It’s a year and a half since we last looked at what our Editorial Board thinks we still need to know about biology, and it’s Biology Week in the UK. Good enough reason for another look at the open questions our expert Board thinks are most pressing, interesting or neglected in biological science.
Do we know our planet?
Ecology, not surprisingly is replete with open questions. We don’t know how biodiversity comes about (Anne Magurran), or how to predict what our blundering footprints will do to it (Anne Magurran and Charles Godfray, who roped in Robert May to help frame the questions), or whether biodiversity offsetting is a real possibility for making good the damage done by …
As part of this year’s Biology Week celebrations, organised by the Society of Biology, we interviewed Elizabeth Moylan, Biology Editor here at BioMed Central and asked her about what first got her interested in biology and how she ended up working in publishing.
Tell us about what first got you interested in biology, and what you went on to study.
I can’t really remember a ‘light bulb’ moment where I fell in love with the subject so to speak. I guess growing up, the natural world is all around you and it was just fascinating to find things out.
I liked messing around in the garden, and enjoyed all those Attenborough programmes, and at school biology lessons were fun! I still remember those classic …
A global team of researchers, led by Jeffrey Scott at Cornell University, have successfully sequenced the house fly genome, published today in Genome Biology. In this guest post, Professor Scott tells us more about why the research represents a significant scientific advance.
An optimist is a fellow who believes a housefly is looking for a way to get out
George Jean Nathan
House flies are responsible for a great deal of human misery. They transmit over one hundred human diseases, including antibiotic resistance strains. Fly transmitted trachoma alone causes 6 million cases of childhood blindness each year. We hope that the house fly genome will open new opportunities for controlling this pest.
House fly larvae also live in a virtual sea …
In Greek mythology, the Argonauts are a band of heroes who accompany Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece, a garment whose origins likely lie in the use of sheep fleeces as sieves to collect gold flakes from running water.
In a new paper published in BMC Biology, Anindya Dutta and colleagues mine Argonaute (sic) datasets for biology's very own hidden gold: previously neglected fragments of tRNA molecules, known as tRFs.
Here's seven awesome things you need to know about tRFs:
1) tRNA molecules are routinely degraded by the cell into tRNA halves and smaller fragments (tRFs), which can be created from both the 5' and 3' ends of each tRNA. Some studies have argued that these degradation products …
Today is World Rabies Day, an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and how we can tackle it. We asked the Kennel Club, the society behind the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, to tell us more about rabies and what is being done to protect dogs and dog owners. Guest blogger Aimee Llewellyn, Kennel Club Health Information Manager, gives us the details.
The chances of a dog or human catching rabies are almost non-existent in many countries, including the UK and US, but it is important for owners of man’s best friend to be aware of the risks to ensure that they, and their pets, stay happy and healthy.
Everyone has heard of rabies, but most …
AllBio's workshop on 'reproducibility in research' saw a metaphorical bottle smashed against the bow of The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC)'s shiny new training facility.
Fueled by hackpads, marker pens and a mountain of tea and biscuits, the workshop (a mixture of research scientists, PhD students, coders, funders and publishers) set about asking the question: 'what are the barriers to reproducible research?'
Group photo (click to enlarge)
Running to stand still
AllBio was established to bring the technology of bioinformatics to a diverse set of biological disciplines, but with this workshop it stepped across to research's flipside: publishing.
Whether data or papers, it is clear that advances in technology have much to offer when it comes to improving …
Not only do our genes hold information about us, they can also tell us a great deal about the history of our species. This includes details about ancient migrations, subpopulation size and structure, and even estimates of the overall human population size at any one time. In addition, different parts of the genome can tell us different branches of our history; the Y chromosome is passed on through the male line, and can provide information about paternal family history. Conversely, we inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mothers, providing insights into our maternal branch ancestors.
New research published today in Investigative Genetics reveals that the effective female population has been larger than the male population throughout human history, …
When people ask me why I like working in scientific publishing I tell them that one of the many reasons is it gives me the chance to inspire curiosity in people in some of the amazing scientific and medical research being done. This is exactly what the IgNobel Prizes are about – “honoring achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
Last night the IgNobel Prizes were awarded during a ceremony that took place at Harvard University. The winner in the Biology category was Hynek Burda and colleagues for their article ‘Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field’ published in Frontiers of Zoology. It certainly has piqued so many people’s curiosity – …
A guest blog from Dr. Ethan Mann, a research scientist at Sharklet Technologies, Inc, in which he discusses how different materials can prevent the spread of human disease bacteria.
Microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses are contacted during interaction with everyday surfaces. Picking up germs from surfaces contributes to transmission of infectious diseases. Bacteria are able to survive on hard surfaces for days to weeks before they are reintroduced to a host. Once in a host, the bacteria are able to cause an illness often resulting in further propagation of the microorganism and potentially the need for treatment.
High touch public surfaces such as door handles and railings would benefit from a self-cleaning surface technology to reduce the amount of microorganisms …
Guest post by: Benjamin Allen, University of Queensland & Robert Wicks Pest Animal Research Centre, Biosecurity Queensland, Australia.
Trophic cascades are an ecological chain reaction, where changes to one organism flow through the food chain and indirectly influence many other organisms. The study of trophic cascades has become very popular in the last few decades. Ecological theory now predicts that where and when large carnivores, top-predators or apex predators (such as lions, wolves or sharks) are removed, smaller predator and herbivore populations increase, putting increased pressure on plants and animals further down the food chain. In short, top-predator removal = biodiversity decline. This has led to calls for cessation of top-predator control globally, which is often practiced …