Animals

Has a DNA Study Solved the Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster?

Mysterious sightings of a giant creature in the lake have fascinated Loch Ness visitors for years. The fabled Lock Ness monster, or ‘Nessie’, has been speculated to be a prehistoric marine reptile, called a plesiosaurus, or a shark. However, a recent DNA study could shed some light on one of Scotland’s longest running legends. Scientists […]

Single-Sex Shrimp: A Sustainable Food Source Protected from Disease

In a study last week researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have highlighted how the development of mono-sex prawns could increase the aquaculture yield whilst reducing the spread of the second most devasting parasitic disease: schistosomiasis. Additionally, in a triple whammy the sterility of a single-sex population negates the ecological risk of the crustacean […]

Genetic Mutation Significantly Increases Fruit Fly Lifespan

Fruit flies with a certain genetic mutation have significantly longer lifespans and better resistance to stresses than flies without the mutation. Fruit flies share a significant proportion of their genes with humans, making them good models to study human diseases and ageing. As the fruit flies usually live for about two months their lifespan is […]

Genomic Study of Komodo Dragons Shows Why They are Top Predators

A genomic study of Komodo dragons has shed light on their crucial genetic adaptations that have enabled them to become powerful apex predators. Komodo dragons are native to the Indonesian Islands, where they are top of the food chain. They can be up to 3m long, run at speeds of 20 kph and can take […]

CRISPR Activation Technique Improves Muscular Dystrophy Symptoms in Mice

A CRISPR activation technique has been shown to improve the symptoms of muscular dystrophy disease in mice. Muscular dystrophy is a hereditary condition characterised by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. A specific type of muscular dystrophy is caused by mutations in the gene Lama2, which codes for the protein laminin. Mutations in the […]

Genes that Allow Fish to Re-grow Limbs also Present in Humans

The genes that enable a fish to re-grow limbs have been found to be present in humans, new research has found. This insight could help develop regenerative treatments in humans. Many species can regenerate limbs after amputation including fish, salamanders and geckos. This can be used as a mechanism to escape predators and heal from […]

Being a Dog Lover is in Your Genes

Genetic factors contribute to how likely you are to own a dog, a new study has revealed. Evidence points to dogs being domesticated as early as 15,000 years ago. However, there is not much understanding to how this happened and if genetic factors had any influence. There is also debate if genetic influences could contribute […]

Gene Editing Induces Hallucinations in Mice

Scientists have genetically engineered neurons in mice to give them hallucinations. The research could help identify why certain people experience hallucinations, associated with several mental illnesses, and inform new treatments. Two genes were inserted into the neuron cells of the mice’s visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. One coded for […]

New Gene Linked to Healthy Ageing in Worms

A gene has been identified in worms that improves their health, but not their lifespan, as they age. Maintaining quality of life is becoming a focus in healthcare for the elderly, as people that live to the same age do not necessarily have the same quality of life. Some maintain both their movement and cognitive […]

Science of Gender-Swapping Fish Revealed

New research has explored the dynamic genetic changes taking place during the bluehead wrasse’s sex change. The bluehead wrasse social group consists of one dominant blue male fish and a harem of yellow females. However, when the dominant male is removed from the group the largest female immediately undergoes a full sex change and becomes […]

Species Lifespan Predicted by Rate of Telomere Shortening

New research has indicated that a species’ lifespan can be predicted by the rate of telomere shortening but not by the initial telomere length, as previously thought. Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA nucleotides found at the end of chromosomes. They protect the chromosome from degradation during cell division. As species age, the length of […]

CRISPR Technique Ensures Only Female Offspring in Mice

A CRISPR-based technique has been used in mice to ensure they give birth to exclusively female offspring. This has applications for selecting the sex ratio in livestock. Although offspring sex selection through genetic techniques has previously been achieved in fish and insects, this is the first successful attempt in mammals. Mammal offspring sex selection has […]

Genetic Changes that Cause Coral Bleaching Identified

Researchers have identified the genetic changes that cause corals to bleach when ocean temperatures increase. This insight gives researchers the possibility to genetically engineer corals to make them more resistant to bleaching.  At normal temperatures, corals form a symbiotic relationship with microalgae, known as dinoflagellates. The algae provide their photosynthetic products to the coral so […]

HIV Virus Eliminated from Infected Mice Cells

A new CRISPR-based method has managed to eliminate HIV in mice, for the first time potentially curing the lifelong illness of HIV/AIDs. Clinical trials will start next year to identify if the same method could be used to cure humans.   HIV is a virus which attacks the immune cells in the body, leaving it […]