Biology

A research model for carbon-partitioning in sugarcane

Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS), first observed in 2012, is an undiagnosed condition affecting Australian sugarcane. It causes mid-canopy leaves to turn yellow, decreasing crop sugar yields. Dr Frederik Botha oversees YCS research for Sugar Research Australia (SRA). Focused on gene expression and protein and metabolite levels, this research seeks molecular targets to improve genetic tolerance to YCS and enhance sugarcane productivity in […]

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Biology

Reading between the clicks: A new approach to echolocation

Biologists are increasingly appreciating the importance of bioacoustics in conservation. By understanding the soundscape of an environment we can learn far more than previously thought. This is also the case for animal behaviour, a classic example being echolocation in bats and dolphins. Dr Alyssa Accomando, from Brown University and the National Marine Mammal Foundation, is studying echolocation to determine how […]

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Biology

The biology of ageing

What causes ageing? Is it inevitable? Could it be slowed or even reversed? Humans have wanted to know the answer to these questions ever since we became aware of our own mortality. Despite the tremendous advances that have been made in our scientific understanding over the past century, ageing remains one of the greatest mysteries in biological science. But scientists, […]

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Biology

Pathogenic microorganisms targeted by complex cellular communications

When the human body is challenged by infection, the defences of the immune system are called into action. Dr Malini Sen of the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology is leading research into the role of a protein called Wnt5a in defending against invading pathogenic microorganisms. Wnt5a is found in macrophages, large white blood cells that form one of the first lines of defence […]

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Biology

Better and stronger potatoes using hybrid breeding

Potato is a hugely important crop worldwide, being eaten across the world and across cultures. Increased crop productivity and strength will help cater for the increasing global population, and also serve to reduce famine in challenging and impoverished environments. The potato breeding company Solynta in The Netherlands has successfully produced a hybrid breeding program for potatoes which will allow the rapid selection and […]

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Biology

Into the deep: understanding swordfish eco-physiology

Cold-blooded vertebrates, such as fish, are extremely susceptible to changes in the temperature of their surroundings. Yet one successful ocean predator, the swordfish, migrates from tropical to temperate seas, and dives daily from warm surface waters to cooler depths, with seeming ease. Drs Diego Bernal and Chugey Sepulveda of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Pfleger Institute of Environmental […]

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Biology

Open-source bioinformatic solutions for ‘Big Data’ analysis

Drs Tim Griffin and Pratik Jagtap along with the Galaxy-P team from the University of Minnesota are working to develop workflows on an open source platform for the analysis of multi-omic data. They are currently focusing on using a Galaxy-based framework to investigate the integration of genomic datasets with mass spectrometry-based ‘omics’ data. But in the long term, they aim […]

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Biology

Capturing images and data before the slides degrade into uselessness

Microscopic and enigmatic, the tardigrades are little known to science. However, their remarkable ability to enter suspended animation and withstand extreme conditions may support important medical advances. Prof Carl Johansson of Fresno City College, California, and Dr Lynn Kimsey of the Bohart Museum at UC Davis are documenting the amazing diversity of these secretive animals, and at the same time […]

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Biology

Unravelling the signalling cues controlling vertebrate reproductive behaviour

How do vertebrate brains integrate information from external social cues and internal physiological states to produce appropriate behaviours? This is one of the big questions that Dr Karen Maruska and her research team at Louisiana State University (LSU) are striving to answer. Dr Maruska leads a research group that uses fish models to investigate how animals process and translate multisensory […]

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