Biology News -- ScienceDaily Biology news and videos from research institutes around the world. Updated daily.

  • A code for reprogramming immune sentinels
    on December 7, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    For the first time, a research team has successfully reprogrammed mouse and human skin cells into immune cells called dendritic cells. The process is quick and effective, representing a pioneering contribution for applying direct reprogramming for inducing immunity. Importantly, the finding opens up the possibility of developing novel dendritic cell-based immunotherapies against cancer. […]

  • Scientists to produce anti-cancer drugs in yeast
    on December 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Nature is so complex that natural molecules used for i.e. cancer treatment still can't be produced by chemical synthesis. Today, major chemical and pharmaceutical companies harvest large amounts of rare plants and seeds in order to extract valuable substances. […]

  • Bacterial 'sleeper cells' evade antibiotics and weaken defence against infection
    on December 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    New research unravels how so-called bacterial persister cells manipulate our immune cells, potentially opening new avenues to finding ways of clearing these bacterial cells from the body, and stopping recurrence of the bacterial infection. […]

  • Double the stress slows down evolution
    on December 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics more slowly if they also have to defend themselves against predators. […]

  • News about a plant hormone
    on December 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    The plant hormone jasmonic acid also performs a function that was previously unknown. It ensures that the leaf pores close when leaves are injured. For the plant, this could be an emergency signal. […]

  • Damning evidence of dam's impacts on rainforest birds
    on December 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Conservation scientists have found that a dam built in Thailand 31 years ago has caused the local bird population to collapse. […]

  • Engineers repurpose wasp venom as an antibiotic drug
    on December 7, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Engineers have repurposed wasp venom as an antibiotic drug that's nontoxic to human cells. […]

  • Half a million tests and many mosquitoes later, new buzz about a malaria prevention drug
    on December 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Researchers spent two years testing chemical compounds for their ability to inhibit the malaria parasite at an earlier stage in its lifecycle than most current drugs, revealing a new set of chemical starting points for the first drugs to prevent malaria instead of just treating the symptoms. […]

  • Natural compound 2HF treats leishmaniasis infections, study finds
    on December 6, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Current treatment options for the parasitic disease leishmaniasis are largely ineffective, expensive, and tend to be plagued by resistant parasites and side effects. Now, researchers have showed that a natural flavonoid is effective at treating Leishmania amazonensis infections. […]

  • What can a snowflake teach us about how cancer spreads in the body?
    on December 6, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    What can seashells, lightning and the coastline of Britain teach us about new drugs for cancer? The answer, according to a team of researchers, may revolve around fractals, the infinitely complex patterns found in nature. […]

  • What sets primates apart from other mammals?
    on December 6, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates -- great apes and humans -- apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder. […]

  • Acrobatic geckos, highly maneuverable on land and in the air, can also race on water
    on December 6, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Asian geckos were observed running over water at nearly a meter per second, as fast as on land. Lab experiments show how. They get support from surface tension but also slap the water rapidly with their feet. They also semi-plane over the surface and use their tail for stabilization and propulsion. They thus sit between insects, which use only surface tension, and larger animals, which run upright via foot slapping alone. […]

  • Parrot genome analysis reveals insights into longevity, cognition
    on December 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Parrots are famously talkative, and a blue-fronted Amazon parrot named Moises -- or at least its genome -- is telling scientists volumes about the longevity and highly developed cognitive abilities that give parrots so much in common with humans. Perhaps someday, it will also provide clues about how parrots learn to vocalize so well. […]

  • Missing the forest for the trees: An unexpected picture of New York City forests
    on December 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    An inventory of New York City's expansive yet overlooked 'forested natural areas' reveals that, contrary to previous reports, native species still comprise about 82 percent of the city's forest stands. In the forests' mid- and understory, however, the proportion of native species fell significantly, suggesting that their dominance could decline in coming decades. […]

  • Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds all around the world
    on December 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds like penguins and terns by competing for the same prey sources. Seabirds are now the most threatened bird group. […]

  • Could algae that are 'poor-providers' help corals come back after bleaching?
    on December 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    How much of a reef's ability to withstand stressful conditions is influenced by the type of symbiotic algae that the corals hosts? New work investigates how the nutrients algae share with their coral hosts varies between species and what this could mean for a coral's ability to survive in a changing climate. They determined that in the wake of a bleaching event, even an algal tenant that's poor provider may be better than no provider. […]

  • Small molecules come into focus
    on December 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Many biologically important small molecules, like hormones and amino acids, are too small to be measured by conventional detection methods. Researchers have created a new type of immuno-assay that is capable of detecting small molecules with 50-fold greater sensitivity than conventional detection methods, and can be easily integrated into existing diagnostic platforms. […]

  • Classifying brain microglia: Which are good and which are bad?
    on December 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Microglia are important to brain function, and also seem to play a role in disease. New work offers the most comprehensive accounting of brain microglia to date and opens a new chapter in brain exploration. The researchers performed RNA sequencing of 76,000 individual cells -- the most comprehensive accounting to date -- and spatially mapped them. Their findings could help scientists tell whether microglia are contributing to disease or trying to repair the brain, informing treatment strategies. […]

  • 229 new species described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2018
    on December 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    In 2018, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added 229 new plant and animal species to our family tree, enriching our understanding of Earth's complex web of life and strengthening our ability to make informed conservation decisions. The new species include 120 wasps, 34 sea slugs, 28 ants, 19 fish, seven flowering plants, seven spiders, four eels, three sharks, two water bears, one frog, one snake, one seahorse, one moss, and one liverwort plant. […]

  • Weirdly shaped mouse sperm can be used to tell species apart
    on December 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Lots of rodent species look nearly identical, and it's hard to tell them apart using DNA. But scientists have found a new way to distinguish one species from another: the shape of their sperm. Closely related species can have sperm with radically different shapes, with sperm head shapes ranging from smooth and rounded to 'soft-serve ice cream cone.' And that means scientists have a new means of telling them apart. […]

  • Modeling the microbiome
    on December 5, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    The gut microbiome -- the world of microbes that inhabit the human intestinal tract -- has captured the interest of scientists and clinicians for its critical role in health. However, parsing which of those microbes are responsible for effects on our wellbeing remains a mystery. […]

  • Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
    on December 5, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Scientists have characterized multiple functions of benzoxazinoids in wheat: The toxic form of the substances makes the plant directly resistant to lepidopteran larvae, whereas a less toxic form regulates indirect defense mechanisms against aphids. The researchers identified the 'switch' between these different functions as a methyltransferase enzyme, which is activated by caterpillar feeding. This switch enables wheat plants to adapt their defense response to different herbivores. […]

  • A detailed look at the microorganisms that colonize, and degrade, a 400-year-old painting
    on December 5, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    What's a feast for the human eye may be a literal feast for microorganisms that colonize works of art, according to a new study. The researchers characterized the microbial community on a 17th century painting and showed that while some microbes destroy such works of art, others might be employed to protect them. […]

  • Memory B cells in the lung may be important for more effective influenza vaccinations
    on December 5, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Using a mouse model of influenza and experiments that included parabiosis, researchers definitively showed that lung-resident memory B cells establish themselves in the lung soon after influenza infection. Those lung memory B cells responded more quickly to produce antibodies against influenza after a second infection, as compared to the response by the circulating memory B cells in lymphoid tissue, and establishment of the lung-resident memory B cells required a local antigen encounter in the lung. […]

  • Whole-brain imaging of mice during behavior
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    In a new study, researchers demonstrate how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, brain-wide activity maps of mice for specific behaviors. The non-invasive technology has promising applications for ophthalmologic, neurologic and psychiatric diseases. […]

  • Scientists design way to track steps of cells' development
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Scientists have developed a new tool described as a 'flight data recorder' for developing cells, illuminating the paths cells take as they progress from one type to another. This cellular tracking device could one day help scientists guide cells along the right paths to regenerate certain tissues or organs, or help researchers understand the wrong turns some cells might take on their way to becoming cancerous. […]

  • Sea invertebrate sheds light on evolution of human blood, immune systems
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Botryllus schlosseri, a marine invertebrate that lives in underwater colonies resembling fuzzy pinheads clinging to rocks, has a blood-forming system with uncanny similarities to that of humans, according to scientists. […]

  • A microbe's membrane helps it survive extreme environments
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Within harsh environments like hot springs, volcanic craters and deep-sea hydrothermal vents -- uninhabitable by most life forms -- microscopic organisms are thriving. How? It's all in how they wrap themselves. […]

  • 30 years of experimental evolution results in a new sex chromosome
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Researchers report new findings of an experimental evolutionary project that ran for 30 years on the genomic mechanisms of sex determination in swordtail fish. […]

  • Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size. But now, a team has grown a self-assembling, functional network of blood vessels across centimeter scales, a size relevant for human use. With continued development and refinement, the microfluidic system could be used to grow blood vessels for human tissue and organ transplants. […]