Planets and Animals

  • Like humans, beluga whales form social networks beyond family ties
    on July 11, 2020 at 1:22 am

    A groundbreaking study is the first to analyze the relationship between group behaviors, group type, group dynamics, and kinship of beluga whales in 10 locations across the Arctic. Results show that not only do beluga whales regularly interact with close kin, including close maternal kin, they also frequently associate with more distantly related and unrelated individuals. Findings will improve the understanding of why some species are social, how individuals learn from group members and how animal cultures emerge.

  • Extraordinary regeneration of neurons in zebrafish
    on July 10, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Biologists have discovered a uniquely rapid form of regeneration in injured neurons and their function in the central nervous system of zebrafish. They studies the Mauthner cells, which are solely responsible for the escape behavior of the fish, and previously regarded as incapable of regeneration. However, their ability to regenerate crucially depends on the location of the injury.

  • Fast-spreading mutation helps common flu subtype escape immune response
    on July 10, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Strains of a common subtype of influenza virus, H3N2, have almost universally acquired a mutation that effectively blocks antibodies from binding to a key viral protein.

  • Less impact from wildfire smoke on climate
    on July 10, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    New research revealed that tiny, sunlight-absorbing particles in wildfire smoke may have less impact on climate than widely hypothesized because reactions as the plume mixes with clean air reduce its absorbing power and climate-warming effect.

  • Researchers solve a 50-year-old enzyme mystery
    on July 10, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Advanced herbicides and treatments for infection may result from the unraveling of a 50-year-old mystery.

  • Study reveals scale of habitat loss for endangered birds
    on July 10, 2020 at 1:05 am

    A new study warns that the last remaining habitat for several endangered bird species in Europe could reduce by up to 50 per cent in the next century as farmers convert land to more profitable crops and meet increased demand for products such as olive oil and wine.

  • Sea surface temperature has a big impact on coral outplant survival
    on July 10, 2020 at 1:05 am

    A new study has shown that coral outplant survival is likely to drop below 50% if sea surface temperatures exceed 30.5 degrees Celsius and that survival rates can also be predicted by considering temperature conditions in the year prior to outplanting.

  • Neonatal exposure to antigens of commensal bacteria promotes broader immune repertoire
    on July 9, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Researchers have added fresh evidence that early exposure to vaccine-, bacterial- or microbiota-derived antigens has a dramatic effect on the diversity of antibodies an adult mammal will have to fight future infections by pathogens. This antibody diversity is called the clonal repertoire -- basically different single cells with distinct antibody potential that can multiply into a large clone of cells, all producing that distinct antibody.

  • Salmonella biofilm protein causes autoimmune responses -- Possible link with Alzheimer's
    on July 9, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Scientists have demonstrated that a Salmonella biofilm protein can cause autoimmune responses and arthritis in animals.

  • Biologists trace plants' steady mitochondrial genomes to a gene found in viruses, bacteria
    on July 9, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Biologists have traced the stability of plant mitochondrial genomes to a particular gene - MSH1 - that plants have but animals don't. Their experiments could lend insight into why animal mitochondrial genomes tend to mutate.

  • Discovery reveals how plants make cellulose for strength and growth
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    The discovery unveils the molecular machinery that plants use to weave cellulose chains into cable-like structures called 'microfibrils.'

  • Safer CRISPR gene editing with fewer off-target hits
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    The CRISPR system is a powerful tool for the targeted editing of genomes, with significant therapeutic potential, but runs the risk of inappropriately editing ''off-target'' sites. However, a new study shows that mutating the enzyme at the heart of the CRISPR gene editing system can improve its fidelity.

  • Scientists urge caution, further assessment of ecological impacts above deep sea mining
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    A new study argues that deep-sea mining poses significant risks, not only to the area immediately surrounding mining operations but also to the water hundreds to thousands of feet above the seafloor, threatening vast midwater ecosystems. Further, the scientists suggest how these risks could be evaluated more comprehensively to enable society and managers to decide if and how deep-sea mining should proceed.

  • Scientists trace the origin of our teeth from the most primitive jawed fish
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Scientists have digitally 'dissected', for the first time, the most primitive jawed fish fossils with teeth found near Prague more than 100 years ago. The results show that their teeth have surprisingly modern features.

  • Global wildlife surveillance could provide early warning for next pandemic
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Researchers propose a decentralized, global wildlife biosurveillance system to identify -- before the next pandemic emerges -- animal viruses that have the potential to cause human disease.

  • A 'regime shift' is happening in the Arctic Ocean
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Scientists find the growth of phytoplankton in the Arctic Ocean has increased 57 percent over just two decades, enhancing its ability to soak up carbon dioxide. While once linked to melting sea ice, the increase is now propelled by rising concentrations of tiny algae.

  • 5G wireless networks have few health impacts, finds study using zebrafish model
    on July 9, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Findings from a new study into the effects of radiofrequency radiation generated by the wireless technology that will soon be the standard for cell phones suggest few health impacts.

  • Bats offer clues to treating COVID-19
    on July 9, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Bats carry many viruses, including COVID-19, without becoming ill. Biologists are studying the immune system of bats to find potential ways to 'mimic' that system in humans.

  • Aquaculture's role in nutrition in the COVID-19 era
    on July 9, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    A new paper examines the economics of an aquaculture industry of the future that is simultaneously environmentally sustainable and nutritious for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who depend on it.

  • Native bees also facing novel pandemic
    on July 9, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    There is growing evidence that another 'pandemic' has been infecting bees around the world for the past two decades, and is spreading: a fungal pathogen known as Nosema.

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