How to Travel Through Time With DNA

How to Travel Through Time With DNA

An organism's genome is much more than a blueprint for its development. All along the double helix lie remnants of its ancestors, the half-buried and weather-scarred bricks of the evolutionary road its lineage traveled. In this post, learn how genes from modern fungi were used to determine the origin of the white rot group, which was responsible for solving an ancient environmental crisis.

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Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks

When the tide gets really low in a secluded cove in La Jolla, California, the dorsal fins of leopard sharks loom menacing out of the water – sometimes, a hundred at a time. Despite knowing leopard sharks are harmless, the sight of their 8 feet long bodies darting through the shadows is still way too close for comfort. Learn about sharks, how they gained their popularity (and how they are not as menacing as they look) and how the U.S. is currently working to protect Pacific sharks and the Pacific Ocean.

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Forests: Young and Old

Forests: Young and Old

I’ve touched on the topic of succession in a few of my posts.  Here I will delve a little deeper into the mechanics of an aging plant community. When I began to learn more about forests and trees, I wondered: how it is that an “old” forest has not only bigger and taller trees, but different kinds of trees? Why does a hemlock like to grow in old forests, and a birch like to grow in young ones? 

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Mutualism of the Month: Nectar robbers and pollinating birds

Mutualism of the Month: Nectar robbers and pollinating birds

This month’s mutualism is between the nectar-robbing purple sunbird Nectarina asiatica and a small flowering tree, the desert teak Tecomella undulata, particularly how the purple sunbird impacts the relationship between desert teak and its two pollinating birds: the red-vented bulbul Pycnonotus cafer and the white-eared bulbul P. leucotis.

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"Green thing eaten raw"

"Green thing eaten raw"

Thousands and thousands of years ago, humans began domesticating plants and animals. This happened independently in at least seven areas worldwide as people transitioned from hunter gathering to agrarian societies. Mesoamerica was one of these seven regions, and the birthplace of many beloved foods, including maize, beans, cocoa, cotton and today’s topic: squash.

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Molecule of the Month: Something Sweet.

Molecule of the Month: Something Sweet.

How can salt and sugar look identical, but taste entirely different?  What makes sugar taste sweet and why is that a taste we crave?  Check out this month's post on molecules, going into the nitty gritty of these questions, to find out!

Photo credit: simplenutritiontips.com

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Where's that bloody Fountain of Youth?

Where's that bloody Fountain of Youth?

For humans, growing old and the diverse effects of ageing we each may experience are diverse and often dreaded. Writers, philosophers and adventurers as early as Alexander the Great have swooned over a way to reverse the wear and tear on the body, hoping to stay young in body and mind forever. So is there a Fountain of Youth? 

Maybe...and it might not be as picturesque as you imagined it...

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Farm mapping from the sky

Farm mapping from the sky

I feel like drones are everywhere in the news, and never with a good connotation. Really though, there is a myriad of useful applications for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), so let’s think of them as a tool for good rather than a weapon-carrying-device. In my case I’m thinking about agriculture, and how these tool can be used to grow crops. 

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Let's experiment: exploring my microbiota

Let's experiment: exploring my microbiota

Bacterial cells outnumber your own humans cells ten to one. Thanks to advances in sequencing technology reducing costs, you can finally get to know these silent co-inhabitants. In the first installment of the let's experiment series, Kenny lays out his experiment to get to know his microbiota and examine how his inhabitants respond to a drastic change in diet and probiotic use.

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