New Study Highlights How Antibiotics Can Stimulate Bacterial Reproduction

The growth of bacteria can be stimulated by antibiotics, according to a study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution .

A DNA coverage plot for Escherichia coli following 60 generations (96 h) of growth in the presence and absence of doxycycline: data in the presence (three inner annuli, ‘Dox’) and absence (three outer annuli, ‘No-Dox’) indicate potential genetic mechanisms supporting positive r (growth rate), K (carrying capacity) and resistance adaptation; a change in DNA detected in the sequencing protocol is shown in red (reduction) and blue (increase; and white is complete loss), respectively, with respect to no mean change (in grey); the inner ring (black) indicates genome position and three replicates for each treatment were sequenced; the white region marked dlp12 shows the… Read more

Sleep Deprivation Suppresses Your Immune System, Study of Twins Shows

A University of Washington-led team of researchers studying monozygotic (identical) twins has found that chronic sleep deprivation suppresses immune system. The research is published in the journal Sleep .

The study by N.F. Watson et al shows the transcriptomic effects of habitual short sleep on dysregulated immune response and provides a potential link between sleep deprivation and adverse metabolic, cardiovascular, and inflammatory outcomes. Image credit: Geralt.
The study, which looked at 11 pairs of identical twins from Washington State, was headed by Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center.
“Habitual short sleep duration is associated with adverse metabolic, cardiovascular, and inflammatory effects. Co-twin study methodologies… Read more

Stable Semi-Synthetic Bacterium Created

Researchers from the United States, China and France have created what they say is the world’s first stable semi-synthetic microorganism. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

At an extremely high magnification of 44,818x, this colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image reveals some of the morphologic details displayed by Escherichia coli . Image credit: Janice Haney Carr / CDC.
Life’s genetic code has only ever contained four natural bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T).
These bases pair up to form two ‘base pairs’ — the rungs of the DNA ladder — and they have simply been rearranged to create bacteria and butterflies, penguins and people.
Building on their 2014 study in which they synthesized a DNA base pair, Scripps Researc… Read more

Thylacine Had Brain Structure Suited to Predatory Life Style

A duo of researchers from the United States and Australia has used an imaging technique to reconstruct the brain architecture and neural networks of the thylacine ( Thylacinus cynocephalus ), the most iconic animal of Tasmania.

A pair of thylacines, a male and female, c. 1905. Image credit: Smithsonian Institutional Archives / E. J. Keller, National Zoological Park.
The thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian tiger or the marsupial wolf, was a carnivorous marsupial and the apex predator in Tasmania.
This species looked like an amalgam of several animals. It is one of only a few marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes.
The animal was the size and shape of a medium-to-large size dog, but had tiger-like stripes running down its lower back and an abdominal pouch.
The fossil record shows that the thylacine app… Read more

Recently-Discovered Antiviral Protein Inhibits HIV-1 in Non-Human Primates

A team of scientists led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered that a gene called SLFN11 — which encodes a protein known as Schlafen family member 11, or Schlafen11 — may induce a cellular response against infection by viruses including human immunodeficiency virus — 1 (HIV — 1). The research is published in the journal PLoS Pathogens .

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of HIV — 1, grown in cultured lymphocytes; virions are seen as small spheres on the surface of the cells. Image credit: C. Goldsmith.
The human immune system contains various protein-encoding genes that are able to recognize the foreign signatures of RNA viruses and prevent their replication, providing a genetic line of defense against zoonotic (animal-based) diseases.
HIV — 1, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of… Read more

Scientists Use Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Regenerate Epicardium

A process using human stem cells can generate heart cells belonging to the external layer, the epicardium, according to an international team of scientists from the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands and AstraZeneca in Sweden.

A model highlighting the specification of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to epicardial lineages by stage-specific modulation of canonical Wnt signaling and the long-term maintenance of hPSC-derived epicardial cells using TGF-β-signalling inhibitors. Image credit: X. Bao et al , doi: 10.1038/s41551-016-0003.
“In 2012, we discovered that if we treated human stem cells with chemicals that sequentially activate and inhibit Wnt signaling pathway, they become myocardium mu… Read more

Ruby Seadragon Filmed Alive in Ocean for First Time

A team of marine biologists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Western Australia Museum has captured on video the first-ever field sighting of the recently-discovered species of seadragon — the ruby seadragon ( Phyllopteryx dewysea ).

The ruby seadragon ( Phyllopteryx dewysea ) in the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia. The inset shows a detail of the apparently prehensile tail. Image credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography / Western Australia Museum.
“Until recently, only two species of seadragon were known, the leafy seadragon ( Phycodurus eques ) and the common seadragon ( Phyllopteryx taeniolatus ), both from Australia. In 2015, we described a new species of seadragon, Phyllopteryx dewysea ,” said Scripps Oceanography Professor Greg Rouse and colleagues.
“Alt… Read more

Hoolock tianxing: New Species of Gibbon Discovered in Myanmar and China

A new species of hoolock gibbon has been discovered in eastern Myanmar and southwestern China by an international team of scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Australia and Germany.

A juvenile male of the Skywalker hoolock gibbon ( Hoolock tianxing ) from Mt. Gaoligong jumping across trees. Image credit: Lei Dong.
The new species, described in the American Journal of Primatology , has been named the Gaoligong hoolock gibbon or ‘Skywalker’ hoolock gibbon ( Hoolock tianxing ).
The Star Wars-inspired name reflects the high treetop home of the gibbons, and the historical Chinese view of them as almost mystical beings, according to the team, headed by Sun Yat-sen University Professor Fan Pengfei.
“Gibbons were widely regarded as a symbol of scholar-officials or junzi in ancien… Read more

Study: Endogenous Retroviruses in Genome Important for Human Brain

About 8% of the human genome is composed of endogenous retroviruses. According to a new study published in the journal Cell Reports , these retroviruses may have played a significant role in the development of the human brain as well as in various neurological diseases, such as ALS, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Brattas et al . report that ERVs are bound by TRIM28 in human neural progenitor cells. This results in the establishment of local heterochromatin that affects nearby gene expression, suggesting a role for ERVs in the control of transcriptional networks in the developing human brain. Interestingly, ERVs bound by TRIM28 are mostly enriched for elements that integrated around 35–55 million years ago, thus not binding to the most recent ERVs as well as ancient elements. Image credit: Per L… Read more

Stem Cell-Based Transplantation Approach Improves Vision in End-Stage Retinal-Degeneration Mice

In the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Stem Cell Reports , Dr. Michiko Mandai and colleagues at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan report that transplantation of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived retinal tissue improved vision in a mouse model of end-stage retinal degeneration.

3D observation of contact between host bipolar cells (green) and graft photoreceptors (red). Image credit: RIKEN.
End-stage retinal degeneration is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in older individuals.
Patients with conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration lose vision as a result of damage to the outer nuclear layer of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in the eye.
There is no cure for end-stage retinal degeneration, and curren… Read more

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