Biology

Investigating paedomorphism in the evolution of L. saxatilis

Littorina saxatilis (rough periwinkle) is often used as an example of adaptation to different ecological niches, with ecotypes adapted to life at different levels of the seashore. Professor Emilio Rolán-Alvarez and his colleagues at the University of Vigo, Spain, investigate whether one ecotype may have evolved from another by paedomorphosis. Their results indicate that, while there is some evidence in […]

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Biology

Connectase: An enzyme that fuses proteins in a specific manner

Dr Adrian Fuchs, post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and his team of researchers have discovered an enzyme that can fuse two proteins at specific recognition sites. This reaction enables the engineering of proteins with new characteristics, for example by labeling them with a detectable marker or by manipulating their interaction behaviour. Such applications are useful […]

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Biology

Decoding fibre secrets of two jute species

Jute is a type of bast fibre plant, of which there are more than hundred species. Jute is used as an affordable natural fibre source for many human purposes. There are only two commercially cultivated species, which have unique fibre characteristics, but they cannot be cross-bred. To gain insight into specific traits of these two species, Basic and Applied Research […]

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Biology

Clostridium difficile infection: Risk factors and potential vaccines

Antibiotics treatment is one of the main factors of risk for developing Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection, a condition responsible for nearly 500,000 infections and 30,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. Dr Joseph Shiloach, Dr Ashish Sharma and their collaborators at the Biotechnology Core Laboratory of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) optimised […]

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Biology

Different bait sizes could lead to better ways to control invasive ant species

Current pest control protocols do not allow to differentiate between invasive and native ant species. Dr Reid Ipser, when a graduate student at the University of Georgia, US, wanted to find out whether invasive species, like fire ants and Argentine ants, chose different sizes of food particles compared to native American species. If so, this would help develop more effective […]

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Biology

The way we think is reflected in our brain activity

People think and act differently. The ability to visualise things, to read newspapers upside down, to mentally rotate objects, to remember faces or phone numbers, or to perform any other daily task, differs from one person to another. Everyone is unique, and yet, despite these individual differences people interact, communicate and understand each other. Professor Kazuo Nishimura at Kobe University, […]

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Biology

The role of extra chromosomal circular DNA in rapid adaption to glyphosate resistance in pigweed

Plants, like other living organisms, have genetic stress-avoidance mechanisms that allow them to become resistant to specific chemicals when continuously exposed to them. Dr Christopher Saski from Clemson University and Dr William Molin from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are researching the extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) structure known as the replicon of pigweed, which contains the EPSPS gene, the gene […]

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Biology

A model of photosynthesis regulation by ion fluxes in conditions of variable light

Prof Cornelia Spetea and her team at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, study ion transport proteins and genes involved in the regulation of photosynthesis in conditions of abrupt changes in light intensity. Research on this topic is important because light fluctuations constantly occur in the natural environment and affect photosynthesis and growth. Their proposed model could act as a knowledge […]

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Biology

New ways to assess stress in fish are urgently needed in aquaculture

With an increasing demand in fish products, aquaculture is fast becoming a main priority towards achieving sustainable fish production. In this context, an accurate and consistent way to evaluate fish stress levels is essential to ensure high standards of welfare. Dr Pedro Miguel Rodrigues and Msc Cláudia Raposo de Magalhães, based at the University of Algarve, CCMAR, Portugal, believe current […]

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Biology

De-icing salt contamination of trees in urban environments

Street trees and other greenery counteract pollution and provide important ecosystem services in urban environments. That this valuable vegetation is under stress has emerged as a research and urbanisation issue. Pierre Vollenweider is based at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research which is concerned with the use, development and protection of natural and urban spaces. Together […]

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