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 […]

Read More…

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 […]

Read More…

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 […]

Read More…

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 […]

Read More…

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 […]

Read More…

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 […]

Read More…

Biology

Novel 3D microscope provides unprecedented moving images of biological processes

Dr Chunqiang Li and his team of the University of Texas at El Paso have developed a novel three-dimensional (3D) optical microscope that uses a spectrally shaped pulse laser. Whilst most prior microscopes used scanning to achieve high speed 2D imaging, Dr Li’s approach obtains the z-position from a technique called ‘temporal focusing’ that use ‘diffraction’ rings and clever mathematics […]

Read More…

Biology

Energising life on earth: the third way

Almost all living organisms on earth get their energy, ultimately, from the sun. Energy is fixed in carbohydrates by plants and cyanobacteria during photosynthesis, then both animals and plants release it by breaking down those carbohydrates. Until now, only two main routes of carbohydrate breakdown were thought to be present in cyanobacteria and plants. However, Dr Kirstin Gutekunst, of Christian-Albrechts-University […]

Read More…

Biology

Unlocking the chemical secrets of microbial conversations

Dr Matt Traxler of the University of California, Berkeley, is changing the way we study microbes. Gone are the days of thinking about a single species in a pure culture in the lab – Traxler and his team of graduate students and postdocs are developing a version of mass spectrometry which promises to allow single microbial cells, and their interactions […]

Read More…