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Video: Fast plants

By | September 10, 2010

Marvels of evolution and adaptation, plants and fungi have developed myriad methods of spreading their seeds or spores. Some of these dispersal events happen with blinding speed, and researchers are exploring these dramatic behaviors in the world's fastest plants and fungi using ultra-high speed video cameras. Feast your eyes on our smorgasbord of fast-moving, spore-shooting, seed-spreading organisms. Blob begets smaller blob -- meet Sphaerobolus stellatus This is the Sphaerobolus stellatus, c

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Video: How roots grow

By | September 9, 2010

A group of researchers literally watched meristem genes turn on and off in a cyclical fashion in the developing roots of higher plants, such as conifers and ferns, according to a study published in Science today (10th September). This oscillating expression, they say, is how these plants form their complex root systems. As the root meristem grows downward into the soil, it produces undifferentiated cells that, once assigned their function, will form the intricate root system of the plant. What

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When is self-plagiarism ok?

By | September 9, 2010

When linkurl:Robert Barbato;http://saunders.rit.edu/directory/facstaff/28 of the E. Philip Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) heard he was being accused of plagiarizing his own work, he was a bit surprised. "I can't plagiarize myself -- those are my own words," he said. Image: Wikimedia commons, Guillaume CarelsAnd he is not alone in his views. Some scientists and publishers argue that it's "unavoidable" for scientists to re-use portions of their own text (

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Gene networks underlie disease?

By | September 8, 2010

An international group of researchers have developed a novel method for identifying entire networks of genes and their association to disease, providing a more accurate picture of the genetic risks associated with specific diseases than single genes can provide.Photo: linkurl:Joanna Servaes;http://joanna-servaes.magix.net via Wikimedia Commons In the proof-of-concept paper published today (8th September) in __Nature__, the researchers used an integrated genomics approach to identify a network o

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A targeted cancer therapy?

By | September 7, 2010

Some small RNA molecules can selectively kill cultured human cancer cells, leaving healthy cells untouched, according to a study published online yesterday (6th September) in PNAS -- a feat that has surpassed conventional cancer therapies that kill indiscriminately, causing an array of side effects in patients. Prostate cancer, a possibletarget for this therapy.Image: Wikimedia commons, user Nephron"It's a novel approach that will bring about new and cool things in the field," said linkurl:An

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Insulin regulates translation

By | September 7, 2010

By controlling how many ribosomes coat a certain mRNA in C. elegans, intracellular insulin signaling can regulate how many copies of a protein are made, and how quickly, giving cells more flexibility when responding to changes in the environment. C. elegans Image: Wikimedia commons, Bob Goldstein, UNC Chapel Hill The results, published, in the September 8th issue of Cell Metabolism, hold implications for a range of fields, including aging and diabetes, in which insulin signaling is known to pla

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Video: Roboanimals in the lab

By | September 3, 2010

From the automata of the ancient Greeks, to the curious mechanical inventions of the Age of Enlightenment, people have been creating robotic renderings of animals for centuries. It was only recently, however, that technology advanced enough to produce sophisticated robots that biologists can use for studying animal behavior. By mimicking specific behaviors with striking realism, these robots can stand in for (and fool) their living counterparts -- thus offering researchers the one thing that's o

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Ants save trees from elephants

By | September 2, 2010

Ants known to defend certain species of Acacia trees from elephant predation deter the massive herbivores so effectively that they are impacting entire savanna ecosystems, according to a study published online today (2nd September) in Current Biology. Ants on a whistling-thorn treeImage: Todd Palmer"I don't think any one had suspected how strong an effect the ants [had] in terms of driving elephants to avoid the Acacia," said ecologist David Augustine of the linkurl:US Department of Agriculture

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Surprise breast cancer source

By | September 2, 2010

Some breast cancer tumors may not originate from stem cells as previously believed, according to a study published in the September 3rd issue of Cell Stem Cell. The discovery is an important step in the development of treatments for these cancers. BRCA1 structureImage: Wikimedia commons,Lijealso"Understanding the origins of these types of breast cancer is not only critical for developing preventative strategies against the disease but also for developing new targeted therapies," said linkurl:Ma

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Nice bacteria finish last

By | September 1, 2010

Altruism is alive and well in bacterial populations, according to new linkurl:research;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v467/n7311/full/nature09354.html in __Nature__, which found that a few altruistic bacteria help their neighbors withstand the assaults of antibiotics, even at a cost to themselves. Image:flickr/celerity59Researchers from Boston University found that a minority of resistant bacteria help their susceptible neighbors survive by producing and sharing high amounts of the signali

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