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  • News

    Caterpillar treats and tricks ants by oozing spiked juice

    Beware the caterpillar offering a juicy treat. Sips tweak ant brain chemistry, lulling the insects into neglecting their own colony in favor of hanging around the source of the marvelous droplets.

    Effects on the brain help Narathura japonica caterpillars recruit a corps of ant bodyguards, says chemical ecologist Masaru K. Hojo of Kobe University in Japan. In lab tests, ants...

    07/30/2015 - 12:07 Animals, Neuroscience, Ecology
  • Feature

    The tree of life gets a makeover

    The tree of life might seem like a stable design, appropriate for indelible ink. Plenty of people think so. An Internet search for “phylogenetic tattoos” turns up some showy skin art.

    But the branches are shifting. Since a radial diagram based on 1990s genetics inspired a rush for tree-of-life tattoos, technical diagrams of life’s ancestral connections have been redrawn. And the...

    07/29/2015 - 15:00 Evolution, Microbes, Genetics
  • Scicurious

    How trans fats oozed into our diet and out again

    On June 16 the Food and Drug Administration made the final call: Trans fats are no longer “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. That means that food manufacturers have three years to ooze these cheap and useful fats out of their processed foods.

    In fact, most of them already have. Trans fat —a...

    07/29/2015 - 14:24 Nutrition, Science & Society
  • News

    Resveratrol’s anticancer benefits show up in low doses

    Less can be more.

    Low doses of resveratrol, a chemical found in red grapes and some other foods, were better than higher ones at stimulating cancer-fighting processes, researchers report July 29 in Science Translational Medicine. Mice with a genetic predisposition for colon cancer also developed...

    07/29/2015 - 14:00 Biomedicine, Cancer, Physiology
  • News

    Cells from grandma help keep fetus safe

    Parents often complain that grandparents meddle in child-rearing. New research suggests that such meddling starts in the womb, where cells from grandma manipulate the mother’s immune system.

    Scientists already knew that during pregnancy some cells from the fetus invade the mother, while cells from mom sneak into the offspring. These interloping cells can survive for decades (...

    07/23/2015 - 12:00 Cells, Immune Science
  • Culture Beaker

    Microbes may be a forensic tool for time of death

    There is life after death. And it’s kind of gross.

    For most of us, death means life (as we know it) is over, kaput, finis. Whatever we believe about a continued existence metaphysically, when we die, our body’s time on Earth comes to an end. But for the microbes living within us, time marches on. And if you are a microbial ecologist, that’s when things get interesting.

    “Once your...

    07/22/2015 - 11:30 Science & Society, Microbiology
  • News

    Biology may provide just the right chemistry for new drugs

    NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — Chemists are struggling to develop new drugs these days — and biologists may have just the pill for that.

    By tapping natural enzymes and tweaking microbes, researchers may find and make new drugs more easily, says biological engineer Vikramaditya Yadav of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Yadav says he has developed a method to make a complicated...

    07/20/2015 - 09:57 Chemistry
  • Scicurious

    The weekly grind of social jetlag could be a weighty issue

    For some of us, a weekly case of the Mondays isn’t just because of traffic, work pileups or our soulless office space. It’s because we had to get up early, and sleeping in on the weekend was so incredibly glorious. Besides, because we slept in on Sunday, we didn’t get to the gym until the afternoon, we cooked a late dinner for a friend and then we couldn’t fall asleep at all and so stayed up...

    07/20/2015 - 07:38 Health
  • News in Brief

    Polar bears’ ‘walking hibernation’ not much of an energy saver

    Polar bears’ normal summertime energy-saver mode is called “walking hibernation.” But it may not be drastic enough to compensate for lengthening warm seasons — and accompanying food shortages — as climate changes, researchers say.

    What happens to summertime bears is more like fasting than like winter hibernation, says ecologist John Whiteman of the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

    ...
    07/16/2015 - 15:17 Animals, Conservation
  • Scicurious

    Shifted waking hours may pave the way to shifting metabolism

    Shift work can be brutal. Working late nights, early mornings and constantly changing hours wreaks havoc on social and family life. But in our racing, 24-hour world, someone needs to keep the lights on. For years, scientists have studied just what happens when we play fast and loose with the body’s clock. A handful of new studies add to the evidence that shift work and other kinds of circadian...

    07/15/2015 - 14:30 Physiology, Health