Biology

Blotches and spots: Understanding blemishes of faba bean

Over the last decade, grain legumes such as faba beans have been cultivated widely in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Faba bean is the world’s second-highest grain-yielding legume, yet the occurrence and spread of specific diseases of faba bean grown in Europe have not been studied in great detail. Dr Biruta Bankina and colleagues Dāvids Fridmanis, Gunita Bimšteine, Jānis Kaņeps, […]

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Biology

Rethinking the Tree of Life with new tools

Professor Sung-Hou Kim and his colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, have applied a new way of thinking to the Tree of Life, a concept that has been around since Darwin’s time. Drawing from their collective expertise, they applied an Information Theory-based non-alignment method to compare whole-proteome sequences, the protein sequences coded by all genes of each organism. Their […]

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Biology

The Platform: A novel non-invasive fish monitoring method

Estuary environments are incredibly variable, both spatially and temporally, which can make fish monitoring using traditional sampling gear difficult. Dr Joseph Merz, of Cramer Fish Sciences, has developed a new non-invasive sampling gear for this purpose. The Single-Platform Aquatic Species and Habitat Sampling System (or The Platform) is able to monitor fish communities and their habitat interactions across various habitat […]

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Biology

Antibiotic resistance in enterobacteria from pigs

Antibiotic resistance is a global threat affecting humans, pets, livestock and plants. As antibiotic usage to prevent infections is commonplace in livestock farming, there is a significant pressure to adopt alternative farming practices. Dr Dominic Poulin-Laprade and her colleagues at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, investigated how antibiotic-free farming practices affected the presence of […]

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Biology

Protecting bottlenose dolphins from coastal construction

Professor Ann Weaver of Good-Natured Statistics Consulting, USA, has studied dolphins living free at sea for 20 years. Her numerous scientific discoveries about dolphin behaviour yield ample evidence of intelligence and of sophisticated social behaviour at sea. Drawing from many years of intensive studies in primates, she undertook an impressive 18-year ethological study of the social behaviour and impact of […]

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Biology

Moisture regulation in finger pad ridges can ensure optimal grip

The ridges on the pads of our fingers, and the fingerprints we produce, have several benefits, including identification purposes. However, this was not the evolutionary purpose of ridged skin on the finger pad, and it is more likely to have evolved to optimise grip and touch. Professor Gun-Sik Park, Seoul National University, has explored how the finger pad has its […]

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Biology

Cilia, asymmetry, and genetic disease

The length and movement of motile cilia – microscopic hair-like organelles on the outside of our cells – have a remarkable effect on the asymmetric development of embryos, allowing organs to grow in the correct places in our bodies. Dr Susana Lopes and her team at the LYSOCIL project are investigating rare genetic diseases affecting the cilia, and how these […]

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Biology

Integrative plant responses: How seagrasses adjust to light

The shallow coastal waters that house tropical seagrass meadows are often highly illuminated. In the Caribbean, the main habitat builder is the species Thalassia testudinum, characterised by a leaf physiology adapted to shade. Dense canopies allow the seagrass to survive in such environments, but depth colonisation requires canopy and underground mass adjustments. These integrative plant responses are essential to adjusting […]

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Biology

Strains of honeybee viruses provide intelligence in the battle against global bee extinction

The large-scale death of bees could culminate in an ecological and agricultural disaster. This may present as significantly reduced wild and domestic flora, as well as drastically reduced availability of various fruits, vegetables and nuts. There are several pressures on the global bee population, e.g., use of pesticides, destruction of habitat and infection with pathogen-carrying mites. Professor Ivan Toplak, an […]

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Biology

How did bacterial glycogen branching enzymes evolve?

Glycogen is a sugar which plays important roles in carbon and energy storage in bacteria. Glycogen with a highly branched, compact structure offers a more durable energy source – a characteristic linked with bacterial environmental durability, such as the ability to survive in deep sea vents. Dr Liang Wang at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai and Ms Qing-Hua Liu at […]

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