Scientists Can Now Make Tissue Samples and Body Parts TransparentAll it needs is some good tissue cleaning.Experts from Scripps Research developed a new cleaning method that allows large biological samples to turn transparent. As to the importance of having that kind of opacity for samples, it turns out that this would make it easier for scientists to visualize and study biological processes occurring across multiple organ systems. According to the study’s senior author, Li Ye, PhD, the method is a “simple and universal tissue-clearing technique for studies of large body parts or even entire animals.” The new method uses a combination of organic solvents and water-based detergents, which can be used in an ordinary lab. For protecting the molecules within the tissue during the cleaning processes, water-based hydrogels will be used. “In many cases, you can just put the whole thing in a jar and keep it in a shaker on your benchtop until it’s done,” said co-first author Victoria Nudell. “This makes it practical and scalable enough for routine use.”Image credit: Ye et.al #tissue #research #study #biology #science #cleaning #solvents
Great White Shark Social Club Found Near Guadalupe Island, MexicoIt’s a special gathering spot for great whites only.Experts discovered a secret shark social club in the waters of Guadalupe Island, near Mexico. According to the research, which was published in Biology Letters, the band of great whites formed their elite group during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Some of the members of the clique were observed hunting and patroling around the waters with another of the same sex. The longest time that a pair of sharks were observed to be together was for about 70 minutes. "Seventy minutes is a long time to be swimming around with another white shark," marine scientist Yannis Papastamatiou, the lead researcher of the study, explained.The observed social network had their “meetings” near a seal breeding ground, which suggests that the sharks could be hanging out where their prey is near. This means that they both socialize and use each other as backups during hunting. "They aren't working together but being social could be a way to share information," Papastamatiou said. Image credit: Jakob Owens#sharks #greatwhites #animals #biology #marinebiology #GuadalupeIslang #Mexico
"Boops", "Honks", and "Hoots": Fish are Surprisingly Chatty by Communicating Underwater with SoundResearchers from Cornell University discovered that fish actually communicate with each other through sound. It is not new knowledge that fish actually emit different kinds of sound. However, with the development of technology, scientists have now confirmed that these aquatic creatures produce sounds for communication.Aaron Rice and his team analyzed the sound-producing physical characteristics (eg. swim bladder musculature) across different species and concluded that ancient sturgeons first started chatting around 155 million years ago. That is right around the same time that mammals began speaking with each other, too! Image credit: Hiroko Yoshii#fish #talk #animals #biology #sound #research
Scientists Reversed Paralysis in Mice with Spinal Cord Injury by Injecting Synthetic Nanofibers Gel That Promotes Regeneration of Severed NervesResearchers from Northwestern University in Chicago created a self-assembling gel that helped in regenerating severed nerves in animals. Samuel Stupp and his colleagues created the gel out of monomers-- protein units that self-assemble into long chains of fibers in water.The gel was injected into paralyzed mice, and after four weeks, the animals were able to walk again. In addition, the researchers discovered that the gel helped regenerate the severed ends of neurons.“The extent of functional recovery and solid biological evidence of repair we observed using a model that truly emulates the severe human injury makes the therapy superior to other approaches,” said Stupp.Image credit: Samuel I. Stupp#NerveTreatment #Regeneration #Biology #Animals #NorthwesternUniversity #SelfAssemblingGel #Research
Shape-Shifting Blackworm "Blobs" May Serve as Models for Future Robot SwarmsFound in the shallow marshes, ponds, and swarms in Europe and North America are the distant relatives of rainworms. Called the blackworms, these invertebrates feed on microorganisms and debris. But what did scientists find interesting in them that they studied these creatures? The answer to that is the effective collective movement that they do. In times of drought, hundreds of these worms would aggregate into "blobs" to protect themselves. According to scientists, these blobs could serve as a model for biological systems that are either too small or large to be observed. The study of these blobs could also be applied to develop new robotic systems and build new materials that can reorganize to repair themselves. More about this over at Frontiers Science News. (Image Credit: Harry Tuazon) #Blob #Robotics #Biology #CollectiveMovement
A Species of Beetle Mite Can Survive Millions of Years Without SexFor humans and most animals, sexual reproduction is an essential part of life, as it increases the chances of survival of species through time, thanks to the genetic diversity produced during the process.Animal species who do asexual reproduction, on the other hand, are believed to not survive for long, as there is not much genetic diversity happening.But this is not the case for the Oppiella nova, a species of beetle mite. Scientists have discovered that this certain species can survive without sexual reproduction for, quite possibly, millions of years. Through this study, scientists have been able to prove, for the first time, the Meselson effect in animals.More about this over at the University of Cologne.(Image Credit: M. Maraun and K.Wehne)#Biology #SexualReproduction #AsexualReproduction #MeselsonEffect #GeneticDiversity
This Remote Controlled Micro-Robot is Propelled by Air Bubbles and UltrasoundEverything in nature — even those unseen by the naked eye — can spark new inventions, just like these new ultrasound-powered micro-robots created by Mingming Wu and his teammates at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The movements of these tiny robots are said to have been inspired by how bacteria and sperm swim. But why bacteria and sperm? Wu notes the abilities of these two microorganisms. The former can swim ten times its body length in a single second, while the latter can move against the flow.These robots could one day be used for targeted drug delivery within the human body.Learn more about this fascinating invention over at the Cornell Chronicle.(Image Credit: Cornell Chronicle)#Microorganism #Microrobot #Biotechnology #Biology
Image Competition Winners Show the Diversity of Ecological ScienceThe image above by Kristen Brown shows a school of jackfish swimming in a spiral at the Great Barrier Reef. It was the overall winner in the 2021 photo competition from the scientific journal BMC Ecology and Evolution. The picture also won in the category Conservation Biology. The competition attracted entries from researchers all around the world eager to use their creativity to highlight their work and capture the diversity of the planet's flora and fauna. BMC Ecology and Evolution invited anyone affiliated with a research institution to submit to one of the following six categories: ‘Conservation Biology', 'Evolutionary Developmental Biology and Biodiversity', 'Behavioural Ecology', 'Human Evolution and Ecology', ‘Population Ecology' and 'Ecological Developmental Biology'.Our Senior Editorial Board Members lent their expertise to judge the entrants to the competition, selecting the overall winner, runner up and best image from each category. The board members considered the scientific story behind the photos submitted in addition to their artistic judgement (Fig. 1).#jackfish #fish #biology #photography #photocompetition
This Weirdly Intelligent Brainless Blob is Being Sent Out to Space for Experiments‘The Blob’, a slime mold with the scientific name Physarum polycephalum, is being sent to the International Space Station, where scientists are hoping to gain more knowledge of microgravity’s impacts on the organism’s growth and behavior towards food (primarily oats) and its environment.Shortly after the Blob arrives at the ISS, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will have the honor of awakening it with a few drops of water. The blob will be then observed over a period of seven days before going into a dormant state.Despite lacking a brain, the Blob is capable of performing basic cognitive tasks such as thinking, decision making, sleeping, learning, and even navigating mazes. Scientists have also observed the organism’s ability to adapt and communicate information to other slime molds.The experiment will be broadcasted all over the world and students aged 10-18 years old from 5000 schools will participate by comparing their findings on Earth with those found in space. According to Evelyne Cortiade-Marché, head of the CNES education department, “[the] Blob is a unique experience that stimulates student curiosity about themes such as the impact of the environment on organisms and the development of living organisms.” The Blob will be launched into space on August 10th alongside the Northrop Grumman’s 16th commercial resupply services mission. The Blob will also be joined by several other science experiments aboard the ISS. Image: CBI/CRCA/CNES/CNRS PHOTOTHÈQUE/DAVID VILLA / SCIENCEIMAGE, 2021. #science #space #iss #blob #slime #mold #experiment #educational #biology 
Scientists Created Tiny Self-Powered Swimming Robots Powered by Oil and WaterStoyan Smoukov of Queen Mary University of London noted that “In biology, research shows that to create even the simplest artificial cells we need over 470 genes.” However, he and his international team has created a new type of artificial microswimmer with only 3 simple ingredients: oil, water, and detergent-like substance.The microswimmer droplets are able to use fluctuating changes in their surrounding environment to store energy and to use that energy to swim. When cooled, the droplets release a thin tail-like filament into the surrounding environment. The friction generated between the tails and the fluid pushes the microswimmers to move. When heated, the droplets retract their tails to their original state and harness the heat to recharge.The researchers were able to show that the droplets could recharge multiple times and swim for a period of up to 12 minutes each time.#robot #oil #water #flagella #microswimmer #biology #swim
Viruses Have a Novel Genetic Alphabet in Their DNAAsk any high school biology student how many bases our genetic material DNA has, and you'll get four as the answer: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).But in a series of new studies published in Science, three teams have identified dozens of viruses that has swapped one of the bases in their DNA for a novel one called 2-aminoadenine, later dubbed 'Z'.From Quanta Magazine:The Z base looks like a chemical modification of A; it’s an adenine nucleotide with an extra attachment. But that modest change allows Z to form a triple hydrogen bond with T, which is more stable than the double bond that holds together A-T....since the alterations were “at the deepest level of chemical organization,” [geneticist Philippe Marlière of the University of Evry in France] said, “my instinct told me this is not just an anecdote. This is a profound violation.”#DNA #virus #bacteriophage #biology #syntheticbiology #genetics
How Do Fireflies Synchronize Their Flashings? By Looking at Each OtherIt's a spectacular summertime display of natural light: thousands of male fireflies flashing together in harmony but how in the world do they know when to synchronize flashings?​New findings by Orit Peleg of the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues suggest that individual fireflies know when to flash their lights in unison by ... looking at other fireflies!When the researchers, for example, put a single male into the pop tent all on his own, that bug would flash without a good sense of rhythm—a few bursts here, a few bursts there. Increase the number of fireflies, however, and things began to change.“When you start putting 20 fireflies together, that’s when you start observing what you see in the wild,” Sarfati said. “You’ve got regular bursts of flashes, and they’re all synchronized.”The fireflies, in other words, likely aren’t hardwired to flash with a particular pattern. Instead, their light displays seem to be more social. Bugs watch what their neighbors are doing and try to follow along. The group’s findings, Peleg said, could help researchers learn more about a range of other synchronous behaviors in nature—and maybe one day design swarming robots that act in tandem.#firefly #synchrony #insect #biology #animalbehaviorVideo: Peleg Lab