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Limber lungs: one type of airway cell can regenerate another lung cell type

April 13, 2015 1:41 pm | by UPenn | News | Comments

A new collaborative study describes a way that lung tissue can regenerate after injury. 

Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

April 10, 2015 12:07 pm | by Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

The step forward follows research by the Univs. of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter.

Bacteria tracked feeding nitrogen to nutrient-starved plants

April 10, 2015 11:19 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

With rising populations and changing climate conditions, the need for resilient and reliable crops has never been greater. Nitrogen, an essential element for plant growth, is often woefully absent in heavily farmed land. Earth’s atmosphere offers an overabundance of nitrogen, but how can it be safely and sustainably transferred into the soil? Nitrogen-eating bacteria may be the answer.

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Researchers deliver large particles into cells at high speed

April 9, 2015 12:06 pm | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A new device developed by Univ. of California, Los Angeles, engineers and doctors may eventually help scientists study the development of disease, enable them to capture improved images of the inside of cells and lead to other improvements in medical and biological research.

Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

Computers that mimic the function of the brain

April 7, 2015 8:16 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are always searching for improved technologies, but the most efficient computer possible already exists. It can learn and adapt without needing to be programmed or updated. It has nearly limitless memory, is difficult to crash, and works at extremely fast speeds. It’s not a Mac or a PC; it’s the human brain. And scientists around the world want to mimic its abilities.

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

April 7, 2015 8:02 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Life may seem precarious for the sea sponge known as Venus’ flower basket. Tiny, hair-like appendages made essentially of glass are all that hold the creatures to their seafloor homes. But fear not for these creatures of the deep. Those tiny lifelines, called basalia spicules, are fine-tuned for strength, according to new research led by Brown Univ. engineers.

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Mighty microexons take center stage in shaping of the brain

April 1, 2015 8:52 am | by Liam Mitchell, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Complex brain disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia, still puzzle scientists because their causes lie hidden in early events of brain development, which are still poorly understood. This is about to change thanks to research by Univ. of Toronto Profs. Ben Blencowe and Sabine Cordes, who have developed a powerful model that will allow researchers to better understand the physiology behind many disorders.

Facebook app encourages individuals to get in touch with their DNA

April 1, 2015 7:48 am | by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Have you ever wondered if your dad's fight with prostate cancer means you could face the same reality? Perhaps your family has several members who have struggled with obesity and you wonder if it's something you inherited or if it's caused by the environment. Maybe you have always wanted to learn where your ancestors came from beyond the basic paper trail. Good news: Researchers have an app for that.

Skin tough

April 1, 2015 7:31 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When weighing the pluses and minuses of your skin add this to the plus column: Your skin, like that of all vertebrates, is remarkably resistant to tearing. Now, a collaboration of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, San Diego, has shown why.

Biology in a twist

March 31, 2015 12:21 pm | by Amal Naquiah, National Univ. of Signapore | News | Comments

Researchers at the National Univ. of Singapore have discovered that the inherent handedness of molecular structures directs the behavior of individual cells and confers them the ability to sense the difference between left and right. This is a significant step forward in the understanding of cellular biology.

The unseen way organisms cope with climate change

March 31, 2015 10:55 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Scientists have found a way to measure the unseen toll that environmental stress places on living creatures, showing that they can rev up their metabolism to work more than twice as hard as normal to cope with change. Stresses from climate change such as rising temperatures and increasing ocean acidity can move an organism closer and closer to the brink of death without visible signs.

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A “Wikipedia” for neurons

March 31, 2015 8:43 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | Videos | Comments

The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this “brain big data,” researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. have used data mining to create www.neuroelectro.org, a publicly available Website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons.

High-tech method allows rapid imaging of functions in living brain

March 30, 2015 11:49 am | by Julie Flory, Washington Univ. of St. Louis | News | Comments

Researchers studying cancer and other invasive diseases rely on high-resolution imaging to see tumors and other activity deep within the body's tissues. Using a new high-speed, high-resolution imaging method, a team at Washington Univ. in St. Louis were able to see blood flow, blood oxygenation, oxygen metabolism and other functions inside a living mouse brain at faster rates than ever before.

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed world by 2050

March 30, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in Cell.

Protein shake-up

March 26, 2015 10:47 am | by Chris Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For living organisms proteins are an essential part of their body system and are needed to thrive. In recent years, a certain class of proteins has challenged researchers’ conventional notion that proteins have a static and well-defined structure. It’s thought that mutations in these proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins, are associated with neurodegenerative changes, cardiovascular disorders and diseases like cancer.

A new kind of light bulb

March 26, 2015 8:25 am | by Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

How many researchers does it take to change a light bulb? And how many lives could they save by changing it? The answer to both questions is larger than you might expect. In the developing world, light bulbs might as well be insect magnets. The light they emit, particularly the blue wavelengths of LED lights, is attractive to a range of insects, drawing them out from the night and straight to people's homes.

Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Turn the light on

March 25, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

In the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop, a potentially powerful new tool could soon be available. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation.

Artificial hand responds to sensitively thanks to muscles made from smart metal wires

March 24, 2015 3:52 pm | by Saarland University | News | Comments

Engineers have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices. 

Catching and releasing tiny molecules

March 23, 2015 1:47 pm | by Paul Karoff, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Employing an ingenious microfluidic design that combines chemical and mechanical properties, a team of Harvard Univ. scientists has demonstrated a new way of detecting and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures. The approach requires fewer steps, uses less energy, and achieves better performance than several techniques currently in use and could lead to better technologies for medical diagnostics and chemical purification.

Sewage could be a source of valuable metals, critical elements

March 23, 2015 8:42 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Poop could be a goldmine, literally. Surprisingly, treated solid waste contains gold, silver and other metals, as well as rare elements such as palladium and vanadium that are used in electronics and alloys. Now researchers are looking at identifying the metals that are getting flushed and how they can be recovered. This could decrease the need for mining and reduce the unwanted release of metals into the environment.

FDA approves genetically engineered potatoes, apples

March 20, 2015 2:06 pm | by Mary Clare Jalonick And Keith Ridler, Associated Press | News | Comments

Potatoes that won't bruise and apples that won't brown are a step closer to U.S. grocery store aisles. The federal Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the genetically engineered foods, saying they are "as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts."

Bioinformatics tool for metagenome analysis

March 20, 2015 10:07 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new method for DNA analysis of microbial communities such as those found in the ocean, the soil and our own guts. Metagenomics is the study of entire microbial communities using genomics.

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