Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently published a paper which explains how Prochlorococcus bacteria, which are responsible for a large amount of the oceans’ oxygen production, are able to survive in a range of oceanic environments using what they are describing to be like a “genetic LEGO set”.
It was found that these organisms are able to use a form of gene transfer using what the scientists have called “tycheposons.” These are blocks of DNA which are able to detach and then be transported to other organisms via vesicles produced from their cell membrane. They are also able to “hijack” infectious particles known as capsids from viruses and travel from one organism to another. Evidence of this has been found when capsids and vesicles have been collected and studied from the ocean and found to contain this same genetic material.
Tycheposons are thought to be particularly special as they are helping the receiving organism to adapt or diversify...
A BBC article has recently highlighted fungi and how the fungi kingdom tends to go unnoticed in comparison to plants and animals. And that is not just in terms of people taking an interest in them but also when it comes to research and conservation.
As explained by the British Mycological (the study of fungi) Society, fungi are neither plant or animal and have a kingdom of their own of 3-5 million species. Most fungi are understudied meaning that they have not been named or described. It is thought that more than 90% of all fungi are yet to be described by science. The society is currently pushing for fungi to be included in the GCSE Natural History qualification launching in 2025 to promote their importance and encourage future studies.
Dr Drakulic who is featured in the BBC article emphasises the concern with the lack of research into fungi as understandably it makes it very difficult to protect species that you know...
A mammals lifespan tends to be linked to its body size. So in theory, the larger the species, the longer it will live. Bats seem to be an exception to this rule with an unusually long lifespan for their body size. Some are shown to live more than four times longer than similar sized mammals.
The big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) is the most common bat in North America. A 2022 study on a colony of bats in Ontario, Canada has been looking into their unusually long lifespan of up to 19 years and found a link between longevity, biological ageing and hibernation!
A previous study had contributed to the discovery of “longevity” genes. The more recent research suggests that these genes are very closely associated to those related to hibernation.
How do they know?
A biological process involved in the way in which genes are expressed, called DNA methylation, was measured to find that changes in this process took place in certain...
February is in full swing as the cold blue hue of winter skies are blown away by the oncoming summer’s breeze, a promise foretold, the earth is beginning to wake up again.
The sun is staying out that bit longer, the frost isn’t as thick, blanketing our great green grass, and the first signs of spring will begin to become visible in the next few weeks.
Although our winter in the Northern Hemisphere ends on the 20th of March, nature works within its own timescale. When the temperature bumps up even slightly, frogs (Rana temporaria) will begin to emerge from their hibernation and will begin as we do during Valentines, to look for love.
We may even see some early frogspawn by the end of the month!
Our Toads (Bufo Bufo) withal may want a bit more of a lie in and will hold out a little longer before coming out to greet us.
Never mind however, as we cast...
A recent study by the University of Exeter which focused on the tiny crab (Clibanarius erythropus), gifted ecologists around the UK quite a scare on the 20th of January.
This little crab is part of the hermit crab family and lives in rockpools in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and now more recently (2016) in Cornwall after not being seen for thirty-six years!
While our little crab is thought to have migrated from Northern France in Brittany, The Centre for Ecology in Exeter stated that the crab has only made the channel crossing just twice in fifty years.
This is due to the currents only being suitable every ten years, although even on those currents, the time it takes for larvae to be carried to the UK is longer than most of the species can survive especially in the open water.
Other species groups such as sea snails, sponges and seaweed just can’t survive in the open water like crabs and...
Cats, dogs, ferrets and civets are most susceptible to COVID-19, a new research says.
The findings come after a wild mink tested positive for COVID-19 in the US - the first coronavirus case detected in a wild animal.
Monitoring COVID-19 cases in animals is important, as they can become reservoirs of the virus and cause it to mutate and make potential vaccines less effective.
The study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, used computer modelling to see how the virus's spike protein invades the cells of animals and humans.
It looked at 10 species in total, with humans, ferrets, cats, dogs and civets most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Mice, rats, chicken and ducks were found less prone to a COVD-19 infection.
The researchers also found that different variants of ACE-2 in humans - the receptor which binds with the spike protein - could affect the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
Find out more about COVID-19 and animals here....
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