Biology

How natural disturbances sustain diversity

While natural disturbances like fires and floods can pose a risk to human life, in some places these events can help to support a diverse ecosystem. Forest fires, for example, allow species like oak to thrive and support a rich insect population, which in turn feeds many different birds. Dr Mike Eichholz of Southern Illinois University Carbondale studies the influence […]

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Biology

Antlers: The long and short of it

Antlers play a central role in deer mating behaviour as both a weapon for competition between rivals, and a visual signal of mate quality. However, antler growth is energetically costly and the allocation of resources must be balanced against survival. Research led by Dr Bronson Strickland and Dr Steve Demarais, co-directors of the Deer Ecology and Management Research Laboratory at […]

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Biology

How ubiquitin determines the fate of our proteins

Regulation of the multitude of protein-protein interactions that take place in the cell is essential. HECT E3 ubiquitin ligases play an important role in regulating protein functions and maintaining cellular health. However, many questions about their biological functions remain unanswered. Working at the interface of biochemistry and biophysics, Dr Donald Spratt from Clark University in Massachusetts, uses NMR spectroscopy to […]

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Biology

Pipefish male pregnancy: Why do females prefer large mates?

Parental care is an important factor to reproductive success, and studies of care quality can help in understanding mate choice and other reproductive decisions. In the broad-nosed pipefish, males become ‘pregnant’ and care for their embryos until birth. Large and small male pipefish adopt different parental care strategies, and females favour larger mates. Researcher Ines Braga Goncalves at the University […]

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Biology

Metabiology and the complexity of natural evolution

In his study of metabiology, Arturo Carsetti, from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, reviews existing theories and explores novel concepts regarding the complexity of biological systems while demonstrating the role of information processing and mathematical reasoning. On the basis of what is claimed by Gregory Chaitin, he perceives evolution as a hill-climbing random walk in software space, making biology mathematical […]

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Biology

Dancing DNA: How Rad51 chooses the perfect partner

Professor Hiroshi Iwasaki, Tokyo Institute of Technology, aims to learn more about a biological process called homologous recombination, which is crucial to maintaining the integrity of DNA. His laboratory-based research means that we can learn more about this process and a key protein called Rad51. An increased understanding of this complex mechanism could be translated to the DNA repair processes […]

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Biology

Telemetry reveals how river connectivity affects fish ecology

Human impacts on river systems have reduced connectivity by creating barriers that often prevent fish passage. The Lake Winnipeg Basin Fish Movement Project has used acoustic telemetry to track fish migration along the river system and build vital knowledge and understanding of fish ecology. The results will inform river restoration and conservation of two fish species, the Channel Catfish and […]

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Biology

Brains over brawn: Mating strategies in Japanese macaques

If you’re a Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata yakui), you don’t have to be the alpha male to be the most successful. In fact, recent research from Dr Yosuke Otani at Osaka University shows that a better mating strategy is likely to give you the best reproductive success. These monkeys may have evolved to outsmart the primate hierarchy. We have a […]

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Biology

Proteomics reveals new possibilities in the fight against infection

The work of Dr Jennifer Geddes-McAlister at the University of Guelph investigates the interactions between hosts and pathogens to uncover new treatment options to combat infections. Her lab uses a range of techniques centered around proteomics, the study of proteins, to progress knowledge of fungal and bacterial infections in humans and agricultural crops. The results of this research can be […]

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Biology

Subcellular dissection of plant immunity towards bacteria

In the plant kingdom, disease is an exception rather than a rule. That is because plants have an immune system. A plants’ immune system consists of several signalling pathways that act together to counteract microbial pathogens. However, there is not enough known about the subcellular pathways that allow proteins to move within and out of the plant cell and ward […]

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