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Feedback: The unusual health risks of competitive chilli eating

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Fri, 2018-04-20 12:00
Nurse, get some milk, stat! Plus: zombie racoons in Ohio, the science of crying on airplanes, why penguins go with the floe, and more
Categories: Science and society

Feedback: The unusual health risks of competitive chilli eating

Genetics - Fri, 2018-04-20 12:00
Nurse, get some milk, stat! Plus: zombie racoons in Ohio, the science of crying on airplanes, why penguins go with the floe, and more
Categories: Biology

Global cancer scheme lets people share data across the world

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Fri, 2018-04-20 02:01
The Universal Cancer Databank will let anyone with cancer share their medical and genetic data with researchers globally, with the aim of speeding up new treatments
Categories: Science and society

Global cancer scheme lets people share data across the world

Genetics - Fri, 2018-04-20 02:01
The Universal Cancer Databank will let anyone with cancer share their medical and genetic data with researchers globally, with the aim of speeding up new treatments
Categories: Biology

Global cancer scheme lets people share data across the world

HIV and AIDS - Fri, 2018-04-20 02:01
The Universal Cancer Databank will let anyone with cancer share their medical and genetic data with researchers globally, with the aim of speeding up new treatments

On ways to overcome the magical capacity limit of working memory

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-04-19 23:00

by Zsolt Turi, Ivan Alekseichuk, Walter Paulus

The ability to simultaneously process and maintain multiple pieces of information is limited. Over the past 50 years, observational methods have provided a large amount of insight regarding the neural mechanisms that underpin the mental capacity that we refer to as “working memory.” More than 20 years ago, a neural coding scheme was proposed for working memory. As a result of technological developments, we can now not only observe but can also influence brain rhythms in humans. Building on these novel developments, we have begun to externally control brain oscillations in order to extend the limits of working memory.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Ups and downs in early electron cryo-microscopy

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-04-19 23:00

by Jacques Dubochet, Erwin Knapek

This is a tale of two scientists who, in their younger days, had their scientific judgement clouded by the promise of a big discovery. Two years later, they found that their conclusions had been considerably exaggerated. They were lucky, though, as their later work would prove to be significant. Now, more than 30 years after those events, they met again and put in writing their understanding of what went wrong.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Unconventional function of an Achaete-Scute homolog as a terminal selector of nociceptive neuron identity

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-04-19 23:00

by Neda Masoudi, Saeed Tavazoie, Lori Glenwinkel, Leesun Ryu, Kyuhyung Kim, Oliver Hobert

Proneural genes are among the most early-acting genes in nervous system development, instructing blast cells to commit to a neuronal fate. Drosophila Atonal and Achaete-Scute complex (AS-C) genes, as well as their vertebrate orthologs, are basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors with such proneural activity. We show here that a C. elegans AS-C homolog, hlh-4, functions in a fundamentally different manner. In the embryonic, larval, and adult nervous systems, hlh-4 is expressed exclusively in a single nociceptive neuron class, ADL, and its expression in ADL is maintained via transcriptional autoregulation throughout the life of the animal. However, in hlh-4 null mutants, the ADL neuron is generated and still appears neuronal in overall morphology and expression of panneuronal and pansensory features. Rather than acting as a proneural gene, we find that hlh-4 is required for the ADL neuron to function properly, to adopt its correct morphology, to express its unusually large repertoire of olfactory receptor–encoding genes, and to express other known features of terminal ADL identity, including neurotransmitter phenotype, neuropeptides, ion channels, and electrical synapse proteins. hlh-4 is sufficient to induce ADL identity features upon ectopic expression in other neuron types. The expression of ADL terminal identity features is directly controlled by HLH-4 via a phylogenetically conserved E-box motif, which, through bioinformatic analysis, we find to constitute a predictive feature of ADL-expressed terminal identity markers. The lineage that produces the ADL neuron was previously shown to require the conventional, transient proneural activity of another AS-C homolog, hlh-14, demonstrating sequential activities of distinct AS-C-type bHLH genes in neuronal specification. Taken together, we have defined here an unconventional function of an AS-C-type bHLH gene as a terminal selector of neuronal identity and we speculate that such function could be reflective of an ancestral function of an “ur-” bHLH gene.
Categories: Biology, Journals

The gender gap in science: How long until women are equally represented?

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-04-19 23:00

by Luke Holman, Devi Stuart-Fox, Cindy E. Hauser

Women comprise a minority of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) workforce. Quantifying the gender gap may identify fields that will not reach parity without intervention, reveal underappreciated biases, and inform benchmarks for gender balance among conference speakers, editors, and hiring committees. Using the PubMed and arXiv databases, we estimated the gender of 36 million authors from >100 countries publishing in >6000 journals, covering most STEMM disciplines over the last 15 years, and made a web app allowing easy access to the data (https://lukeholman.github.io/genderGap/). Despite recent progress, the gender gap appears likely to persist for generations, particularly in surgery, computer science, physics, and maths. The gap is especially large in authorship positions associated with seniority, and prestigious journals have fewer women authors. Additionally, we estimate that men are invited by journals to submit papers at approximately double the rate of women. Wealthy countries, notably Japan, Germany, and Switzerland, had fewer women authors than poorer ones. We conclude that the STEMM gender gap will not close without further reforms in education, mentoring, and academic publishing.
Categories: Biology, Journals

NASA finally has a new boss after a year-long wait

Genetics - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:53
After months of debate, Trump's pick to head NASA has now been confirmed. This ends the space agency's longest-ever period without permanent leadership
Categories: Biology

NASA finally has a new boss after a year-long wait

HIV and AIDS - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:53
After months of debate, Trump's pick to head NASA has now been confirmed. This ends the space agency's longest-ever period without permanent leadership

NASA finally has a new boss after a year-long wait

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:53
After months of debate, Trump's pick to head NASA has now been confirmed. This ends the space agency's longest-ever period without permanent leadership
Categories: Science and society

Plants love carbon dioxide, but too much could be bad for them

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Most plants were expected to grow more as CO2 levels rise, but a 20-year experiment suggests that the extra CO2 is somehow stunting plant growth, which could make climate change worse
Categories: Science and society

Super-tough diamonds have been made bendy and springy

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Diamonds may be tough, but they can also be surprisingly flexible. A team of researchers grew diamond nanoneedles that bent and then sprang back upright
Categories: Science and society

Poking tiny dents into solar panels makes them work better

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Most solar cells are limited by how much energy their electrons can absorb. Denting their materials could help them harvest more electricity and breeze past that limit
Categories: Science and society

Plants love carbon dioxide, but too much could be bad for them

Genetics - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Most plants were expected to grow more as CO2 levels rise, but a 20-year experiment suggests that the extra CO2 is somehow stunting plant growth, which could make climate change worse
Categories: Biology

Super-tough diamonds have been made bendy and springy

Genetics - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Diamonds may be tough, but they can also be surprisingly flexible. A team of researchers grew diamond nanoneedles that bent and then sprang back upright
Categories: Biology

Poking tiny dents into solar panels makes them work better

Genetics - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Most solar cells are limited by how much energy their electrons can absorb. Denting their materials could help them harvest more electricity and breeze past that limit
Categories: Biology

Plants love carbon dioxide, but too much could be bad for them

HIV and AIDS - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Most plants were expected to grow more as CO2 levels rise, but a 20-year experiment suggests that the extra CO2 is somehow stunting plant growth, which could make climate change worse

Super-tough diamonds have been made bendy and springy

HIV and AIDS - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:00
Diamonds may be tough, but they can also be surprisingly flexible. A team of researchers grew diamond nanoneedles that bent and then sprang back upright