Tag Archives: evolution

Repelling water and dirt: superhydrophobic biological surfaces and biomimetic innovations

Life evolved over the last 3.5 billion years: a continuous process of mutation and selection – or trial and error. Today we know of some 1.8 million different species – but assessments indicate the existence of over

A new way to trace evolutionary history by pairwise alignment only

Genomes and genes change during evolution leading to the observed biodiversity in many colors and shades. This genealogical (phylogenetic) relationship is recorded in DNA and can be reconstructed by molecular phylogenetics and expressed in a tree with

Developing strategies for engineering efficient biocatalysts for the industrial production of chiral compounds

The market of chiral pharmaceuticals and of other fine chemicals for the fragrance and plant-protecting industries is a global multi-billion dollar business which is steadily growing. In general, only one of the enantiomers, the (R) or the

TSPO, bond of ages

In the microbic world of about 3.5 billion years ago, unicellular eukaryotes (organisms with cell nuclei) started to form a symbiosis with prokaryotes (organisms without cell nuclei). These prokaryotes were bacteria that could breath oxygen, whereas the

Early land plants evolved a simple but effective mechanism to place stomata away from each other

Stomata are one of the key evolutionary features responsible for the successful colonization of land by plants. A stoma is a pore surrounded by a pair of guard cells, when these cells are turgid and inflated the

How does fever work? As a non-specific stressor

Despite the spectacular discoveries in immunology and recent biotechnological advances, amazingly there has been no consensus on how fever functions to help control infections. Does the heat of fever act as an immune stimulant, or does it

How to build a communication system for cells

Single cell organisms, such as amoebae, are able to live independently without the need for extracellular communication systems. However, multicellular organisms, such as insects, fish and mammals, require systems that permit individual cells to communicate to one

Dining at extraordinary locations: new species of bacteria on fatty diet

Birds are among the most popular organisms on earth. Their majestic appearance, lovely songs as well as the ability to fly have always thrilled people making them one of the most thoroughly investigated classes of the animal

Gene wiring keeps bacteria cooperating

A bacterial cell can cooperate with its neighbours by producing molecules that allow them to grow better. These molecules may for example be enzymes that break down complex nutrients into digestible components. Because making these enzymes is

Impacts of life at 2300 m

Populations all over the world live high up in the mountains. The main mountain ranges with long term settlements include the Himalayas in Asia, the Andes in South America and the Ethiopian highlands in Africa. Researchers could

What situations breed ingroup favouritism?

When we meet strangers, we are often nicer towards those that look like they belong to our own group – a behaviour often termed ingroup favouritism. Examples of what constitutes a group may have to do with

The European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA)

London, UK, from 5-8 April The European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) is an interdisciplinary society that supports the activities of European researchers with an interest in evolutionary accounts of human cognition, behaviour and society. EHBEA

Natural selection favours large size

In many animal populations, bigger individuals often seem to mate more successfully and have a better chance of survival than smaller individuals. On a far larger scale, fossil evidence from some groups of animals suggest that species

Evolution of diverse and bizarre stag beetle weapons

Stag beetles evolved an impressive diversity of weapons because the shape and size of the armature hardly influence the cost of flying. Computer simulations of flying stag beetles have shown that the energy cost is solely determined

Global warming: implications for human brain evolution

Climate change is an inherent and complex phenomenon of our planet. Changes in global temperatures can occur directionally in the case of gradual increases or decreases in temperature, and also in terms of greater or lesser variation

Meat traditions (and the co-evolution of humans and meat)

If food is indeed “good to think”, as in Lévi-Strauss’ famous maxim, then meat seems to be the supreme example. Meat is truly about us. Besides, the way we deal with meat needs urgent reconsideration due to