A biopsy dart fired from a crossbow hits home on the flank of a surfacing humpback whale in the Palmer Deep off the Antarctic Peninsula in January. Duke Marine Lab scientists based on the research ship Lawrence M. Gould were harmlessly obtaining these small samples of skin and blubber during a National Science Foundation expedition to identify the sex and relatedness of whales and to assess their diet and reproductive status.
The family tree of birds has been redrawn.
An enormous international scientific effort that compared the whole genomes of 48 bird species has simultaneously published more than two dozen research papers in Science and several other journals.
The new phylogeny shows ostriches, pigeons and chickens close to the origin of modern birds.
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The genomes of modern birds tell a story of how they emerged and evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and almost everything else 66 million years ago. That story is now coming to light, thanks to an ambitious international collaboration that has been underway for four years.
With obesity and age, fat cells invade the pancreas, where they become factors in the insulin secretion process relevant to diabetes and in the inflammation that leads to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. James Minchin, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology made this image of lipid droplets (magenta) surrounded by fibrous collagen (green) in the pancreatic tissue of zebrafish as part of his work on genetic and environmental sources of obesity.
It may look like a poster for the Grateful Dead, but these Day-Glo rainbow stripes belong to a fruit fly. Duke biologist Amy Bejsovec is studying the patterns that emerge during a fruit fly's development from egg to adult -- information that may help treat diseases that arise when normal development goes awry. The red stripes stain a protein called Wingless, which helps cells grow and multiply and develop into different cell types. Blue marks cell nuclei.
A biomaterials lab led by Gabriel Lopez has devised a way to grow uniformly sized particles of silicon gel that can be sorted by soundwaves. In a liquid chamber with a standing acoustic wave, most particles will gather at the nodes where the wave is standing still. But the new particles are actually attracted to the antinodes where the highest point of the wave is constantly shifting up and down.
Cathrine Hoyo’s first job out of university was as a statistician for health surveillance in her native Zimbabwe. But after a few years of “counting numbers of sick people,” she decided to learn more so she could do more.
A fruitfly's sense of smell relies on a diverse set of receptor neurons along its antennae. As an embryonic fruitfly develops, 50 different classes of receptors are built from precursor cells, taking different final forms based on gene expression patterns. In a Dec. 2013 paper in Current Biology, the lab of Pelin Volkan, assistant professor of biology and member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, explains the logic of a combinatorial code that creates those gene expression patterns.