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Current Biology: CB

Paul Verdu, Ethan M Jewett, Trevor J Pemberton, Noah A Rosenberg, Marlyse Baptista
Joint analyses of genes and languages, both of which are transmitted in populations by descent with modification-genes vertically by Mendel's laws, language via combinations of vertical, oblique, and horizontal processes [1-4]-provide an informative approach for human evolutionary studies [5-10]. Although gene-language analyses have employed extensive data on individual genetic variation [11-23], their linguistic data have not considered corresponding long-recognized [24] variability in individual speech patterns, or idiolects...
August 8, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Claire Goiran, Paco Bustamante, Richard Shine
Although classically associated with urban environments in invertebrates, melanism in terrestrial snakes is more often linked to occupancy of cool climates [1-3]. Thermal advantages to melanism do not apply in aquatic snakes [4], but although turtle-headed seasnakes (Emydocephalus annulatus) are banded or blotched across a wide geographic range [5], most individuals are melanic in polluted inshore bays of the Pacific island of New Caledonia [4]. Why has melanism evolved in these urban sites? Because trace elements bind to melanin, darker feathers enhance a bird's ability to shed pollutants [6]...
August 8, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Sarah E Barlow, Geraldine A Wright, Carolyn Ma, Marta Barberis, Iain W Farrell, Emily C Marr, Alice Brankin, Bruce M Pavlik, Philip C Stevenson
Toxic nectar is an ecological paradox [1, 2]. Plants divert substantial resources to produce nectar that attracts pollinators [3], but toxins in this reward could disrupt the mutualism and reduce plant fitness [4]. Alternatively, such compounds could protect nectar from robbers [2], provided that they do not significantly alter pollinator visitation to the detriment of plant fitness [1, 5-8]. Indeed, very few studies have investigated the role of plant toxins in nectar for defense against nectar robbers [4, 9, 10]...
August 7, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Yuki Sugiyama, Mayumi Wakazaki, Kiminori Toyooka, Hiroo Fukuda, Yoshihisa Oda
Spatial control of cell-wall deposition is essential for determining plant cell shape [1]. Rho-type GTPases, together with the cortical cytoskeleton, play central roles in regulating cell-wall patterning [2]. In metaxylem vessel cells, which are the major components of xylem tissues, active ROP11 Rho GTPases form oval plasma membrane domains that locally disrupt cortical microtubules, thereby directing the formation of oval pits in secondary cell walls [3-5]. However, the regulatory mechanism that determines the planar shape of active Rho of Plants (ROP) domains is still unknown...
August 7, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Jessica Taubert, Susan G Wardle, Molly Flessert, David A Leopold, Leslie G Ungerleider
Face perception in humans and nonhuman primates is rapid and accurate [1-4]. In the human brain, a network of visual-processing regions is specialized for faces [5-7]. Although face processing is a priority of the primate visual system, face detection is not infallible. Face pareidolia is the compelling illusion of perceiving facial features on inanimate objects, such as the illusory face on the surface of the moon. Although face pareidolia is commonly experienced by humans, its presence in other species is unknown...
August 4, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Santiago C González-Martínez, Kate Ridout, John R Pannell
Neutral genetic diversity gradients have long been used to infer the colonization history of species [1, 2], but range expansion may also influence the efficacy of natural selection and patterns of non-synonymous polymorphism in different parts of a species' range [3]. Recent theory predicts both an accumulation of deleterious mutations and a reduction in the efficacy of positive selection as a result of range expansion [4-8]. These signatures have been sought in a number of studies of the human range expansion out of Africa, but with contradictory results [9-14]...
August 4, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Jiro Yoshino, Rei K Morikawa, Eri Hasegawa, Kazuo Emoto
Noxious stimuli trigger a stereotyped escape response in animals. In Drosophila larvae, class IV dendrite arborization (C4 da) sensory neurons in the peripheral nervous system are responsible for perception of multiple nociceptive modalities, including noxious heat and harsh mechanical stimulation, through distinct receptors [1-9]. Silencing or ablation of C4 da neurons largely eliminates larval responses to noxious stimuli [10-12], whereas optogenetic activation of C4 da neurons is sufficient to provoke corkscrew-like rolling behavior similar to what is observed when larvae receive noxious stimuli, such as high temperature or harsh mechanical stimulation [10-12]...
August 4, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Florencia di Pietro, Léo Valon, Yingbo Li, Rosette Goïame, Auguste Genovesio, Xavier Morin
Oriented cell divisions are controlled by a conserved molecular cascade involving Gαi, LGN, and NuMA. We developed a new cellular model of oriented cell divisions combining micropatterning and localized recruitment of Gαi and performed an RNAi screen for regulators acting downstream of Gαi. Remarkably, this screen revealed a unique subset of dynein regulators as being essential for spindle orientation, shedding light on a core regulatory aspect of oriented divisions. We further analyze the involvement of one novel regulator, the actin-capping protein CAPZB...
August 4, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Haim Treves, Omer Murik, Isaac Kedem, Doron Eisenstadt, Sagit Meir, Ilana Rogachev, Jedrzej Szymanski, Nir Keren, Isabel Orf, Antonio F Tiburcio, Rubén Alcázar, Asaph Aharoni, Joachim Kopka, Aaron Kaplan
The factors rate-limiting growth of photosynthetic organisms under optimal conditions are controversial [1-8]. Adaptation to extreme environments is usually accompanied by reduced performance under optimal conditions [9, 10]. However, the green alga Chlorella ohadii, isolated from a harsh desert biological soil crust [11-17], does not obey this rule. In addition to resistance to photodamage [17, 18], it performs the fastest growth ever reported for photosynthetic eukaryotes. A multiphasic growth pattern (very fast growth [phase I], followed by growth retardation [phase II] and additional fast growth [phase III]) observed under constant illumination and temperature indicates synchronization of the algal population...
August 3, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Maria Geraldine Veldhuizen, Richard Keith Babbs, Barkha Patel, Wambura Fobbs, Nils B Kroemer, Elizabeth Garcia, Martin R Yeomans, Dana M Small
Post-ingestive signals related to nutrient metabolism are thought to be the primary drivers of reinforcement potency of energy sources. Here, in a series of neuroimaging and indirect calorimetry human studies, we examine the relative roles of caloric load and perceived sweetness in driving metabolic, perceptual, and brain responses to sugared beverages. Whereas caloric load was manipulated using the tasteless carbohydrate maltodextrin, sweetness levels were manipulated using the non-nutritive sweetener sucralose...
August 2, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Caleb M Brown, Donald M Henderson, Jakob Vinther, Ian Fletcher, Ainara Sistiaga, Jorsua Herrera, Roger E Summons
Predator-prey dynamics are an important evolutionary driver of escalating predation mode and efficiency, and commensurate responses of prey [1-3]. Among these strategies, camouflage is important for visual concealment, with countershading the most universally observed [4-6]. Extant terrestrial herbivores free of significant predation pressure, due to large size or isolation, do not exhibit countershading. Modern predator-prey dynamics may not be directly applicable to those of the Mesozoic due to the dominance of very large, visually oriented theropod dinosaurs [7]...
July 31, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Virginie Hamel, Emmanuelle Steib, Romain Hamelin, Florence Armand, Susanne Borgers, Isabelle Flückiger, Coralie Busso, Natacha Olieric, Carlos Oscar S Sorzano, Michel O Steinmetz, Paul Guichard, Pierre Gönczy
Centrioles are evolutionarily conserved macromolecular structures that are fundamental to form cilia, flagella, and centrosomes. Centrioles are 9-fold symmetrical microtubule-based cylindrical barrels comprising three regions that can be clearly distinguished in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii organelle: an ∼100-nm-long proximal region harboring a cartwheel; an ∼250-nm-long central core region containing a Y-shaped linker; and an ∼150-nm-long distal region ending at the transitional plate. Despite the discovery of many centriolar components, no protein has been localized specifically to the central core region in Chlamydomonas thus far...
July 29, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Lilach Avitan, Zac Pujic, Jan Mölter, Matthew Van De Poll, Biao Sun, Haotian Teng, Rumelo Amor, Ethan K Scott, Geoffrey J Goodhill
Spontaneous patterns of activity in the developing visual system may play an important role in shaping the brain for function. During the period 4-9 dpf (days post-fertilization), larval zebrafish learn to hunt prey, a behavior that is critically dependent on the optic tectum. However, how spontaneous activity develops in the tectum over this period and the effect of visual experience are unknown. Here we performed two-photon calcium imaging of GCaMP6s zebrafish larvae at all days from 4 to 9 dpf. Using recently developed graph theoretic techniques, we found significant changes in both single-cell and population activity characteristics over development...
July 28, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Derek E G Briggs, Jean-Bernard Caron
Chaetognaths (arrow worms) are a separate phylum (Chaetognatha) of small carnivorous animals, dominantly pelagic, and a major component of today's plankton [1, 2]. The position of Chaetognatha among metazoan phyla remains equivocal-neither morphological nor molecular data provide definitive evidence [3]. Originating early in the Cambrian period [4], if not earlier [5], chaetognaths quickly became important members of marine metazoan communities [6]. Chaetognath grasping spines, originally reported as conodonts, occur worldwide in many Cambrian marine sediments [6, 7]...
July 28, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Ryan M Grippo, Aarti M Purohit, Qi Zhang, Larry S Zweifel, Ali D Güler
Dopamine (DA) neurotransmission controls behaviors important for survival, including voluntary movement, reward processing, and detection of salient events, such as food or mate availability. Dopaminergic tone also influences circadian physiology and behavior. Although the evolutionary significance of this input is appreciated, its precise neurophysiological architecture remains unknown. Here, we identify a novel, direct connection between the DA neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)...
July 26, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Liyu Cao, Domenica Veniero, Gregor Thut, Joachim Gross
Actions are typically associated with sensory consequences. For example, knocking at a door results in predictable sounds. These self-initiated sensory stimuli are known to elicit smaller cortical responses compared to passively presented stimuli, e.g., early auditory evoked magnetic fields known as M100 and M200 components are attenuated. Current models implicate the cerebellum in the prediction of the sensory consequences of our actions. However, causal evidence is largely missing. In this study, we introduced a constant delay (of 100 ms) between actions and action-associated sounds, and we recorded magnetoencephalography (MEG) data as participants adapted to the delay...
July 25, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Parul Agrawal, Jerry H Houl, Kushan L Gunawardhana, Tianxin Liu, Jian Zhou, Mark J Zoran, Paul E Hardin
Circadian (∼24 hr) clocks regulate daily rhythms in physiology, metabolism, and behavior via cell-autonomous transcriptional feedback loops. In Drosophila, the blue-light photoreceptor CRYPTOCHROME (CRY) synchronizes these feedback loops to light:dark cycles by binding to and degrading TIMELESS (TIM) protein. CRY also acts independently of TIM in Drosophila to alter potassium channel conductance in arousal neurons after light exposure, and in many animals CRY acts independently of light to repress rhythmic transcription...
July 24, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Jie Dong, Weimin Ni, Renbo Yu, Xing Wang Deng, Haodong Chen, Ning Wei
Plant seedlings emerging from darkness into the light environment undergo photomorphogenesis, which enables autotrophic growth with optimized morphology and physiology. During this transition, plants must rapidly remove photomorphogenic repressors accumulated in the dark. Among them is PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 3 (PIF3), a key transcription factor promoting hypocotyl growth. Here we report that, in response to light activation of phytochrome photoreceptors, EIN3-BINDING F BOX PROTEINs (EBFs) 1 and 2 mediate PIF3 protein degradation in a manner dependent on light-induced phosphorylation of PIF3...
July 18, 2017: Current Biology: CB
François Tardieu, Llorenç Cabrera-Bosquet, Tony Pridmore, Malcolm Bennett
Major improvements in crop yield are needed to keep pace with population growth and climate change. While plant breeding efforts have greatly benefited from advances in genomics, profiling the crop phenome (i.e., the structure and function of plants) associated with allelic variants and environments remains a major technical bottleneck. Here, we review the conceptual and technical challenges facing plant phenomics. We first discuss how, given plants' high levels of morphological plasticity, crop phenomics presents distinct challenges compared with studies in animals...
August 7, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Bernard Wood
Modern humans originated in Africa, but where exactly? So far, East Africa harbored the oldest fossil and archaeological evidence. Now, fossils and stone tools from a cave in Morocco challenge the notion that East Africa was the birthplace of modern humans.
August 7, 2017: Current Biology: CB
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