Beer, bread and viral genome engineering

We use yeast to make beer and bread, but did you know that we also use yeast for scientific discovery? Yeast play such an important role in science because they are easy to grow and many of their genes are similar to human genes. Most importantly, scientists have developed very efficient methods to modify yeast … Continue reading Beer, bread and viral genome engineering

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A new beginning for an old virus

Many viruses adapt to new hosts by changing their genes. This rapid adaptation is the result of (1) quick replication cycles (sometimes as short as 30 minutes!), (2) viral genome-copying enzymes that make frequent errors, some of which confer helpful new properties, and (3) genetic exchange between different virus strains. Influenza A viruses (IAV) are … Continue reading A new beginning for an old virus

Uncovering the Mega-secrets of Megaliths

The Neolithic period emerged near the end of the Stone Age. It was marked by dramatic human behavioural and cultural changes including the domestication of plants and animals. The Neolithic lifestyle migrated across Europe starting in Anatolia and arriving in the British Isles and Scandinavia around 4000 BCE. It was during this time that megalithic … Continue reading Uncovering the Mega-secrets of Megaliths

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes: why screening the rabies vaccine is necessary for continued safety

Disclaimer:¬†Rabies virus infection can be fatal if not treated immediately. Currently-available rabies vaccines are safe for humans and animals and provide excellent, long-lasting protection against rabies. Studies like the one described below are important because the results from this research will help make rabies vaccines even safer and more effective. ¬† Rabies is one of … Continue reading Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes: why screening the rabies vaccine is necessary for continued safety

Becoming acutely aware of a chronic problem: understanding how bacteria establish long-term infections

The human body is covered in bacteria. These bacteria are broadly categorized as being either commensal (helpful) or pathogenic (harmful). The truth is that many types of bacteria can either be helpful or harmful depending on cues they receive from their local environment. Moreover, the environment can also influence whether a bacterial infection is rapid … Continue reading Becoming acutely aware of a chronic problem: understanding how bacteria establish long-term infections

Honey bees are becoming difficult to Roundup

There has been a growing concern about the worldwide decline in certain insects. The declining honey bee population is of particular concern due to their global role as pollinators of flowering plants, including many crops. Their increased mortality is thought to be due to several factors including habitat loss through deforestation, agricultural expansion and industrialization, … Continue reading Honey bees are becoming difficult to Roundup

Body Shields: How foraging ants protect themselves from the environment

Ants have an uncanny ability to find a picnic. One minute your plate of food is fine, the next, ants have descended and are attempting to make off with some bread and cheese. Worker ants are frequently the culprits. In ant societies, worker ants are the female ants that never reproduce, and instead forage for … Continue reading Body Shields: How foraging ants protect themselves from the environment