Biology

Climate change is driving the expansion of zoonotic diseases

Climate change is expanding the range of many infectious diseases. In particular, vector-borne diseases, such as dengue or malaria, are advancing. Predictions of disease risk need to take into account both biological and abiotic factors. Dr Jeanne M. Fair and her colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA, are pioneering a multidisciplinary approach to the problem. By combining […]

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Biology

Mitonucleons: A new chapter in the story of mitochondria?

Mitonucleons are a newly recognised type of mitochondrial superstructure. Consisting of multiple mitochondria enveloping chromatin, mitonucleons appear to be responsible for the development of unusual structures called spheroids. Dr Honoree Fleming of Castleton State College, Vermont, USA, has identified mitonucleons in human endometrial cells in vitro. Using microscopy, Dr Fleming has also observed mysterious structures called tubules, which appear to […]

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Biology

Design of Experiments: New research design could lead to better crops

As the world’s population continues to grow, new ways to ensure the future food supply are needed. Many crops undergo genetic transformation – a process where new genes are introduced into a plant cell, which are then grown into a mature plant. One way to hasten crop improvement is to optimise the transformation process. With this aim, Uyen Cao Chu of […]

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Biology

Action research creates a shared future for elephants and humans

In 2009 a crisis faced the elephant and human populations of central Mali, when a vital fresh water source dried up. Reduced rainfall and increased human activity, including vast herds of domestic cattle, contributed to this critical problem. Dr Susan Canney of the University of Oxford and Director of the Mali Elephant Project, decided a new and prompt approach was […]

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Biology

Rice husk biochar with beneficial microbes: A promising agricultural inoculant and soil ameliorant

The research of Shohei Ebe and Takashi Ano from Kindai University into the relationship between a microbe and rice husk biochar (RHB) suggest the latter is an activator of beneficial microbes that can be used to combat phytopathogenic microorganisms. Having isolated a novel lipopeptide producing Bacillus sp. that benefits from RHB presence in the soil, these are promising insights into […]

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Biology

Systems biology and metabolic networks predict heterosis

Heterosis or hybrid vigour is the improved function of a desirable quality in hybrid offspring. Predicting heterosis would mean that plant and animal breeding need not depend on time-consuming and costly field tests of numerous combinations. Dominique de Vienne, Professor at the University Paris-Saclay, France, uses metabolic networks and systems biology to study heterosis. Modelling metabolic systems has relied on […]

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Biology

Stentor coeruleus: Do these tiny cells have out-of-body experiences?

Occasionally, a person who recovers from a medical crisis reports an “out-of-body experience”. In unique research, Dr Benjamin Scherlag of the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, USA, is using a single-celled organism called Stentor coeruleus to re-create the events that occur during an out-of-body experience. Dr Scherlag has shown that these cells can be revived from an apparently dead state […]

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Biology

Untangling cross resistance patterns in the brown planthopper
Using long-term monitoring of insecticide susceptibilities

In many countries, rice is a staple crop within people’s diets. There are many insect pests to rice. Of these pests, one of the most devastating to crops is the brown planthopper. Recently, in Asia, the brown planthopper has become resistant to various pesticides, including the frequently used imidacloprid. Dr Tomohisa Fujii from Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center, NARO and […]

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Biology

Understanding plant thermoregulation in the face of climate change

Plants possess the fascinating ability to control their body temperature. This physiological process is fundamental for the growth, reproduction, and survival of numerous species of plants. In the face of climate change, as temperatures increase and rainfall patterns become more variable, understanding the capability of plants to adapt to changing conditions is becoming critical. Prof Peter Kevan and colleagues at […]

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Biology

Z-DNA the new biology: The third dimension of cancer therapeutics

DNA comes in many different shapes and sizes. Z-DNA, also known as left-handed DNA, is different from the more familiar right-handed B-DNA. Until recently, the role of Z-DNA in humans was a mystery. In a scientific breakthrough, Dr Alan Herbert of InsideOutBio Inc., Charlestown, Massachusetts, has identified the purpose of unusual DNA sequences called “flipons”. Flipons get their name from […]

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