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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

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Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

Scientists may have found an explanation for why the first amphibious fish moved from water to land. On a small island in the South Pacific Ocean, four species of blennies spend half their time in water and half on land. To test whether predation could be driving the transition to land, researchers created blenny mimics and dispersed them throughout the blennies’ habitats. They found that the aquatic mimics were attacked at a much higher frequency than the terrestrial mimics were, making predation a viable cause for the water-to-land transition. Continue reading Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

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Neuronal Diversity of the Axolotl Brain

What you’re seeing is the brain of an axolotl, an organism known for its ability to regenerate many organs including the limb, heart, and spinal cord. The different colors (blue, green, red) represent some of the neuronal cell types present within the brain. Incredibly, when this region of the brain is injured, the brain regenerates with fidelity, and all of these cell types are remade. … Continue reading Neuronal Diversity of the Axolotl Brain

iMEMS

A new medical implant might greatly reduce the risk of chemotherapy treatment

Chemotherapy is a common and dangerous cancer treatment due to the negative effects on everything that is not a tumor cell. Researchers from Columbia University have invented a soft medical implant capable of administering drugs from inside the body. The ability to place this device close to the target area allows for a significant (90%) reduction of the drug dosage to be used. Similarly, avoiding body-wide administration of the drug can greatly reduce the damage inflicted by normal chemotherapy dosages. Continue reading A new medical implant might greatly reduce the risk of chemotherapy treatment