Tag Archives: american samoa

Scientists Identify Core Skin Bacterial Community in Humpback Whales

Results Could Aid Future Efforts to Monitor Health

Bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, but they reside on nearly every surface humans encounter—including the skin.  Uncovering the role these microorganisms play in human health is a major focus of research in skin microbiology, but little is known about the identity or function of skin bacteria in other mammals.

In a paper published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues identified a core skin bacterial community that humpback whales share across populations, which could point to a way to assess the overall health of these endangered marine mammals. (more…)

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UW Nautilus Expedition May Have Spied New Species

A University of Washington research team has captured color photographs of what could be a previously undocumented species of chambered nautilus, a cephalopod mollusk often classified as a “living fossil,” in the waters off American Samoa in the South Pacific.

“This is certainly a new taxon, but we are not sure if it is a new species, subspecies or variety,” said UW paleontologist Peter Ward, who led the expedition to Samoa and Fiji.

“The Samoan nautiluses are large for the genus, brightly colored, and very, very rare,” he said. (more…)

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Samoan Obesity Epidemic Starts at Birth

Born slightly heavy on average, a sample of hundreds of infants in American Samoa continued to gain weight quickly after birth, achieving high rates of obesity within 15 months. Breastfeeding slowed weight gain in boys. Findings may presage infant obesity in other populations where obesity is increasing population wide.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As some Pacific island cultures have “westernized” over the last several decades, among the changes has been a dramatic increase in obesity. Researchers don’t understand all the reasons why, but even a decade ago in American Samoa 59 percent of men and 71 percent of women were obese. A new Brown University study finds that the Samoan epidemic of obesity may start with rapid weight gain in early infancy. (more…)

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Researchers Share Surprising Discovery about Coral Reef Ecology

Researchers at the UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) made a discovery that challenges a major theory in the field of coral reef ecology.

The general assumption has been that the more flexible corals are, regarding which species of single-celled algae (Symbiodinium) they host in coral tissues, the greater ability corals will have to survive environmental stress. In their paper published August 29, 2012, however, scientists at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at SOEST and colleagues documented that the more flexible corals are, the more sensitive to environment disturbances they are. (more…)

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Slow Snails, Fast Genes: Predatory Snails Refine Venoms Through Continuous Gene Duplication

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— When tropical marine cone snails sink their harpoon-like teeth into their prey, they inject paralyzing venoms made from a potent mix of more than 100 different neurotoxins.

Biologists have known for more than a decade that the genes which provide the recipes for cone snail toxins are among the fastest-evolving genes in the animal kingdom, enabling these predatory gastropods to constantly refine their venoms to more precisely target the neuromuscular systems of their prey. (more…)

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