Biology

Relieving heat stress in dairy cattle

Dairy cattle in warm climates are at risk of heat stress, which can adversely affect both their welfare and milk production. To investigate the effects of heat stress on cattle, Dr Amanda Stone of Mississippi State University, USA, uses Precision Dairy Monitoring Technologies. Some of these technologies allow for continuous monitoring of the body temperature of cattle. Recently, Dr Stone’s […]

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Biology

The bees are back in town: Pollinators in an urban ecosystem

The growing urbanisation of the landscape poses a major threat to insect pollinators. The reduction in number of these insects, especially bee species, could have a severe impact on agricultural production as many of the crops that we rely on could not produce seeds without pollination. Working with the Volusia Sandhill Pollinator Project, Professors Cindy Bennington and Peter May investigate […]

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Biology

Creating a paradigm shift in plant breeding and plant phenotyping

Innovative plant breeding strategies accessing the beneficial relationships between soil microbes and plants could help develop varieties that are more resilient to climate change and soil conditions. Dr Omirou and Dr Fasoula at the Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus, describe how moving away from conventional multi-plant, densely-grown field plots, and using innovative selection designs fitted to individual plants grown at ultra-wide […]

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Biology

How to make a CRISPR cow

Genome editing offers an opportunity to introduce useful genetic traits into livestock breeding programmes. However, it has proven difficult to insert large DNA fragments into livestock embryos using the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Dr Alison Van Eenennaam and Dr Joseph Owen, of the University of California, Davis, employed their knowledge of bovine embryogenesis and DNA repair pathways, and the help of a […]

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Biology

Cell culture protocols for growing human keratinocytes in the laboratory

Dr Hitomi Fujisaki, Senior Research Scientist at Nippi Research Institute of Biomatrix in Japan, studies human epidermal keratinocytes (skin cells) and cancer cells using two- and three-dimensional type I collagen substrates. Through her research, she aims to understand more about the ways in which these cells interact with the substrate that they are grown on, and how this relationship can […]

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Biology

How new RNA genes are born

The study of gene birth and evolution focuses on the identification of ancestral genetic sequences, highly conserved during evolution, that can serve as a foundation for gene development. Nicholas Delihas, Professor Emeritus at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, New York, has identified one such ancestral element and presented data and a model to show how new […]

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Biology

Strength in difference: Genetic distance and heterosis in China

Cross-breeding between different species or populations can cause “hybrid vigour”, or heterosis, resulting in offspring who are genetically fitter than their parents. While this phenomenon is widely recognised in some plants and animals, it is poorly understood in humans. In recent work, Dr Chen Zhu of China Agricultural University, along with her colleagues Dr Xiaohui Zhang, Dr Qiran Zhao and […]

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Biology

Genuinely theoretical: The case for Philosophical Biology

Though his background is in biomedicine, Dr Sepehr Ehsani is currently completing his PhD in philosophy at University College London. In his time working in the lab, Dr Ehsani became more aware of the often-neglected importance of theory. What is sometimes called theoretical biology is not usually ‘theory’ for the most part, in the sense that it is not truly […]

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Biology

More than a just a simple powerhouse: Structure and function of mitochondria

Mitochondria are well-known as the “powerhouse” of the cell – but these organelles have many other vital functions. Mitochondria are also heterogeneous, differing in structure and function. Dr Kasturi Mitra of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, leads a research team focused on understanding the relationship between structure and function of mitochondria, in both health and disease. Dr Mitra’s […]

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Biology

Investigating the healing arts of Ancient Mesopotamia

Barbara Boeck, of the Institute for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, CSIC Madrid, has studied the cuneiform records of Ancient Mesopotamia to explore their healing methods. With a particular focus on medicinal plants and the practice of divination, she set out to discover how Babylonian practitioners treated their patients, what medicinal plants they recommended for which illnesses, and […]

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