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Updated: 54 min 53 sec ago
About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don't know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment.
When we learn, we associate a sensory experience either with other stimuli or with a certain type of behaviour. The neurons in the cerebral cortex that transmit the information modify the synaptic connections that they have with the other neurons. According to a generally-accepted model of synaptic plasticity, a neuron that communicates with others of the same kind emits an electrical impulse as well as activating its synapses transiently. This electrical pulse, combined with the signal received from other neurons, acts to stimulate the synapses. How is it that some neurons are caught up in the communication interplay even when they are barely connected? This is the crucial chicken-or-egg puzzle of synaptic plasticity that a team led by Anthony Holtmaat, professor in the Department of Basic Neurosciences in the Faculty of Medicine at UNIGE, is aiming to solve. The results of their research into memory in silent neurons can be found in the latest edition of Nature.
The soil bacteria Streptomyces form filamentous branches that extend into the air to create spiraling towers of spores. Scientists have identified the developmental on-off switch for Streptomyces, a group of soil microbes that produce more than two-thirds of the world's naturally derived antibiotic medicines.
In response to an ongoing, unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, a team of researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard University, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and researchers across institutions and continents, has rapidly sequenced and analyzed more than 99 Ebola virus genomes. Their findings could have important implications for rapid field diagnostic tests. The team reports its results online in the journal Science.
About 400 million years ago a group of fish began exploring land and evolved into tetrapods – today's amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. But just how these ancient fish used their fishy bodies and fins in a terrestrial environment and what evolutionary processes were at play remain scientific mysteries.
New findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought. In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.
A dead ant manipulated by a species of so-called "zombie ant fungus " clings to a twig in a South Carolina forest. A parasitic fungus that reproduces by manipulating the behavior of ants emits a cocktail of behavior-controlling chemicals when encountering the brain of its natural target host, but not when infecting other ant species, a new study shows.
The green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back. By understanding the secret of how lizards regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic "recipe" for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.
Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Many of these were most likely intentionally set in order to deforest the land. Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use. The herringbone-patterned tan lines cutting through the dark green of the Amazon Rainforest in the middle of the image are evidence of deforestation in the Brazilian state of Pará. The deforestation in Pará follows the Brazialian national motorway BR 163, passing by cities such as Novo Progresso. The lower half of the image shows the state of Mato Grosso.
Daylight was breaking over the central Pacific and coffee brewing aboard the MY Hanse Explorer. Between sips, about a dozen scientists strategized for the day ahead. Some would don wetsuits and slip below the surface to collect water samples around the southern Line Islands' numerous coral reefs. Others would tinker with the whirring gizmos and delicate machinery strewn throughout the 158-foot research vessel. All shared a single goal: Be the first research group to bring a DNA sequencer out into the field to do remote sequencing in real time. Against an ocean of odds, they succeeded.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has brought a lot of attention to the deadly virus. According to the World Health Organization, up to 90% of those infected with Ebola die from the virus. Now, researchers publishing August 13 in the Cell Press journal Cell Host & Microbe reveal how Ebola blocks and disables the body's natural immune response. Understanding how Ebola disarms immune defenses will be crucial in the development of new treatments for the disease.
Few animals can boast of being as tough as the Antarctic midge. Its larvae develop over not one but two Antarctic winters, losing nearly half their body mass each time. It endures high winds, salt, and intense ultraviolet radiation. As an adult, the midge gets by without wings and lives for only a week or so before starting its life cycle all over again.