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Showing posts from April, 2012

Lighting up life, bonus story

Back in the land (sea?) of bioluminescence, a recent story on sharks may reveal some evolutionary background for hormonal control of their light emission. These little sharks have a "luminescent liquid" in certain organs, and the main method of reducing the brightness displayed is to cover up the light-emitting cells/organs with melanocytes, which can also be altered in other sharks and rays to aid camouflage. It turns out, though, that different luminescent shark groups use the hormones differently, and the authors have a good guess as to which method is more ancestral. Some "lantern sharks" luminesce for the same reasons as anglerfish, to attract food sources, and some use their light to camouflage themselves against aquatic predators. The sky is bright, and a dark outline is easily seem from below. (See also Creaturecast on Squid Iridescence.) -- KMP Claes JM, Ho H-C, Mallefet J. 2012. Control of luminescence from pygmy shark (Squaliolus aliae) photophor…

Pollination project publicity

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Biograds Susan Waters and Marie Clifford talk about their citizen-science Urban Pollination Project on a local news station. (See also Marie and her co-star Lens Flare giving a recent botany greenhouse tour.)

Weekend links: fun with arthropods

Species species of the Week week #2 OR Emily's FAVORITE Tautonym

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Post previously published at Rah Rah Radula.Gemma gemma (The Amethyst Gem Clam) As it's at least supposed to be a molluscan marine blog it seemed worthy to start (1) with a redundant local marine mollusk. Unfortunately, it turns out that very few, if any, tautonomical invertebrates are native to the Pacific Northwest (2). So why not a non-native? It turns out this one is also my very, very favorite tautonym.
Figure 1. Peterson (of field guide fame) refers to G. gemma as, "a handsome ... clam, easily overlooked
because of its small size". Just so, sir. Just so. Photo Credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Melissa Wong. In addition to being the name of my wireless network, Gemma gemma(3) is the diminutive Amethyst Gem clam (Disambiguation). These tiny bivalves are native to the east and Gulf coasts of North America, from Nova Scotia to Texas. They were introduced along the west coast of the US around 1960, but have only recently become very abundant in San Francisco Bay …

Congratulations to Josh Nahum!

Lighting up life, part II: Molecular tracers

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Molecular biologists love proteins. We come up with all kinds of ways to look for them and detect their interactions, because that's how we understand what the parts of a cell do and how they do it. One way we can see them is through immunochemistry, where we put antibodies (from a mammal immune system) that are sensitive to the protein we want to see into a sample and then make the antibodies visible with a chemical. Most stains are not specific to exact proteins, and antibodies are, so this is a great, precise way to see where your molecule is in a tissue or cell sample. Of course, a single stain isn't as good as two or three different colors showing where multiple molecules are, because then you can tell whether those proteins show up in the same places as each other: the same kind of cell, the same organelle inside the cell, maybe even so close you can't tell them apart -- which could mean that they need each other somehow. To get multiple colors, molecular biolog…

Weekend links: sounds of science

a little eulogy for a little fish

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gymnogeophagus ate up sand and wore no clothes
which is common for his genus, i suppose i'll miss you little guy. -- jake cooper