Tag Archives: molecular biology

‘Nano-Suit’ protects Bugs from Vacuum

(Image Source)

Nano-suit is just a cool word.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published yesterday on a new technology that enables insect larvae to survive in a vacuum thanks to ‘Nano-suits’.  If your mind is not already swimming with the implications you are not a sci-fi fan…

I’m guessing that the discovery was made by accident, as almost all good discoveries are.  The group was using an electron microscope to take submicroscopic pictures of fruit fly larvae.  This is usually done in a vacuum to prevent the electron beam from being disrupted from molecules in the air.  Someone (a grad student most likely),  probably forgot to turn OFF the electron beam before turning ON the vacuum.  Under normal conditions the vacuum sucks the moisture and gases out of the subject desiccating and destroying it.  This time, however, the larvae was fine.  It actually survived the vacuum and grew to maturity.

Apparently, the larvae had an organic film on its surface that was polymerised, or hardened, by the electron beam into a thin membrane that trapped the moisture and gasses inside where they belonged.  The group further tested the method and found that they could make ‘Nano-suits’ on other bugs using a common detergent as the organic film.

It wouldn’t take much, evolutionarily speaking, to imagine a such a film protecting a living organism in an interplanetary journey.  Maybe that’s how the Zerg do it…


New technique in brain studies

This video just came out from Nature. It seems that they’ve developed a fixation method that make tissue transparent without destroying or displacing the proteins. This allows for high resolution 3D analysis of cell structures within organs, something that was limited only to embryo’s and smaller tissues in the past.

Besides being cool science the video is definitely sweet just to enjoy!


My Next Lab Featured on NatGeo!!

Tadpole Sees Through Eyeball on Its Tail

I will be working on projects like these in this lab in the next few months. So much amazing science!

Where I have been lately… Postdoc F32


Those who follow my blog may have noticed a slow-down in post frequency.  Truthfully I’ve been working on my writing, just not the creative kind.  For my next career move I need to write a grant application based off of this paper. The deadline is in less than two weeks and I’m cramming to get it all together.  I shouldn’t even be writing this, but I check my own site compulsively and am getting bored seeing the same image every time.

The original paper suggests that the spine transmits information in response to damage that affects regenerating tail shape.  This is evidenced by how tail shape goes wrong when there are competing damage signals from the spine as depicted above.  The implication here is that the information of tail and shape is actually generated and transmitted by the central nervous system (CNS).  In my proposal we are planning to take control of the CNS signaling and see if we can control regenerating tail shape and understand how that information is transmitted.

Off the hook science FTW.


Glomerulus – Wallpaper



Here’s a ‘sceincy’ desktop background for you.  The image is one I took if an immunofluorescent staining experiment I did on sectioned mouse kidney.  The large roundish structure the middle called a glomerulus, its the blood filtering unit of the kidney.  Sadly the project this experiment was done for failed… hard.

Mouth-Birthing Frog to Be Resurrected?

Not only are these frogs very interesting in their biology, but they are one of the first species that scientists are attempting to restore from near extinction via cloning technology.

These interesting frogs apparently, swallow their eggs and stop digestion so that the tadpoles can develop and be birthed/regurgitated after hatching. (Scifi friends, take this to the next level and you have an amphibian method of gestation similar to that of mammals, which of course led to sapience).  Keep reading! Continue reading

The Contagious Cancer of Tasmania Devils

I’d heard of the contagious face tumors that are infecting the Tasmanian Devil population, but never really understood how a contagious cancer could be possible.  A molecular biologist’s first thought is that it must be a cancer inducing virus, but that’s not the case.

According, to this article, describing a breakthrough in understanding of the tumors, it is the tumor itself that spreads.  It seems that tumor cells, passed between animals during fights, are able to graft into a new host and set up a new tumor.  Think of it like a kidney transplant, one tissue from one animal growing in another.  However, in organ transplants in humans, the immune system must be suppressed to prevent the host body’s immune system from destroying the donor tissue.  The Tasmanian Devil cancer seems to be able to evade the host immune system, and is seen as another part of the host’s body.  It is ignored by the host immune system and allowed to do its thing, namely grow unchecked.

In some sense, the tumor itself is like a distinct organism, propagating and growing within the species, very much like a virus.  I wonder what the next stage in its evolution would look like…

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Theo Taylor

Theo Taylor is a writer, fitness freak and college student who has been published by Thought Catalog, Asimov's and Aphelion. He writes star spanning science fiction and monster filled high fantasy. His debut novel ROGUE COSMOS will release in August, 2015. If he's not reading or writing, check the gym. He's almost always in the gym.

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