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Tasmanian devils rapidly evolve resistance to ‘Devil face tumours’

tas
Figure 1: A Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devils are dog-sized carnivorous marsupials native to Tasmania, south of Australia which are affected by a transmissible type of cancer known as Devil Face Tumor (DFT). There are two types of DFT, the first identified in the 1990s and the second in 2016. Whereas some cancers are known to be caused by virus, it is believed that DFT is transmitted directly when devils bite each other in fights. This is only one of three types of transmissible cancer identified in nature. As this is a direct transfer of cancer cells from an external source, the host immune system should destroy the ‘foreign’ cells, but they grow regardless and this process is not fully understood.

Continue reading “Tasmanian devils rapidly evolve resistance to ‘Devil face tumours’”

Imaging the bacterial RNA transcriptome on the nanoscale

Here’s a cool paper1:

Paper zhuang

This is a different subject to what I’m used to in terms of the biology, but I thought I might be able to communicate a bit of the super resolution imaging, because that’s my bag at the moment. I’ve included mostly images from the paper, no graphs – if you are interested in those, just google the paper: its a free one.

What’s the transcriptome? RNA and why we measure it

RNA stands for Ribonucleic acid. It is produced or ‘transcribed’ as an intermediate between gene (your DNA) and protein: the complex blob of ordered molecules that performs a specific function in a cell. In an average human cell there are trillions of different proteins.

Continue reading “Imaging the bacterial RNA transcriptome on the nanoscale”

Tiny, secret bacterial conversations can be enhanced to produce usable amounts of energy

The journal article I’ll be reviewing today is about enhancing bacterial quorum sensing – the way they talk to each other, to create microbial fuel cells that produce electricity and feed off nothing more than wastewater, cleaning it up in the process. Firstly, credit to Bonnie Bassler, who coined the phrase ‘tiny conspiracies’ (and most of the words in the title) to describe quorum sensing: she characterised it first, with beautiful bioluminescent bacteria – highly recommend watching this video if you want your mind blown.

Continue reading “Tiny, secret bacterial conversations can be enhanced to produce usable amounts of energy”

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound b******t

There is a global epidemic, but it’s not the sort of epidemic that you may be thinking of. In addition to decades of work by philosophers, this scientific research adds further evidence that b******t is a consequential and rather unwanted aspect of the human condition. Unlike a global outbreak of appendicitis, perhaps b******t is a rather more subtle yet more difficult appendage to be rid of! Continue reading “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound b******t”

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