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Updated: 16 min 12 sec ago

Genetic study shows major impact of climate change on Antarctic fur seals

27 min 7 sec ago

Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring, has provided unique insights into the effect of climate change on a population of top-predators. Published in Nature this week, the findings show that the seals have significantly altered in accordance with changes in food availability that are associated with climate conditions. Despite a shift in the population towards 'fitter' individuals, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the population in decline.

Report on viruses looks beyond disease

22 hours 57 min ago

In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to a new report by the American Academy of Microbiology.

Viral therapy could boost limb-saving cancer treatment

22 hours 57 min ago

Viruses designed to target and kill cancer cells could boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy to the arms and legs and help avoid amputation, a new study reports.

Whole-genome sequencing of bulls in key beef and dairy breeds

22 hours 57 min ago


Prof. Ruedi Fries and Dr. Hubert Pausch monitor sequence data of breeding cattle. An international collaboration known as the '1000 Bull Genomes Project' aims to accelerate breeding for desired traits in beef and dairy cattle while also improving animal health and welfare. Results of the project's first phase -- based on sequencing the whole genomes of 234 individual bulls whose direct descendants number in the tens of millions -- are reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

New technique maps life's effects on our DNA

Mon, 21/07/2014 - 23:49

Researchers at the BBSRC-funded Babraham Institute, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Single Cell Genomics Centre, have developed a powerful new single-cell technique to help investigate how the environment affects our development and the traits we inherit from our parents. The technique can be used to map all of the 'epigenetic marks' on the DNA within a single cell. This single-cell approach will boost understanding of embryonic development, could enhance clinical applications like cancer therapy and fertility treatments, and has the potential to reduce the number of mice currently needed for this research.

Genetic blueprint of bread wheat genome unveiled

Thu, 17/07/2014 - 23:56

The genetic blueprint is an invaluable resource to plant science researchers and breeders. For the first time, they have at their disposal a set of tools enabling them to rapidly locate specific genes on individual wheat chromosomes throughout the genome. Jorge Dubcovsky, Professor at the University of California Davis, USA, says that these results "have been a fantastic resource for our laboratory. The development of genome specific primers, which used to take several weeks of work, can now be done in hours. Mapping of any sequence to the specific chromosome arm can now be done in silico in minutes. In addition to the acceleration of day to day work in wheat genetics, this resource has made possible analyses and discoveries at the genome level that were not possible before."

First comprehensive library of master genetic switches in plants

Thu, 17/07/2014 - 23:56

Researchers have created the first comprehensive library of genetic switches in plants, setting the stage for scientists around the globe to better understand how plants adapt to environmental changes and to design more robust plants for future food security.

Birdsongs automatically decoded by computer scientists

Thu, 17/07/2014 - 23:56

Birdsongs automatically decoded by computer scientists

Decoding dengue

Thu, 17/07/2014 - 00:37

Scientists have discovered a new pathway the dengue virus takes to suppress the human immune system. This new knowledge deepens our understanding of the virus and could contribute to the development of more effective therapeutics.

Wisconsin scientists find genetic recipe to turn stem cells to blood

Mon, 14/07/2014 - 23:53


Two transcription factors are all that is required to make blood from pluripotent stem cells. The ability to reliably and safely make in the laboratory all of the different types of cells in human blood is one key step closer to reality.

CRISPR system can promote antibiotic resistance

Mon, 14/07/2014 - 23:53

CRISPR, a system of genes that bacteria use to fend off viruses, is involved in promoting antibiotic resistance in Francisella novicida, a close relative of the bacterium that causes tularemia. The finding contrasts with previous observations in other bacteria that the CRISPR system hinders the spread of antibiotic resistance genes.

Flower development in 3D: Timing is the key

Mon, 14/07/2014 - 23:53


This is an image of the inflorescence of Arabidopsis thaliana. In close collaboration with Jürg Schönenberger and Yannick Städler from the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research of the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, 14 developmental stages of the flower of Arabidopsis thaliana from very early meristematic floral initiation to fully developed seeds were monitored with micro-computed tomography in 3D. From the same set of developmental stages a full metabolic profile using mass spectrometry was measured covering hundreds of biochemical pathways.

A first direct glimpse of photosynthesis in action

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 23:47

An international team of researchers, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, has just a reported a major step in understanding photosynthesis, the process by which the Earth first gained and now maintains the oxygen in its atmosphere and which is therefore crucial for all higher forms of life on earth.

A new genome editing method brings the possibility of gene therapies closer to reality

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 23:47

Researchers from Salk Institute for Biological Studies, BGI, and other institutes for the first time evaluated the safety and reliability of the existing targeted gene correction technologies, and successfully developed a new method, TALEN-HDAdV, which could significantly increased gene-correction efficiency in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC). This study published online in Cell Stell Cell provides an important theoretical foundation for stem cell-based gene therapy.

Logging and burning cause the loss of 54 million tons of carbon a year in Amazonia

Wed, 09/07/2014 - 09:20

A study conducted by scientists in Brazil and the United Kingdom has quantified the impact that selective logging, partial destruction by burning, and fragmentation resulting from the development of pastures and plantations have had on the Amazon rainforest. In combination, these factors could be removing nearly 54 million tons of carbon from the forest each year, introduced into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases. This total represents up to 40% of the carbon loss caused by deforestation in the region.

Scientist identifies world's biggest-ever flying bird

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 22:08


Paleontologist Dan Ksepka examines the fossilized skull of what may be the biggest flying bird ever found. Scientists have identified the fossilized remains of an extinct giant bird that could be the biggest flying bird ever found. With an estimated 20-24-foot wingspan, the creature surpassed size estimates based on wing bones from the previous record holder -- a long-extinct bird named Argentavis magnificens -- and was twice as big as the Royal Albatross, the largest flying bird today. Scheduled to appear online the week of July 7, 2014, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings show that the creature was an extremely efficient glider, with long slender wings that helped it stay aloft despite its enormous size.

Blocking cells' movement to stop the spread of cancer

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 22:08


In this image, the cells are stained red for cell protrusion, yellow for cell membrane and blue for nucleus. Insights into how cells move through the body could lead to innovative techniques to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours, according to new UCL research.

New discovery in living cell signaling

Fri, 04/07/2014 - 01:08


This gif of membrane-anchored Ras (red) and individual SOS molecules (green) shows individual SOS molecules corralled into nanofabricated patches where all the membrane-associated Ras molecules they activate can be trapped. A breakthrough discovery into how living cells process and respond to chemical information could help advance the development of treatments for a large number of cancers and other cellular disorders that have been resistant to therapy. An international collaboration of researchers, led by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have unlocked the secret behind the activation of the Ras family of proteins, one of the most important components of cellular signaling networks in biology and major drivers of cancers that are among the most difficult to treat.

Rethinking the reef

Fri, 04/07/2014 - 01:08


On the left is a coral-covered reef. On the right is one dominated by algae. A new study by biologists at San Diego State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows that inhabited coral islands that engage in commercial fishing dramatically alter their nearby reef ecosystems, disturbing the microbes, corals, algae and fish that call the reef home.