Posts by Kester Jarvis

Singing flies and DIY

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The musical chirping of crickets will be a familiar sound to readers, but many other insects have their own songs too. In the laboratory stalwart Drosophila fruit fly, males “sing” to females during courtship by vibrating their wings to produce different sinusoidal patterns that may not seem very melodic to you or me, but – if appropriately tuned – are irresistible to female Drosophila. These songs have become something of a model for studies of both neural and genetic control of behaviour, largely because there are regular rhythms that can be (fairly) easily quantified – usually through manual annotation.

Benjamin Arthur and colleagues, in a paper just published …

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Why a turtle is (still) not a lepidosaur

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BMC Biology publishes today a research article
(from Chiari et al) on the placement of turtles in the
evolutionary tree, which supports their position as a sister group to
the birds and crocodiles (collectively called the archosaurs). This
isn’t the first time that a similar placement has been supported, as
Blair Hedges – who published a similar result more
than a decade ago – discusses in an accompanying commentary.
So why is it interesting?

Partly, it’s because there has been
some recent dispute over the correct placement, particularly …

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An Emirates hat-trick for BMC Biology authors

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This
week saw the annual BMC Research Awards presentations,
in the Emirates Stadium and with a sports science theme, to acknowledge
the forthcoming London Olympics. BMC Biology is
very happy to be able to congratulate the authors of three BMC Biology
papers that won awards reflecting the diversity of interesting topics
on which we publish:-

Alexei Korennykh and colleagues won the
General Biology award for their research on
how ADP binding can tune the kinase in the activation of Ire, the
remarkable bifunctional kinase-RNase whose activity directs the
alternative splicing of a key transcription factor …

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The future of evolutionary epidemiology

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The impending age of big data has been inescapable in recent discourse, both scientific and otherwise. The prevailing metaphors cast big data as a tsunami or an avalanche, suggesting natural disaster poised to dash hapless researchers against the rocks. They are, of course, no such thing, and offer many opportunities provided that one is prepared. Some of these opportunities were on show at the Royal Society discussion meeting on “Next-generation molecular and evolutionary epidemiology of infectious disease”.

One focus, inevitably, was next-generation sequencing, with Paul Kellam speaking about its importance in tracking the spread of the three waves of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic at a population level; but also for following the rapid spread of polymorphisms though the virus population within …

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