The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week is a Valentine special containing three stories regarding love: crabs, heartbreak pills, and bee alternatives.

Article written by Willow Hight-Warburton.

Fiddler crabs are making waves in the game of love

What is attractive in a mate? Well in the case of fiddler crabs (Uca mjoebergi) it appears that rhythm and pace are what it takes to catch a lady’s eye.

A group in Australia used robotic crab arms to mimic the male mating ritual and found that female crabs were more likely to choose a mate who waves quickly.

Waving quickly is physically challenging to the off-balanced male crab, so faster waving could signal to the female crab that the male is in peak physical shape, and is a good catch.

Additionally, crabs travel sideways, so they have to readjust their direction when they overshoot their target. Fast movement helps the female to locate her partner with greater precision, reducing the amount of time she is exposed to heat and predators.

So, single fellas – take advice from fiddler crabs and use your single overdeveloped arm to attract a mate.


Image: Over here! Fiddler crabs trying to grab attention.

How can you mend a broken heart?

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the biggest killer in the developed world and can happen at any age. Current treatments only tackle the symptoms leaving the underlying cause unaffected, meaning they return as soon as treatment is stopped. However, recent research has shown that thioredoxin may provide the answer.

Treatment with thioredoxin, a small redox protein, reduced hypertension in ageing mice by decreasing arterial stiffness. Additionally, it reversed age-associated reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage to nitric oxide synthase, a key contributor to arterial disease. The effects of the treatment were long lasting and it could have a greater effect in humans, as thioredoxin stimulates the expression and activity of another ROS detoxifying protein (SOD2) in humans.

This offers hope for a curative treatment for hypertension in ageing patients, reducing their risk of CVD and death. So no more achy-breaky hearts.


Image: Heartbreak pill

Bee my valentine?

It may sound like an episode of Black Mirror, but one day a robotic bee could pollinate your valentines’ bouquet.

Bees get around. Up to 90% of flowering plants and several food crops require bees for fertilisation and reproduction. However, honeybee numbers have been in rapid decline because of pesticide use, disease and colony collapse disorder. Whilst the impact on food production has been hotly debated, it is clear that bee decline will greatly impact plant reproduction.

Faced with this bleak prospect, a team from Japan came up with a bee-utiful solution. They developed a drone covered with a synthetic absorbent gel and successfully used it to fertilise a lily.

It remains to be seen if this solution will take off, but the future of flower power looks brighter.


Image: Valentine pollination

Article written by Willow Hight-Warburton.