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Vitaliy Kaurov

• Biology  - 
 
The Most Enormous—and Tiniest—Babies A giant panda mom is 900 times more massive than her baby, while a giraffe baby is one-tenth the size of its mom. CLICK-ZOOM

SOURCE:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150828-baby-mammal-size-differences-panda-kangaroo-science

"When the National Zoo’s giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a miniscule baby on August 23rd, it looked like the tiny, hairless infant just tumbled right out of her. A couple hours later, a second baby popped out.

Weighing in at just 86 grams and 138 grams, the two blind little cubs were dwarfed by their 238-pound mother—who weighed over a thousand times more than her smaller baby. (Learn why the smaller panda cub ultimately did not survive.)

The extreme tininess of these babies might seem unusual—panda mothers typically weigh 900 times more than their newborns, while human mothers are only around 20 times heavier than their babies. But in fact, mammals' infants come in a huge range of sizes.

Why So Little?
Whether an animal has big or little babies depends on how self-sufficient the babies need to be at birth. Babies that need a lot of care are called altricial babies, and animals that are born more developed are called precocial. Both pandas and people fall firmly on the altricial end of the spectrum.

Panda cubs rely on their mothers for everything—warmth, food, and even help urinating and defecating. One reason that so much of their development happens outside the uterus could be that breast milk is better at transmitting nutrients to the panda cub than the placenta is, says Megan Owen, associate director of applied animal ecology at the San Diego Zoo. But their small size relative to mom puts them at risk of being crushed while their mother is caring for them. (See “These Newborn Pandas Face 4 Big Threats to Survival”).

In contrast, precocial young like giraffes can walk (clumsily) soon after birth. These more self-sufficient babies tend to be relatively large compared with their mothers, Owen says.  When giraffes are born, for example, they’re already 10 percent the size of their mothers.

Born Yesterday  
At the very tiniest end are marsupials like the red kangaroo, born 100,000 times smaller than its mother. Marsupials don’t have placentas, and their young are so altricial when they come out that they’re practically fetal.

“They can be born jellybean-sized—and by born we mean they exit the uterus the same as a human baby would,” says Alistair Evans, a professor of evolutionary morphology at Monash University in Australia. “They are so small that they cannot survive at all for themselves, and they need a really, really long time to be attached to the teat to get milk.”

Baby red kangaroos exit the uterus, crawl into the pouch, and stay there, attached to the teat, for much of their early development.

“They’re able to make a little embryo and sort of put it in suspended animation for a year or more while they wait for a good environment, wait for a good rain or a lot of grass,” he says. “We couldn’t do that very easily.”

Born to Be Wild
Whether a species gives birth to tiny, helpless babies or larger, more developed infants depends in part on the environment the species is adapted to, says Evans.

Carnivores at the top of the food chain, for example, don’t face much predation as they care for defenseless young, says Barbara Finlay, a professor of psychology at Cornell University who studies animal development. Plus, many have dens they can raise their young in. But prey animals, in general, have to be able to run from predators early on.

As with all rules, these have exceptions: mice are not top predators but have helpless young, and Finlay says that guinea pig young are actually pretty precocial.

Evans says that it comes down to the baby's odds of survival, and uses a suitably reproductive metaphor: “You don’t want to put all your eggs in the one basket.”
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Butifooll
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Lucas Appelmann

• Biology  - 
 
"Less than a year ago, a consortium of some hundred researchers reported that the relationship between all major bird clades had been mapped out by analysing the complete genome of around 50 bird species. This included the exact order in which the various lineages had diverged.
Since then, two of the members of the consortium, Alexander Suh and Hans Ellegren at the Uppsala University Evolutionary Biology Centre, have expanded upon this model by analysing the avian genome through a new method, which hinges on so-called 'jumping genes". Their results paint a partially contrasting picture of the kinship between the various species."

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-08-tree-life-bush.html#jCp

Link to the paper: PLOS Biology, Published: August 18, 2015.
 The Dynamics of Incomplete Lineage Sorting across the Ancient Adaptive Radiation of Neoavian Birds
http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002224

Thanks +Gary Ray R 
 
New species evolve whenever a lineage splits off into several. Because of this, the kinship between species is often described in terms of a 'tree of life", where every branch constitutes a species. Now, researchers at Uppsala University have found that evolution is more complex than this model would have it, and that the tree is actually more akin to a bush.
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Thanks +Lucas Appelmann.  It is not often enough that we get to read the actual paper.  
I might not understand most of the papers I read, for most I look at the figures and graphs as I am a visual learner. 
That paper is a great display of graphic art, the figures and charts on a large monitor look amazing.   
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KQED SCIENCE

• Biology  - 
 
VIDEO: How Do Sharks and Rays Use Electricity to Find Hidden Prey? | Deep Look

Animals that hide on the seafloor are often masters of disguise. But even the most evasive of prey cannot hide from hungry stingrays. These predators can detect tiny electric currents radiating from animals like shrimp and small fish. Without using their ears, nose, or eyes stingrays can locate and devour their prey.

Exactly how this “electric sense” works is what fascinates Stephen Kajiura, an associate professor of biology at Florida Atlantic University. In his shark lab, Kajiura measures the low electric currents that animals generate, and replicates those currents to understand how stingrays find their prey.

By luring a stingray toward electric pulses in a tank, Kajiura can measure the sensitivity and range of the stingray’s ability to detect them.

“All organisms are electric,” Kajiura says. “They have this electric field, this aura around their body, whether you are a shrimp or a fish or a crab or whatever.”

For example, a fish breathes in and out about twice every second, generating a current of around 2 hertz.

Most animals don’t have the ability to detect electric fields. But sharks, rays, skates and sawfish — members of a group called Elasmobranchii — are masters of detecting electric signals. It’s one of their defining features. Elasmobranchs have specialized organs called Ampullae of Lorenzini. These tiny structures allow them to home in on weak bioelectric fields generated by nearby prey.

Elasmobranch’s electrosensory organs are named after a 17th century Italian physician, Stefano Lorenzini, who first identified them while dissecting an electric ray. Lorenzini noticed dozens of tiny pores around the animal’s mouth. Each of the pores led to jelly-filled canals that ended in pocket-like structures that he called ampullae, the Latin word for a type of round-bottomed flask.

We have discovered that sharks have electric sense only in 1966. That’s not even 50 years ago,” Kajiura says. “That’s a whole new sense that’s been discovered. It would be like us discovering vision for the first time only 50 years ago.”

Animals emit low frequency electric fields due to a process known as osmoregulation. This process allows the concentration of ions (charged atoms or molecules) to flow between the inside of our bodies and the outside. In order for our cells to stay intact, the flow of ions needs to be balanced.

But balanced doesn’t necessarily mean equal. The concentration of ions within a shrimp’s body is much lower than that of the sea water it swims in. Their voltage, or potential difference generated between the two concentrations across “leaky” surfaces, can then be measured.

“Across the shell of the shrimp, it’s not very leaky, it’s a nice watertight seal,” Kajiura explains. “But at places like the mouth, or the gills, where you’ve got this soft tissue, there is very little between… the inside the body and the seawater. You have the potential to have leaky ions going across.”

In the long term, Kajiura says it may be possible to take advantage of electric sense to develop repellents. This could potentially keep sharks away from popular surfing spots and commercial fishing lines.

That would be good for sharks because they are often caught as bycatch and killed by long-line fisherman seeking tuna and swordfish.

In the meantime, Kajiura says, the overall topic of electroreception is wide open for discovery.

“It’s a whole new sense. A whole new way of collecting information about the environment,” he says. “And there is so little work that’s done on this entire sensory system, that I think there is so much cool stuff we can do. Things we don’t even know about yet. Things we haven’t even imagined yet, I think are wide open.

Full article:
http://ww2.kqed.org/science/2015/08/11/sharks-and-rays-sense-electricity-fish-cant-hide/

See Also:

Florida Atlantic University Shark Lab
http://www.science.fau.edu/sharklab/

Elasmobranchii
http://elasmo.org/

The Shark’s Electric Sense
http://faculty.bennington.edu/~sherman/the%20ocean%20project/shark%27s%20electric%20sense.pdf

Osmoregulation
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498741/
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Results of a 2013 DREAM Challenge – a crowdsourcing initiative for systems biomedicine – have been published in Nature Biotechnology (http://bit.ly/1Pj4uKr). Hundreds of scientists from around the world pooled their efforts to test how accurately they could predict the effect of toxic compounds in different individuals, or across a population. Methods emerged that may be able to provide real-world benefit in the hazard assessments of new compounds.
Can we use computers to predict whether a compound will have a toxic effect on people? The DREAM challenge uses crowdsourcing to test the state of the art.
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George Virginia

• Biology  - 
 
 
UC Berkeley bioengineers develop ultra-fast method to copy DNA using light
UC Berkeley bioengineers have developed a technology that can make millions of copies of a single gene in less than five minutes using a plastic chip, gold film and an LED light.

http://www.dailycal.org/2015/08/02/uc-berkeley-bioengineers-develop-ultra-fast-method-copy-dna-using-light/
UC Berkeley bioengineers have developed a technology that can make millions of copies of a single gene in less than five minutes using a plastic chip, gold film and an LED light.Read More…
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Huge leap in technology. I really hope that they make this device cheap so that it can be used everywhere even in under developed countries. If DNA matching becomes cost effective and less time consuming, it will help cops to solve crime more quickly.
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Christy jani

• Biology  - 
 
Fat should be considered the sixth taste and can be called oleogustus, according to a study from Purdue University.

"Most of the fat we eat is in the form of triglycerides, which are molecules comprised of three fatty acids," said Richard D. Mattes, distinguished professor of nutrition science.

"Triglycerides often impart appealing textures to foods like creaminess. However, triglycerides are not a taste stimulus. Fatty acids that are cleaved off the triglyceride in the food or during chewing in the mouth stimulate the sensation of fat."

"The taste component of fat is often described as bitter or sour because it is unpleasant, but new evidence reveals fatty acids evoke a unique sensation satisfying another element of the criteria for what constitutes a basic taste, just like sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.

By building a lexicon around fat and understanding its identity as a taste, it could help the food industry develop better tasting products and with more research help clinicians and public health educators better understand the health implications of oral fat exposure. "

The researchers proposed "oleogustus" as a way to refer to the sensation. "Oleo" is a Latin root word for oily or fatty and "gustus" refers to taste.

The findings are published online in Chemical Senses, and this work was supported by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Grant.

Mattes said the taste of fat should not be confused with the feel of fat, which is often described as creamy or smooth.

"Fatty taste itself is not pleasant. When concentrations of fatty acids are high in a food it is typically rejected, as would be the case when a food is rancid. In this instance, the fat taste sensation is a warning to not eat the item.

At the same time, low concentrations of fatty acids in food may add to their appeal just like unpleasant bitter chemicals can enhance the pleasantness of foods like chocolate, coffee and wine," said Mattes, who studies the mechanisms and function of taste.

Because there are no familiar words to ask people to use to describe the taste of fat, the 102 study participants were given multiple cups of solutions each containing a compound that tastes salty, sweet, umami, bitter, sour or fatty. The participants were asked to sort the solutions into groups based on which had similar taste qualities. Odor, texture and appearance were all controlled.

The panelists easily segregated sweet, salty and sour samples confirming they understood the task. Initially, the fatty samples were grouped with bitter because bitter is the vernacular descriptor for unpleasant taste sensations. However, when asked to sort samples including bitter, umami and fatty stimuli, panelists grouped the fatty acids together and separately from the other samples, Mattes said.

http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2015/Q3/research-confirms-fat-is-sixth-taste-names-it-oleogustus.html
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Gary Ray R's profile photoJonathan Dajome's profile photo
 
Interesting research.  We do like to have a link to the original paper in the post, although in this case it is behind a paywall. 

Chemical Senses (2015)
Oleogustus: The Unique Taste of Fat
http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/07/02/chemse.bjv036.short?

Thanks
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Hair ice curls out from pieces of dead wood where fungus is present, as shown in the photograph.

Hair ice's individual ice threads can form up to 10 centimeters long. Botanist Gerhart Wagner and his colleagues at the University of Bern in Switzerland conducted studies showing that hair ice is related to the presence of a fungus. The team found that waste gases produced as the fungus decomposed the wood formed pressure that aids in pushing water out of the wood’s thin channels and to the surface, where organic material in the water aids in rapid freezing. Hair ice is commonly sighted in Western Europe and the Pacific northwest of North America, with one known sighting in Nova Scotia.

Read more about these types of gravity-defying ice flower and ribbon formations: http://bit.ly/1vPM4X4 

(Photograph courtesy of bobbi fabellano.)

#Science   #hairice   #ice   #biology   #iceflowers   #beautiful   #nature   #meteorology   #cold  
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To answer your question Mr. Bradfield, we contacted the author, Dr. Jim Carter, regarding your statement, and here is his direct reply:

"The recent finding that a fungus is a critical component of the formation of Hair Ice adds to our understanding of this product of Ice Segregation. Ice segregation produces Needle Ice, Ice Flowers and pebble ice as well as Hair Ice. The unique formations are matters of micro-climates. As such, they will tell us nothing about larger issues of climate change or global warming given our limited knowledge. 

But, Hair Ice and Ice Flowers occur only on specific forms of vegetation. So, if climatic conditions change then the range of such vegetation might change. At this time we have little information on the geographic distribution of the vegetation that supports the growth of such ice. So, first let us get many more reports about the finding of such ice in nature so that we can draw maps of where such ice occurs.  

Based on the reports I had received over a number of years, I had to conclude Hair Ice occurred only in the Pacific Northwest of North America. In the past two years I have received reports of Hair Ice in Ontario and Nova Scotia. So much for that conclusion"—Dr. Jim Carter.
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Proteins responsible for controlling levels of iron in the body also play an important role in combatting infection, according to a study published in Cell Host & Microbe (http://doi.org/58s). Humans – along with all living organisms, including pathogens – need iron to survive: invading organisms try to highjack it from their hosts in order to thrive and multiply. Researchers at EMBL and their colleagues, have now discovered that proteins responsible for helping the body maintain the correct levels of iron at a cellular level are also involved in helping to prevent this theft.
Iron regulatory proteins play important role in combatting infection, protecting against Salmonella.
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Romavic Antony's profile photoAbak Hoben's profile photoEthan Brierley's profile photoUtkarsh Kishore Ranjan's profile photo
 
That could've explained the up and down of my ferritinin levels
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Long Island Watch

• Biology  - 
 
Our brains are amazingly good at keeping track of #time - until they aren't. This article in +Science News covers the various things that can distort our perception of time, including heat, fevers, drugs, mental disorders, brain injuries, meditation and emotions. Worth a read!
 
An interesting article in +Science News about how the brain perceives time. (http://gplus.ly/1I5Z326)

"New findings hint that the brain has legions of assorted clocks, all tick-tocking at different rates. Some parts of the brain handle milliseconds and others keep track of decades. Some neural timers handle body movements; others monitor information streaming in from the senses. Some brain departments make timing predictions for the future, while timing of memories is handled elsewhere."

But... the brain's perception of time can be easily deceived...

This is an interesting read!!!

#time #science #brain #memories #clocks  
To perceive time, the brain relies on internal clocks that precisely orchestrate movement, sensing, memories and learning.
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The entire issue is about time this month! We are diving in! https://sciencenews.org/sn-magazine/july-25-2015
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Orca whales are one species capable of learning matched vocalizations. These whales hunt in stable groups, called pods.

Research by Volker Deecke of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and John Ford and colleagues at the University of British Columbia demonstrated that all of the pods in a given geographic region, which are genetically related to one another and are termed clans, produce a set of matched vocalizations.

The shared features of these vocalizations result in a vocal dialect that is analogous to a human accent, reflecting the animals’ lineage and group membership. However, the vocalizations of pod mates share even more characteristics than do the dialects of clan members, making it possible for researchers to determine which particular social group a whale belongs to as well as its region of origin.

Read the article about this topic as well as vocal matching in other animal species: bit.ly/1HIstg6  

#WorldOrcaDay   #Science   #Orcas   #biology   #vocals   #Animals   #research   #frequency   #calls  
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Study done on this topic: Deecke, V. B. 2010. The structure of stereotyped calls reflects kinship and social affiliation in resident killer whales (Orcinus orca). Naturwissenschaften 97:513–518. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20213302
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The Dark Loon

• Biology  - 
 
Urban Coyotes

Many animals have been forced to adapt to survive the rapidly expanding cities of humanity. One of these animals is the coyote.

The coyote, a close relative to the gray wolf, is a common sight in North America. Their howls can commonly be heard from nearby forests. But how can an animal that is not domesticated survive in such a rapidly growing human population?

First we need to look at why the coyote can adapt so quickly. Coyotes didn't have any advantage over other animals to help them survive in urban areas, except their quick reproduction rate. Like other members of the Canis family, the coyote gives birth to an average of 6 pups. Of course, 50-70% of pups do not make it into adult hood. So what makes them so so special? Why aren't wolves the dominating species?
Well, coyotes growth rate is faster than wolves. The eyes open and ears become erect after ten days. Around 21-28 days after birth, the pups leave the den, and by 12 months they reach sexual maturity. Wolves, however, open their eyes after 12 to 14 days, and reach sexual maturity in 1 to 3 years. With a growth rate like that, coyotes are perfect subjects for adaption.

So what has the coyote done to live in urban areas?

While it might not seem so, the coyote is actually very intelligent. There are stories of coyotes creating diversions to lure prey into a trap, or to steal someone's lunch. They've also been known to scare prey into passing vehicles to avoid a chase.

It is common to see dead animals on the road. Road kill. Most of these animals, like the possum or squirrel, simply haven't adapted to cars. The squirrel, for instance, is mainly hunted by large birds. So the squirrel's line of defense is to 'zig-zag'. Sadly, doing this does not help with cars. The coyote, however, is able to follow the rules of the road. Scientists studying animals from the Cook County Urban Coyote Research Project have found that coyotes will wait for traffic to stop before bolting across to the other side. They even understand highways, looking only in the direction of the traffic.

Coyotes also have learned to adjust to human patterns. "Coyotes in urban environments switch their activity patterns to be more active at night when human activity is minimal," a study done by the Urban Coyote Program reports.

Coyotes also are opportunistic feeders. They will shift their diets to the most available prey. According to the Urban Coyote Research group, "The most common food items were small rodents (42%), fruit (23%), deer (22%), and rabbit (18%)." Contrary to popular belief, coyotes don't eat mainly garbage and pets (though they will eat one given the chance).

While coyotes can be very annoying, and sometimes dangerous, they are very important to our ecosystem. However, I wouldn't be worrying about our four pawed friend anytime soon. They seem to be doing very well in our rapidly changing world.



Sources
1) www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/12-ways-cities-change-animals-and-animals-change-cities
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote
3) www.worldanimalfoundation.net/f/coyote.pdf
4) www.wolf.org/learn/basic-wolf-info/biology-and-behavior/pup-development/
5) digital-desert.com/wildlife/coyote/coyote-07.html
6) www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/12-ways-cities-change-animals-and-animals-change-cities
7) urbancoyoteresearch.com/study-results
8) urbancoyoteresearch.com/about-coyotes
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A study led at EMBL by Judith Zaugg, in collaboration with a team at +Stanford University, has shed new light on how variations in gene expression are controlled within our DNA. The research, published in Cell (http://bit.ly/1E9OhXb), leads to a greater understanding of how certain genetic variants can ‘switch’ on or off genes that can be far on the DNA strand but close in 3D. It could shed a new light on an individual's characteristics and disease predispositions.
EMBL scientists map ‘switches’ for distant control of gene expression.
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ULg Reflexions

• Biology  - 
 
#Cancer: on the trail of miR-503
On contact with a recipient cell, the microRNA transferred by the #exosomes can modify their genetic response. This applies in the case of cancer cells. A research lead at the +Université de Liège (ULg)  and published in #Oncotarget
Popularized article http://reflexions.ulg.ac.be/en/miR503
Original publication http://orbi.ulg.ac.be/handle/2268/181499
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Able Lawrence

• Biology  - 
 
 
Octopus genome offers clues to the secrets of its alien intelligence 
October has remarkable intelligence for a mollusc, what with half a billion neurons (six times that of a mouse), two-thirds of them tucked away into its tentacles, with each arm capable of considerable information processing, an octopus can navigate mazes or open a bottle to partake tasty treats (read crab) from inside the bottle. It turns out that the surprise doesnt end there as it has 33,000 genes, a third more than humans (25,000) and a significant number of them dedicated to the development and function of its nervous system. 
DNA sequence expanded in areas otherwise reserved for vertebrates.
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Intresting
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The T-cells that help to track down and eliminate disease-causing microbes inside our body have to be able to distinguish between invaders and our own cells. In the thymus, they are trained not to react to markers produced by brain, muscle and other cells. The catch: the ‘trainers’ are all thymic cells. In a study published in Nature Immunology (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ni.3246), the Steinmetz group and collaborators discovered that each thymic cell expresses extra genes that are selected in a coordinated fashion, and tend to be located close to each other in the genome.
In the thymus, T-cells are trained not to react to markers produced by brain, muscle and other cells. The catch: the ‘trainers’ are all thymic cells.
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Lacerant Plainer
owner

• Biology  - 
 
 
How flowers changed the world : Flowers appeared on Earth about 130 million years ago. Before flowers, land plants evolved from a group of green algae, perhaps as early as 510 million years ago, but the evolution of the seed which was deployed for dispersal made plants ubiquitous. And this helped to increase the concentration of Oxygen in the atmosphere. Do watch this video which is kind of fantastic : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXydMRoL9RU (How to grow a planet with prof Iain Stewart.

Recently evolved : If all Earth's history were compressed into an hour, flowering plants would exist for only the last 90 seconds. But once they took firm root about 100 million years ago, they swiftly diversified in an explosion of varieties that established most of the flowering plant families of the modern world.

It's why we exist : Today flowering plant species outnumber by twenty to one those of ferns and cone-bearing trees, or conifers, which had thrived for 200 million years before the first bloom appeared. As a food source flowering plants provide us and the rest of the animal world with the nourishment that is fundamental to our existence. In the words of Walter Judd, a botanist at the University of Florida, "If it weren't for flowering plants, we humans wouldn't be here."

Evolution and Innovation : What allowed flowering plants to dominate the world's flora so quickly? What was their great innovation? Early angiosperms got their start on the margins. In a world dominated by conifers and ferns, these botanical newcomers managed to get a toehold in areas of ecological disturbance, such as floodplains and volcanic regions, and adapted quickly to new environments. Fossil evidence leads some botanists to believe that the first flowering plants were herbaceous, meaning they grew no woody parts. (The latest genetic research, however, indicates that most ancient angiosperm lines included both herbaceous and woody plants.) Unlike trees, which require years to mature and bear seed, herbaceous angiosperms live, reproduce, and die in short life cycles. This enables them to seed new ground quickly and perhaps allowed them to evolve faster than their competitors, advantages that may have helped give rise to their diversity.

Flashy is better : Casting pollen to the wind is a hit-or-miss method of reproduction. Although wind pollination suffices for many plant species, direct delivery by insects is far more efficient. Insects doubtless began visiting and pollinating angiosperms as soon as the new plants appeared on Earth some 130 million years ago. But it would be another 30 or 40 million years before flowering plants grabbed the attention of insect pollinators by flaunting flashy petals.

References and Sources:

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/prehistoric-world/big-bloom/

http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/flowers-rainfall/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-flowers-changed-world-ecosystems-art-galleries-180956110/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_plants

Gif courtesy (Tumblr) : https://goo.gl/SB578A
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Thank the flowers for allowing us to be here.
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PNNL scientists have directed a common bacterium to produce more lauric acid – a valuable fatty acid – than it typically does. The achievement is noteworthy not simply because of the increased production of fatty acid, which can be a useful component of biofuels, but it also opens the door for scientists to manipulate such organisms to produce compounds useful as fuels or medicines.  Read more at https://www.pnnl.gov/science/highlights/highlight.asp?id=4060.
 
* * *
 
"We now know enough about redirecting traffic inside the cell that we can engineer cells to make more of the products that have high value. This is useful not only for making commercially viable biofuels but also commodities such as pharmaceuticals," said microbiologist Alex Beliaev, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who led the study, which was published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
 
Scientists at PNNL and the Colorado School of Mines worked together with a single-celled organism called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002, a type of cyanobacteria—organisms that make building blocks for new cells out of air, water, and sunlight. Like its cousins, common forms of algae, cyanobacteria suck in huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the environment and convert it into other materials, such as biomass. Thus, they play a critical role in Earth's climate. Scientists the world over currently are developing ways to take advantage of these natural processes to create new forms of energy.
 
The goal of this research was to find ways to change the organism's metabolism and direct it toward making fats, or lipids, instead of sugars, or glucose, using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering tools to redirect the path of carbon in the cell. Because Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 grows very fast and adapts well to different environments, it's under particular scrutiny for its potential to make biofuels and other high-value products.
 
"With cell division rates of just under two hours and with remarkable resilience under varying environmental conditions, this organism is a perfect target for metabolic engineering," said Beliaev.
 
By manipulating the organism's genes, Beliaev's team was able to direct the bacteria to make less sugar and more lauric acid, a compound that can be processed into biodiesel and higher-value products, such as soaps and detergents. Such biological adjustments can mean the difference between another run-of-the-mill, ocean-dwelling bacterium and an organism useful for creating products used by people every day.
 
The engineered bacterium not only accumulated this fatty acid, but it also excreted it from the cell. The scientists found that the resultant organism was extremely resilient, responded to stress well, and tolerated high levels of light—all useful qualities for scientists seeking to manipulate the organism.
 
In this study, the scientists also were surprised that the Synechococcus didn't make as much lauric acid as expected. Beliaev explained: "Upstream, we hypothesized that they adapt to reactions because the central metabolic pipeline has enough elasticity to accommodate perturbations. But we now know we need to use metabolic controls to push toward end products. It's harder than we expected. There's a built-in resistance in these organisms. It was a good lesson: reverse engineering approach may work, where you push an organism in a specific direction and see its reaction."
 
What's Next? The next step is to use these capabilities to engineer organisms for other targeted products, including terpenoids-precursors to a range of commercial chemicals-and bioproducts, such as rubber, detergents, and polymers.
 
"This is a proof-of-concept study that shows we have the knowledge and tools to change carbon to something more valuable," said Beliaev. 
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Patrick C's profile photoLipika Lipi's profile photoSolange Kopn Auyn's profile photoAbak Hoben's profile photo
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I suggest you please read the post and the linked article. 
As far as your question:
Beliaev's team was able to direct the bacteria to make less sugar and more lauric acid, a compound that can be processed into biodiesel and higher-value products, such as soaps and detergents.
If they in fact make biodiesel then yes there will be by-products produced if the biodiesel is used in an engine.  But again this is proof of concept research, and they are working toward knowledge and tools to change carbon to something more valuable.

Thank you.
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The structure of two parts of the Oskar protein, known to be essential for the development of reproductive cells, has been solved by researchers at EMBL Heidelberg. This advance – published in +Cell Reports (http://bit.ly/1Orkppv) – has also enabled the team to gather the first insights into how this poorly understood protein functions. The research was carried out with fruit flies, but has implications for other animals, as many organisms, including humans, also have part of the Oskar protein.
3D structure of Oskar protein gives first molecular insight into how it functions.
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Scientists can now see structured communities of microbes known as biofilms in 3D and in real time thanks to a microfluidic reactor developed at PNNL. The System for Analysis at the Liquid Vacuum Interface (SALVI) recently produced the first 3D images of live biofilms using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, providing a fresh view of these complex structures. Read more at https://www.pnnl.gov/science/highlights/highlight.asp?id=4044.
 
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SALVI images showed the distribution of various concentrations of key biomolecules (fatty acids) at the interface where the biofilm attached to a surface for colonization, giving scientists more insight into the role they may play in contaminant fate and transport in the subsurface. These insights may one day help eliminate corrosion in pipelines, prevent gum disease, or reduce barnacle growth on marine vessels.
 
These results were published in the journal Biomicrofluidics as a high-impact, fast-track article because, as one reviewer noted, "the article will catalyze new research in this area," as it overcomes the basic problem with biofilm imaging-loss of molecules during delivery to the mass spectrometer-and produces impressive submicron 3D chemical mapping.
 
SALVI overcomes the limitations of ToF-SIMS, which is widely used to analyze organic and biological molecules in complex biological systems. The vacuum-based ToF-SIMS generally requires solid (dried or frozen) samples. SALVI enables ToF-SIMS analysis of liquid samples in real time.
 
The key to SALVI's ability to provide these images is a microfluidic cell that allows wet imaging in a vacuum, something not previously achievable. Microfluidics provides unprecedented control over flow conditions, accessibility to real-time observation, high-throughput testing, and mimics in vivo biological environments.
 
Why is this important? The images help bring scientists closer to understanding how these biofilms grow and interact with the surfaces they colonize, which can include teeth, ocean vessels, medical instruments, pipelines, and more. The ultimate goal is to predict and influence the biofilms' role in basic energy, industrial, and biogeochemical research.
 
What's Next? The PNNL team plans to make SALVI more applicable to other imaging modalities. Future studies will couple SALVI's results with real-time metabolic measurements. 
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Queen Britney's profile photoLipika Lipi's profile photoEthan Brierley's profile photoGOURAV NAYAK's profile photo
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I like this I will look into it more 
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Tech Entice

• Biology  - 
 

Recently a small study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that humans aren’t the only animals who need to focus on certain cues to stay alive. Macaque monkeys are often used as a model for the biological basis of human cognition for the similarities that they have with humans.
 


Recently a small study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that humans aren’t the only animals who need to focus on certain cues to stay alive. Macaque monkeys are often used as a model for the biological basis of human cognition for the similarities that they have with humans. 
Around 5 million years ago, Macaque monkeys and humans shared common ancestors. However over a prevailing time, human brains have evolved tremendously. Now our
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Owen Roberts's profile photoEvgeny Odintsov's profile photoRomavic Antony's profile photoAbak Hoben's profile photo
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It's true
We have a capacity for self-destruction & greed way above other primates
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