Posts tagged: Biology

Rabies: What do I need to know?

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golden-retriever

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 …

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Keeping up with the Jobses: the role of technology in reproducible research

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Group photo (click for full picture)

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 …

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Females dominate throughout history

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Chromosomes

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, …

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Frontiers in Zoology article wins IgNobel Prize

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Body orientation in dogs from Hart et al. Frontiers in Zoology 2013

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 – …

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Implementing nature’s solution to dirty bacteria with the bioinspired Sharklet™ micropattern

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ethan

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 …

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Top-predator control does not always initiate trophic cascades

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Dingo

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 …

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‘You might as well patent oxygen’ – an unashamedly unbalanced take on Australia’s support for gene patents

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdcoppola/2300365663

Last year, a rainbow coalition of civil liberties campaigners, cancer patients and eminent geneticists – heck, even Jim Watson! – argued before the US Supreme Court that gene sequences are a product of nature and therefore ineligible for patent protection.

And the Supreme Court replied, in all its refined wisdom:

'Well, duh!'

A nine-to-nothing unanimous decision.

A difference of opinion

But the US has long known that truths held to be 'self-evident' are not always in for a smooth ride, and so we perhaps should not be too surprised – if still perplexed and saddened – to learn that the Australian Federal Court, when faced with the same question, responded: 'um, maybe not'.

I do not pretend to understand what brand of logic could …

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A whole new world. How physiological anthropology helps study our modern lives

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Our environment has changed dramatically since our hunter-gatherer days, but how is this having an impact on our health? Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Physiological Anthropology, Akira Yasukouchi, explains how the study of physiological anthropology will help us understand our relationship with this new world in his latest guest blog. 

 

What is physiological anthropology?

Research in physiological anthropology focuses on the capacity for environmental adaptation seen in the physiological function of present-day humans. Areas of study include physical and cultural aspects related to living environments as factors that affect the capacity for environmental adaptation.

At the same time, researchers investigate the interactions of these factors with the genetic triggers that are the basis of human physical and functional resources.  All humankind …

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An update on the Earth Microbiome Project

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When BMC Biology launched its iconic image we acknowledged the extreme artistic licence of portraying selected vertebrate phyla pictorially while whole microbial kingdoms were denoted with a single blob. This was not intended to signify a lack of interest in the microbial world on our part, and to update our readers on a major effort to explore its taxonomic diversity and role in the biosphere, we invited the instigators of the Earth Microbiome Project (EMP), launched in 2010 with the aim of sampling the microbial diversity of the planet, to give us a progress report.

In their short comment article on the achievements and aspirations of the EMP, Jack Gilbert, Janet Jansson and Rob Knight deliver a positive …

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Twelve reasons you need to read about lactic acid bacteria

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Gouda

You may not know much about them, but you’ll almost certainly have eaten something that lactic acid bacteria have had a hand in. To mark a new supplement in Microbial Cell Factories, guest editor Eric Johansen tells us his 12 reasons why you ought to read it.

Lactic acid bacteria have a long history of use in the food industry where they are best known for turning milk into cheese or yoghurt, cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi, and even improving the quality of wine. They’re also consumed in probiotic products for their health-promoting effects.

We’ve dedicated a whole supplement to these ‘friendly’ bacteria, and these are my 12 reasons why you need to read about them:

1. Their surface structure is

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