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  • Aggressive, non-native wetland plants squelch species richness more than dominant natives do

    Dominant, non-native plants reduce wetland biodiversity and abundance more than native plants do, researchers report in the journal Ecology Letters. Even native plants that dominate wetland landscapes play better with others, the team found.

  • Biochar may boost carbon storage, but benefits to germination and growth appear scant

    Biochar may not be the miracle soil additive that many farmers and researchers hoped it to be, according to a new University of Illinois study. Biochar may boost the agricultural yield of some soils – especially poor quality ones – but there is no consensus on its effectiveness. Researchers tested different soils’ responses to multiple biochar types and were unable to verify their ability to increase plant growth. However, the study did show biochar’s ability to affect soil greenhouse gas emissions.

  • New insight from Great Barrier Reef coral provides correction factor to global climate records

    Newly developed geological techniques help uncover the most accurate and high-resolution climate records to date, according to a new study. The research finds that the standard practice of using modern and fossil coral to measure sea-surface temperatures may not be as straightforward as originally thought. By combining high-resolution microscopic techniques and geochemical modeling, researchers are using the formational history of Porites coral skeletons to fine-tune the records used to make global climate predictions.

  • Does more rain mean more risk of mosquito-borne diseases in Illinois?

    Experts have ranked May 2019 as one of the wettest Mays on record in central Illinois. Is it possible that the incidence of mosquito-borne illnesses increases with the amount of rainfall? To find out, News Bureau science writer Ananya Sen asked Brian F. Allan, an entomology professor at the University of Illinois.

  • A warming Midwest increases likelihood that farmers will need to irrigate

    If current climate and crop-improvement trends continue into the future, Midwestern corn growers who today rely on rainfall to water their crops will need to irrigate their fields, a new study finds. This could draw down aquifers, disrupt streams and rivers, and set up conflicts between agricultural and other human and ecological needs for water, scientists say.

  • Researchers develop fast, efficient way to build amino acid chains

    Researchers report that they have developed a faster, easier and cheaper method for making new amino acid chains – the polypeptide building blocks that are used in drug development and industry – than was previously available. The new approach purifies the amino acid precursors and builds the polypeptides at the same time, unlike previous methods in which the processes were separate, laborious and time-consuming.

  • 'Citizen scientists' help track foxes, coyotes in urban areas

    As foxes and coyotes adapt to urban landscapes, the potential for encounters with humans necessarily goes up. A team of scientists is taking advantage of this fact to enlist the eyeballs and fingertips of humans – getting them to report online what they see in their own neighborhoods and parks.

  • 'Fettuccine' may be most obvious sign of life on Mars, researchers report

    A rover scanning the surface of Mars for evidence of life might want to check for rocks that look like pasta, researchers report in the journal Astrobiology.

    The bacterium that controls the formation of such rocks on Earth is ancient and thrives in harsh environments that are similar to conditions on Mars, said University of Illinois geology professor Bruce Fouke, who led the new, NASA-funded study.

  • New mutations for herbicide resistance rarer than expected, study finds

    New evidence suggests that the mutation rate in amaranth – a group that includes several agricultural weeds – is quite low and that low-level exposure to herbicides contributes little, if anything, to the onset of herbicide-resistant mutations in this group.

  • Mechanics, chemistry and biomedical research join forces for noninvasive tissue therapy

    A fortuitous conversation between two University of Illinois scientists has opened a new line of communication between biomedical researchers and the tissues they study. The new findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, show that high-intensity focused ultrasound waves can penetrate biological tissue to activate molecules able to perform specific tasks.

  • Researchers find protein that suppresses muscle repair in mice

    Researchers report that a protein known to be important to protein synthesis also influences muscle regeneration and regrowth in an unexpected manner. The discovery, reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could one day lead to new methods for treating disorders that result in muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass, the researchers said.

  • Long elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Stephen P. Long, a professor of crop sciences and plant biology at the University of Illinois, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive.

  • Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought

    Recent flooding in the Midwest has brought attention to the complex agricultural problems associated with too much rain. Data from the past three decades suggest that excessive rainfall can affect crop yield as much as excessive heat and drought. In a new study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois linked crop insurance, climate, soil and corn yield data from 1981 through 2016.

  • Study: Mindfulness may help decrease stress in caregivers of veterans

    Mindfulness therapy may be an effective way of mitigating the stress experienced by spouses and other informal caregivers for military veterans, a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois suggests.

  • Injections, exercise promote muscle regrowth after atrophy in mice, study finds

    By injecting cells that support blood vessel growth into muscles depleted by inactivity, researchers say they are able to help restore muscle mass lost as a result of immobility.

  • How does sexual harassment affect young women in physics?

    In a study reported in the journal Physical Review Physics Education Research, nearly 75% of 471 undergraduate women in physics who responded to a survey offered during a professional conference reported having experienced at least one type of sexual harassment – mostly gender harassment – in their field. U. of I. anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy, a co-author of the report, talked to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the study, which also examined the respondents’ feelings of belonging and legitimacy as scientists and scholars.

  • Illinois chancellor and chemist elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Chancellor Robert J. Jones and chemistry professor Catherine J. Murphy have been elected as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • Team measures puncture performance of viper fangs

    A team that studies how biological structures such as cactus spines and mantis shrimp appendages puncture living tissue has turned its attention to viper fangs. Specifically, the scientists wanted to know, what physical characteristics contribute to fangs’ sharpness and ability to puncture?

  • Smart antioxidant-containing polymer responds to body chemistry, environment

    Oxidants found within living organisms are byproducts of metabolism and are essential to wound-healing and immunity. However, when their concentrations become too high, inflammation and tissue damage can occur. University of Illinois engineers have developed and tested a new drug-delivery system that senses high oxidant levels and responds by administering just the right amount of antioxidant to restore this delicate balance.

  • Low-calorie sweetener derived from lactose gets manufacturing boost from yeast

    The quest to satisfy the sweet tooth without adding to the waistline has a new weapon in its arsenal: a strain of yeast that can metabolize lactose, the sugar in dairy products, into tagatose, a natural sweetener with less than half the calories of table sugar.

  • Microbes in the human body swap genes, even across tissue boundaries, study indicates

    Bacteria in the human body are sharing genes with one another at a higher rate than is typically seen in nature, and some of those genes appear to be traveling – independent of their microbial hosts – from one part of the body to another, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

  • Ralph S. Wolfe, who helped discover new domain of life, dies at 97

    Ralph Stoner Wolfe, a professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Illinois who contributed to the discovery of a third superkingdom of life, died Tuesday, March 26, at Meadowbrook Health Center in Urbana. He was 97.

  • Counties with more trees and shrubs spend less on Medicare, study finds

    A new study finds that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrublands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover. The relationship persists even when accounting for economic, geographic or other factors that might independently influence health care costs, researchers report.

  • Study in mice examines impact of reused cooking oil on breast cancer progression

    University of Illinois researchers found in a new study of mice that consuming the chemical compounds found in thermally abused cooking oil may trigger changes that promote the progression of late-stage breast cancer.

  • Study: Free fatty acids appear to rewire cells to promote obesity-related breast cancer

    Scientists at the University of Illinois have found that free fatty acids in the blood appear to boost proliferation and growth of breast cancer cells - potentially explaining obese women's higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.

  • Potential new cystic fibrosis treatment uses 'molecular prosthetic' for missing lung protein

    An approved drug normally used to treat fungal infections could also do the job of a protein channel that is missing or defective in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, operating as a prosthesis on the molecular scale, says new research from the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa.

    Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong disease that makes patients vulnerable to lung infections. There are treatments for some but not all patients, and there is no cure. The drug restored infection-fighting properties in lung tissue donated by human patients as well as in pigs with cystic fibrosis. It has potential to become the first treatment to address all types of cystic fibrosis, regardless of the genetic mutation that causes the protein deficiency.

  • Mutations in noncoding genes could play big role in regulating cancer, study finds

    RNA transcribed from genes that seem not to code for anything may play an important role in regulating cancer, a new study suggests.

    A number of these noncoding RNA fragments lie next to known cancer genes, the study found. Understanding how they interact with those cancer genes could open new avenues to understanding cancer’s behavior and treating it.

  • Study: Messages of stewardship affect Christians' attitudes about climate change

    Christians’ attitudes toward the environment and climate change are shaped by whether they hold a view of humans as having stewardship of the Earth or dominion over the planet, and reading material from religious sources advocating a stewardship interpretation can increase their concern for environmental issues, a new study found.

  • Ancient extinct sloth tooth in Belize tells story of creature’s last year

    Some 27,000 years ago in central Belize, a giant sloth was thirsty. The region was arid, not like today’s steamy jungle. The Last Glacial Maximum had locked up much of Earth’s moisture in polar ice caps and glaciers. Water tables in the area were low.

    The sloth, a beast that stood up to 4 meters tall, eventually found water – in a deep sinkhole with steep walls down to the water. That is where it took its final drink.

  • Study: Countering stereotypes about teens can change their behavior

    In many societies, teenagers are repeatedly told – by adults, peers and popular media – that teens are more likely than younger children to take risks, ignore their parents, skip schoolwork and succumb to bad influences. But stereotypes are not destiny, a new study of Chinese middle school students suggests.

  • Termite threats on the big screen at Insect Fear Film Festival

    The 2019 Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois features termites – a threat to all things wooden but also a valuable part of the ecosystem.

  • Future of US citrus may hinge on consumer acceptance of genetically modified food

    A tiny insect, no bigger than the head of a pin, is threatening to topple the multibillion-dollar citrus industry in the U.S.The battle to save it is pitting producers and researchers against a formidable brown bug, the Asian citrus psyllid.

  • Study of Arctic fishes reveals the birth of a gene – from ‘junk’

    Though separated by a world of ocean, and unrelated to each other, two fish groups – one in the Arctic, the other in the Antarctic – share a surprising survival strategy: They both have evolved the ability to produce the same special brand of antifreeze protein in their tissues. A new study describes in molecular detail how the Arctic fishes built the gene for their antifreeze from tiny fragments of noncoding DNA, regions once considered “junk DNA."

  • Experts call for national research integrity advisory board

    It’s been proposed before, but so far no one has heeded the call for an official advisory board to support ethical behavior in research institutions. Today, leaders in academia with expertise in the professional and ethical conduct of research have formalized a proposal to finally assemble such an advisory board. The proposal appears in the journal Nature.

  • Phthalates may impair fertility in female mice

    A phthalate found in many plastic and personal care products may decrease fertility in female mice, researchers at the University of Illinois found in a new study.

  • Conservation efforts help some rare birds more than others, study finds

    Land conservation programs that have converted tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land in Illinois back to a more natural state appear to have helped some rare birds increase their populations to historic levels, a new study finds. Other bird species with wider geographic ranges have not fared as well, however.

  • Feeling groovy: Neurons integrate better with muscle grown on grooved platforms

    Growing muscle tissue on grooved platforms helps neurons more effectively integrate with the muscle, a requirement for engineering muscle in the lab that responds and functions like muscle in the body, University of Illinois researchers found in a new study.

  • 'Revealing Greater Cahokia' details research on ancient North American metropolis

    With a population between 10,000 and 30,000 in its heyday (A.D. 1050-1200) and a sprawling assortment of homes, storage buildings, temples, cemeteries, mounds and other monuments in and around what is now St. Louis and East St. Louis, Illinois, the ancient Native American city known as Greater Cahokia was the first experiment in urban living in North America.

    A new book, “Revealing Greater Cahokia, North America’s First Native City,” offers the most complete picture yet of a decade of archaeological research on a little-known part of the larger city and its precincts in East St. Louis.

  • Cilia beat to an unexpected rhythm in male reproductive tract, study in mice reveals

    Waves of undulating cilia drive several processes essential to life. They clear debris and mucus from the respiratory tract, move spinal fluid through the brain and transport embryos from the ovaries to the uterus for implantation. According to a new study in mice, however, cilia perform somewhat differently in the male reproductive tract.

  • Environmental greenness may not improve student test scores, study finds

    Researchers at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service suggest in a new study that environmental greenness may not be associated with higher test scores in schoolchildren after all.

  • Unmuting large silent genes lets bacteria produce new molecules, potential drug candidates

    By enticing away the repressors dampening unexpressed, silent genes in Streptomyces bacteria, researchers at the University of Illinois have unlocked several large gene clusters for new natural products, according to a study published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

  • Camera trap study reveals the hidden lives of island carnivores

    Researchers placed 160 cameras on 19 of the 22 Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin to see which carnivores were living there. After taking more than 200,000 photos over a period of three years, the team discovered that several  carnivores are living on various islands in this remote archipelago in Lake Superior.

  • Study links nutrient patterns in blood to better brain connectivity, cognition in older adults

    A new study links higher levels of several key nutrients in the blood with more efficient brain connectivity and performance on cognitive tests in older adults.

    The study, reported in the journal NeuroImage, looked at 32 key nutrients in the Mediterranean diet, which previous research has shown is associated with better brain function in aging. It included 116 healthy adults 65-75 years of age.

  • New drug seeks receptors in sarcoma cells, attacks tumors in animal trials

    A new compound that targets a receptor within sarcoma cancer cells shrank tumors and hampered their ability to spread in mice and pigs, a study from researchers at the University of Illinois reports.

  • Dracula ants possess fastest known animal appendage: the snap-jaw

    Move over, trap-jaw ants and mantis shrimp: There’s a faster appendage in town. According to a new study, the Dracula ant, Mystrium camillae, can snap its mandibles at speeds of up to 90 meters per second (more than 200 mph), making it the fastest animal movement on record.

  • Study: Early career choices appear to influence personality

    In the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, 16-year-old students in middle-track schools decide whether to stay in school to pursue an academic career or enroll in a vocational training program. A new study offers evidence that the path they choose influences their personality years later.

  • Eleven Illinois researchers rank among world’s most influential

    Eleven faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2018 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.

  • North American checklist identifies the fungus among us

    Some fungi are smelly and coated in mucus. Others have gills that glow in the dark. Some are delicious; others, poisonous. Some spur euphoria when ingested. Some produce antibiotics.

    All of these fungi - and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more - occur in North America. Of those that are known to science, 44,488 appear in a new checklist of North American fungi, published this month in the journal Mycologia.

  • Four Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows

    Four professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are: mechanical science and engineering professor Narayana Aluru, computer science professor William Gropp and plant biology professors Andrew Leakey and Ray Ming.

  • Effort clarifies major branch of insect tree of life

    The insects known as Hemiptera are not a particularly glamorous bunch. This group includes stink bugs, bed bugs, litter bugs, scale insects and aphids. Their closest relatives are thrips, bark lice and parasitic lice. But with a massive number of species, two-thirds of which are still unknown to science, these insects together make up one of the twiggiest branches on the tree of life.

    A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences collected a vast amount of molecular data on these insects and used the information to help tease out their family relationships and evolutionary history.