For the first time, University of Nebraska biologist Jay Storz and colleagues demonstrated how different species can take different paths to develop the same trait. To test this idea, Storz studied and compared high-altitude birds from the Andes to similar low land birds. The results were that the high-altitude birds had hemoglobin that had evolved to readily bind with oxygen to make flying at high altitudes. This one trait could’ve come about through a plethora of different mutations and adaptations. An explanation was that hemoglobin may have evolved separately amongst species, indicating that some traits evolve in in beneficial ways to some species that could be harmful in others. To test this, high-altitude hemoglobin proteins were reconstructed in ancient bird ancestors’ DNA and it was found that the results had differing on modern birds. In this way, the group proved that different species have the same traits but that these traits show up differently due to evolution.
For more information, read the full article on: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020165128.htm
Author: Harsha Patil
The Criminal forensic Genetics Division at the NIPH does more than 8,000 DNA tests yearly, to rule out suspects in criminal cases. DNA testing is a procedure that is carefully handled, but even with a high level of caution there are weaknesses in the DNA testing system. DNA can be accidentally transferred, so the police can’t always know for sure whether the DNA collected was left from the crime scene. Also, DNA can be mishandled when proper procedures for handling evidence haven’t been followed. Timing is also an issue with the DNA testing. If the suspect and the victim were familiar with each other then the DNA could’ve been left there before the crime. While at one time police needed samples of DNA visible by the naked eye, now technology improved so much that tests can be done on material that is invisible to the naked eye. Overall we need to remember how DNA can help an investigation, but we also need to remember there is always other evidence that needs to be considered.
For the full article with more information go to: http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2016/10/22/dna_evidence_is_far_from_foolproof_109788.html
Author: Sophia Kudratov
Recent studies have revealed that there are five key genes that have enabled dogs to develop such close social ties to humans. But surprisingly, researchers from Linköping University in Sweden also found four of the genes are related to social disorders, such as autism, in humans. One of them, named SEZ6L, has been linked to sociability and has been discovered in strands of DNA in beagles. The university conducted a test using beagles raised in a lab. All canines were given the unsolvable task of opening a tight lid containing a treat along with a female observing them. When the dogs got stumped with the puzzle, they would occasionally glance at the human for help.
The scientists used video recordings to test the willingness of the dogs to seek help from a person in the room when they discovered they couldn’t open it alone. According to Science News, an area on chromosome 26 may be associated with social interactions among humans. So far, the study has only been performed on beagles, but researchers hope to do further studies on other breeds.
The article, published by Science News, can be found here: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/gene-linked-autism-people-may-influence-dog-sociability?tgt=nr
Author: Merin George
In a test by a group of people at Princeton to find out what affects the dog's sociability, dogs raised in a lob were given 2 easy to open slides and one immovable one with a person that they had never seen before also in the room. After opening the two of the easy to open slides they then moved onto the final one and hey found out it was unable to be opened. They then starting interacting with the person in the room in many ways. After the tests they tried to find the chromosomes in which the dogs differed in for the sociability. The chromosome that came up most often was Chromosome 26. Chromosome 26 is also linked to many disorders in people also, including Autism. The researchers then concluded the gene linked to autism may in fact be connected in some way to how a dog is sociable.
The full article can be found here:
Author: Rohit Veerapaneni
A recent discovery has been made about a new planet that is just like Earth and could inhibit life. This planet has been given the name of Proxima Centauri, and for the orbit of this planet around its own star takes around 11.2 days! However, there are some things that make life uninhabitable for many species and that is the surface temperature of the planet is around 5,000 degrees Celsius. The planet hosts a variety of solar flares which also make life somewhat impossible. Although this planet also may have plants that photosynthesize, and if life has taken shelter underground they might be able to survive.
Crockett, Christopher. "Sun's Nearest Stellar Neighbor May Have Earth-like Planet." Science News for Students. Science News, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.
Author: Rohit Veerapaneni
The hardest animal on earth is the tardigrades, which are also known as water bears or moss piglets. Tardigrades are small eight legged creatures that live in mosses that are in small bodies of water. These animals are known for their ability to live through extreme conditions, such as: 100 degrees Celsius, in space, being frozen for several years, etc… This creature can also withstand more radiation than most creatures on planet Earth. Water bears do this by forming an envelope of protein around their DNA called Damage suppressors or Dsup for short. The Dsup appears to work by physically cuddling up to DNA and cocooning it from harm, but without disrupting its normal functions. Human cells were genetically engineered to create Dsup and it protected the DNA as well. This is the first identification of a DNA-associating protein which gives DNA protection and improved tolerance to radioactivity in animal cells.
The full article can be found on new scientist, here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2106468-worlds-hardiest-animal-has-evolved-radiation-shield-for-its-dna/
Author: Sophia Kudratov
When people think of cookies most associate it with milk. The international group of scientists are proposing that soon people will be sipping milk from cockroaches. The milk produced from cockroaches are actually extremely nutritious. Scientists have even begun referring to many insects as mini-livestock!
But how did scientists find out about the milk in cockroaches? In 2004, Subramanian Ramaswamy started studying crystals found inside of the guts of cockroaches’ embryos. The crystals had come from the pacific beetle cockroach, the only cockroach species that gives birth to live young. The cockroach mothers feed the babies growing inside of them a milk-like substance. This milk contains the crystals made of protein. In order to view the placement of the atoms making up the crystals structure scientists go through X-ray diffraction. Through this scanning data it revealed the chemical recipe of the cockroach crystal. These crystals are packed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Since our bodies cannot manufacture these essential nutrients we get them from the foods we eat, and so do baby cockroaches’. Barbra Stay, a biologist at the University of Iowa concluded that the roach milk is, “three times more nutritious than cow’s milk and four times more nutritious than buffalo’s milk. That would make it a very rich source of body-building ingredients.
Ramaswamy would like to see cockroach milk turned into a protein supplement to feed hungry people. But not everyone is confident it can be done. A possibility to make the milk would be to make this milk on a large scale in vats using yeast. Biotechnologists would use yeast to make a number of products, including medicines. They do this by adding new genes to yeast microbes. In this case, they would add the genes that the cockroach uses to make its milk protein.
To view this article: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/got-milk-roach-milk-could-be-new-superfood
Author: Surina Narine
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