Life Sciences

What is this thing called life? Biologists are life's detectives, discovering how life works and what makes animals, plants and microbes "alive." Organisms don't remain the same forever. Without change, life on Earth would stagnate. Species are in a constant dance with their environment. When an environment changes, the species that live within must change too, evolving to better adapt in order to survive. The end result is the diversity of life we see around us.

Bug battles

With support from the National Science Foundation, University of Florida entomologist Christine Miller and her team are researching mate selection and animal weapons as a key to better understanding animal behavior, diversity and evolution

Purdue’s new adhesive flexes its mussels

A nontoxic glue modeled after adhesive proteins produced by mussels and other creatures has been found to outperform commercially available products, pointing toward potential surgical glues to replace sutures and staples

Chimpanzees offer clues to Alzheimer's disease

A National Science Foundation-funded study led by Kent State University found that the brains of aged chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, show similarities to brains effected by the human Alzheimer's disease

Off-roading: Salt content rises in freshwater lakes

National Science Foundation-funded researchers affiliated with the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network discover an issue with road salt used to melt away snow and ice. Turns out, it's contributing to rising salinity in many North American freshwater lakes.

Digital eye in the sky

David Johnson, assistant professor of the practice of marine conservation ecology at Duke University, has found that drone technology allows his research team to collect huge volumes of data from remote or extreme locations

Palau coral reefs have a global impact

Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Through a process called ocean acidification, about a quarter to a third of this carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, causing a decrease in the pH of ocean water

Was this how dinosaurs began flying?

If a Pacific parrotlet needs to get to a nearby branch, it uses its legs to jump. If a target falls just outside of its jump range, however, it can add a "proto-wingbeat," a small flapping motion that allows it to travel farther without using as much energy as full flight.

SupraSensor: A super tool for precision agriculture

The SupraSensor device is designed to give farmers a highly accurate, virtually constant stream of data on nitrate levels. The device is an excellent example of highly applied science with roots in basic research -- in this case supramolecular chemistry at the University of Oregon.

Researchers assemble 5 new synthetic yeast chromosomes

A global research team has built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of a key organism's genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements. Jef Boeke discusses the importance of yeast as a research model and how new research may lead to synthetic genomes to address unmet needs in medicine and industry.

How do fish adapt to extreme environments?

Extreme environments allow for the investigation of life's capacity and limitations to cope with far-from-average environmental conditions. Springs rich in hydrogen sulfide (H2S) represent some of the most extreme freshwater environments because H2S halts energy production in animal cells.