More from N.E.R.S.

Also from Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science come several more interesting posts.

•   First, we have the research that certain fungi can feed on depleted uranium, converting the material to more chemically stable mineral forms (albeit still radioactive, of course).

•   How about the experiments showing that the key to the coordinated motion of swarming locusts may be fear of cannibalism?

This sudden coordination is an important step in the genesis of a swarm, but the researchers had still to uncover why the locusts aligned so neatly. Now, working with the same group, Sepideh Bazazi at the University of Oxford has found part of the answer – they to march to avoid getting cannibalised by other locusts behind them. All the individuals in a dense group are after the same things – protein, salt and the like. If one stops moving, it risks acting as a source of these nutrients for others behind it. For locust groups, life is about moving with the crowd, or being eaten by it.

•   The title alone on this one should be enough: ‘Aphids get superpowers through sex.’

•   Ed weighs in on the recent work that carbon nanotubes might produce similar biological effects as asbestos. He does note that the work is preliminary, and has not yet shown that inhaled nanotubes can migrate to the mesothelium, nor that the resulting inflammation can turn to mesothelioma (a process which is still mysterious in asbestos exposure, as noted here). Still, it is cause for concern, and definitely needs more research.

•   An interesting microbe, Hatena, and its unusual relationship with the algae Nephroselmis, give insights into the origins of endosymbiosis.


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