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ScienceDaily: Plants & Animals News


Life of an albatross: Tackling individuality in studies of populations
Suite of papers shed light on decade-long stem cell mystery
Brittle starfish shows how to make tough ceramics
Algae could feed and fuel planet with aid of new high-tech tool
Right-handed and left-handed molecules
New algorithm recognizes distinct dolphin clicks in underwater recordings
Monkey feel, monkey do: Microstimulation in premotor cortex can instruct movement
CRISPR-Cas9 technique targeting epigenetics reverses disease in mice
Heart monitors on wild narwhals reveal alarming responses to stress
Crafty crows know what it takes to make a good tool
Physiochemical 'fingerprint' of parasitic 'American murderer' uncovered
Hydropower dam energy without sacrificing Mekong food supply: New research offers solution
It's all in the ears: Inner ears of extinct sea monsters mirror those of today's animals
A spring-loaded sensor for cholesterol in cells
Common fungus helps dengue virus thrive in mosquitoes
Innovative system images photosynthesis to provide picture of plant health
Bacteria activate their own killer
New discovery, more bees mark Michigan's first, full bee census
Forests are the key to fresh water
New species of extinct marsupial lion discovered in Australia
A 100-fold leap to GigaDalton DNA nanotech
Probiotic gets a boost from breast milk
Head start through human intervention: Study on the spread of European plant species on other continents
Hydrogen gas from enzyme production
Separated since the dinosaurs, bamboo-eating lemurs, pandas share common gut microbes
Cell tissue must not freeze!
Viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life, study finds
'Stressed out' cocoa trees could produce more flavorful chocolate
Timing of migration is changing for songbirds on the Pacific coast
Caterpillar attacks allow aphids to sneak up on plants


Life of an albatross: Tackling individuality in studies of populations



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 03:25 PM PST


Ecologists commonly round off the individuality of individuals, treating animals of the same species, sex, and age like identical units. But individual differences can have demographic effects on interpretation of data at the scale of whole populations, if due to an underlying variability in individual quality, not chance. Researchers examined in the peculiarities that make some wandering albatrosses more successful than others.


Suite of papers shed light on decade-long stem cell mystery



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST


A series of studies has shed light on vital, yet previously unclear, aspects of cell reprogramming.


Brittle starfish shows how to make tough ceramics



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST


Nature inspires innovation. An international team of scientists has discovered how a brittle star can create material like tempered glass underwater. The findings may open new bio-inspired routes for toughening brittle ceramics in various applications that span from optical lenses to automotive turbochargers and even biomaterial implants.


Algae could feed and fuel planet with aid of new high-tech tool



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST


Vast quantities of medicines and renewable fuels could be produced by algae using a new gene-editing technique, a study suggests.


Right-handed and left-handed molecules



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


The subtle properties of mirror molecules have been revealed by a new study. The researchers examined camphor photoionization using an ultrafast laser. Circularly polarized light directed at camphor molecules allowed the measurement of electron emission, giving the first precise measurement of the asymmetry in the reaction of a camphor molecule. It confirms that more electrons are emitted in one direction, but also leads to the discovery that they are emitted seven attoseconds earlier than in the opposite.


New algorithm recognizes distinct dolphin clicks in underwater recordings



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


Scientists have developed a new algorithm that can identify distinct dolphin click patterns among millions of clicks in recordings of wild dolphins. This approach could potentially help distinguish between dolphin species in the wild.


Monkey feel, monkey do: Microstimulation in premotor cortex can instruct movement



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


Finding ways to get around those broken networks in the brain is an important area of research for those seeking to develop treatment interventions. Now researchers are showing in monkeys that stimulation delivered directly to the premotor cortex can elicit a feeling or experience that can instruct different movements, even when the stimulus is too small to induce any response directly.


CRISPR-Cas9 technique targeting epigenetics reverses disease in mice



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


Scientists report a modified CRISPR-Cas9 technique that alters the activity, rather than the underlying sequence, of disease-associated genes. The researchers demonstrate that this technique can be used in mice to treat several different diseases.


Heart monitors on wild narwhals reveal alarming responses to stress



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


Stress from human disturbances could cause behavioral responses in narwhals that are inconsistent with their physiological capacities, researchers say. They found that narwhals released after entanglement in nets and outfitted with heart monitors performed a series of deep dives, swimming hard to escape, while their heart rates dropped to unexpectedly low levels of three to four beats per minute.


Crafty crows know what it takes to make a good tool



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


Biologists have discovered how New Caledonian crows make one of their most sophisticated tool designs -- sticks with a neatly shaped hooked tip. New Caledonian crows are the only species besides humans known to manufacture hooked tools in the wild. The study reveals how crows manage to fashion particularly efficient tools, with well-defined 'deep' hooks.


Physiochemical 'fingerprint' of parasitic 'American murderer' uncovered



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


The physical and chemical 'fingerprint' profile of a parasitic worm, which infects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, has been uncovered by researchers -- a discovery that could allow for more effective and earlier treatment. They have captured detailed movies reproducing the process the worm goes through as it enters the body and sheds its skin allowing them to interrogate the worm surface and its sheath in unprecedented detail.


Hydropower dam energy without sacrificing Mekong food supply: New research offers solution



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST


Nearly 100 hydropower dams are planned for construction along tributaries off the Mekong River's 2,700-mile stretch. In a new article, researchers present a mathematical formula to balance power generation needs with the needs of fisheries downstream.


It's all in the ears: Inner ears of extinct sea monsters mirror those of today's animals



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:16 AM PST


A new study has revealed that an extinct group of marine reptiles called sauropterygians evolved similar inner ear proportions to those of some modern day aquatic reptiles and mammals.


A spring-loaded sensor for cholesterol in cells



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 10:22 AM PST


New research explains how an enzyme acts as a kind of thermostat that responds to and adjusts levels of cholesterol in the cell. This insight could lead to new strategies for combating high cholesterol.


Common fungus helps dengue virus thrive in mosquitoes



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 08:49 AM PST


A species of fungus that lives in the gut of some Aedes aegypti mosquitoes increases the ability of dengue virus to survive in the insects, according to a study.


Innovative system images photosynthesis to provide picture of plant health



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 08:48 AM PST


Researchers have developed a new imaging system that is designed to monitor the health of crops in the field or greenhouse. The new technology could one day save farmers significant money and time by enabling intelligent agricultural equipment that automatically provides plants with water or nutrients at the first signs of distress.


Bacteria activate their own killer



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 07:25 AM PST


A new photothermal treatment could help to overcome antibiotic resistance. In this method, an agent transforms near-infrared light into local heating, which kills the pathogens. However, this 'transformer' must first be activated. In this case the target bacteria do this themselves. Other types of bacteria do not switch the agent on and remain unharmed.


New discovery, more bees mark Michigan's first, full bee census



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 07:24 AM PST


The first complete bee census in Michigan has confirmed a new species and revealed that the actual number of bee species in Michigan exceeded earlier estimates.


Forests are the key to fresh water



Posted: 07 Dec 2017 06:50 AM PST


Freshwater resources are critical to both human civilization and natural ecosystems, but researchers have discovered that changes to ground vegetation can have as much of an impact on global water resources as climate change.


New species of extinct marsupial lion discovered in Australia



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 04:37 PM PST


A team of Australian scientists has discovered a new species of marsupial lion which has been extinct for at least 19 million years. The findings are based on fossilized remains of the animal's skull, teeth, and humerus (upper arm bone) found in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of remote northwestern Queensland.


A 100-fold leap to GigaDalton DNA nanotech



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 01:23 PM PST


A research team has leapfrogged their 'DNA bricks' technology by two orders of magnitude, enabling next-generation DNA bricks to self-assemble into three-dimensional nanostructures that are 100 times more complex than those created with existing methods. The study provides user-friendly computational tools to design DNA nanostructures with complex cavities (and possibly surfaces) that have the potential to serve as building components in numerous nanotechnological applications in medicine and engineering.


Probiotic gets a boost from breast milk



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 10:21 AM PST


Supplementation with probiotics can improve a person's gut health, but the benefits are often fleeting, and colonization by the probiotic's good microbes usually doesn't last. Breast milk may help sustain those colonies in the long run, say researchers.


Head start through human intervention: Study on the spread of European plant species on other continents



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:25 AM PST


A new study has investigated the spread of European plant species on other continents.


Hydrogen gas from enzyme production



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:25 AM PST


Researchers have uncovered a crucial reaction principle of hydrogen-producing enzymes. The scientists investigated the production of molecular hydrogen in single-cell green algae. They were able to demonstrate how the enzyme succeeds in transferring two electrons in succession to two hydrogen ions and thereby assume stable intermediate states.


Separated since the dinosaurs, bamboo-eating lemurs, pandas share common gut microbes



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:24 AM PST


A new study finds that bamboo lemurs, giant pandas and red pandas share 48 gut microbes in common -- despite the fact that they are separated by millions of years of evolution.


Cell tissue must not freeze!



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:24 AM PST


Nature has evolved sugars, amino acids, and special antifreeze proteins as cryoprotectants. People use organic solvents and synthetic polymers as additives to prevent cell cultures from freezing damage. Now, scientists have combined both methods: They introduced polyproline, a polypeptide made of the natural amino acid proline, as an effective cryoprotectant for monolayers of cells.


Viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life, study finds



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:24 AM PST


A new study finds that viruses share some genes exclusively with cells that are not their hosts. The study adds to the evidence that viruses swap genes with a variety of cellular organisms and are agents of diversity, researchers say.


'Stressed out' cocoa trees could produce more flavorful chocolate



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:19 AM PST


Most people agree that chocolate tastes great, but is there a way to make it taste even better? Perhaps, according to scientists who looked at different conditions that can put a strain on cocoa trees. They say that although the agricultural method used to grow cocoa trees doesn't matter that much, the specific weather conditions do. 


Timing of migration is changing for songbirds on the Pacific coast



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 06:06 AM PST


Changes in the timing of birds' migration can have serious negative effects if, for example, they throw the birds out of sync with the food resources they depend on. A new study uses a long-term dataset from the Pacific coast and shows that the timing of bird migration in the region has shifted by more than two days in both spring and fall over the past two decades.


Caterpillar attacks allow aphids to sneak up on plants



Posted: 06 Dec 2017 06:05 AM PST


A new study indicates that plants prioritize the protection of flowers over leaves and that simultaneous attack by aphids, caterpillars and bacteria leaves plants vulnerable to aphids but more protected from caterpillars.
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