Dr. Bill Crosby (Credit: University of Windsor)
Beans may be more than delicious—they could also be an important bio-friendly material. A new multi-university collaboration between the University of Windsor, University of Guelph, University of Western Ontario and Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada will work to map the genome sequence for dry bean in order to better understand the potential of beans.
Dr. Bill Crosby, a biology professor from the University of Windsor, will work to research and analyze the genetic data in beans. In doing so, Crosby and the other researchers hope to find ways to make beans more resistant to disease in order to reduce loss of bean crops. If successful, greater yields of bean crops could be harvested—improving industry—and used to create more bio-products such as plastics and biodegradeable products.
“This is one of the first large-scale agricultural bio-renewable projects that has come to the University of . . . → Read More: Building a Better Bean: University Collaboration to Map Genome of Beans
Colleen Greer poses with her trophy. (Credit: Queen's University)
While some students spend go on Mexican vacations, Queen’s University graduate student Colleen Greer spent time in the Gulf of Mexico last year for very different reasons. Greer has been honoured by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for her efforts helping during the response to 2010′s accidental oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.
Greer, a master’s student currently studying the impact of oil on herring embryos, rushed to attend to the crisis shortly after the initial spill. She collected water samples from the Deepwater Horizon to help track the deep sub-surface oil plume.
“Every once in a while you would go through some oil and the water would turn dark brown. It was shocking because you think of the Gulf of Mexico being so pristine,” said Greer.
. . . → Read More: Student Special: Queen’s University’s Colleen Greer Cleans Up After Oil Spill
A female red squirrel. (Photo Credit: Ryan W. Taylor/University of Guelph)
According to a new study from the University of Guelph, female squirrels participate in very open sexual behaviours, mating with as many male squirrels as approach them.
The study, which followed the mating chases of 85 female squirrels, suggests that promiscuous squirrel mating activities do not have a genetic basis—female squirrels determine their mating strategies based on occasion alone. In the cases examined in the study, female squirrels mated with anywhere from one to 14 male squirrels based on the opportunities offered.
This openness, however, can be dangerous for the female animals: encouraging harassment from male squirrels, exposing them to predators, wasting energy and increasing risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
These findings are important for scientists to understand how squirrels interact and how they may evolve; as Guelph researcher Eryn McFarlane explains, because the causes of female . . . → Read More: Promiscuous Squirrel: University of Guelph Study Shows Female Squirrels Driven by Opportunity
Indeed, colour is important when it comes to selecting a mate—at least, it matters if you’re a fish.
In a study published in BMC Biology, researchers from Queen’s University found that light and colour impact the mate choices of cichlid fish.
Male cichlid fish are typically identifiable by their bright, vibrant colouring and marks. By altering the ambient light in the underwater environment, researchers, led by PhD candidate Shai Sabbah, were able to change the colour of fish in the eyes of other fish. As a result, female cichlids did not recognize and consequently did not choose males of their species to mate with.
Queen's researcher Shai Sabbah. (Photo Credit: Queen's University)
In this way, the Queen’s researchers highlight the importance of colour vision for the survival of certain species. When ecosystems are permanently altered through human factors such as deforestation, visual aspects can be changed in turn; . . . → Read More: Think Carefully About That Turquoise Top Before Your Next Date: Colour Matters When Choosing a Mate
Killifish (Credit: HelixPermit)
In scientific news that’s fishy yet factual, biologists from the University of Guelph have found that certain tiny fish in the Caribbean are actually able to survive out of water for extended periods of time because of the unique properties of their skin.
In order to stay alive, animals must maintain a balance of ions and water at the cellular level. Most fish accomplish this balance through their gills; however, gills need to be filled with water to function in this way.
According to researchers, led by Patricia Wright, killifish are able to bypass this constant need for water because of unique skins that allow them to adapt and thrive in extreme conditions. Wright’s research found that killifish have special skin cells called ionocytes that function to exchange salt and water—essentially facilitating respiration through the skin.
. . . → Read More: No More Need to be Under the Sea? New Study Shows Some Fish Can Survive on Land