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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Biology

Longer not stiffer: Targeting jute fibre quality

Jute is a phloem bast fibre crop grown for its fibres that are used in the manufacture of various goods. Due to its cheapness and biodegradable nature, jute is now in greater demand than other natural fibres. However, the fibre is short, making it hard to produce some jute products; moreover, the fibre is also stiffer than other plant fibres, […]

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Biology

Whither now for jute wither? Emergence of a new pathogen

Being sessile, plants face a number of threats, in the form of changing climate and microbes that cause disease. Plant diseases can wipe out entire fields of crops, leading to huge economic losses. In the jute fields in Bangladesh, there have been incidences of wilting of the plants, leading to their ultimate death. Scientists at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute […]

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Biology

Cellular decoding via jute CDPKs

Plants grow and survive by cellular responses to various signals from the environment, other organisms, or from within themselves. The cellular machinery to decode these signals in plants is highly complex and consists of several specialised proteins. One such protein family is the calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK) group of proteins that decode developmental and environmental stimuli-induced calcium changes into physiological […]

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