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Expanding the Antibiotic Arsenal: A New Drug of Last Resort

Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, bacterial infections were the leading cause of death worldwide. Now, treating infections is often a routine procedure – simply requiring a doctor’s visit and a prescribed antibiotic. However, this simple routine has become marred by the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics is fueling the rise of resistant bacteria. In response to antibiotic exposure, bacteria have evolved … Continue reading Expanding the Antibiotic Arsenal: A New Drug of Last Resort

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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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New technology lets researchers visualize the evolution of antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics are powerful drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Recently, however, a growing number of bacterial infections have developed resistance to many commonly used antibiotics. In fact, the World Health Organization has pegged antibiotic resistance as one of the world’s biggest threats to global health! Bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance by changing in a way that reduces drug effectiveness. In a recent article, a research team … Continue reading New technology lets researchers visualize the evolution of antibiotic resistance

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Were the First Animals Sponge-Like?: Complexity in the animal tree of life

by Tauana Junqueira Cunha If we could travel back in time 540 million years, what would the first animals look like? This is one of the longstanding questions scientists aim to answer in the study of how animals evolved and became distinct from their unicellular relatives. To answer it, we need to know how modern animals are related to each other, what order they appeared … Continue reading Were the First Animals Sponge-Like?: Complexity in the animal tree of life

Figure 1: New snail species- Plekocheilus cecepeus. These specimens were collected in 1869, but only recognized as a new species in 2015 after careful observation in the muesum. Image credit: Dr. Abraham Breure and Dr. Rafael Araujo (3).

What’s hiding in the museum?

by Patty Rohs figures by Anna Maurer New technology is allowing scientists to investigate natural history museum specimens in ways that we never thought were possible. To the public eye, these museums may seem like an unchanging archive of life on earth. But behind the scenes, the very same institutions are centers for cutting-edge research. Curators, who are highly experienced in research and are often … Continue reading What’s hiding in the museum?

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Challenging Evolution: How GMOs Can Influence Genetic Diversity

by Heather Landry Summary: The vast diversity in gene sequences are what create the large variety of plants and animals we see today. Genetic diversity is crucial for adapting to new environments, as more variation in genes leads to more individuals of a population having favorable traits to withstand harsh conditions. Low genetic diversity, on the other hand, can be very problematic during changing environments, … Continue reading Challenging Evolution: How GMOs Can Influence Genetic Diversity

Navigating with an internal compass

  Many animals have been known to take advantage of the Earth’s magnetic field, often for migration (sometimes even for more rudimentary functions). Until recently, little was known about how animals are able to sense this magnetic field. Researchers at University of Texas at Austin have discovered an internal structure in the brain of a worm, C. elegans, which allows it to orient itself to … Continue reading Navigating with an internal compass