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Latest and Breaking Biology News

Zooming in for a safe flight
(Technische Universitaet Muenchen) Bats emit ultrasound pulses and measure the echoes reflected from their surroundings. They have an extremely flexible internal navigation system that enables them to do this. A study published in Nature Communications shows that when a bat flies close to an object, the number of active neurons in the part of a bat's brain responsible for processing acoustic information about spatial positioning increases. This information helps bats to react quickly and avoid obstacles.

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells
(Georgetown University Medical Center) About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don't know what they do -- even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment. Now, researchers are issuing a call to investigators to focus their attention on the role of these formations.

Faster, cheaper tests for sickle cell
(Harvard University) Harvard scientists have developed a new test for sickle cell disease that provides results in just 12 minutes and costs as little as 50 cents -- far faster and cheaper than other tests.

Week-long meeting on naming algae, fungi, and plants recorded for posterity
(Pensoft Publishers) The XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia in 2011 included a week-long meeting of 200 of the world's experts on naming algae, fungi, and plants. Key results were that new scientific names could be published in electronic-only journals and that English could be used instead of Latin for formal descriptions of species new to science. The official, detailed record of this meeting has been published as a forum paper in the open-access journal PhytoKeys.

Quality of US diet improves, gap widens for quality between rich and poor
(The JAMA Network Journals) The quality of the US diet showed some modest improvement in the last decade in large measure because of a reduction in the consumption of unhealthy trans fats, but the gap in overall diet quality widened between the rich and the poor.

Quality of US diet shows modest improvement, but overall remains poor
(Harvard School of Public Health) Dietary quality in the US has improved steadily in recent years -- spurred in large part by reduced trans fat intake -- but overall dietary quality remains poor and disparities continue to widen among socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.

Can action movies make you fat?
(Cornell Food & Brand Lab) Is television making us fat? An increasing amount of research shows an association between TV viewing and higher food consumption and a more sedentary lifestyle. Now, a new Cornell University study points out that not all TV is alike. Some TV programs might lead people to eat twice as much as other programs!

Nature's tiny engineers
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Corals control their environment, stirring up water eddies to bring nutrients.

Training your brain to prefer healthy foods
(Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus) It may be possible to train the brain to prefer healthy low-calorie foods over unhealthy higher-calorie foods, according to new research by scientists at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A nucleotide change could initiate fragile X syndrome
(Rockefeller University Press) Researchers reveal how the alteration of a single nucleotide -- the basic building block of DNA -- could initiate fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of intellectual disability.

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