MI weekly selection #511

Credit: Lear Cohen (CC-BY 4.0)

Researchers compare hundreds of mammalian genomes

Researchers working on the Zoonomia Project, an international study comparing the traits and genomes of some 240 mammal species, including humans, have released some of their findings in 11 papers published in Science. Researchers found conserved stretches of DNA common across species that are largely unchanged by evolution, and while many have no known function, project founder Kerstin Lindblad-Toh said that studying constrained regions in human genome databases could help scientists pinpoint mutations linked with disease.

Full Story: STAT

Carbon output from volcanic area in China

A study found China’s Changbaishan volcanic area, which has been active for at least 2.7 million years but hasn’t erupted since 1903, releases at least 600 more tons of carbon dioxide than it captures each year. While the amount is small, it can have a significant effect on the climate over an extended period, according to researchers, who collected water samples in the area and used radiocarbon dating.

Full Story: Eos

The origin of powerful quasars

The brightest and most powerful objects in the universe, known as quasars, are likely formed by the collision of galaxies, astronomers say in a recent study. Comparing 48 galaxies containing quasars with over 100 without them, researchers estimate that galaxies with quasars are three times as likely to crash into other galaxies.

Full Story: CNN

Goldfish navigation system different from mammals

Scientists who fitted cybernetic headgear onto goldfish were able to study the firing of brain neurons during navigation, and they found that the navigation system used by fish is different from mammals and less precise, according to research in PLOS Biology. The study could help shed light on how fish interact with and cope with changes to their environment, such as water pollution, said Adelaide Sibeaux, a biologist at Oxford University.

Full Story: Nature

Forests adapting to climate change, but too slowly

Climate change is outpacing tree adaptation in the Western US. Researchers analyzed 50,000 forest plots in Western states, finding that forests are evolving to withstand hotter, drier climates but that the transformation is “lagging behind climate change by roughly tenfold,” the study said.

Full Story: Bloomberg

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