According to Science Daily, University of Michigan led a study of interbreeding between two species of modern-day howler monkeys in Mexico. This is shedding light on why it’s so difficult to confirm instances of hybridization among primates — including early humans — by relying on fossil remains. According to genetic studies, Neanderthals may have bred with anatomically modern humans tens of thousands of years ago in the Middle East.
This is hard to believe amongst most individuals. It’s a hard concept to accept that humans were once mated with monkeys. They study was based on analyses of genetic and morphological data collected from live-captured monkeys over the past decade. Morphology is the branch of biology that deals with the form and structure of animals and plants.
The study was done with two different primate species. They were the mantled howler monkeys and black howler monkeys; which both diverged about 3 million years ago and differ in many respects, including behavior, appearance and the number of chromosomes they possess. Each occupies a unique geographical distribution except for the state of Tabasco in southeastern Mexico, where they coexist and interbreed in what’s known as a hybrid zone. The researchers found that individuals of mixed ancestry who share most of their genome with one of the two species are physically indistinguishable from the pure individuals of that species.
Franciscan Manzanita, a flowering California pant, was thought to be extinct in the wild many years ago. According to a CNN news article, Coastal plant thought extinct for 65 years discovered , this accusation had been disproved when Daniel Gluesenkamp, a biologist, spotted the plant on Highway 101 coming off the Golden Gate Bridge. Gluesenkamp confirmed the plant’s identity a few days later. This was an exciting find because the last known wild plant was found in 1947. The plant was relocated to a new area and is now doing very well. It has grown and it has bright green leaves.
Between the months of January to April it displays pinkish flowers. It has even began to reproduce.
I find this to be very interesting. How many other species could still be around today that we think are extinct?
Scientists have been studying the gene responsible for the body’s circadian (biological) clock for quite some time now, but made a bit of a breakthrough recently. This gene, called Period 1, has variants of either two adenine (A) nucleotides, two guanine (G) nucleotides, or a mix of one of each which varies the clock rhythm. (The reason for two nucleotides is because there are two sets of chromosomes, so the nucleotide of that specific allele of each chromosome is accounted for as either adenine or guanine.) A person’s natural sleep schedule, “times of peak cognitive performance, and the timing of many physiological processes” are affected by Period 1, including “times of the day when a person is most alert, when blood pressure is highest, and when the heart is most efficient,” as well. Now knowing this information can aid in one’s health more so than before; if a person is found to have his/her highest blood pressure at noon, medication can be given shortly beforehand, or the person will make a better attempt to stay away from added stress around noontime.
Two studies were conducted, one with 1,200 65-year-olds and the other with volunteers of a younger generation. These studies were compared and drew the same results. The people with A-A at the allele of the Period 1 gene all wake up about an hour earlier than the people with the G-G nucleotides. People with a combination of both A and G wake up at some point between the other two groups. These variants not only distinguish a person’s sleep habits, but also when the gene is expressed in the brain and white blood cells. The most unbelievable factor of the research was that the variants help determine what time of day a person will die (of natural causes). Those with A-A or A-G genotypes died just before 11 A.M., while the people with G-G genotypes passed away around 6 P.M.
It seems quite shocking that variants of just one gene consisting of two nucleotides can account for so many of life’s important processes. Sure, I would expect the typical sleep schedule associated with the circadian rhythm to be controlled by genes, but I was astonished at how such variants could even be held responsible for a person’s time of death. I feel that scientists will never cease to make new discoveries in genetics. The fact that genes can turn on or off or posses a great deal of different variants makes tracking down all their different functions next to impossible. I think whenever new roles are found for certain genes, I will still be just as surprised each time around.
Ribosomes, the construction sites for proteins, are far more complex than previously assumed. During the production of proteins they constantly and spontaneously change their form. This performance of eukaryotic ribosomes has now been demonstrated for the first time by scientists at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik in Berlin, and Cornell University in New York, with the aid of special electron microscopic and biophysical methods. The results published in the current issue of the journal “Molecular Cell” are the prerequisite for improving our understanding of the inner workings of the ribosome and its specific interactions with antibiotics.
As cellular factories, ribosomes are responsible for producing proteins so they determine the function and structure of all living cells. They consist of large and small subunits. . During the protein synthesis, the blueprint of a protein, i.e. the so-called messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid), is read like a magnetic film at the interface between the two subunits of the ribosome. According to this genetic information proteins are built as a chain of amino acids. The transfer RNAs are readers of the messenger RNA and at the same time carriers of the amino acids. They transport the specific amino acids required to build the proteins to the site of synthesis until the blueprint indicates that the work has been completed. As a result, the genetic code that is stored in the sequence of nucleic acids has been translated from the nucleic acid world to a product of the protein world. The mode of action of ribosomes from bacteria (organisms without a cell nucleus) is already very well understood. Far less is known about ribosomes from eukaryotes (all organisms with a cell nucleus), and consequently also about human ribosomes. However, eukaryotic ribosomes are much larger and much more complex.
The scientists led by Prof. Christian Spahn, Director of the Institut für Medizinische Physik und Biophysik at Campus Charité Mitte, were now able to show that both L-shaped transfer RNA and ribosomes spontaneously oscillate between different states during the translation process. “For us it was surprising to discover that during bacterial protein biosynthesis and that of the eukaryotes different conformations of the complex between ribosomes and transfer RNA are favored. This indicates divergent strategies in the regulation of protein production and can explain the differing modes of action of antibiotics in different kingdoms of life,” says Tatyana Budkevich, the first author of the study, commenting on her results.
When one thinks of the cells of the immune system, they immediately get the role of the bodies marines. But new research has shown that there is more than meets the eye. Researchers from Oregon State noticed that mice lacking antibody producing B cells have unusual digestive systems. They noticed that the mice had a troublesome time absorbing fat from their diet which leads to malnutrition. From there the fact that B cells make immunoglobulin A (IgA) must contribute to fat uptake. IgA is found in tears, saliva, milk, mucus, and the lining of the intestines. When a closer look is taken on the intestines, one will notice that the intestines are lines with epithelial cells. Now epithelial cells have two jobs, self defense and metabolism (which includes fat uptake). IgA (which is produced by B cells), is triggered by an unknown, a signal will be sent from the gut microbes to the epithelial cells. From there commands will be made on what to do next. A variety of things could happen. 1) Devote more resources to protecting themselves. 2) Make antimicrobial compounds. Or 3) continue absorbing fat and other nutrients from food. Whatever the outcome is, it would not occur easily without B cells. So be thankful that your bodies “marines” not only have training in combat, but in many other areas as well, because let’s face it, you would be malnourished without them.
This article shows that recently, scientists have discovered that micro sponges from seaweed may be able to diagnosis diseases. At Rice University they have a ‘Bio-Nano-Chip’ which is a grid with agarose beads that capture biomarkers. These biomarkers are in a persons health and are located in their body fluids such as blood and saliva. There are also the micro sponges inserted inside of the grid which were discovered since they obtain massive amounts of fluids in the sponge. The agarose beads also capture and detect the biomarkers. The micro sponges allows a lot of fluid over a large surface for quicker results in capturing the biomarkers; making this a new discovery for Rice University in detecting diseases such a HIV and cancers. This method of diagnosing patients of cancers and diseases is a new step towards technology in an inexpensive way compared to other methods.