Current Events in Biology

When research takes place in biology, two experts can be working on two different things. That’s because the field of biology and its current events cover a wide variety of topics and subjects. Read about the various ways biology is in the news and what the latest findings have to say about the future of living things.

You and I tend to think of biology as a straightforward subject. That said, I don’t think there’s anything honest about one of the broadest and all-encompassing topics in the natural sciences. Current events in biology consist of new health insights for humans to treat cell growth in animals and plants. To best understand the subject, you should consider following the latest news in the field.

Biology is the study of living things; generally, this refers to plants and animals, though biological research takes an interest in microorganisms. It is primarily concerned with physiochemical processes, and it endeavors to study and gathers scientific knowledge related to the field of living things. Biology has several subsets. However, all of the branches refer to the fundamental universal principles in the area. 

The study of plants is referred to as botany, while zoology is the study of animals. The study of the structure of organisms is morphology, while the study of the body functions is called physiology. No matter which subset appeals to you, all of the biology approaches its given niche in a way that focuses on the fundamentals of life. Molecular biology, for instance, focuses on the chemical composition and energy changes that happen in the many chemical structures that constitute an organism. Let’s take a glance at several examples of the most exciting current events in biology.

Small tunnels of bark beetles in the dry branch of a pine tree Destroyed branch by forest pests

Current Events in Biology: Bark Beatles Booming

When we think of threats to the environment, we forget the context itself is a threat. In other words, coexisting creatures and living things can cause problems for one another. Several trees in Europe and North America are dying, for example, due to a pesky neighbor. Bark beetles are the source of sorrow, and they are known to do these sorts of things. As a whole, the population of bark beetles spikes rapidly only to decline over the following few years. Lately, they’re booming even more significant than ever. Scientists think climate change may be to blame.

Bark beetles live to devastate. Climate change is speeding up eating. When bark beetles sense warmer climates, they assume the need to eat faster due to summer arriving. Germany, as well as most of North America, is seeing the infestation grow to unreasonable levels. Bark beetles in Central Europe destroyed nearly 40 million cubic meters of wood. Losses of that much timber are unfounded. A study aimed to uncover the population boom in bark beetles.

Climate Change Isn’t Coming; It’s Here.

How do scientists plan to rid forests of the bark beetle? It’s not that simple. The goal is not to reduce the population, at least not right now. Examining the issue is critical at this point. Scientists know about the bark beetle and have for years. The end of a study in the current issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution is to learn more about the population boom. A healthy population boom in bark beetles last month. Lately, due to climate change, the increase is lasting years. The rapid growth of bark beetle populations is detrimental to forests all over the globe. Because of this, scientists press for an answer.

It’s a great example of why climate change is not a future issue. The threat of global temperatures rising in the oceans poses a risk to everyone in 2019. Plans for the future are good but would have done much more enjoyable about 25 years ago. To uncover every little detail behind the bark beetle’s population boom, scientists look at relationships between temperature and population. This relationship was not a problem a decade ago. For that reason, climate change poses yet one more risk to biological life on Earth. It’s a narrative central to many current events in Biology.

Problems with brain Close up of a doctors hand pointing at the brain while finding the source of the problem

Current Events in Biology: The Relationship Between Cerebellar Degeneration and the Perception of Verticality

Researchers involved in a recent study sought to prove that the cerebellum has an impact on our perception of vertical images. When people perceive verticality, this sensory data does not come from one source but also a combination of sources. A lot of research on different species of animals has indicated that the cerebellum plays a vital role in the perception of verticality in sentient beings.

However, this assumption has not undergone questioning, as these researchers found that the human cerebellum’s degradation due to disease did not affect one’s perception of verticality.

In the experiment, researchers compared control groups (of various ages) with a group with cerebellar degeneration. Individuals from each group saw the image of a rotating bar. The researchers then instructed the participants to return the bar to a vertical position. In their peripheral vision, dots rotated in a specific pattern to distract them from the task. By the end of the experiment, the participants with cerebellar degeneration did not underperform as expected.

Human hippocampus neurons computer reconstruction Alzheimers hypoxia

Current Events in Biology: Coherent Mapping During Long Timescales 

To remember the location of an event, place cells in the hippocampus must encode the site across long timescales. However, in most instances, place cells experience instability caused by random reorganization in the place fields between events, making the process more of a challenge. Uncertainty is a tangible variable in the lives of living things. Any little variation can send us for a loop. Likewise, the same goes for other living things, like mice and mammals.

It is evident that some causes of instability result from rotation of place fields in a coherent manner, as well as random reorganization. A calcium imaging performed using mice as the test subjects. The experiment explored two different areas with different visual cues for eight days. The two fields rotated at random between sessions, and then later connected, giving researchers the ability to study the cue rotations. This insight enabled them to learn how new information gets integrated from the environment and how the passage of time affects the spatial consistency of place. The results were promising.

Going with the Flow

Each session rotated the two fields and allowed the time and environment to be completely random. The main finding came down to the response to the rotations. Scientists found that coherent rotations of the maps in a singular arena dominated the results. Not only that, but their effect lasted a little less than a week after the rotation. This effect means that the place-field maps’ rotation is not matching the arena rotation. Mice were staying flexible in dealing with the change. Because the plans were manageable, the mice responded as such. This role allows them to act similarly in different scenarios, despite the actual shape and connecting points. The change took place exceptionally well, and the hippocampus stayed consistent over long periods. It suggests, in the end, that instability comes from coherent rotation, but that the response comes directly from a proper understanding of dealing with change.

Closeup underwater shot of a school of blue zebrafish swimming near a coral reef

Current Events in Biology: Motion by Biological Organisms Being an Innate Perceptual Mechanism

Perceptual recognition shared by a given species guides collective behavior. In one experiment, researchers focus on the shoaling in certain kinds of fish. It is not easy for researchers to distinguish between these precise sensory cues and normal social behavior in a species. However, researchers have overcome this obstacle with the help of the zebrafish.

The researchers quickly realized that some of the peculiarities in a specific movement worked as sailing prompts for other animals. Using virtual reality, they witnessed individual fish shoaling for long hours, their moves imitating those of the zebrafish. Over time, the movements of the fish evolved, even for those raised in isolation.

These researchers discovered that zebrafish shoal autonomously, leaving no evidence of reciprocal choreography. The results reveal that at an individual level, perceptions that came naturally were a product of social recognition. In other words, affiliation provides access to the mental capabilities to respond to various scenarios.

Interactions between specimens of the same or similar species are essential for their survival. The results indicate that neuronal links do exist to encode relevant information. However, they also show causal roles for social responsibilities, like social recognition, relations, and mating. The modulators in the neurons such as tachykinin, serotonin, and oxytocin govern the behaviors among the species. They also provide an outstanding example of the regulation of social relations, showing the capability to study critical social norms in certain types of organisms.

Behaviors are sparked through and governed by specific triggers that are both fleeting nature and critical for social interactions. The pheromones which regulate inborn behaviors via well defined olfactory circuits are just one of many prime examples. Another example is Drosophila Melanogaster, the pheromone that activates the sensory neurons and implicates the olfactory receptor.

Long structure of the DNA double helix in depth of view.

Current Events in Biology: Coding Of RNA Expression On Genes

Extensive non-coding RNAs have always worked in the control of gene expression at the development stages. Recently, scientists carried out a survey investigating RNA expression and function during drosophila embryogenesis. This experiment looked at multiple stages of the process, including nuclear localization, genetic backgrounds, and tissue specificity.

The results indicated virtually two times the previously recorded number of RNAs displayed at these developmental stages. RNA ranges are always positively related to their shared genes, which contain very little transcriptional interference.

Making use of fluorescent hybridization, they have reported the expression of 15 new RNAs. Deletions in two RNAs yields change in a small number of genes, implying that they fine-tune the appearance of the non-essential genes. Various RNAs also contain a unique expression showing rigidity in a given population. The elements with variation between genetic traits are, therefore, essential to factor to differentiate between fast-evolving RNAs and non-essential roles.

Like many other examples, RNAs generally go through transcription by RNA polymerase. In this case, they might get spliced, or capped. This transcription is in contrast to protein-coding genes, which undergo a different process.

In most instances, different expression trends result in their work. This result can suggest bystander transcription for the limited tissue-unique coding of protein genes. The human genome has facilitated many studies, indicating genetic differences and disrupting RNA whose gene traits are specific.

However, due to there low stability of many RNAs, they represent a strong argument against the possible function of the RNA molecule. The transcription of some RNAs may affect the expression of neighboring genes, even if it may not grow too high.

Two Indian Flying Foxes Pteropus giganteus settle in for a day of sleep and rest amongst the branches of a tree before foraging for more fruit overnight

Current Events in Biology: Foraging in Bats

When animals observed during feeding in large numbers, this is generally assumed to be an example of social foraging. However, the reasons for and causes of foraging in these instances can be challenging to determine. For example, a group of animals might have collectively searched for an excellent sight to feed, or perhaps they began following a leader. In other cases, animals individually find a specific feeding site. Researchers then observe these animals in large numbers and assume that they worked collectively.

Differentiating between these causes and intentions is essential because they can have vastly different behavioral implications. In the first two examples above, animals are generally working together. In the last case, the animals are all working in direct competition. Thankfully, researchers developed the following experiment to differentiate between these behaviors.

The Results

The experiment showed that the foraging habits of the bats differed based on the location and the availability of resources. Ephemeral resources caused bats to change their feeding sites. It also caused them to vary the amount of time that they spent in individual sections. In direct contrast, bats fed on more predictable resources showed a preference for specific feeding sites on a nightly basis. The results suggest that the predictability of resources influences the costs and benefits of social foraging.

The researchers compared the foraging responses of five different species. Based on past experiments, the researchers knew that these species practiced unique foraging styles. They wanted to research this way so that no one method of resource consumption would gain priority. Generally, bats that relied on temporary resources hunted in groups. Bats that foraged for fished communicated regularly with conspecifics during the hunt, while many other bats did not. The researchers also noted that the bats never communicated with each other during the commute. They only began teaching once they had reached the desired feeding sight.

Additional to the direct results of the research, this study also sheds light on the benefits of advanced technology. Researchers used the latest technology to record sounds; the researchers were able to observe the bats’ collective behavior. This kind of research is vital for the study of biology and behavioral ecology.

Conclusion

From these examples, you can easily see that new findings in biology are essential for scientific advancement. I think it’s also clear that biology is vitally critical to carrying out experiments in ecological research, medical research, and environmental research. It is one of the vital pillars of science. You and I would also argue that it is the most fundamental of all scientific disciplines. It will be exciting for you to see what comes next in biological research.

When does biology play a role in daily life?

Why do current events in biology deal so much with the future?

How can biology help us find out more about things like extinction and new species?

David A. Smith at Dave4Math

David Smith (Dave) has a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics and has enjoyed teaching precalculus, calculus, linear algebra, and number theory at both the junior college and university levels for over 20 years. David is the founder and CEO of Dave4Math.

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