A photo of deformed daisies taken near Fukushima has recently gone viral. As serious as the Fukushima disaster is (previously), these particular deformities were probably not caused by radiation, and similar mutations have been found in a variety of plant species all over the world. The condition is known as fasciation or cristation, it has a number of potential causes, and it can look pretty cool. In some plants it's even a desired trait: the cockscomb celosia, aka "brain flower", is deliberately cultivated for its fasciated blooms.
But sometimes the evolving virus can unlock a response that holds HIV in check. Levy told Brothers he had a drop of luck in his blood. His white blood cells seemed to secrete tiny amounts of a substance that controls HIV. At the time, Brothers was only one of several hundred people, out of tens of millions with HIV, known to control HIV in this way. Levy believes an unidentified protein is responsible, and isolating and harnessing it might allow scientists to produce a revolutionary HIV treatment.
Cyriak interviewed about taking inspiration from his cats, living in Brighton, making music videos, animated GIFs, and so on.
"During the most recent ice age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because — unlike children — they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase — and drink milk — throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed." - The Milk Revolution - how a single mutation expanded (some) of humanity's diet. (Nature.com)
Is this a pandemic being born? [Google cache] The H7N9 (Bird) Flu Virus May Have Adapted To Mammals. The WHO is investigating. Four new human cases were identified late Tuesday.
"This study is important and overwhelming in its implications for both the human and biological communities living in Fukushima." . . . "These observations of mutations and morphological abnormalities can only be explained as having resulted from exposure to radioactive contaminants." Severe abnormalities found in Fukushima butterflies. Full report here.
In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Al Jazeera reports on large-scale deformities and mutations in the Gulf of Mexico seafood catch.
“When I was a kid growing up I was obsessed with animals and monsters… I’d draw them everyday, and when I grew up I either wanted to be a zoologist or a monster hunter… When I got a bit older I realized that being a zoologist was less exciting than I had imagined, and that ‘monster hunter’ isn’t even a real job, so I just kept drawing. I pretty much do the exact same thing at 29 years old that I did when I was 9 years old.” Nicholas Di Genova weaves organisms together in pen and ink. [more inside]
Million to one apple is half red, half green. "Fruit grower Ken Morrish was left stunned when he found a golden delicious apple on his tree split exactly half green, half red down the middle." [more inside]
Natural selection and evolution in clocks(youtube) - Video of the details and results of a program written to model the evolution of clocks (if they were alive). [more inside]
In 2006 scientists sent a container of salmonella to space and kept an identical container on Earth under similar temperature conditions. Bacteria from both strains were fed to mice, and the "space germs", having undergone 167 gene changes, were 3 times more likely to make the mice sick.
Mutatoes is a photographic collection by artist Uli Westphal of non-standard fruits and vegetables found at Berlin groceries and farmers' markets. The distorted, the discolored, the bumpy, the stumpy, the coiled and the conjoined all get star treatment. (Flash site)
Myostatin is a genetic protein that affects muscle growth in humans and animals. Scientists have learned a lot about this protein from a noticeable myostatin mutation common in the Whippet dog breed. Whippets with one mutant copy of the gene are faster, so these are desirable for racing dog breeders. But selective breeding has caused increased instances of both copies of the myostatin genes mutating, which results in "double muscle" Incredible Hulk dogs!?
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." Despite Theodosius Dobzhansky's succint description of natural selection at the core of biological research since Darwin's fateful trip to the Galapagos, evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch respectfully dissents, asking "whether natural selection is a necessary or sufficient force to explain" the complexity of multicellular organisms we see today, where mutation, recombination and genetic drift are often overlooked, but critical factors in evolutionary theory and understanding.
The BBC reports that twenty years on "the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life." Lynx, eagle owl, wild boars, horses, wolves—even signs of bears which haven't been seen here in centuries. British scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock (recently discussed here) speculates whether "small volumes of nuclear waste from power production should be stored in tropical forests and other habitats in need of a reliable guardian against their destruction by greedy developers." Lovelock describes Chernobyl as "a nasty accident that took 45 lives." This article in the New Scientist claims that that the death toll may ultimately reach 60,000.
Overnight mutation or lousy science? Or maybe an early April Fool's joke. The Gameboy generation's thumbs are as developed and agile as the rest of their digits. "...the younger generation has taken to using thumbs in a completely different way and are instinctively using it where the rest of us use our index fingers is particularly interesting.' " An interesting social phenomenon, certainly, but biology...?