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500-million-year old worm ‘superhighway’ discovered in Canada

These are worm tunnels (labelled) visible in small section of rock. Credit: Professor Brian Pratt, University of Saskatchewan Prehistoric worms populated the sea bed 500 million years ago -- evidence that life was active in an environment thought uninhabitable until now, research by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) shows. The sea bed in the deep…

Zika: Silent long-term circulation in Thailand

In an attempt to shed light on Zika circulation, scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in collaboration with US teams and the Thai National Institute of Health, decided to investigate the history of the Zika virus in Thailand. They discovered that it has been circulating in the country for at least 16 years…

Ant societies’ arms race: Gene activity in defenders depends on invading...

This is a colony of the host species of Temnothorax longispinosus with two queens: Young worker ants tend the brood, older worker ants forage for food. Credit: Copyright Susanne Foitzik, iOME, JGU Temnothorax americanus is a slavemaking ant found in northeastern America. These tiny social insects neither rear their offspring nor search for food themselves.…

The smelling of food controls cellular recycling and affects life expectancy

C. elegans' sense of smell depends on olfactory neurons (red); loss of function in odor perception results in deteriorations of the intestinal recycling system, visualized by the accumulation of green fluorescent protein (GFP). Credit: Fabian Finger The smell of food induces a variety of physiological processes in our body. Thus, the production of saliva and…

How fungi influence global plant colonization

The nearer to the equator, the more frequently the plant-fungus symbiosis occurs - for example in the species-rich tropical rainforest of the Amboró National Park in Bolivia. Credit: Patrick Weigelt The symbiosis of plants and fungi has a great influence on the worldwide spread of plant species. In some cases, it even acts like a…

Biocolonizer species are putting the conservation of the granite at Machu...

There is a wide variety of biocolonizer species that are putting the conservation of the granite at Machu Picchu at risk. Credit: Héctor Morillas / UPV/EHU The Sacred Rock is one of the most important monuments at the Inca sanctuary Machu Picchu, located in the Cusco region in Peru. It is a granitic rock that…

Researchers are first to count growth factors in single cells

The breast cancer cells' nuclei are illuminated (blue) by quantum dots and individual EGF growth factors appear as red spots. Credit: University of Illinois Department of Bioengineering Whether healthy or diseased, human cells exhibit behaviors and processes that are largely dictated by growth factor molecules, which bind to receptors on the cells. For example, growth…

Neanderthals walked upright just like the humans of today

Virtual reconstruction of the skeleton found in La Chapelle-aux-Saints, based on high-resolution 3D surface scans of the spine and pelvis. Credit: Martin Häusler, UZH Neanderthals are often depicted as having straight spines and poor posture. However, these prehistoric humans were more similar to us than many assume. University of Zurich researchers have shown that Neanderthals…

New research casts doubt on cause of Angkor’s collapse

The ancient city of Angkor, Cambodia. Credit: The University of Sydney New University of Sydney research has revealed the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor underwent a gradual decline in occupation rather than an abrupt collapse. Researchers have long debated the causes of Angkor's demise in the 15th century. Historical explanations have emphasised the role of…

A shared past for East Africa’s hunter-gatherers

A local official helps translate into Amharic information about the research project to people from the Amhara population in Ethiopia. Credit: Tishkoff Lab Languages that involve "clicks" are relatively rare worldwide but are spoken by several groups in Africa. The Khoisan language family includes a handful of these click languages, spoken by hunter-gatherer groups in…

Scientists solve mystery of a fish called Mary’s ‘virgin’ birth

Mary's embryos about to hatch. Credit: Copyright Dr. Laura Dean A female stickleback fish, nick-named 'Mary', has produced offspring from eggs that appear to have been fertilised while they were still inside her, according to scientists at the University of Nottingham. The team of researchers from the School of Life Sciences collected Mary on an…

Humans struggle to identify snail shell shades, but technology reveals true...

Cepaea nemoralis snails in their color variations at the University of Nottingham. Credit: Daniel Ramos Gonzalez They're neither white and gold or black and blue. But in an optical puzzle akin to The Dress, colourful snails are causing scientists at the University of Nottingham to turn to technology to definitively decide whether some snails' shells…

Complex structures’ organization studied in slime mold

Slime molds are unicellular organisms that can form multicellular structures like the ones seen here. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have used the slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum to understand how cells self-organize into complex structures in new research published in PNAS. Credit: Akihiko Nakajima, CC-BY-SA Researchers in Japan think they have found an answer…

Establishing the molecular blueprint of early embryo development

Each dot represents a single cell in the developing embryo, with the number of specialized cells increasing across the 48hrs from embryonic day 6.5 to embryonic day 8.5. The dots are colored based on which major cell type they represent, such as heart, lungs, brain and gut. The 116,000 dots are arranged so that cells…

Earth’s largest extinction event likely took plants first

This is a view of Coalcliff in New South Wales, Australia, where researchers discovered evidence that Earth's largest extinction may have extinguished plant life nearly 400,000 years before marine animal species disappeared. Credit: Christopher Fielding Little life could endure the Earth-spanning cataclysm known as the Great Dying, but plants may have suffered its wrath long…

Simplified method makes cell-free protein synthesis more flexible and accessible

A cartoon schematic of cell-free protein synthesis, a biotechnology that harnesses the cell's genetic code into a test tube. The schematic represents a simplified approach that allows scientists to execute the reactions by mixing a DNA template and two reaction premixes that contain all reagents necessary for protein synthesis to take place. Credit: Nicole E.…

The 210-million-year-old Smok was crushing bones like a hyena

Coprolites, or fossil droppings, of the dinosaur-like archosaur Smok wawelski contain lots of chewed-up bone fragments. This led researchers at Uppsala University to conclude that this top predator was exploiting bones for salt and marrow, a behavior often linked to mammals but seldom to archosaurs. Credit: Martin Qvarnström Coprolites, or fossil droppings, of the dinosaur-like…

How your smartphone is affecting your relationship

Couple in restaurant with smartphones (stock image). Credit: © dima_sidelnikov / Fotolia Smartphones have become a constant companion for many of us. In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, nearly 50 percent of adults reported they "couldn't live without" their phones. Whether at the supermarket, in the doctor's office, or in bed at…

Gene therapy durably reverses congenital deafness in mice

The left panel is a schematic representation of the human ear. Sound waves are collected by the outer ear made up of the pinna and ear canal. The middle ear, composed of the eardrum and ossicles, transmits sound waves to the inner ear, which features the cochlea - the hearing organ responsible for transmitting auditory…

Genetic blueprint for extraordinary wood-munching fungus

Cells of the wood-eating fungus, Coniochaeta pulveracea, exhibit both yeast- and fungus-like type characteristics while breaking down twigs from an Acacia tree. Credit: Heinrich Volschenk A relatively unknown fungus, accidentally found growing on an Acacia tree in the Northern Cape, has emerged as a voracious wood-munching organism with enormous potential in industries based on renewable…

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