There are fewer microbes out there than you think. New estimate reduces the number of microbes on Earth by around half. [more inside]
"You've seen ants. Thousands of them. And most of the time, you've seen them in colonies, living as a group. But have you seen them float as a group? Apparently a single fire ant will struggle in water, but a cluster of them can bob happily for months. A new study has used time lapse photography to figure out why — and how — that is."
Caterpillars evolved from onychophorans by hybridogenesis. Caterpillars did not evolve from onychophorans by hybridogenesis. [more inside]
Long before storied 'Patient Zero' Gaëtan Dugas [previously] scientists now believe that HIV/AIDS "invaded the United States in about 1969 from Haiti, carried most likely by a single infected immigrant who set the stage for it to sweep the world in a tragic epidemic." A new study to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that researchers conducted a genetic analysis of stored blood samples from early AIDS patients and now believe that HIV first entered the United States in the 1960s -- and not the 1980s. Other "studies suggest the virus first entered the human population in about 1930 in central Africa, probably when people slaughtered infected chimpanzees for meat."
MIT researchers can reverse some symptoms of autism and mental retardation in mice by suppressing a specific enzyme. The research, conducted at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, is due to be posted on PNAS Online some time this week. Here is the MIT article. The specific symptoms reversed included hyperactivity, purposeless/repetitive movements, attention deficits and learning/memory challenges. The research was funded by the FRAXA Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the National Institutes of Health. According to the CDC, the genetic causes treated by this particular technique (called FXS) affects one in 4,000 males and one in 6,000 females of all races and ethnic groups. I would be interested in hearing about reactions that might be taking place in the various autism-related communities.