MI weekly selection #557

Source: Earth

Corals may have illuminated seas 540M years ago

Deep-sea corals may have emitted the first bioluminescence 540 million years ago, about 270 million years before prehistoric shrimp that were previously thought to be the first light-producing animals. Researchers built an evolutionary tree based on 185 coral species to find one common ancestor of all living soft corals, which likely could glow.

Full Story: The Associated Press

Human activities change Earth deep beneath surface

Fluid flow due to underground extraction of oil and gas surpasses the natural circulation in Earth’s deep subsurface, from hundreds of metres to several kilometres under the ground. Geologic carbon sequestration and other strategies to fight climate change likely will further boost human-caused fluid fluxes.

Full Story: Earth

Scientists trap single molecules for first time

Physics researchers have controlled individual three-atom molecules for the first time, using optical tweezers to trap clusters of calcium, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The findings could further the pursuit of physics outside the Standard Model and advance quantum computing.

Full Story: Physics World

Methanol-fueled E. coli may yield carbon-neutral polymers

Genetic mutation has engineered E. coli capable of using methanol instead of sugar for fuel, a change that could lead to carbon-neutral bioproduction. The experiments have synthesized itaconic acid, lactic acid, p-aminobenzoic acid and polyhydroxybutyrate, all of which have significant markets for polymer production.

Full Story: Chemistry World

Lampreys’ neural cells revise origins of fight-or-flight

Scientists have discovered the first evidence that lampreys have the building blocks of a sympathetic nervous system, which is thought to control vertebrates’ fight-or-flight reaction, according to a study that adds to the debate over humans’ evolutionary link to the eel-like fish. Progenitors of neural crest cells, stem cells that can develop into a sympathetic nervous system, appear in lampreys up to a month after fertilization, while birds, for example, form them in two or three days, and previous research looked too early in lamprey development.

Full Story: Popular Science

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