Biggest Breakthroughs In The Field Of Biology In 2016

The field of biology had a big year in 2016 with several amazing breakthroughs making the news all around the world. Here are two of the biggest advancements biology saw last year.

The origin of multicellular life

When scientists found GK-PID, a molecule almost as old as life on this planet, they knew right away it was special. It was found that this particular molecule was a catalyst for what was to be one of the most important steps in the evolution of life on the planet. Around 800 million years ago, GK-PID was responsible for the transformation of single-celled organisms into multi-cellular organisms. GK-PID acted as a molecular carabiner by pulling chromosomes together before latching them onto the inner wall of a cell membrane. This leads to non-cancerous cell division. However, what scientists find fascinating is the fact that the ancient GK-PID wasn’t always like that. It only became a carabiner because it mutated.

Image source: unicellularorganisms7thblock.weebly.com

Stem cells and stroke patients

One of the most important discoveries last year happened at a clinical trial at Stanford University School of Medicine. Modified human stem cells were injected into the brains of several patients who suffered from chronic stroke. The experiment was a success, with no negative side-effects afflicting the patients. The worst were mild headaches due to the procedure. All the patients (18 in total) had a much more significant rate of healing, which included those confined to wheelchairs to stand up and walk.

Image source: sciencemag.org

Anouk Govil is a biology major at California State University Channel Islands. For more on her, visit this blog.

Colossal Investment Risks And How To Deal With Them

There are a lot of risks when it comes to investment. They can be confusing and intimidating. Some moves may seem conservative, but if increasing interest rates factored in, then it would seem like a bad idea in the first place.

Take for instance the volatility of the stock market. The prices of stocks and bonds can change at a moment’s notice. This is enough to cool the jets of even the most iron-willed investor. However, with a bit of research, this can be handled. How long can the money grow before it’s accessed? Questions like that arising from research can prepare people and help them avoid panicking and making bad decisions.

Image source: cu.edu

Another huge risk is a total loss, which can be easily achieved through being reckless. A total loss can end any plans a person has for the future, even ones made for retirement. A risk management strategy for this is to look into companies that pay dividends with high rates. Budget restructuring and lifestyle changes are also some ways of avoiding a total loss.

Image source: Forbes.com

Inflation is one of the biggest headaches investors encounter since it involves a lot of computation, and it’s a sure thing. Inflation causes people to buy less and fewer things. People should stay clear of bonds when it seems that a high inflation rate is on the horizon.

Anouk Govil is a risk analyst. Learn more about Anouk by subscribing to this Twitter account.

Biology News: Scientists Create First Active Dna Structures In 3-D

Scientists have long studied the human body to understand diseases better, how they form, and how they can be treated. The overriding conclusion for most of the research is that illnesses need to be understood at a basic level. That is, biologists and health practitioners need to see how viruses form on a DNA level. A new research has created the first 3-D structures of active DNA in mammals from individual cells. The model shows how DNA from all the chromosomes fit together inside the cell nuclei. The apparent use of the model is still being reviewed although initial suggestions point to better health care.

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Image Source: sciencedaily.com

Authors of the study used a combination of advanced computer imaging and more than 100,000 measurements of where different parts of the DNA are close to each other to create a genome in a mouse embryonic stem cell. Stem cells are a known as the key cells because they can develop into almost any other type of cell. This innovative approach allowed researchers to see how active chromosomes move and are structured inside the cell.

In terms of disease, it is often a case of specific regions in the DNA that are switched “on” or “off.” A single faulty combination can lead to highly challenging complications. With this new models, health practitioners can see how active DNA separates. This knowledge can be applied to the medical field, where manufacturers can develop a medicine that can address sicknesses better. There are also discussions on being able to manipulate genes on a molecular level during gestation to prevent the onset of disease.

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Image Source: sciencenewsline.com

Further research is necessary, say the authors. Needless to say, this proves to be a highly positive advancement for the biology industry.

Anouk Govil is majoring in biology. Learn more when you follow this blog.

Biology And Climate Change? How Animals And Plants Are Adapting

Climate change is affecting every aspect of natural life. For humans, the main change is adapting to severe weather conditions. These weather systems have their impacts on vegetation that has set off a domino effect in terms of how well society functions. There are other adaptations as well. New research is pointing to the series of changes warm-blooded animals have had in the last few decades.

Image Source: nasa.gov
Image Source: nasa.gov

Biologists have seen a significant population growth among warm-dwelling species, particularly among birds, butterflies, beetles, and some types of lichens. A data analysis recently published in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that rising temperature brought about by climate change has somehow impacted the way animals have bred for the last 30 years.

Since 1980, the average annual temperature in the study area of Germany has increased by around 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade. Scientists caution the public from ignoring the relatively small figure. Minor changes such as these can dramatically affect the way plant and animal species interact. Continual and constant changes in temperature can have long-term effects on plant and animal populations. Since the study began, approximately half of the population of various species have a significant increase or decrease. The direction of the change is dependent on whether the species prefers warm or cold temperatures. Current data points to an increase among warm-dwelling species and a decrease for species living in colder areas.

Image Source: cnn.com
Image Source: cnn.com

The study goes on to confirm that climate change effects have more impact in certain communities compared to other threats such as land use. Global temperature is a pervasive and expansive factor that needs to be researched and understood.

Anouk Govil is a biology major who loves to learn new things about the subject. For more science news, follow this Google+ page.