A new kind of stem cell

Scientists have observed a new class of stem cell with the capacity to turn into nearly any cell type. Called F-class cells for the fuzzy appearance of its colonies, these cells could potentially be used in regenerative medicine and drug discovery. In a second related paper, researchers with the Project Grandiose Consortium announce a new […]

How risky is ballast water?

Many invasive species – e.g. zebra mussels – hitch a ride across oceans in ships’ ballast water, but a new study shows that some trips may pose more risk than others. Researchers sampled ballast water each day as ships crossed the ocean and discovered that invasive species are more likely to survive a shorter trans-Atlantic […]

Fighting malnutrition with ‘stronger’ chickpeas

Researchers have determined which genetic variations influence the iron and zinc concentrations in chickpea seeds, a finding that could help fight malnutrition in developing countries. The study examined 94 varieties of chickpea and found eight genetic variations – known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs – that are associated with the iron and zinc concentration. Breeding […]

Chickadees can resist cold down to -10°C

Black-capped chickadees’ ability to resist cold temperatures by increasing their own heat output maxes out at about -10 degrees Celsius, according to a new study. After that point, they seek shelter from the cold rather than remain outside dealing with it. The study is the first to suggest that birds have a limit on their […]

Playing by EAR – how acoustics could help study proteins

A new technique called electronic acoustic Raman (EAR) spectroscopy could improve the way we study proteins, which in turn could help fight diseases like cystic fibrosis. The technique involves using a laser to excite small molecules like proteins; when excited they vibrate and give off sound at a specific frequency. By analysing the sound, researchers […]

The ‘jellification’ of Canada’s freshwater lakes

A strange jelly-covered organism is taking over various lakes in Canada, and the cause is a kind of ‘aquatic osteoporosis’ due to low calcium levels, according to a new study. Researchers studied two kinds of tiny crustaceans about 1 mm or less in size: Daphnia – AKA water fleas – have a hard shell, while Holopedium […]

Virus could be the cause of sea star die-offs

Researchers announced they have found a virus that may be the cause of a mysterious disease that infects dozens of sea star species along the Pacific coast between Alaska and Mexico, including off the coast of Vancouver since 2013. A study shows that sea star wasting disease (SSWD) could be caused by a very small virus (∼25 nm) […]

How to prevent a world without antibiotics

A new mathematical model suggests that in addition to looking for new drugs, we should also be using strategies to prolong the life of old ones. Most drugs only work for a certain period of time until organisms develop resistance. This lifetime can be prolonged by using antibiotics sparingly or combining them into ‘drug cocktails’ […]

Robo-penguin could help monitor animal movements

A robotic rover disguised to look like a penguin has shown promise in helping to track animal movements. In some fields, such as fish farming, animals are implanted with passive integrated transponder (PIT-tags), a kind of electronic barcode that can be read by a hand-held device at a distance of up to 2 feet. However, […]

The poisonous singing frog

Poisonous and colourful frogs have more diversified mating calls than their non-poisonous counterparts, a new study shows. Researchers explain that when frogs evolve these kind of anti-predator strategies (bright colours and poison), they decrease the risk of being eaten by predators and are rewarded for more showy mating signals. Original research paper published in Proceedings of […]

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