Planets and Animals

  • Acropora spp. coral still thrives in the holdout refuge of Coral Gardens, Belize
    on September 30, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Coral Gardens Reef in Belize remains a refuge for Acropora spp. coral despite widespread devastation in other areas of the western North Atlantic/Caribbean, according to a new study.

  • Rodent ancestors combined portions of blood and venom genes to make pheromones
    on September 30, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Experts who study animal pheromones have traced the evolutionary origins of genes that allow mice, rats and other rodents to communicate through smell. The discovery is a clear example of how new genes can evolve through the random chance of molecular tinkering and may make identifying new pheromones easier in future studies. The results represent a genealogy for the exocrine-gland secreting peptide (ESP) gene family.

  • Rapeseed instead of soy burgers: Researchers identify a new source of protein for humans
    on September 30, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Rapeseed has the potential to replace soy as the best plant-based source of protein for humans. In a current study, nutrition scientists found that rapeseed protein consumption has comparable beneficial effects on human metabolism as soy protein. The glucose metabolism and satiety were even better. Another advantage: The proteins can be obtained from the by-products of rapeseed oil production.

  • New study reveals how reptiles divided up the spoils in ancient seas
    on September 30, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    While dinosaurs ruled the land in the Mesozoic, the oceans were filled by predators such as crocodiles and giant lizards, but also entirely extinct groups such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Now for the first time, researchers have modeled the changing ecologies of these great sea dragons.

  • Predator-prey interaction study reveals more food does not always mean more consumption
    on September 30, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Decades of data allow researchers to look at predator-prey interactions in a different way: among multiple species throughout the water column. They have developed an unusually rich picture of who is eating whom off the Northeastern United States.

  • Breaking COVID-19's 'clutch' to stop its spread
    on September 30, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    The virus that causes COVID-19 uses a clutch-like shifter to enable transcription of one RNA string into multiple proteins, and therein lies a vulnerability. A proof-of-concept study shows it's possible to eliminate that shifter with an RNA-binding compound linked to a 'trash this' signal.

  • Genomes of two millipede species shed light on their evolution, development and physiology
    on September 29, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Researchers have sequenced and analyzed complete genomes from two very different millipede species. The study provides important insights into arthropod evolution, and highlights the genetic underpinnings of unique features of millipede physiology.

  • The key to lowering CO2 emissions is made of metal
    on September 29, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Researchers produce malic acid, which contains 4 carbon atoms, through artificial photosynthesis by simply adding metal ions like aluminum and iron. This solves a problem with current artificial photosynthesis technology of only producing molecules with 1 carbon atom and paves the way to exploring the use of CO2 as a raw material.

  • Marine biodiversity reshuffles under warmer and sea ice-free Pacific Arctic
    on September 29, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Climate warming will alter marine community compositions as species are expected to shift poleward, significantly impacting the Arctic marine ecosystem.

  • Brain circuitry shaped by competition for space as well as genetics
    on September 29, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Complex brain circuits in rodents can organize themselves with genetics playing only a secondary role, according to a new computer modelling study.

  • Insight from sports medicine leads to discovery about mussels in acidifying ocean
    on September 29, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Feeding rates of blue mussels slow down under ocean acidification conditions, and the cause may be the slowing beat of gill cilia, similar to a known response in human lung cells.

  • Study traces the evolution of gill covers
    on September 28, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Scientists have identified a key modification to the genome that led to the evolution of gill covers more than 430 million years ago.

  • How Zika virus degrades essential protein for neurological development via autophagy
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Researchers shed new light on how Zika virus hijacks our own cellular machinery to break down an essential protein for neurological development, getting it to 'eat itself'. By triggering this process known as autophagy, Zika virus is able to degrade an important protein, a process that may contribute to the development of neurological or brain deficiencies and congenital birth defects in the newborns of infected pregnant women.

  • Ancient Adélie penguin colony revealed by snowmelt at Cape Irizar, Ross Sea, Antarctica
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Researchers encountered a puzzle at Cape Irizar, a rocky cape located just south of the Drygalski Ice Tongue on the Scott Coast, Ross Sea. He found both ancient and what appeared to be fresh remains of Adelie penguins, mostly of chicks, which frequently die and accumulate at these colonies. However, the 'fresh' remains were puzzling, he says, because there are no records of an active penguin colony at this site.

  • Disastrous duo: Heatwaves and droughts
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Simultaneous heatwaves and droughts are becoming increasingly common in western parts of the Unites States, according to a new study. Periods of dry and hot weather, which can make wildfires more likely, are becoming larger, more intense, and more frequent because of climate change.

  • 'Insect Armageddon': Low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    New research provides important evidence on the role of insecticides on the longevity of insect population.

  • 'Portfolio' of marine reserves enhances fish populations
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    No-take fishing zones on their own act as valuable sources of fish for neighboring reefs. These areas support more fish, which then produce even greater numbers of baby fish. But, just how many babies survive and where they end up varies greatly from year to year. Multiple smaller reserves instead of one large reserve can ensure a stable supply of fish.

  • Plastic-eating enzyme 'cocktail' heralds new hope for plastic waste
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    The same team who re-engineered the plastic-eating enzyme PETase have now created an enzyme 'cocktail' which can digest plastic up to six times faster.

  • Climate change threatens breeding birds
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Surviving on a warming planet can be a matter of timing -- but simply shifting lifecycle stages to match the tempo of climate change has hidden dangers for some animals, according to new research. The study has uncovered drastic consequences for birds that are breeding earlier in lockstep with earlier starts of spring: chicks hatching earlier face increased risk of poor weather conditions, food shortages and mortality.

  • Strong activation of anti-bacterial T cells linked to severe COVID-19
    on September 28, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    A type of anti-bacterial T cells, so-called MAIT cells, are strongly activated in people with moderate to severe COVID-19 disease, according to a new study.

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