The humble coral may possess as many genes – and possibly even more – than humans do. And remarkably, although it is very distant from humans in evolutionary terms, it has many of the immune system genes that protect people against disease. In fact, it is possible some of these were pioneered by corals.
A comprehensive survey of lizards on islands around the world has confirmed what island biologists and seafaring explorers have long observed: Animals on islands are much more abundant than their counterparts on the mainland. Besides confirming that longstanding observation, the study signals an alarm for island populations in a rapidly warming world. It suggests that climate change may have devastating consequences for lizards and other animals that inhabit islands because their ecosystems are much more sensitive than those on the mainland to change.
Copper is an essential part of our lives. From copper pipes and wires – to important copper-containing proteins in the body, copper is necessary for healthy growth and neurological development. Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University are studying how copper is processed in our bodies and its distinct role in early development. Their findings, published in a recent edition of the journal Cell Metabolism, identify a new role for two proteins involved with copper regulation. This study may lead to a better understanding of how to treat individuals affected by copper imbalances.
There are many reasons why living in dense groups with others of your own kind is a good idea. Oftentimes, aggregations of a species serve as protection from predators and harsh environments or may be beneficial to future reproductive success. However, in the case of oyster larvae, the selection of a place to call home can be a life or death decision. According to an article in the May edition of Ecological Monographs, a team of scientists has found that despite the risk of being eaten by cannibalistic adults, oyster larvae choose to settle in areas of high oyster concentrations to take advantage of future benefits of increased reproductive capacity when they mature.”Oyster larvae make a life or death decision when they get their one chance to select where to attach themselves to the bottom,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory researcher Dr. Mario Tamburri. “Our research shows that oyster larvae are willing to risk predation by adult oysters to cash in on the benefits accrued by spending the remainder of their lives among a large number of their species.”