in the world. The findings could help in the development of novel antivenoms, as well as point to new forms of insecticides.



In 16 years, Borneo lost more than 100,000 orangutans

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:50:32 EST

Over a 16-year period, about half of the orangutans living on the island of Borneo were lost as a result of changes in land cover. That's according to estimates showing that more than 100,000 of the island's orangutans disappeared between 1999 and 2015.



Working in harmony: New insights into how packages of DNA orchestrate development

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:50:29 EST

New research illuminates aspects of how an early embryo, the product of fertilization of a female egg cell by a male sperm cell, can give rise to all the many cell types of the adult animal.



Hunting is changing forests, but not as expected

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:50:22 EST

In many tropical forests, over-hunting is diminishing the populations of animals who are vital for dispersing the seeds of woody plants. Those same plants are vital for carbon storage and previous theoretical modeling studies predicted dire consequences to defaunation, this research suggests otherwise. Instead the data shows the effects on the ecosystem are less straightforward and less immediately devastating.



Hurricanes Irma and Maria temporarily altered choruses of land and sea animals

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:50:16 EST

Audio recordings of Hurricanes Irma and Maria's passage over Puerto Rico document how the calls of coastal critters changed in response to the deadly storms. The hurricanes caused a major disruption in the acoustic activity of snapping shrimp, a reduction in insect and bird sounds, and potentially an intensification of fish choruses, according to new research.



Australian fire beetle avoids the heat: Its infrared organs warn the insect of hot surfaces

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:50:05 EST

The Australian jewel beetle Merimna atrata has several heat sensors. Originally it was thought that it uses them to detect forest fires as the insect lays its eggs in the wood of burned eucalyptus trees. Researchers were finally able to refute this hypothesis. Instead, the beetle appears to need its heat sensors for a different purpose: to not burn its feet on landing.



Mystery of phytoplankton survival in nutrient-poor pacific

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 11:03:35 EST

Upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean provides essential nutrients for the region’s microscopic plants, but iron – a key ingredient that facilitates nitrogen consumption – is in short supply. To compensate, the phytoplankton band together to recycle the scarce metal and retain it in their upper-ocean habitat, scientists have discovered.



Deforestation in the tropics

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 11:02:37 EST

Tropical forests around the world play a key role in the global carbon cycle and harbor more than half of the species worldwide. However, increases in land use during the past decades caused unprecedented losses of tropical forest. Scientists have adapted a method from physics to mathematically describe the fragmentation of tropical forests. They explain how this allows to model and understand the fragmentation of forests on a global scale. They found that forest fragmentation in all three continents is close to a critical point beyond which fragment number will strongly increase. This will have severe consequences for biodiversity and carbon storage.



New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:57:50 EST

Researchers have developed a printing technique using cells and molecules normally found in natural tissues to create constructs that resemble biological structures.