Biology

Investigating the biopesticide activity of guayule resin

A team of researchers, led by Dr Manuel Carmona in the Institute for Regional Development at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, have unveiled recent discoveries about a unique plant called guayule. The silver-grey perennial shrub is an alternative source of natural rubber. Until now, guayule has not been commercially viable as its other co-products have not been considered to […]

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Biology

Computational biology: How mathematical modelling can help cure cancer

Understanding how living cells work is difficult due to the number of varied and complex processes occurring in them. This complexity can be elucidated by breaking these processes down into simpler components and focusing on a particular mechanism. One approach to this study is to use mathematical equations – the basis of computational modelling. Dr Susan Mertins, the founder and […]

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Biology

Thoroughbred racehorses: Speed machines and thermoregulatory specialists

Thoroughbred racehorses are exceptional athletes with explosive speed. At flat-out gallop, their working muscles generate heat faster than it can be lost, causing their core temperature to rise dramatically during racing. Through years of study, Meg Brownlow from Racing Australia and James Mizzi from Hong Kong Jockey Club have revealed the exceptional thermoregulatory mechanisms that enable racehorses to cope, including […]

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Biology

Do phytoplankton hold the key to the evolution of marine biodiversity?

Life exploded in our oceans 250 million years ago, leading to the biodiversity that we see today. Before this point, however, the plant and animal life in our seas was considerably less diverse. Several theories have been proffered to explain this – often considering both habitat and climate changes – but very few studies have considered the role of phytoplankton. […]

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Biology

Improving dog welfare: Helping owners decode their dogs’ behavior

Many dogs with behavioral problems are surrendered to shelters each year and are at risk of euthanasia. The Center for Canine Behavior Studies (CCBS) works with dog owners and canine professionals to gain a better understanding of canine behavior issues and the techniques that work best for treating these issues. This information is used to educate dog owners, veterinarians, and […]

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Biology

Impact of dietary protein on cat health and wellbeing

Compared to dogs, cats require higher levels of protein in their diet to remain healthy. Based on current recommendations, commercially available cat food contains between 28% and 55% protein for cats of different ages and health conditions. Dietary protein levels are thought to influence disease susceptibility by affecting gut microbial communities. Dr Dayakar Badri and Dr Matt Jackson of Hill’s […]

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Biology

Stress vulnerability and resilience: Insights from a novel mouse model

Stress and early life adversity alter the body’s stress response and are predisposing individuals to psychiatric disorders. Additionally, stress vulnerability and resilience have a genetic predisposition in humans due to variants of the FKBP5 gene. For in depth understanding of underlying mechanisms altering the stress-response network, valid animal models are needed. A novel mouse line developed at Taconic Biosciences and […]

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Biology

Malaria modelling: An optimal control problem

Malaria, a life-threatening mosquito-borne disease, is a leading cause of death and infection in many developing countries. Using mathematical modelling, Professor Wandi Ding, Middle Tennessee State University, USA, and her colleagues investigate optimal control of malaria, using both the sterile insect technique and insecticide-treated nets. Their simulations show that a combination of both strategies results in a more rapid elimination […]

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Biology

An in-depth look at the East Coast fever vaccine

East Coast fever causes significant losses among cattle in eastern, central and southern Africa, affecting the livelihoods of livestock keepers in these regions. There is no conventional vaccine for this disease and, instead, an infection and treatment method is implemented using Muguga cocktail and oxytetracycline. Professor Andrew Peters and Dr Fiona Allan of the University of Edinburgh conducted a systematic […]

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Biology

Foresting Douglas-fir through targeted micropropagation

Conifer trees are in high demand for their aesthetic value and desirable wood, but producing these trees rapidly is challenging because of their long life cycle. Increased effort is underway to use artificial techniques to propagate Douglas-fir. However, this is constrained by a lack of viability and recalcitrance of in vitro cultures. Recent work by Drs Dmytro Yevtushenko and Mariana […]

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