Sensitive Toxicity Test Used Sugars in Doses Like What We Eat
When University of Utah biologists fed mice sugar in doses proportional to what many people eat, the fructose-glucose mixture found in high-fructose corn syrup was more toxic than sucrose or table sugar, reducing both the reproduction and lifespan of female rodents. (more…)
Biologists have worked with the lambda virus as a model system for more than 50 years but they’ve never had an overarching picture of the molecular machines that allow it to insert or remove DNA from the cells that it infects. Now they can, thanks to an advance that highlights the intriguingly intricate way the virus accomplishes its genetic manipulations.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For half a century biologists have studied the way that the lambda virus parks DNA in the chromosome of a host E. coli bacterium and later extracts it as a model reaction of genetic recombination. But for all that time, they could never produce an overall depiction of the protein-DNA machines that carry out the work. In a pair of back-to-back papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists produce those long-sought renderings and describe how they figured out what they should look like. (more…)
Save Threatened Species by Giving Them Treated Cotton for Nests
When University of Utah biologists set out cotton balls treated with a mild pesticide, wild finches in the Galapagos Islands used the cotton to help build their nests, killing parasitic fly maggots to protect baby birds. The researchers say the self-fumigation method may help endangered birds and even some mammals.
“We are trying to help birds help themselves,” says biology professor Dale Clayton, senior author of a study outlining the new technique. The findings were published online May 5, 2014, in the journal Current Biology. (more…)
UA computer scientists John Kececioglu and Dan DeBlasio are developing improved software that provides biologists with much more accurate results when analyzing sequence data.
Imagine trying to construct a brick building with fewer than the requisite number of bricks and without a detailed blueprint.
Welcome to the world of computational biologists.
When biologists study proteins, DNA, or other biological molecules that are represented in the computer as sequences, they rely on known information but also must predict missing data. Given that reality, major challenges exist to having accurate results. (more…)
If your father and grandfather waited until they were older before having children, you might experience life-extending benefits. Biologists assume that a slow pace of aging requires that the body invest more resources in repairing cells and tissues.
A new study suggests that our bodies might increase these investments to slow the pace of aging if our father or grandfather waited until they were older before having children.
“If your father and grandfather were able to live and reproduce at a later age, this might predict that you yourself live in an environment that is somewhat similar — an environment with less accidental deaths or in which men are only able to find a partner at later ages,” said Dan T.A. Eisenberg, lead author of the study published June 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)
ANCHORAGE — On its way to deliver emergency fuel to Nome, Alaska, the Russian tanker Renda will move through an area used by wintering spectacled eiders, a federally threatened sea duck. But, to protect the ducks and their wintering habitat, resource managers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and navigators from the U.S. Coast Guard are using satellite telemetry information from the U.S. Geological Survey to plot a route for the tanker that minimizes impacts to this species and its habitat.
“Nearly 20 years ago, USGS biologists used the latest satellite tracking technology available at the time to uncover the mysterious wintering behavior of the spectacled eider, now a threatened species,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Little did these scientists know at the time that their information would be critical in allowing a Russian tanker decades later to thread the needle to Nome in order to deliver life-saving fuel oil without taking a toll on these elusive sea ducks.” (more…)
Biologists have learned in recent years that wild chilies develop their trademark pungency, or heat, as a defense against a fungus that could destroy their seeds. But that doesn’t explain why some chilies are hot and others are not.
New research provides an answer: Hot chilies growing in dry areas need more water to produce as many seeds as non-pungent plants, but the Fusarium fungus is less of a threat in dryer environments so chilies in those areas are less likely to turn up the heat. In wetter regions, where Fusarium thrives, wild chilies build up their reserves of spicy capsaicin in self-defense. (more…)