News Article | October 26, 2016
A new species of dragonfly with a brown spot on each of its four wingtips and a bluish waxy body coating has been described by Brazilian researchers in an article published in the scientific journal Zootaxa. Found in 2011 near a spring on the Itororó Ecological Reserve in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, it has been named Erythrodiplax ana. The new species was identified during the PhD research of Rhainer Guillermo Ferreira, that was supported by a scholarship from FAPESP during his postdoctoral research. "The discovery is important above all because of the site where the species was found," said Ferreira, first author of the article and assistant professor at the Federal University of São Carlos's Center for Biological & Health Sciences (CCBS-UFSCar). "The nature reserve contains a vereda, a palm swamp wetland that provides part of Uberlândia's water supply. The discovery of a new species in an urban area and with a habitat linked to a spring used to draw off water shows how little we know of Brazil's biodiversity," he told. He added that dragonflies are natural predators of flies and important environmental indicators. "When you find these insects in the wild near a watercourse, it means the water's good," he said. Between 2011 and 2014, the researchers compared the blue dragonfly's morphology with those of 57 other species in the same genus. At the end of the period, they confirmed its status as a new species and began working on a description. A combination of two traits distinguishes E. ana from other species in the genus. Particularly important is that the male's body is covered with bluish wax. The female does not produce wax and is ochraceous (yellowish-orange). "Males of several species in this genus produce wax," Ferreira said. "Some have wax only on their wings, which are bright blue." Another key trait of E. ana is the brown spot on each wingtip, which is rare in this genus. Ferreira is investigating whether the wax serves as a kind of sunscreen to protect the male's body from solar radiation since the insect is exposed to sunlight for many hours every day. Previous studies evaluated the properties of the wax found in other species and concluded that the blue coloring serves to reflect the sun's ultraviolet rays, he noted. The researchers believe E. ana is characteristic of wetlands in the Cerrado (savanna) biome. Besides the Uberlândia reserve, it was also found by the group in Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, Mato Grosso State. In addition to Ferreira, the co-authors of the article are Ferreira's PhD supervisor, Pitágoras C. Bispo, a researcher at São Paulo State University (UNESP) at Assis; Diogo S. Vilela, affiliated with the University of São Paulo (USP) at Ribeirão Preto; and Kleber Del-Claro, affiliated with the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU).
News Article | February 15, 2017
A form of RNA released from fat cells into the blood may help to regulate other tissues. BOSTON - (February 15, 2017) - Fat cells are not simply big blobs of lipid quietly standingby in the body--instead, they send out hormones and other signaling proteins that affect many types of tissues. Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center now have identified a route by which fat also can deliver a form of small RNAs called microRNAs that helps to regulate other organs. "This mechanism may offer the potential to develop an entirely new therapeutic approach," says C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Joslin's chief academic officer, Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and senior author of a paper on the research published today in the journal Nature. The research suggests the possibility, Kahn explains, of developing gene therapy treatments using fat cells that aid in treating metabolic diseases, cancer or other conditions in the liver or other organs. Working in mice and with human cells, he and his colleagues studied the role of microRNAs, a form of small RNAs that are not translated into proteins but can regulate other RNAS that produce protein. They are made by all cells in the body, and it is known that some of these microRNAs may be released from the originating cell into the blood. However, exactly what they do once they enter the bloodstream has been debated. The Joslin scientists focused on microRNAs from fat cells that are released into the blood via tiny sacks called "exosomes". The researchers began with a mouse model that was genetically modified so that its fat cells could not create microRNAs. The Joslin researchers then showed that in these mice which do not make microRNAs in fat, the total population of microRNAs circulating in exosomes dropped significantly. This decrease in circulating miRNAs could be restored when the investigators transplanted normal fat into these mice, a result indicating that many of the microRNAs in circulation were coming from fat. Next, the scientists studied people with two forms of lipodystrophy--a condition in which fat is lost or genetically not present. In both groups of people, they found that levels of microRNAs circulating in exosomes were lower than normal. This suggested that these microRNAs generated by fat might aid in diagnostics for metabolic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, Kahn says. But were these microRNAs also crossing into other tissues and regulating genes there, so that they might potentially be used for therapeutics? The Joslin researchers followed up on this question by looking at a gene whose expression in the mouse liver increases in lipodystrophy. They discovered that this gene expression could be modified by microRNA in exosomes released by fat. They also showed that the mice that couldn't produce microRNAs in fat cells didn't produce that type of microRNA at all. "But if you put back that missing microRNA in exosomes, it does regulate the gene," Kahn says. "So fat is using this as a way to send a signal to the liver." Next, the scientists made a mouse model with fat cells engineered to make a certain microRNA that is found in humans, but not mice, and showed that these human microRNAs could also regulate their target in the livers of the mice and that this was do to these circulating exosomal microRNAs. "We showed in mice that these circulating microRNAs in exosomes can regulate gene expression, at least in liver and perhaps in other tissues," Kahn sums up. His team is now looking to see if this microRNA mechanism also works in other tissues such as muscle and brain cells. Additionally, the scientists will investigate ways the mechanism might be applied in gene therapy. Fat is easy to access, a major advantage for gene therapy, Kahn points out. "We could take out a patient's subcutaneous fat with a simple needle biopsy, modify the fat cells to make the microRNAs that we want, put the cells back into the patient, and then hope to get regulation of genes that the patient is not regulating normally," he suggests. This approach for gene therapy to treat fatty liver disease, for example, might prove both safer and more effective than reengineering cells in the liver itself. "We think it also might be useful for non-metabolic diseases, such as cancer of the liver," Kahn says. Lead author on the Nature paper is Thomas Thomou. Other Joslin contributors include Jonathan Dreyfuss, Masahiro Konishi, Masaji Sakaguchi, Tata Nageswara Rao and Jonathon Winnay. Marcelo Mori of the Federal University of São Paolo in São Paolo, Brazil; Christian Wolfrum of ETH Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland; Steven Grinspoon of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; and Phillip Gorden of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also are co-authors. Lead funding was from the National Institutes of Health. Joslin Diabetes Center is world-renowned for its deep expertise in diabetes treatment and research. Joslin is dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes and ensuring that people with diabetes live long, healthy lives. We develop and disseminate innovative patient therapies and scientific discoveries throughout the world. Joslin is an independent, non-profit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and one of only 11 NIH-designated Diabetes Research Centers in the U.S. For more information, visit http://www. or follow @joslindiabetes
News Article | February 22, 2017
LOS ANGELES & JERUSALEM--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Phytecs Inc., a biotechnology company exploring innovative research into and potential treatments targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS), together with Yissum Research Development Company, the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced a new partnership with two aims: to synthesize novel compounds that show increased efficacy over existing phytocannabinoids in targeting specific elements of the ECS, a key homeostatic regulator of the human body; and to continue testing semi-synthetic, patented fluorinated cannabidiol (F-CBD) compounds developed under a previous licensing agreement, which was signed with Yissum, University of São Paulo (USP) and Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul (UFRGS). Work conducted under the new partnership will complement Phytecs’ existing research into therapeutic applications for various phytocannabinoids and terpenoids sourced from cannabis, and combinations thereof. A Hebrew University research team led by Professor Raphael Mechoulam, MS, PhD, working closely with Tamás Bíró, MD, PhD, DSc, director of applied research for Phytecs, and other members of the Phytecs Scientific Advisory Board, will explore new therapeutic opportunities offered by these compounds for certain health conditions, with an initial focus on mental and immune disorders. The new Phytecs-Yissum partnership will also build on previous licenses between the two organizations that led to compounds currently under investigation as treatments for central nervous system (CNS) and skin disorders. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed. Professor Mechoulam, whose pioneering work during the past half-century has supported a global expansion of research into phytocannabinoids from cannabis and other plants, said: “I am gratified to see the growing understanding among physicians and researchers of the body’s native ECS and its role in homeostatic regulation. Since ECS dysregulation is implicated in multiple pathological conditions, data suggests that modulating the ECS may have benefits across a huge range of human diseases. “My team at Hebrew University shares confidence with Yissum and Phytecs that our work will identify compounds with even greater therapeutic promise than the naturally occurring cannabis compounds (e.g. THC or CBD) my lab identified decades ago. We are particularly excited to extend our already productive partnership with testing on the patented F-CBD compounds licensed exclusively by Phytecs.” Dr. Bíró said: “Data from preclinical work previously conducted by Phytecs in partnership with Yissum is already encouraging in assays for epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression, among other areas. For example, we are hopeful that F-CBD compounds, which exhibit greater efficacies and potencies than CBD, will one day deliver the same or greater benefits to patients with CNS disorders as may be possible with CBD, at lower therapeutic doses. We are thrilled to be able to build upon this in close collaboration with Professor Mechoulam as we apply his and his team’s deep expertise.” Gary Hiller, president and COO of Phytecs, said: “We are excited to be building upon the data generated from our work with F-CBD by expanding our research slate, creating a pipeline of semi-synthetics and identifying new and more effective compounds – as well as putting together a world-leading team to translate ECS knowledge into value for patients. This pipeline correlates perfectly with our continued work on phytocannabinoids and reflects our focus on developing effective, efficient, accessible ECS therapeutic agents, regardless of their source.” Dr. Shoshi Keynan, vice president of healthcare business development at Yissum, said: “New cannabinoid research under the Phytecs-Yissum partnership promises to yield significant commercial opportunities and solutions for patients in the coming decade, not just in well-known areas such as treatment-resistant childhood epilepsy and pain relief, but in other disorders across a wide range of health areas including dermatology and mental health.” About Phytecs Phytecs is a biotechnology company developing interventions that address the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The Phytecs team pioneered the modern understanding of how the ECS regulates aspects of physiology including immunity, pain, inflammation, mood, emotion, learning, memory, metabolism, appetite, weight, sleep, embryo development, neuroprotection and stress response; and how dysregulation of the system affects human health and disease. The unique Phytecs R&D and product development platform includes not only compounds isolated from the Cannabis plant but also novel, highly effective synthetic and semi-synthetic cannabinoid agents. Phytecs is currently conducting research in the United States, Hungary, Israel and Switzerland. www.phytecs.com The Phytecs logo is a registered trademark of Phytecs, Inc. About Yissum Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. was founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Products based on Hebrew University technologies that have been commercialized by Yissum currently generate $2 billion in annual sales. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies in the world, Yissum has registered over 9,325 patents covering 2,600 inventions; has licensed out 880 technologies and has spun out 110 companies including Mobileye, Briefcam, Orcam, Avraham Pharmaceuticals, Betalin Therapeutics, CollPlant and Qlight Nanotech. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche, Merck, Teva, Syngenta, Monsanto and many more. For further information please visit www.yissum.co.il.
News Article | January 12, 2017
When a small spider eats up a snake, it makes the news. This is what happened in Brazil when a Tarantula spider devoured a snake under a rock. This surprised scientists at the Federal University of Santa Maria, who were searching for Tarantulas in Serra do Caverá in Southern Brazil, when they spotted the rare "dinner" live. The victim was an Almaden ground snake, which is about a foot in length. The researchers saw the Tarantula — Grammostola quirogai — chomping down the snake — Erythrolamprus almadensis, and reported their observations in the journal Herpetology Notes. Brazil's Serra do Caverá is known to house many species of Tarantula, particularly sedentary females that live in the rocks. "Most likely, the snake was surprised upon entering the spider's environment and hence was subdued by it," said the researchers. The study's first author Leandro Malta Borges, a graduate student at the Federal University who also witnessed the horrible dinner live, is credited with many papers in Herpetology Notes about lizards and amphibians being eaten up by bugs. Borges also studied Aglaoctenus oblongus, a spider that was seen eating up a tree frog. According to Borges, the high surprise in the incident is the size of the snake versus the tiny size of the predator spider, which is just a fraction of the former. The grisly discovery is perhaps the first ever recorded evidence of a Tarantula eating a snake in the wild. "To the best of our knowledge, we present here the first documented case involving the predation of a snake by an individual of the Theraphosidae family in nature," the researchers noted. The snake had a snout-vent length 390.60 mm with most damage to the middle and anterior regions of the victim's body. The snake's body was in a state of decomposition due to the extracorporeal digestion process executed by the arachnid. Cases of captive Tarantulas occasionally eating snakes were reported in 1926 by Brazilian researchers Jehan Vellard and Vital Brazil. "They eat pretty much anything they can grab and overpower," noted Chris Hamilton, a Tarantula expert, and researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It is likely that the snake sneaked into the Tarantula's rock in a bid to use it as a den or simply slithered by it. The fatal attack of the Tarantula must have come from the less than an inch long fangs usually used in subduing preys. When the researchers saw the spider, it was consuming the snake's body after liquefying it like a goo for making it more digestible. Borges noted that some spiders, such as the black widow, are known for feeding on snakes, with their webs for capturing and strong toxin for killing. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | November 10, 2016
Richard Tersoo Mnenga relives the life, times and fight of “JS Tarka” (published by Xlibris UK), a man who occupies a unique place in the history of regionalism and nationalism in Nigeria among Nigeria’s historical greats: Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Zik; while also in a class of his own. Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, the father of the Middle Belt politics, while he lived, pursued the good of his people in every way he could. His belief in political alliance and unity were central to the unity of the North and its political domination of that historic era. Unity was his religion, what he lived, fought and died for. He was a great man whose contributions to Nigeria’s development were remarkable. It would be an understatement to say that JS was the founder of the National Party of Nigeria and was able to bring all the minorities in Nigeria within the party. The entire Western Nigeria was won by UPN, the East by NPP, and the far North by PRP and GNPP. Shagari’s presidency was decided by the minorities in Nigeria because of Tarka. About the Author Comrade Richard Tersoo Mnenga was born in Adikpo, Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State where both his parents were teachers. After his primary education at Anendah Memorial Nursery and Primary School, he proceeded to the famous St. Andrews Secondary School Adikpo for his post primary education, and thereafter, went to the Bayero University Kano where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science. His quest for higher education took him to the University of Basel, Switzerland where he obtained a masters degree in Peace and Conflicts Transformation with flying colours. He started active national politics when he joined other patriotic Nigerians to participate in the activities of Campaign for Democracy CD, a pro – democracy group that fought military dictatorship in Nigeria. As a result of the courageous manner at which Alhaji M.D. Yusufu challenged the military self-succession bid by coming out to contest the presidency against General Sani Abacha, he championed a forum, Youth Solidarity for MD Yusufu where he was the National Coordinator. Following the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, Mnenga joined forces with like-minds to form the Concerned Nigeria Democratic Youth Forum and was made National President. The forum organized numerous seminars nationwide encouraging Nigerians to participate in the electioneering process in the face of apathy by many who doubted the sincerity due to their previous experiences. In 2012, the Universal Peace Federation in collaboration with Youth Federation for World Peace bestowed on him the ‘’Peace Ambassador’’ award. The Mbaiwen traditional council of Nanev in Kwande Local Government also turbaned him as the ‘’Onov Ikyundu U Mbaiwen’’ in 2016. He is currently a member of governing council, Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa state and resides in Kaduna - Nigeria. Xlibris Publishing UK, an Author Solutions, LLC imprint, is a self-publishing services provider dedicated to serving authors throughout the United Kingdom. By focusing on the needs of creative writers and artists and adopting the latest print-on-demand publishing technology and strategies, we provide expert publishing services with direct and personal access to quality publication in hardcover, trade paperback, custom leather-bound and full-color formats. To date, Xlibris has helped to publish more than 60,000 titles. For more information, visit xlibrispublishing.co.uk or call 0800 056 3182 to receive a free publishing guide. Follow us @XlibrisUK on Twitter for the latest news. ###
News Article | February 15, 2017
Rare monkeys in the forests of Brazil are being decimated by yellow fever. The outbreak started in late 2016 and, as is often the case in South America, it has spread to humans, killing at least 50 since the start of 2017. The authorities have rushed vaccines to hospitals, where long queues await inoculation. But there is no vaccine for monkeys who are dying en masse in Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais, the two states so far worst hit. “Some 80 to 90 per cent of the brown howler monkeys are infected or have already died,” says Sergio Mendes at the Federal University of Espírito Santo in Vitoria, Brazil. “This is a true catastrophe. These outbreaks happen periodically, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen.” Mendes knows of 400 howler monkey deaths in the state, and he believes this is likely to be only 10 per cent of the total, with the greatest losses happening largely unseen in remote forested areas. Atlantic titis and geoffroy’s marmosets found dead last week in Espirito Santo are also being tested for yellow fever. Both are unique to the Mata Atlantica, one of the world’s most species-rich and most-endangered tropical forests. Other endemic primate species affected by the outbreak include the endangered buffy-headed marmoset and crested capuchin, and the critically endangered muriqui. There are only about 1000 muriqui individuals left in the wild, and their slow breeding time means numbers would take a long time to recover from yellow-fever deaths. There are also unconfirmed reports of capuchin monkeys dying of suspected yellow fever in neighbouring Minas Gerais and in São Paulo states. The virus is normally found in several forest-dwelling mammals, from marsupials to monkeys, and is transmitted by Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitoes. Marco Almeida, a veterinary epidemiologist from Rio Grande do Sul state’s health agency, says the current outbreak is unlikely to be caused by a new, more virulent form of yellow fever virus, as it is known to mutate very slowly. Instead, he thinks recent prolonged and torrential rains provided ideal conditions for mosquitoes. Often delivering a week’s rain in a day, the deluges lasted over a month and may have weakened the monkeys by cutting the times when they can feed and challenging their immune systems. “The mosquitos can disperse across forest for up to 6 kilometres from their breeding point,” says Júlio-César Bicca-Marques, a primatolologist at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, “but they’ll also get rides in trucks. Plus, infected hunters, tree-cutters and agricultural workers can spread the virus.” It’s well known from lab tests that howlers are the most vulnerable to yellow fever of all of South America’s monkeys. “But with these current high infection levels, the virus could spread to all of the region’s 14 other primates,” says Almeida. “Part of the problem is forest fragmentation,” says primate conservationist Karen Strier of University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Only 5 per cent of Mata Atlantica remains. So Mata Atlantica primate populations are small and isolated. Wipe one out, and natural recolonization is very difficult.” With monkeys being key seed-dispersers, the prognosis for both forest and primates is not good. Meanwhile, as the epidemic increases, ill-informed individuals have started attacking the region’s monkeys, in the erroneous belief that they can spread yellow fever to humans directly.
News Article | November 24, 2016
Species: Manogea porracea Habitat: lower branches and leaf litter of Eucalyptus species in neotropics from Panama to Argentina Most male spiders bail out after mating – if they make it through the process alive, that is, as females of many spider species cannibalise their mates. But not this spider. Male Manogea porracea in South America not only help with childcare, they often end up as single dads. The male of the species builds a dome-shaped web above the female’s and sets about helping to maintain a “nursery” web. This is built between the two domes and holds the egg sacs (see photo, below). The males also defend the eggs from would-be predators and even remove water from the surface of egg sacs on rainy days. But their presence really pays off if the female disappears. By the end of the mating season, 68 per cent of egg sacs are taken care of by males alone, says Rafael Rios Moura, an ecologist at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Brazil, whose team studied the spiders in the wild. Single dads improve the odds of offspring surviving compared with those who lose both their parents. Once the female is gone, the male moves closer to the egg sacs by moving to the female’s web (see photo, top). Moura found that significantly more hatchlings emerge from egg sacs taken care of by the males than those that had no parents around. When Moura set up experiments with predators, more hatchlings survived when the male was present, then when not, probably because they move aggressively towards intruders, fending off attacks. Four other spider species have been seen invading the M. porracea webs and attacking the egg sacs. The sheer volume of predators that M. Porracea have to deal with is likely what’s driving the males to help defend their eggs, says Linda Rayor, an entomologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “The male risks losing his entire investment if he doesn’t defend the eggs.” Moura isn’t sure why the females often disappear. The males might naturally have longer lifespans, or the females might be preferentially targeted by predators. “Some predators might prefer prey with more lipids, which the larger females have, and that could affect survival,” he says. Either way, the fact that males often outlive females has probably contributed to its evolving to take on paternal duties – the first such known case in solitary species. The only other male spiders known to defend youngsters from predators are a social species from Africa, Stegodyphus dumicola. “This was my first time studying spiders, and we found this amazing system,” says Moura. Most male spiders don’t provide parental care because they don’t live as long as females, or they can’t be sure that they are really the father, and are evolutionarily better off looking for other females to mate with. M. porracea males, though, are unique in both respects. Building a web above that of the female means they can be fairly confident in their paternity. And as they tend to live longer than the females, there are fewer females around for them to mate with.
News Article | April 19, 2016
Information may seem ethereal, given how easily we forget phone numbers and birthdays. But scientists say it is physical, and if a new study is correct, that goes for quantum systems, too. Although pages of text or strings of bits seem easily erased with the press of a button, the act of destroying information has tangible physical impact, according to a principle proposed in 1961 by physicist Rolf Landauer. Deleting information is associated with an increase in entropy, or disorder, resulting in the release of a certain amount of heat for each erased bit. Even the most efficient computer would still output heat when irreversibly scrubbing out data. This principle has been verified experimentally for systems that follow the familiar laws of classical physics. But the picture has remained fuzzy for quantum mechanical systems, in which particles can be in multiple states at once and their fates may be linked through the spooky process of quantum entanglement. Now a team of scientists reports April 13 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A that Landauer’s principle holds even in that wild quantum landscape. “Essentially what they’ve done is test [this principle] at a very detailed and quantitative way,” says physicist John Bechhoefer of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, who was not involved with the research. “And they’re showing that this works in a quantum system, which is a really important step.” Testing Landauer’s principle in the quantum realm could be important for understanding the fundamental limits of quantum computers, Bechhoefer says. To verify Landauer’s principle, the researchers used a system of three qubits — the quantum version of the bits found in a typical computer — made from trifluoroiodoethylene, a molecule which has three fluorine atoms. The nuclei of these three fluorine atoms have a quantum property known as spin. That “spin” can be clockwise or counterclockwise, serving the same purpose as a 0 or 1 for a standard bit. The first qubit, which researchers called the “system,” contains the information to be erased. According to Landauer’s principle, when the information is erased, heat will be generated and energy will flow to the second qubit, known as the “reservoir.” Just as computer scientists can perform operations on the bits in a typical computer (adding or subtracting numbers, for instance), the researchers can apply operations to the fluorine qubits by using pulses of radio waves to tweak the nuclear spins. But making measurements of quantum systems is tricky, says physicist Lucas Céleri of Federal University of Goiás in Brazil, a leader of the research team. “In a quantum world, every time you measure the system, you interact with it,” thereby changing it. So the researchers used a work-around. The third qubit is coupled to the reservoir and can be used to measure the heat generated without mucking up the qubits of interest. When the researchers erased information, they found heat was generated as expected from Landauer’s principle. They looked at the average of multiple measurements, because quantum fluctuations mean that any single trial won’t necessarily conform to the principle. “It’s a very nice demonstration of Landauer’s principle in a quantum system, cleverly conceived and well carried out,” says quantum physicist Seth Lloyd of MIT, who was not involved with the research. But some researchers suggest there is more work to be done. "It is a carefully executed experiment with three interacting qubits,” physicists Jukka Pekola of Aalto University in Finland and Jonne Koski of ETH Zurich wrote in an e-mail. But in a traditional test of Landauer’s principle, the reservoir would not be a single qubit, but a large “heat bath” of many particles. The researchers therefore had to account for additional entropy introduced as a result of their single-particle reservoir. The next step, Pekola and Koski say, would be to investigate a qubit that interacts with a reservoir consisting of more particles to perform a more conventional test of Landauer’s principle at the quantum level.
News Article | December 5, 2016
The first normally solitary spider to win Dad of the Year sets up housekeeping in a web above his offspring and often ends up as their sole defender and single parent. Moms handle most parental care known in spiders, says Rafael Rios Moura at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Brazil. But either or both parents care for egg sacs and spiderlings in the small Manogea porracea species he and colleagues studied in a eucalyptus plantation. The dad builds a dome-shaped web above the mom’s web, and either parent will fight hungry invaders looking for baby-spider lunch. In webs with no parents, only about four spiderlings survived per egg sac. But with dad, mom or both on duty, survival more than doubled, the researchers report in the January 2017 Animal Behaviour. “To the best of my knowledge, there really aren’t other examples where male spiders step up to care for young or eggs,” says Linda Rayor of Cornell University, who has studied spider maternal care. In a group-living Stegodyphus species, some of the males in a communal web will attack intruders, but Manogea dads do much more. They switch from solitary life to a dad-web upstairs, brush rainwater off egg sacs and share defense, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Many male web-building spiders stop feeding as adults because they’re out searching for mates instead of catching food with their web, Moura says. Manogea males, however, stick with a female they mated with and build a new food-catching web. Now Moura would like to know whether such commitment makes males unusually choosy about females, he says. To predators, females “must be very delicious,” Moura says. In the wild he found that many females disappeared, probably eaten, by the end of the breeding season, leaving dads as the sole protector for 68 percent of the egg sacs. That high female mortality could have been important for evolution of the dads’ care-taking, says behavioral ecologist Eric Yip of Penn State. Just why this species has such high female mortality puzzles him, though. Females, geared up for egg-laying, have rich nutrient stores. Yet, he says, “that’s generally true for all spiders — that females are going to be more nutritious and males are going to be mostly legs.”
News Article | March 17, 2016
Experts examined a Pleistocene puppy that had been frozen for 12,400 years, and a scientific team wants to clone it back to life. Among the experts present at the observation is South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who is best known for his interest in cloning woolly mammoths. Now, he plans to include the ancient canid in his "resurrection" project. In 2011, experts were able to unearth what is believed to be the sibling of the frozen Pleistocene puppy. However, the latter is better preserved hence, scientists are hoping to get more valuable data, says researcher Sergey Fedorov from North-East Federal University. Woo-suk also seemed pleased with the way the puppy was preserved. In fact, he was excited. The team looked at the carcass comprehensively, touched the soft tissues and looked at the best-preserved body parts. Woo-suk then took samples of the ear cartilage, muscles and skin. Another remarkable finding is that the brain of the puppy is also preserved well. Dr. Pavel Nikolsky from the Geological Institute in Moscow even made fairly high estimates. "The degree of preservation is about 70 to 80 percent," he says. As of now, the parts are yet to be extracted. What are available now are results of magnetic resonance imaging scans. Although the brain has dried out, obviously, vital parts like the cerebellum, pituitary gland and both parencephalon are still observable. Nikolsky said it can be confirmed that this is the first time that they have collected a brain of a Pleistocene dog — the first predator's brain from the said period. The team also obtained samples from the ground surrounding the carcass, hoping to discover bacteria present. In the future, they will compare the specimen to the intestines of the puppy and see if it also thrives inside the animal. They also took samples to determine parasites such as fleas and ticks that are characteristics of this type of puppy. The puppy was unearthed in an icy grave near the village of Tumat in the Ust-Yansky district of the Sakha Republic, Russia. The location was close to signs of possible early human activities. When the experts found the puppy, Fedorov says they knew they got a perfect find with the well-reserved nose, tail and even hair. Experts believe that the puppy died in a landslide. The animals were then sealed in the permafrost and subsequently mummified. Initial DNA tests revealed that the animal was a dog and not a wolf, as previously thought. However, scientists will perform more work to establish the truth as the genetic makeup of the two animals are highly similar.