These jacks-of-all-trades are masters, too: Yeast study helps answer age-old biology question

The results, published April 26 in the journal Science, suggest that internal — not external — factors are the primary drivers of variation in the types of carbon yeasts can eat, and the researchers found no evidence that metabolic versatility, or the ability to eat different foods, comes with any trade-offs. In other words, some yeasts are jacks-of-all-trades and masters of each.

These Robots Helped Understand How Insects Evolved Two Distinct Strategies of Flight

Robots built by engineers at the University of California San Diego helped achieve a major breakthrough in understanding how insect flight evolved, described in the Oct. 4, 2023 issue of the journal Nature. The study is a result of a six-year long collaboration between roboticists at UC San Diego and biophysicists at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

How Insects Evolved to Ultrafast Flight (And Back)

This asynchronous beating comes from how the flight muscles interact with the physics of the insect’s springy exoskeleton. This decoupling of neural commands and muscle contractions is common in only four distinct insect groups. For years, scientists assumed these four groups evolved these ultrafast wingbeats separately, but research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) shows that they evolved from a single common ancestor. This discovery demonstrates evolution has repeatedly turned on and off this particular mode of flight. The researchers developed physics models and robotics to test how these transitions could occur.

Hormone alters electric fish’s signal-canceling trick

New research shows that the hormone testosterone — which naturally triggers male electric fish to elongate the electric pulses they send out during the breeding season — also alters a system in the fish’s brain that enables the fish to ignore its own electric signals.

Butterfly beginnings

Biologists from Washington University in St. Louis collaborated with a large number of butterfly and plant specialists to reconstruct the origin and global spread of butterflies. Working with researchers from dozens of countries, Michael Landis and Mariana P. Braga in Arts & Sciences helped create the world’s largest butterfly tree of life, assembled with DNA from more than 2,000 species representing all butterfly families.

Second gene implicated in malaria parasite resistance evolution to chloroquine

How malaria parasites evolved to evade a major antimalarial drug has long been thought to involve only one key gene. Now, thanks to a combination of field and lab studies, an international research team has shown a second key gene is also involved in malaria’s resistance to the drug chloroquine.

ProSocial World: How the principles of evolution can create lasting global change

Knowing how cultural evolution happens also means we can harness it for the larger good, creating a more just and sustainable world, according to a new article from a research team including faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

New Fossil Analysis Reveals Dinosaur with Record-Holding 15-Meter-Long Neck

An international scientific team led by Stony Brook University paleontologist Andrew J. Moore, PhD, has revealed that a Late Jurassic Chinese sauropod known as Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum sported a 15-meter-long neck. The details will be published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology and provide fresh insights on the evolution of the iconic sauropod body.

Hummingbirds use torpor in varying ways to survive cold temps

Hummingbirds have the fastest metabolism of any animal. The tropical hummingbirds that live in the Andes Mountains in South America must expend considerable energy to maintain their high body temperatures in cold environments. One tool that they use to survive cold nights is called torpor, a hibernation-like state that allows them to ramp down energy consumption to well below what they normally use during the day.

Plague trackers: Researchers cover thousands of years in a quest to understand the elusive origins of the Black Death

Seeking to better understand more about the origins and movement of bubonic plague, in ancient and contemporary times, researchers at McMaster University, University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne, have completed a painstaking granular examination of hundreds of modern and ancient genome sequences, creating the largest analysis of its kind.

Ancient Iowan superpredator got big by front-loading its growth in its youth

The Field Museum in Chicago is home to the best, most-complete fossils of a prehistoric superpredator– but one that lived hundreds of millions of years before SUE the T. rex. Whatcheeria was a six-foot-long lake-dwelling creature with a salamander-like body and a long, narrow head; its fossils were discovered in a limestone quarry near the town of What Cheer, Iowa.

Weedy rice has become herbicide resistant through rapid evolution

Biologists used whole-genome sequences of 48 contemporary weedy rice plants to show how herbicide resistance evolved by gene flow from crop rice. Almost all other cases of herbicide resistance in agricultural weeds result from selection of tolerant genotypes in the weed species.

Evolving to outpace climate change, tiny marine animal provides new evidence of long-theorized genetic mechanism

Some copepods, diminutive crustaceans with an outsized place in the aquatic food web, can evolve fast enough to survive in the face of rapid climate change, according to new research that addresses a longstanding question in the field of genetics. Barely more than a millimeter long, the copepod Eurytemora affinis paddles its way through the coastal waters of oceans and estuaries around the world in large numbers — mostly getting eaten by juvenile fish, like salmon, herring and anchovy.