Plant’s Light Switch Can Control Cells

If only we could control our own with just a flip of a switch

Chandra Tucker shines a blue light on yeast and mammalian cells in her Duke University lab and the edges of them start to glow. The effect is the result of a light-activated switch from a plant that has been inserted into the cell.

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Fly’s Brain — A High-Speed Computer: Neurobiologists Use State-of-the-Art Methods to Decode the Basics of Motion Detection

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Seeing into a fly’s brain: Neurobiologists use state-of-the-art methods to observe the activity of nerve cells while the fly sees moving stripe patterns on a LED screen (left). This technique enables the scientists to observe the response of single cells in the brain area which processes motion information

What would be the point of holding a soccer world championship if we couldn’t distinguish the ball from its background? Simply unthinkable! But then again, wouldn’t it be fantastic if your favourite team’s striker could see the movements of the ball in slow motion! Unfortunately, this advantage only belongs to flies.

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Origins of Multicellularity: All in the Family

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This is Volvox carteri

One of the most pivotal steps in evolution-the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms-may not have required as much retooling as commonly believed, found a globe-spanning collaboration of scientists led by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute.

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Scientists Identify Driving Forces in Human Cell Division

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Metaphase in a human cervical carcinoma (HeLa) cell. Chromosomes (red), microtubules (green).

If you can imagine identical twin sisters at rest, their breath drawing them subtly together and apart, who somehow latch onto ropes that pull them to opposite sides of the bed — you can imagine what happens to a chromosome in the dividing cell.

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Artificial Bee Silk a Big Step Closer to Reality

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Honeybee larvae produce silk to reinforce the wax cells in which they pupate and now CSIRO scientists have produced this silk artificially.

CSIRO scientist Dr Tara Sutherland and her team have achieved another important milestone in the international quest to artificially produce insect silk.

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Life’s Smallest Motor, Cargo Carrier of the Cells, Moves Like a Seesaw

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A molecular motor gives up its secrets.

Life’s smallest motor — a protein that shuttles cargo within cells and helps cells divide — does so by rocking up and down like a seesaw, according to research conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Brandeis University.

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How Do Salamanders Grow a New Leg? Protein Mechanisms Behind Limb Regeneration

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A female wild-type axolotl

The most comprehensive study to date of the proteins in a species of salamander that can regrow appendages may provide important clues to how similar regeneration could be induced in humans.

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Female Canaries Sing Sexily With Testosterone

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Normally, female canaries don’t sing, but with a few tweaks, the females’ brain structure can be altered in a way that lets them burst into song.

Testosterone gets female canaries singing. Dutch researcher Tessa Hartog knows how you can make a female canary sing using testosterone and the protein BDNF. Normally, female canaries don’t sing, but with a few tweaks, the females’ brain structure can be altered in a way that lets them burst into song. Their singing can even be considered sexy.

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Venomous Shrew And Lizard: Harmless Digestive Enzyme Evolved Twice Into Dangerous Toxin In Two Unrelated Species

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A harmless digestive enzyme can be turned into a toxin in two unrelated species — a shrew (pictured) and a lizard — thereby giving each a venomous bite.

Biologists have shown that independent but similar molecular changes turned a harmless digestive enzyme into a toxin in two unrelated species — a shrew and a lizard — giving each a venomous bite.

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Junk DNA Mechanism That Prevents Two Species From Reproducing Discovered

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When two populations of a species become geographically isolated from each other, their genes diverge from one another over time.

Cornell researchers have discovered a genetic mechanism in fruit flies that prevents two closely related species from reproducing, a finding that offers clues to how species evolve.

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Hearing On The Wing: New Structure Discovered In Butterfly Ears

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The human ear

A clever structure in the ear of a tropical butterfly that potentially makes it able to distinguish between high and low pitch sounds has been discovered by scientists from the University of Bristol.

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Dividing Cells ‘Feel’ Their Way Out Of Warp

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Screen shot of a video showing how dividing cells “feel” their way out of warp.

Every moment, millions of a body’s cells flawlessly divvy up their genes and pinch perfectly in half to form two identical progeny for the replenishment of tissues and organs — even as they collide, get stuck, and squeeze through infinitesimally small spaces that distort their shapes

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