Panama disease, an infection that ravages banana plants, has been sweeping across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The impact has been devastating. In the Philippines alone, losses have totalled US$400m. And the disease threatens not only the livelihoods of everyone in this US$44 billion industry but also the 400m people in developing countries who depend on bananas for a substantial proportion of their calorie intake.
Billions of migratory birds pass through the night sky each spring and fall. Birds use stars to orient their journey between summer breeding grounds and winter feeding grounds. The artificial lights produced by humans disrupt the migration of birds, often with fatal consequences.
How did complex life arise on Earth about two billion years ago? Research by an international team of scientists from Sweden, the United States, Australia and the Netherlands now provides a new perspective on the matter. In a study published this week in Nature Microbiology, the team presents a new model about the first complex cell types that make up plants, fungi, but also animals and people. They describe how complex cellular life forms developed in evolution through the metabolic integration of simpler cell types.
Though it can still be found in the forests of Europe, the Eurasian lynx has not been seen in the UK for more than 1,000 years. This medium-sized wild cat with its distinctive pointy ears was driven to extinction during the medieval period, thanks to low numbers of its preferred prey, roe deer, as well as a disappearing habitat and excessive hunting. But recently the Lynx UK Trust has argued strongly for its reintroduction.
The human capacity for language divides our species from the rest of the animal kingdom. Language has not only allowed us to conquer all corners of the globe, but to devise writing, mathematics and all things thereafter.
Life in the sea isn’t easy. Talk to most people about the ocean and they are likely to imagine a tropical scene with a stretch of golden sand and warm, clear water. The reality is often quite different – the marine environment can be a surprisingly cold place.
When it comes to making decisions, most of us are influenced to some degree by other people, whether that’s choosing a restaurant or a political candidate. We want to know what others think before we make that choice.
You might have noticed how bright green your plants look after rain. Or you may have been watering your garden this summer, over many hot days and weeks. So, which water is best for your plants? The stuff that falls out of the sky or the water that comes out of the tap?
Scientists who work with live organisms often have to move them between locations. This requires knowing what conditions creatures can tolerate well, and also can involve some unusual packing challenges. Here three researchers explain how they transport butterflies, sea turtles and endangered frogs safely between labs and the outdoors.
Industrial engineers from ‘Technologiecampus Gent ‘(KU Leuven) have developed a module that allows them to map the health of trees online. Using this module trees in a city or park can be monitored online.
Scientists have found remnants of small creatures in Antarctica under a deep layer of ice. The remains were found in mud that was brought up through a borehole. The findings might tell us something about the possibility of life on icy planets or moons
Compared to gene-edited babies in China and ambitious projects to rescue woolly mammoths from extinction, biotech trees might sound pretty tame. But releasing genetically engineered trees into forests to counter threats to forest health represents a new frontier in biotechnology.
According to the Chinese space agency CNSA there are plants growing on the Moon for the first time ever. Seedlings of a cotton plant to be precise, the seeds where taking to the moon by the Chang’e-4 probe.
There is a growing global trend to consider pets as part of the family. In fact, millions of people around the world love their pets, enjoying their companionship, going for walks, playing and even talking to them. And there is evidence suggesting that attachment to pets is good for human health and even helps build community.
Fireworks are a brilliant way to celebrate special occasions such as New Year’s Eve and Guy Fawkes Night, as well as big sporting events and independence days – right? Not if you happen to be an animal.
In the autumn, lots of plants (especially trees) throw away their leaves. These are great for jumping in, but why do some plants do this? It seems like a waste. But actually, by dropping their leaves they are saving their nutrients for the next summer.
It’s been a good year for apples. Across Europe the apple harvest is the biggest it has been for a decade. But the handful of apple types you see on supermarket shelves only tells part of the story. There are actually 7,500 varieties of eating apple grown all over the world, and growers and scientists are making efforts to conserve and extend this.
Stripes are common in our lives. It’s a pretty basic pattern, and easy to take for granted. As an applied mathematician who studies how patterns form in nature, though, I am wowed by the striped patterns the zebrafish wears across its body and fins.
As a graduate student in the 1970s, microbiologist Richard Blakemore probably wasn’t expecting to discover a new bacterial species with a never-before-seen ability. While studying bacteria that live in muddy swamps, he observed that some tended to swim reliably toward the same geographical direction. Even when he rotated the microscope, they persisted in wiggling toward one direction. After confirming that their swimming behaviors were unaffected by light, Blakemore suspected they might be responding to the weak magnetic fields naturally present on Earth.
Whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. So wrote Charles Darwin, in his On the Origin of Species. The origin and evolution of animals is one of the most fascinating questions in modern biology.
If you’ve ever seen a picture of a DNA molecule, you probably saw it in its famous B-form: two strands coiling around each other in a right-handed fashion to form a double helix. But did you know that DNA can change its shape?