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Why we should care about bats

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
A quarter of all mammalian species are bats, but we still know less about them than about many other groups of mammals. Their complex and diverse hunting, migration, and social behaviours leave many mysteries yet to be solved. Their ability to carry virus diseases without getting ill makes it even more urgent to understand their ways.

Helder Maiato

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Interview with Helder Maiato, who studies the spatial and temporal regulation of cell division at the University of Porto.

Animal domesticators

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Humans have been domesticating plants, animals and microbes for centuries. But are we alone in doing so? Brooker and Feeney explain how domestication by animals of other species goes back even farther.

Predation by non-bioluminescent firefly larvae on a tepui-summit endemic toad

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Firefly larvae are bioluminescent, predaceous, and feed on soft-bodied invertebrates. Kok et al. report on an unanticipated, possibly large-scale predation on Oreophrynella quelchii, a small tepui summit endemic toad, by non-bioluminescent firefly larvae, highlighting a unique case of dietary and evolutionary shift within the Lampyridae family.

A left-handed fern twiner in a Permian swamp forest

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Zhou et al. report a fern twiner in an early Permian swamp forest (∼298 Ma). The twiner is similar to an anachoropterid fern with persistent left-handed helices. It winded around a callistophytalean pteridosperm, which was also evidenced to be a climber. The dual-climbing phenomenon signals the ecological complexity of late Paleozoic forests.

Ciliate Biology: The Graceful Hunt of a Shape-Shifting Predator

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Even single-celled eukaryotes are capable of highly complex behaviors. A new study reveals how one unicellular predator actively manipulates and remodels its unique cytoskeletal morphology to achieve rapid shape changes and a remarkable hunting strategy.

Chronobiology: The Circadian Clock under Extreme Photoperiods

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Circadian clocks are time-measuring devices found in a majority of organisms synchronizing their behavior and metabolism with the day-light cycle. What happens in extreme latitudes, where the environmental conditions can be harsh at any time of day?

Axonal Development: RhoA Restrains but Does Not Specify

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Neurons develop polarity by the formation of specialized dendritic and axonal structural compartments. A new report now provides evidence that reveals how neurons regulate the initiation and further maintenance of axonal growth, challenging our currently held view of RhoA function in axogenesis.

Neuroscience: Sleep Fragmentation Impairs Memory Formation

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Sleep deprivation has long been known to impair cognition, but it has been difficult to distinguish whether loss or disruption of sleep is responsible. Now it appears that merely interrupting sleep is sufficient to interfere with memory formation.

Evolution: A Mosaic-type Centromere in an Early-Diverging Fungus

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Centromeres in eukaryotes can be classified into three categories: point centromeres, regional centromeres, or holocentric. Now, a hybrid-type centromere is found in a pathogenic fungus that lacks the key kinetochore component CENP-A.

Plant Biology: To Live, or Not to Live, That Is the Question

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Organisms tread a fine line in balancing the decision to maintain cellular homeostasis or promote cell death to allow for renewal during development or halt the spread of a life-threatening crisis. Recent studies suggest a labyrinth of receptor kinase–cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel connections mediates life-and-death decisions in plants.

Evolution: Adapting to a Warming World

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
To be able to cope with climate change, species need to evolve. Demonstrating such evolution in wild populations is notoriously difficult. Replication of a 21-year-old experiment demonstrates that a long-distant migratory songbird has genetically adapted to climate change.

Tissue Repair: Guarding against Friendly Fire

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Following tissue injury, cells produce reactive molecules that fight off invading pathogens, but these factors might also damage the host tissue. A new study has characterized a network of defense pathways that synergize to protect cells from collateral damage and drive repair.

Cell Biology: Hacking Alpha Satellites out of the HAC

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Human artificial chromosomes (HACs) are a potentially powerful technique for genomic engineering, but their use is limited by the repetitive centromeric alpha-satellite DNA needed to form a centromere. A new study presents a method to induce HAC centromere formation on non-repetitive templates through sequence-directed CENP-A nucleosome seeding.

Synaptic Plasticity: Close Encounters of the Tonic and Phasic Kind

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Neuronal circuits have the capacity to maintain relatively constant activity in the face of perturbations that alter excitability or synaptic properties. A new study demonstrates that different classes of neurons co-innervating the same postsynaptic target express homeostatic plasticity with unique presynaptic features.

The Biology of General Anesthesia from Paramecium to Primate

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Kelz and Mashour bring the reader up to date on our current understanding of how anesthetics work at the molecular, circuit, and network levels.They emphasize that a broad range of organisms, including plants and even single-celled ornanisms, are susceptible to anesthesia and propose a universal defintion of the anesthetized state.

Target-wide Induction and Synapse Type-Specific Robustness of Presynaptic Homeostasis

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 00:00
Genç and Davis interrogate the synapse specificity of presynaptic homeostasis, demonstrating that all synapses at which postsynaptic neurotransmitter receptors are perturbed express PHP, thereby supporting a global induction mechanism. However, different synapse types contacting a single target can differentially express homeostatic plasticity.

Cell-Cycle Asynchrony Generates DNA Damage at Mitotic Entry in Polyploid Cells

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 00:00
Nano et al. show that multinucleated polyploid cells can proceed through the cell cycle in an asynchronous manner. Delayed nuclei that are not yet competent to enter mitosis undergo DNA damage when exposed to the mitotic environment of neighboring nuclei. DNA damage can be attenuated by forcing cell-cycle synchronization.

Six-legged success stories

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 00:00
Insects represent the majority of today’s animal biodiversity, although many of their species are now at risk from land-use change and pesticides. Given their vast number of species, it is no wonder that science is still busy finding new connections in their ecology and evolution, including in the ways they co-evolve with plants and other organisms.

Xinnian Dong

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 00:00
Interview with Xinnian Dong, who uses Arabidopsis thaliana to study the mechanisms of plant defense against microbial pathogens at Duke University.

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