Bio! News August 2012 – A

Bio! News

August 2012 – A


From MacCallum, et al., (2012).
A new study provides evidence on the influence of selective forces in cultural fenomena, specifically in music. The authors exposed 6,931 subjects to a musical motif able to mutate and recombinate thanks to an evolutionary algorithm; the subjects are then asked to select those that fit their aestethic criteria and the result of the experiment is a coherent musical fragment. The study also sheds light on the evolution of music styles according to public preferences. The evolution of the music motif can be heard in DarwinTunes.



Credit: Penn State Unversity
Using samples from contemporary and ancient polar bears -two samples more than 100,000 years old-, a recent study sheds light into the evolutionary history of polar bears; the authors found that 5-10% of the brown bear genome is closer to polar bears and that both bears have followed independent evolutionary paths for the last 4 – 5 million years, with some sporadic interbreeding events. The study also found that the evolutionary history of polar bears may be a proxy of climate events and that the population size of polar bears has gone through to a decline from the last 500,000 years.



From: Fabbri, et al., (2012).

A novel function of microRNAs is described in a recent paper; the authors found that tumor-secreted microRNAs can bind to some Toll-like receptors and elicit a inflammatory response that can lead to further tumor growth and metastasis. The authors suggest that this microRNAs can also be therapy targets.


Using high-density SNP mapping, a new study shows that genetic differentiation and linkage disequilibrium are the two main features of recent maize genomic history. The authors found some selection signals that main point to genes of agricultural interest.

Pantonea agglomerans, a symbiotic bacteria of Plasmodium falciparum -the malaria etiologic agent-, has been reported to be a promising vector for the expression of toxic effectors that would kill Plasmodium cells and work as a therapeutic strategy.

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