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UMD studies mangrove genetic diversity in Africa to conserve centers of biodiversity
In collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a University of Maryland (UMD) researcher co-published a large-scale study examining the genetic diversity of mangroves over more than 1,800 miles of coastline in the Western Indian Ocean, including Eastern Africa and several islands. This work showcases how oceanic currents create both connectivity and barriers between mangrove populations, wi


The Parakeets of London
The Greater London area is home to thousands of parakeets. The population of feral ring-necked parakeets has grown from hundreds of individuals back in the 1980s to more than 30,000 according to the last count in 2012. The birds, native to Africa and India, are generalist feeders and seem to be well-adapted to the urban settings and colder climate of southern England. The origins of the London pa
NIST study suggests how to build a better 'nanopore' biosensor
Researchers have spent more than three decades developing and studying miniature biosensors that can identify single molecules. To boost the accuracy and speed of these measurements, scientists must find ways to better understand how molecules interact with these sensors. Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have now
Genetic removal of p70 S6K1 corrects coding sequence length-dependent alterations in mRNA translation in fragile X syndrome mice [Neuroscience]
Loss of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) causes fragile X syndrome (FXS). FMRP is widely thought to repress protein synthesis, but its translational targets and modes of control remain in dispute. We previously showed that genetic removal of p70 S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) corrects altered protein synthesis as…
Communication consumes 35 times more energy than computation in the human cortex, but both costs are needed to predict synapse number [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
Darwinian evolution tends to produce energy-efficient outcomes. On the other hand, energy limits computation, be it neural and probabilistic or digital and logical. Taking a particular energy-efficient viewpoint, we define neural computation and make use of an energy-constrained computational function. This function can be optimized over a variable that is…
High-throughput functional variant screens via in vivo production of single-stranded DNA [Microbiology]
Creating and characterizing individual genetic variants remains limited in scale, compared to the tremendous variation both existing in nature and envisioned by genome engineers. Here we introduce retron library recombineering (RLR), a methodology for high-throughput functional screens that surpasses the scale and specificity of CRISPR-Cas methods. We use the targeted…
Anaerobic gut fungi are an untapped reservoir of natural products [Microbiology]
Anaerobic fungi (class Neocallimastigomycetes) thrive as low-abundance members of the herbivore digestive tract. The genomes of anaerobic gut fungi are poorly characterized and have not been extensively mined for the biosynthetic enzymes of natural products such as antibiotics. Here, we investigate the potential of anaerobic gut fungi to synthesize natural…
Blood-brain barrier opening by intracarotid artery hyperosmolar mannitol induces sterile inflammatory and innate immune responses [Immunology and Inflammation]
Intracarotid arterial hyperosmolar mannitol (ICAHM) blood–brain barrier disruption (BBBD) is effective and safe for delivery of therapeutics for central nervous system malignancies. ICAHM osmotically alters endothelial cells and tight junction integrity to achieve BBBD. However, occurrence of neuroinflammation following hemispheric BBBD by ICAHM remains unknown. Temporal proteomic changes in rat..
Improved bounds on entropy production in living systems [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
Living systems maintain or increase local order by working against the second law of thermodynamics. Thermodynamic consistency is restored as they consume free energy, thereby increasing the net entropy of their environment. Recently introduced estimators for the entropy production rate have provided major insights into the efficiency of important cellular…
Adaptive differentiation and rapid evolution of a soil bacterium along a climate gradient [Ecology]
Microbial community responses to environmental change are largely associated with ecological processes; however, the potential for microbes to rapidly evolve and adapt remains relatively unexplored in natural environments. To assess how ecological and evolutionary processes simultaneously alter the genetic diversity of a microbiome, we conducted two concurrent experiments in the…
Interacting regional policies in containing a disease [Economic Sciences]
Regional quarantine policies, in which a portion of a population surrounding infections is locked down, are an important tool to contain disease. However, jurisdictional governments—such as cities, counties, states, and countries—act with minimal coordination across borders. We show that a regional quarantine policy’s effectiveness depends on whether 1) the network…
Network medicine framework for identifying drug-repurposing opportunities for COVID-19 [Systems Biology]
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to quickly and reliably prioritize clinically approved compounds for their potential effectiveness for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. Here, we deployed algorithms relying on artificial intelligence, network diffusion, and network proximity, tasking each of them to rank 6,340 drugs for…
Should Overpaid CEOs Be Replaced With Artificial Intelligence?
Strategic Downsizing In recent years, executive salaries have skyrocketed. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s 2020 report on CEO pay, the average American CEO earned 320 times as much as the typical worker, and that number has consistently climbed over the decades. Excesses like that make a really good case for merely replacing executives with comparatively-inexpensive artificial intell
520-day simulated Mars mission changes crew’s gut bacteria
Crew members who took part in the Mars500 mission experiment showed significant changes in their gut microbiota after 520 days in confinement, according to a new study. The researchers analyzed data from fecal samples of six crew members from Russia, Europe, and China. The crew lived in a completely sealed habitat in Moscow from June 2010 to November 2011 to simulate a manned mission to Mars, whi
New duckbilled dinosaur discovered in Japan
An international team of paleontologists has identified a new genus and species of hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur, Yamatosaurus izanagii, on one of Japan's southern islands. The fossilized discovery yields new information about hadrosaur migration, suggesting that the herbivors migrated from Asia to North America instead of vice versa. The discovery also illustrates an evolutionary step as the
Solar anti-icing surface with enhanced condensate self-removing at extreme environmental conditions [Applied Physical Sciences]
The inhibition of condensation freezing under extreme conditions (i.e., ultra-low temperature and high humidity) remains a daunting challenge in the field of anti-icing. As water vapor easily condensates or desublimates and melted water refreezes instantly, these cause significant performance decrease of most anti-icing surfaces at such extreme conditions. Herein, inspired…
Educational attainment does not influence brain aging [Neuroscience]
Education has been related to various advantageous lifetime outcomes. Here, using longitudinal structural MRI data (4,422 observations), we tested the influential hypothesis that higher education translates into slower rates of brain aging. Cross-sectionally, education was modestly associated with regional cortical volume. However, despite marked mean atrophy in the cortex and…
Warm early Mars surface enabled by high-altitude water ice clouds [Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences]
Despite receiving just 30% of the Earth’s present-day insolation, Mars had water lakes and rivers early in the planet’s history, due to an unknown warming mechanism. A possible explanation for the >102-y-long lake-forming climates is warming by water ice clouds. However, this suggested cloud greenhouse explanation has proved difficult to…
Autoregulation of insulin receptor signaling through MFGE8 and the {alpha}v{beta}5 integrin [Physiology]
The role of integrins, in particular αv integrins, in regulating insulin resistance is incompletely understood. We have previously shown that the αvβ5 integrin ligand milk fat globule epidermal growth factor like 8 (MFGE8) regulates cellular uptake of fatty acids. In this work, we evaluated the impact of MFGE8 on glucose…
Global and country-level estimates of human population at high altitude [Anthropology]
Estimates of the global population of humans living at high altitude vary widely, and such data at the country level are unavailable. Herein, we use a geographic information system (GIS)-based approach to quantify human population at 500-m elevation intervals for each country. Based on georeferenced data for population (LandScan Global…
Physical mixing in coastal waters controls and decouples nitrification via biomass dilution [Environmental Sciences]
Nitrification is a central process of the aquatic nitrogen cycle that controls the supply of nitrate used in other key processes, such as phytoplankton growth and denitrification. Through time series observation and modeling of a seasonally stratified, eutrophic coastal basin, we demonstrate that physical dilution of nitrifying microorganisms by water…
Supporting social hierarchy is associated with White police officers’ use of force [Psychological and Cognitive Sciences]
Three studies translate social dominance theory to policing, testing the relationship between individual officers’ endorsement of social hierarchies and their tendency to use force against residents. This article demonstrates a link between officer psychological factors and force. Because police are empowered to use force to maintain social order, and because…
A multi-omics approach to lignocellulolytic enzyme discovery reveals a new ligninase activity from Parascedosporium putredinis NO1 [Applied Biological Sciences]
Lignocellulose, the structural component of plant cells, is a major agricultural byproduct and the most abundant terrestrial source of biopolymers on Earth. The complex and insoluble nature of lignocellulose limits its conversion into value-added commodities, and currently, efficient transformation requires expensive pretreatments and high loadings of enzymes. Here, we report…
Neuromodulator release in neurons requires two functionally redundant calcium sensors [Neuroscience]
Neuropeptides and neurotrophic factors secreted from dense core vesicles (DCVs) control many brain functions, but the calcium sensors that trigger their secretion remain unknown. Here, we show that in mouse hippocampal neurons, DCV fusion is strongly and equally reduced in synaptotagmin-1 (Syt1)- or Syt7-deficient neurons, but combined Syt1/Syt7 deficiency did…
Acquisition of optimal TFH cell function is defined by specific molecular, positional, and TCR dynamic signatures [Immunology and Inflammation]
The development of follicular helper CD4 T (TFH) cells is a dynamic process resulting in a heterogenous pool of TFH subsets. However, the cellular and molecular determinants of this heterogeneity and the possible mechanistic links between them is not clear. We found that human TFH differentiation is associated with significant…
Thermal niches of planktonic foraminifera are static throughout glacial-interglacial climate change [Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences]
Abiotic niche lability reduces extinction risk by allowing species to adapt to changing environmental conditions in situ. In contrast, species with static niches must keep pace with the velocity of climate change as they track suitable habitat. The rate and frequency of niche lability have been studied on human timescales…
NMR unveils an N-terminal interaction interface on acetylated-{alpha}-synuclein monomers for recruitment to fibrils [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
Amyloid fibril formation of α-synuclein (αS) is associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). Growing evidence suggests that progression of PD is linked to cell-to-cell propagation of αS fibrils, which leads to seeding of endogenous intrinsically disordered monomer via templated elongation and secondary nucleation. A molecular understanding of…
Environmental and economic concerns surrounding restrictions on glyphosate use in corn [Agricultural Sciences]
Since the commercialization of transgenic glyphosate-tolerant (GT) crops in the mid-1990s, glyphosate has become the dominant herbicide to control weeds in corn, soybean, and other crops in the United States and elsewhere. However, recent public concerns over its potential carcinogenicity in humans have generated calls for glyphosate-restricting policies. Should a…
Aberrant epithelial polarity cues drive the development of precancerous airway lesions [Medical Sciences]
Molecular events that drive the development of precancerous lesions in the bronchial epithelium, which are precursors of lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC), are poorly understood. We demonstrate that disruption of epithelial cellular polarity, via the conditional deletion of the apical determinant Crumbs3 (Crb3), initiates and sustains precancerous airway pathology. The…
Cellular-resolution gene expression profiling in the neonatal marmoset brain reveals dynamic species- and region-specific differences [Neuroscience]
Precise spatiotemporal control of gene expression in the developing brain is critical for neural circuit formation, and comprehensive expression mapping in the developing primate brain is crucial to understand brain function in health and disease. Here, we developed an unbiased, automated, large-scale, cellular-resolution in situ hybridization (ISH)–based gene expression profiling…
Active sites for ice nucleation differ depending on nucleation mode [Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences]
The nucleation of ice crystals in clouds is poorly understood, despite being of critical importance for our planet’s climate. Nucleation occurs largely at rare “active sites” present on airborne particles such as mineral dust, but the nucleation pathway is distinct under different meteorological conditions. These give rise to two key…

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