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Bioscience News
Today's biological science headlines from the sources selected by our team:

Nature's tiny engineers: Corals control their environment, stirring up water eddies to bring nutrients
Conventional wisdom has long held that corals -- whose calcium-carbonate skeletons form the foundation of coral reefs -- are passive organisms that rely entirely on ocean currents to deliver dissolved substances, such as nutrients and oxygen. But now scientists have found that they are far from passive, engineering their environment to sweep water into turbulent patterns that greatly enhance their ability to exchange nutrients and dissolved gases with their environment.
Plants & Animals News -- ScienceDaily, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Mom's hormones could make female magpie chicks more adventurous
Female magpies have been shown to be more adventurous than their male siblings, according to new research. “The fact that observable differences between the first hatched and last hatched magpie’s behaviors exist indicates that mothers may be able to produce variable traits, possibly through adjustable transmission of maternal hormones or creating the conditions for sibling rivalry. Mothers could potentially produce a variety of personalities perhaps as an adaptive strategy in unpredictable environmental conditions," researchers say.
Plants & Animals News -- ScienceDaily, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Training your brain to prefer healthy foods
It may be possible to train the brain to prefer healthy low-calorie foods over unhealthy higher-calorie foods, according to new research.
Plants & Animals News -- ScienceDaily, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Scientists find possible neurobiological basis for tradeoff between honesty, self-interest
(Virginia Tech) A team of scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and the University of California at Berkeley used advanced imaging techniques to study how the brain makes choices about honesty.
EurekAlert! - Biology, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Migrating birds sprint in spring, but take things easy in autumn
(Springer) Passerine birds, also known as perching birds, that migrate by night tend to fly faster in spring than they do in autumn to reach their destinations. This seasonal difference in flight speed is especially noticeable among birds that only make short migratory flights, says researcher Cecilia Nilsson of Lund University in Sweden, in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
EurekAlert! - Biology, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

War between bacteria and phages benefits humans
(Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus) In our battle with cholera bacteria, we may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages. Researchers from Tufts University and elsewhere report that phages can force cholera bacteria, even during active infection in humans, to give up their virulence in order to survive.
EurekAlert! - Biology, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells

About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don't know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment.

Biology News Net, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Memory in silent neurons

When we learn, we associate a sensory experience either with other stimuli or with a certain type of behaviour. The neurons in the cerebral cortex that transmit the information modify the synaptic connections that they have with the other neurons. According to a generally-accepted model of synaptic plasticity, a neuron that communicates with others of the same kind emits an electrical impulse as well as activating its synapses transiently. This electrical pulse, combined with the signal received from other neurons, acts to stimulate the synapses. How is it that some neurons are caught up in the communication interplay even when they are barely connected? This is the crucial chicken-or-egg puzzle of synaptic plasticity that a team led by Anthony Holtmaat, professor in the Department of Basic Neurosciences in the Faculty of Medicine at UNIGE, is aiming to solve. The results of their research into memory in silent neurons can be found in the latest edition of Nature.

Biology News Net, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Small molecule acts as on-off switch for nature's antibiotic factory

The soil bacteria Streptomyces form filamentous branches that extend into the air to create spiraling towers of spores.
Scientists have identified the developmental on-off switch for Streptomyces, a group of soil microbes that produce more than two-thirds of the world's naturally derived antibiotic medicines.

Biology News Net, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Sorghum and biodiversity
It is difficult to distinguish the human impact on the effects of natural factors on the evolution of crop plants. A Franco-Kenyan research team has managed to do just that for sorghum, one of the main cereals in Africa. The scientists demonstrated how three societies living on the slopes of Mount Kenya have shaped the geographic distribution and structure of the genetic diversity of local varieties. Because of their practices for selecting and exchanging crop seeds for harvesting, the farmers in each ethnic group maintain varieties which are unique to them. These prove to be genetically and phenotypically differentiated, despite their close geographical proximity. This study sheds light on the debate on the ownership and redistribution of benefits from genetic resources. Biology News, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Robotics to combat slimy pest
One hundred years after they arrived in a sack of grain, white Italian snails are the target of beleaguered South Australian farmers who have joined forces with University of Sydney robotics experts to eradicate the gastropods. Biology News, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

Best way to train farm dogs has lessons for all dog training
Dogs provided with the best living conditions and kinder training methods are giving the best results in the workplace, according to a new study of farm dogs from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science. Biology News, Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:47:00 GMT

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