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  • News

    Some fungi trade phosphorus with plants like savvy stockbrokers

    Some stringy fungi are tough negotiators, trading nutrients shrewdly with plants.

    An advance in tracking the nutrient phosphorus has revealed new details of ancient trading networks between fungi and plants. Some fungal species grow what are called arbuscular mycorrhizal connections underground, reaching intimately into plant roots. These fungi pull phosphorus from the soil and trade it...

    06/10/2019 - 10:00 Fungi, Plants, Ecology
  • News

    Gut bacteria may change the way many drugs work in the body

    Prescribing the best medication may require going with a patient’s gut — or at least, the bacteria that live there.

    Anecdotal reports have revealed that some gut-dwelling microbes chemically alter oral medications, affecting how well those drugs work (SN Online: 7/19/13). But the scope of this problem has remained unclear. Now, a sweeping survey of these interactions suggests that gut...

    06/03/2019 - 11:00 Microbiology, Biomedicine, Health
  • News

    How bacteria nearly killed by antibiotics can recover — and gain resistance

    Mostly dead bacteria can sometimes be resurrected as antibiotic-resistant cells.

    A protein that pumps toxic chemicals out of E. coli bacterial cells can buy time for even nearly dead microbes to become antibiotic resistant. The protein, known as the AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux pump, doesn’t work well enough to defeat antibiotics on its own. But it can move enough antibiotic molecules out...

    05/28/2019 - 06:00 Microbiology, Genetics, Biomedicine
  • News

    How allergens in pollen help plants do more than make you sneeze

    “Are plants trying to kill us?” allergy sufferers often ask Deborah Devis.

    A plant molecular geneticist at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in Australia, Devis should know the answer better than most. She is chugging through the last few months of a Ph.D. that involves predicting how grasses use pollen proteins that make people sneeze, wheeze and weep for days on end.

    What...

    05/19/2019 - 08:00 Health, Plants, Immune Science
  • News in Brief

    Some dog breeds may have trouble breathing because of a mutated gene

    Dogs with flat faces aren’t alone in their struggle to breathe. It turns out that Norwich terriers can develop the same wheezing — caused not by the shape of their snouts, but possibly by a wayward gene. 

    DNA from 401 Norwich terriers revealed that those suffering a respiratory tract disorder shared the same variant of gene ADAMTS3 that’s associated with swelling around airways. Nearly a...

    05/16/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News

    Tweaking one gene with CRISPR switched the way a snail shell spirals

    A genetic spin doctor sets snail shells to swirl clockwise, new research confirms. And the twist in this story comes at the beginning — when snail embryos are just single cells.

    Though most pond snails (Lymnaea stagnalis) have shells that coil clockwise, a few have taken a left turn, curling counterclockwise. Researchers had strong evidence that a mutation in a gene called Lsdia1 caused...

    05/14/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Development, Animals
  • News

    Deep-sea fishes’ eye chemistry might let them see colors in near darkness

    Some fishes in the deep, dark sea may see their world in more than just shades of gray.

    A survey of 101 fish species reveals that four from the deep sea had a surprising number of genes for light-sensitive eye proteins called rod opsins, researchers report in the May 10 Science. Depending on how the animals use those light catchers, the discovery might challenge the widespread idea that...

    05/10/2019 - 15:02 Animals, Evolution, Physiology
  • News

    A jawbone shows Denisovans lived on the Tibetan Plateau long before humans

    Denisovans reached what’s now called “the roof of the world” at least 160,000 years ago.

    Found in a Tibetan Plateau cave, a partial lower jawbone represents a Denisovan who is the oldest known hominid to reach the region’s cloud-scraping heights, researchers report online May 1 in Nature.

    The fossil suggests that these perplexing, extinct members of the human lineage weathered the...

    05/01/2019 - 13:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    A lack of circular RNAs may trigger lupus

    A lack of certain mysterious genetic molecules may spin the immune system out of control and lead to lupus.

    People with lupus have lower than normal levels of circular RNAs, triggering an immune reaction meant to fight viruses, biochemist Lingling Chen of the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and her colleagues discovered. Switching on the body’s virus-fighting...

    04/25/2019 - 11:00 Genetics, Biomedicine
  • Feature

    How an obscure sexually transmitted parasite tangos with the immune system

    Frances Mercer runs a fight club.

    In one corner, the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, which causes a widespread sexually transmitted infection that many people have never heard of. In the other corner are neutrophils, the immune system cells best equipped to take down the aggressor.

    Watching the two battle it out, Mercer, an immunoparasitologist at California State Polytechnic...

    04/23/2019 - 06:00 Biomedicine