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Did last ice age affect breastfeeding in Native Americans?
A gene linked to shovel shaped teeth and breast ducts that increase vitamin D in milk seems to have appeared in at least one population that lived in the far north.
science  biology  evolution  breastfeeding 
19 hours ago by mcherm
All by Itself, the Humble Sweet Potato Colonized the World
Many botanists argued that humans must have carried the valuable staple to the Pacific from South America. Not so, according to a new study.
agriculture  story  biology  americas  pacific  ocean 
21 hours ago by aries1988
Cells Talk and Help One Another via Tiny Tube Networks | Quanta Magazine
Long-overlooked “tunneling nanotubes” and other bridges between cells act as conduits for sharing RNA, proteins or even whole organelles.
biology 
yesterday by geetarista
Scientists Still Can't Decide How to Define a Tree - The Atlantic
"So far, there is no standout gene or set of genes that confers tree-ness, nor any particular genome feature. Complexity? Nope: Full-on, whole-genome duplication (an often-used proxy for complexity) is prevalent throughout the plant kingdom. Genome size? Nope: Both the largest and smallest plant genomes belong to herbaceous species (Paris japonica and Genlisea tuberosa, respectively—the former a showy little white-flowered herb, the latter a tiny, carnivorous thing that traps and eats protozoans).

A chat with Neale confirms that tree-ness is probably more about what genes are turned on than what genes are present. “From the perspective of the genome, they basically have all the same stuff as herbaceous plants,” he said. “Trees are big, they’re woody, they can get water from the ground to up high. But there does not seem to be some profound unique biology that distinguishes a tree from a herbaceous plant.”

Notwithstanding the difficulty in defining them, being a tree has undeniable advantages—it allows plants to exploit the upper reaches where they can soak up sunlight and disperse pollen and seeds with less interference than their ground-dwelling kin. So maybe it’s time to start thinking of tree as a verb, rather than a noun—tree-ing, or tree-ifying. It’s a strategy, a way of being, like swimming or flying, even though to our eyes it’s happening in very slow motion. Tree-ing with no finish in sight—until an ax, or a pest, or a bolt of Thanksgiving lightning strikes it down."
biology  botany  classification  trees  2018  verbs  rachelehrenberg  plants  science  genetics  multispecies  wood  longevity  andrewgroover  ronaldlanner  evolution  davidneale  genomes  complexity 
2 days ago by robertogreco
Larger Spleens Help Bajau “Sea Nomads” Dive
Most people can hold their breath underwater for a few seconds, some for a few minutes. But a group of people called the Bajau takes free diving to the extreme, staying underwater for as long as 13 minutes at depths of around 200 feet.
biology  interesting 
3 days ago by flyingcloud

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