Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Journal Club: Ancient diet helps tell the story of Easter Island

Famous for its towering stone human figures, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, has long been shrouded in mystery, with the demise of its people the subject of an intense debate. Now, new findings about what its residents ate hundreds of … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Antarctic cyanobacteria show no changes due to warming—yet

Captain Robert Scott’s Antarctic Discovery expedition took place over 100 years ago—and yet its participants recently racked up another contribution to science. Thanks to the samples of bacterial mats they collected from polar ponds—samples that were pressed, dried, and stored … Continue reading

Categories: Biochemistry | Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences | Ecology | Environmental Sciences | Journal Club | Microbiology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journal Club: Insights from 3-D images defy assumptions about how plant cells communicate

When plant cells communicate, plasmodesmata serve as crucial conduits. These channels cross cell walls, linking one cell to its neighbor. If a plant needs to grow larger or fight off a pathogen, molecular signals pass through plasmodesmata to keep cells … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Mutation helps Zika virus evolve to more easily infect mosquitoes, spread infection

Scientists discovered the Zika virus over half a century ago. But it wasn’t until recent outbreaks in French Polynesia and South America that the mosquito-borne virus, now associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults and microcephaly in newborn babies, reached epidemic … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Engineered enzyme could streamline synthesis of nitrogen containing compounds

Researchers have re-engineered a bacterial enzyme to transform abundant alkanes into industrially important nitrogen-containing compounds that can be used to synthesize pharmaceuticals. In principle, the enzyme, now called P411CHA, could help streamline some methods for creating synthetic molecules, which often … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Macrophages help regenerate ear parts in spiny mice

Salamander tails and fish fins are oft-cited examples of animals’ ability to regenerate a lost limb or organ. But one mammal—the African spiny mouse—has also emerged as a model of regenerative abilities. In a recent study, Ashley Seifert of the University … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Metal-based compound shows rare specificity in early tests of its cancer-fighting capabilities

Many drugs used to fight cancer are based on metals. But such organometallic agents are generally thought to have low specificity for potential targets in cells, raising concerns that they may inflict collateral damage on healthy cells. Now scientists have … Continue reading

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Journal Club: ATP could help proteins dissolve in cells, prompting a rethink about its function and evolution

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is widely considered biology’s “energy currency”. A crucial player in cell function, it stores and releases energy for enzymatic reactions in its phosphate bonds. But cells typically hoard amounts of ATP several hundred-fold higher than that needed … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Analysis of bony fishes suggests convergent evolution is more prevalent than previously thought

Habitats and environmental pressures shape a variety of animal morphologies and behaviors over vast evolutionary time scales. These environmental pressures can sometimes produce nearly identical traits, even in completely unrelated lineages. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, results in modern species that appear very similar despite … Continue reading

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Journal Club: A physicist’s take on the age-old ecological puzzle of how species form communities

Ecologists have long searched for the rules that govern how individual species join together to form a community. Whether forest or desert, the problem is complex. Myriad factors influence a community’s composition and stability —from how strongly species compete to … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Applied Physical Sciences | Ecology | Journal Club | Mathematics | Physics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment