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The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

As mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides used to control their populations, scientists have been developing new tools. The latest idea: infecting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically engineered to produce arachnid toxins. After infecting the mosquitoes with fungal spores, the bugs showed increase mortality within 2.5 days after exposure and fed less in the days before their death, compared to their healthy counterparts. Continue reading The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

AMD

Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future

A medical team at Johns Hopkins University genetically engineered a common cold virus to deposit a gene when injected into the human eye. This gene codes for a protein that binds to VEGF, another protein whose activity in old age contributes to vision loss (a disease called AMD or wet AMD). This small clinical study’s preliminary results show that just one small dose is potent enough to improve a patient’s vision loss. Continue reading Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future

Spreading of Homo sapiens [Image: created by NordNordWest, release into the public domain]

When did the Americas encounter the first human?

It is widely believed that humans first arrived in the Americas around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. Discoveries at archeological sites such as Mesa Verde in Chile and Meadowcroft, PA have long supported this view. At a dig in Southern California, possible traces of human activity from over 130,000 years ago have been discovered. Researchers at the site recovered the partial skeleton of a mastodon, an … Continue reading When did the Americas encounter the first human?

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Using your own DNA against you: Bio-control of coral reef pest might be possible

Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) are decimating coral populations along the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists have sequenced COTS genomes in the hopes of turning their own biology against them. Researchers think they have found the peptides the COTS use to communicate with each other. These peptides are released into the water to help the starfish aggregate before spawning events. If true, it’s possible to use these peptides to build several mechanisms for controlling the COTS pests. Continue reading Using your own DNA against you: Bio-control of coral reef pest might be possible

MY SITN Aquilegia flower

The Birth of a Flower

Unlike animals, plants possess the ability to generate new tissues and organs throughout their entire lifespans due to the activity of stem cells located in specific sites termed meristems. During the reproductive phase, floral meristem (lower right dome-shaped structure) give rise to different floral organ primordia (the series of bulges), which will eventually grow into the sepals, petals, stamens, staminodia, and carpels of a beautiful … Continue reading The Birth of a Flower

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Min Ya

My name is Min Ya, or Ya Min, but I go by Minya. I was born and raised in China. Heavily influenced by my botany-enthusiast father, I have been a plant lover since I was very little. Before grad school, I finished my undergrad in China and Japan, and obtained dual Master’s Degree in Sweden and France. Although the subfields of biology varied between my … Continue reading Min Ya

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Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology

With the warm weather of summer quickly approaching, a common enemy known as the mosquito will soon make a reappearance. Mosquitoes are more than just an irritation. In many areas of the world, mosquitoes are also carriers of infectious diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus. While the mosquito is a  major problem to many, scientists at Microsoft Research are attempting to exploit some … Continue reading Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology