July 24, 2019

    Glyphosate kills microbiota in the bee's intestines, leading to bee death following pathogen infection
    Glyphosate, a common herbicide, contributes to the dying of bees - life science news

    The commonly used herbicide glyphosate has been found in a new study to have a profound effect on the microbiota living the intestines of honeybees. At least four out of eight common bacteria species are severely affected. These bacteria are important for digestion, and defense against pathogens. Indeed, of the bees that have been exposed to glyphosate, only 10% survives infection with the common pathogen Serratia marcescens, whereas this is 50% for bees that have not been in contact with glyphosate. Thus, this study shows that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, contributes to the decline in bee populations, and gives reason to reconsider legislation concerning glyphosate use.

    Read the full story: University of Texas at Austin
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    Nocturnal light pollution makes guppies more courageous during the day
    Light pollution makes fish more courageous during the day - life short science news

    Artificial light at night alters the behavior of fish (guppies) during the day, a new study shows. Fish leave their shelter faster, and spend more time in open, potentially dangerous, waters. It thus seems that fish are taking more risk, exposing themselves more to predators. Researchers think that increased risk taking is caused by the stress that is imposed by light pollution at night.

    Read the full story: IGB - Berlin
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Maternal use of marijuana leads to children starting smoking themselves at a younger age
    Children more likely to try marijuana younger if their mothers smoke it - science news

    A new study showed a correlation between mothers using marijuana during the first 12 years of their child's life and the age at which the children start using cannabis themselves. Maternal marihuana use was associated with children trying it at an earlier age. "Early initiation is one of the strongest predictors of the likelihood of experiencing health consequences from marijuana use”, said lead author Natasha A. Sokol. Although marijuana is generally considered less dangerous than other drugs, the risk of getting health problems is linked to the age of initiation. Earlier initiation is associated with increased risk of anxiety and depressive disorders.

    Read the full story: Brown School of Public Health
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Preventive Medicine


    The but-brain connection is not only hormonal, but also neural, new research shows. There is a direct communication from the gut to the brain via the vagal nerve, carrying sensory information about food and nutrition to the brain in less than a second. This connection uses glutamate as a messenger molecule, just as other sensory organs do. The direct line between the gut and the brain complements the slow signaling that is mediated by hormones, such as those that signal satiety or hunger, and suggests that the gut is our sixth sense that informs the brain about food content and perhaps calories in the stomach.

    Read the full story: Duke University
    Scientific publication: Science


    Scientific research can also be funny
    The effects of cursing while driving and other 2018 Ig Nobel Prize winners - science news Ig Noble prizes 2018

    Sometimes science is too serious. Or so it seems! However, some scientists dare to venture into questions and research that “make people laugh then make them think”. This kind of unconventional studies are awarded every year with the Ig Nobel Prize and it is worth taking a look at this year’s winners.

    The Medicine Prize went to a group of scientists for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones. Anthropology received a reward for a study showing that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees. Amazingly, one study showed that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine, and for this, the authors received the Biology Prize. You might already know, from personal experience, that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual. This study received the Literature Prize. We will mention only one more, the Peace Prize awarded for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile. To see the entire list of winners for the 2018 Ig Noble prizes please click the link below.

    Read the full story: Improbable Research


    Listeria bacteria transport electrons through their cell wall into the environment as tiny currents, assisted by ubiquitous flavin molecules (yellow dots). Image: Amy Cao graphic, UC Berkeley.
    Bacteria in our guts produce electricity - life science news

    Bacteria are pumping out electrons through their membrane, as many as 100,000 per second per cell. This electric current needs flavin, a derivative of vitamin B2 and abundant in the intestines. Bacteria generate electricity to remove electrons produced during metabolism and support energy production (comparable to how we use oxygen in our cells). Researchers think that bacteria produce electricity under conditions of low oxygen levels, such as in our intestines.

    Read the full story: UC Berkely
    Scientific publication: Nature


    A benevolance-dominant leadership style improves employee performance
    Be nice to your employees, and they perform better - management science news

    A new study revealed that showing compassion to subordinates almost always pays off, especially when combined with the enforcement of clear goals. Employees work better if they feel that their leaders or bosses actually care about their wellbeing. These results were found in a group of nearly 1,000 members of the Taiwanese army, and almost 200 Americans with a full time job. It might be surprising to see the same results in two culturally very different groups. Apparently, culture and work place do not influence the way employees look at their leaders.

    Read the full story: Binghamton University
    Scientific publication: The Leadership Quarterly


    Only one gene determines whether an ant will become a queen or a worker
    One gene, one queen in the ant world - life science news

    The protein insulin-like peptide 2 (ILP2) has been found to be made in large quantities only in queens, not in workers, in ant colonies. ILP2 is synthesized in 12 to 15 brain cells only, and turns an ant into an egg-laying machine. Injections of ILP2 in ants from colonies where there is no queen, but where each individual undergoes a cycle of reproduction by cloning and brood care, induce queen-like characteristics, such as slightly bigger body size, and start egg laying. Good quality nutrition stimulates the formation of ILP2, which seems to suggest that the evolution of sociality in insects may have started with imbalanced food distribution among colony members.

    Read the full story: Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz
    Scientific publication: Science


    Artist rendering of what the ancient species might have looked like. Painting on marble by Randwulph
    Three new ancient primates identified - evolution science news

    In what is now San Diego county, all sorts of primats lived in lush tropical forests between 42 and 46 million years ago. Biological anthropologists have now identified three previously unknown species on the basis of fossilized teeth. These primates were between 113 and 796 grams, depending on the species. The newly identified primates shed more light on the live and evolution of primates during the Eocene.

    Read the full story: University of Texas at Austin
    Scientific publication: Journal of Human Evolution


    Tunicates, or sea squirts, have an intestinal barrier against bacteria that is intermediate between insects and vertebrates
    Evolution of the gut’s protection against bacteria - life science news

    Tunicates, or sea squirts, have been found to be the missing link between insects, that have an intestinal lining of chitin, and mammals that rely on a mucosal barrier. Chitin is a protein that is found in many animals (insects and crabs for example), and provides a physical barrier to microbes. Tunicates have both chitin and mucous in their intestine, and if chitin is removed, the tunicates die unless they are treated with antibiotics. As tunicates are related to vertebrates, it thus appears that during evolution chitin was lost in the first vertebrates, leaving us with a mucosal layer in our intestines to protect us against microbes.

    Read the full story: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    This bone fragment ('Denisova 11') was found in 2012 at Denisova Cave in Russia by Russian archaeologists and represents the daughter of a Neandertal mother and a Denisovan father. Image: T. Higham, University of Oxford
    It's a girl! From a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father - ancient history science news

    Genome sequencing of an ancient hominid from Siberia revealed that it had a Neanderthal mother, and a Denisovan father. This ancient individual is only represented by a long bone, and was a girl of at least 13 years old. The bone was found in the Denisova cave by Russian archaeologists in 2012, and then sequenced in Germany. Further analysis showed that the Denisovan father had a Neanderthal ancestor further back in his family tree. The two hominid species must therefore have interacted at various occasions, perhaps more often than has assumed until now.

    Read the full story: Max Planck Gesellschaft
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Plants make terpenoids in small amounts, and we use them in pharmaceuticals and fragrances
    Turning on and off fragrance production in plants - plant science news

    Researchers have identified the key enzymes that switch on and off the production of terpenoids, carbon-rich compounds that are used in fragrances, flavorings, biofuels and pharmaceuticals. These for us useful compounds are made in low quantities by plants, and extracting the mis costly and impractical. Now that the metabolic pathways that control the production of terpenoids in plants is known, researchers believe that it will become possible to develop efficient methods to obtain sufficient amounts of these useful compounds.

    Read the full story: Salk Institute
    Scientific publication: Nature Plants


    A parasitic plant feeds off these wasp's galls. Image: Mattheau Comerford/Rice University
    A parasitic plant attacking a parasitic insect - life science news

    Biologists have found a new type of trophic interaction between two species: a parasitic plant (love vine) feeding off a parasitic insect (gall wasps). The two share a host plant, the insect for laying its eggs, and the plant for attacking the plant’s tumor-like growths, the galls, and killing the wasps in the process. Galls are made by the plant, but are induced by the wasp to ensure nourishment for the developing larva inside. Ultimately, like cancer, galls are harmful to the plant. Biologists now ask what the biological mechanisms are that the love vine uses to attack the galls, and whether they could potentially help to fight cancers.

    Read the full story: Rice University
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Urban ants adapt to higher ambient temperatures in 20 generations. Image: Lauren Nichols, Case Western Reserve University
    Rapid evolution of ants living in the city - life science news

    Acorn-dwelling ants living in big American cities (Cleveland and Knoxville) appear to become more heat-tolerant to adapt to their warmer environment, whereas their conspecifics living in the country nearby do not. Their increased tolerance for higher temperatures helps these ants to live in cities. Researchers believe they are witnessing fast paced evolution in action, as the city ants change in only 20 generations. However, this sort of fast evolution did not happen in another city, Cincinnati. While the exact biological mechanisms underlying temperature acclimation are thus still obscure, these observations give nevertheless more insight into how animals might evolve as a consequence of global warming.

    Read the full story: Case Western Reserve University
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the Royal Society B


    Lizards can regrow their tail, but the regrown tails are much simpler than the original one
    Why salamanders can regrow organs and lizards cannot - life science news

    Researchers have found that neural stem cells in the spinal cord ensure that salamanders can regrow proper tails. When transplanting these cells into lizards, that can also regenerate the tail to some extent, these animals were also able to regrow a proper tail. It appeared that the neural stem cells in the lizard can only differentiate into glial cells (cells with a supporting function), but not into neurons that should steer the whole regneration process. As lizards are the closest relatives to mammals that can regrow a part of the body, they may serve as an intermediate to study the molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration.

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    Men increased their care hours as much as women did, resulting in similar levels of care when their partner became ill. Credit: pexels.com
    Men take care of their spouses just as much as women do - science news

    A new study suggests that men respond to their spouse’s illness just as much as women do and as a result are better caregivers in later life than previous research suggests, according to a new Oxford University collaboration. This is good news for an increasingly stretched adult care services, which have become more reliant on patients’ family and spouses for support. The research sits in contrast to previous studies on spousal caregiving, which found that female caregivers tend to be more responsive. However, the new results reveal that men are just as responsive to a partner’s illness, as women.

    Read the full story: Oxford University
    Scientific publication: Journals of Gerontology, Series B


    Incivility in the workplace associated with more negative parenting behaviors at home, study says
    When rude to your co-workers their children suffer - science news

    According to a group of scientists, when people are rude to their co-workers or treat them badly, they don’t realize the unintended could be the coworkers’ children. Women who experience incivility in the workplace are more likely to engage in stricter, more authoritarian parenting practices that can have a negative impact on their children. Workplace incivility is any behavior that is rude, disrespectful, impolite, etc. “This research tells us much about the nature and scope of workplace incivility, specifically its detrimental impact on mothering well-being and specific negative parenting behavior”, said researcher Angela Dionisi.

    Read the full story: American Psychological Association
    Scientific publication: Annual convention of the American Psychological Association


    A germinating seed must turn into a small plant before its reserves have exhausted
    A germinating seed has only 48 hours to become a plant and survive - science news

    A germinating seed has only two days to become a young seedling capable of photosynthesis otherwise, the plant will not survive. During these first 48 hours, it relies solely on its internal reserves, which are quickly consumed. If photosynthesis doesn’t start immediately after, the plant will die. A new study showed that this process is controlled by a key mechanism that direct the formation of chloroplasts from proplastids, hitherto poorly studied organelles. This mechanism ensures a rapid transition to autonomous growth, as soon as the seed decides to germinate.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    How are biological principles organized that determine where an embryonic cell should go during development?
    Want to know where a cell should go? Ask a mathematician! - life science news

    Scientists have long puzzled over the question of how the position of each cell is correctly specified, so that limbs, arms and other organs grow at the correct place. Biologists and mathematicians have now joined forces to provide a mathematical model of how cell positioning is organized. They studied a relatively simple organism, the fruit fly, and assessed the importance of a cell in a so-called egg chamber, a collection of 16 cells from one of which will become the fertilizable egg. These 16 cells are formed through incomplete cell division, resulting in cytoplasmic bridges connecting cells. On the basis of these observations it was possible to identify the mathematical principles that govern the packing of cells in the egg chamber. As incomplete cell division has also been observed in other organisms, including amphibians and even mammals, it seems possible that the same mathematic principles apply to the development of animals that are more complex than fruit flies, and even control cell positioning during embryonic development in humans.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Physics


    Religious men are less inclined to engage in negative sexual behaviors, including aggression and coerce others into performing unwanted sexual acts
    Religiosity decrease sexually aggressive and coercive behaviors in men - science news in short

    New research shows that college men involved in religious activities are less likely to be sexually aggressive and to engage in coercive behaviors. The researchers surveyed 795 men at a large public university in their first, second, third, and fourth years of college. They found that religiosity had an influence on peer norms, pornography consumption, and promiscuity. In turn, these factors had an influence on sexual aggression and sexually coercive behavior. Although the study has some limitations, it suggests that colleges should be open to allowing students to participate in religious activities as this may have positive outcomes.

    Read the full story: PsyPost
    Scientific publication: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


    Global warming makes barnacle geese travel faster to their Arctic breeding grounds
    Barnacle geese adjust migration to global warming - life science news

    Barnacle geese have been found to travel faster from their temperate wintering to their Arctic breeding grounds to be in time for the polar spring. The Arctic spring advances in time due to global warming, so that the geese have to change their timing of arrival for successful reproduction. As they migrate faster, they eat and rest less on the way, so that the geese have to recover first before they can lay their eggs. Thus, their faster travelling does not advance the timing of breeding, so that fewer chicks survive until fledgling. These observations are important to assess how animals adapt their behavior to rapidly changing climate conditions.

    Read the full story: Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics – University of Amsterdam
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Three-dimensional shapes of modern plants have been made possible by new proteins that are absent in plants' early ancestors
    Plant evolution: from simple 2D to complex 3D shapes with new proteins - life science news

    Plants find their origin in water, in string-like (2D), aquatic green algae to be precise. Their transition to land has been made possible by a genetic novelty, genes that are not found in algae but only in modern, 3D plants. The genes code for CLAVATA, proteins that cause cell divisions at the tips of plant stems to rotate. This spiral development of plants makes the formation of three-dimensional structures possible, and has been instrumental for plants advancing onto land.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Auxin (here visualized in green) is produced and accumulates in the maternal tissue close to the young embryo. Image: Chulmin Park.
    Mother plants steer development of the embryo by the hormone auxin - life science news

    Just as mammalian embryos develop on the basis of a whole battery of signals from the mother, plant embryos need a hormone, called auxin, to develop properly, a new study found. When researchers blocked the synthesis of auxin in the mother, the embryo did not develop properly. Also, when only the embryo could make auxin, but not the mother, the embryo had the same malformations, proving that auxin that controls plant embryo development comes from the mother. This study has resolved a question that had been outstanding for decades.

    Read the full story: Institute of Science and Technology Austria
    Scientific publication: Nature Plants


    The herbicide molecule (top), which inhibits an enzyme (bottom) that plants need for their survival. Image: Tang Research Group / UCLA Samueli
    Discovery of natural herbicide - life science news

    By studying the mechanisms microorganisms use to protect themselves from toxic effects of the chemicals it secretes to kill plants, researchers have found a compound that inhibits the function of an enzyme that is necessary for the plant’s survival. The enzyme catalyses an important metabolic pathway that makes essential amino acids. When this enzyme doesn’t work properly anymore, the plant dies. This pathway does not exist in mammals nor in humans, making it a safe compound to be used as a new class of herbicides.

    Read the full story: University of California – Samueli School of Engineering
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Artistic 3D rendering of the dual spindle in the mammalian zygote. Image: Cartasiova/Hoissan/Reichmann/Ellenberg/EMBL
    Embryo’s first cell division keeps paternal and maternal chromosomes apart - life science news

    Using the recently developed light-sheet microscopy technique, scientists have for the very first time observed that the fertilized egg cell forms two spindles one for the paternal, and one for the maternal chromosomes. In other words, the genetic information from each parent is kept apart during the first cell division. While this was already known for insects, researchers were surprised to see the same now in mouse embryos. Thus, mammalian life starts differently than we thought, and textbooks have to be updated.

    Parental genomes, one in pink and one in blue, remain separated during the first cell division.

    Read the full story: European Molecular Biology Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Science


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