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Life Sciences

Study: Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economics

It may seem off-putting to some, but human waste is full of nutrients that can be recycled into valuable products that could promote agricultural sustainability and better economic independence for some developing countries.

For now, Illinois’ imperiled eastern massasauga rattlesnakes retain their genetic diversity

A long-term study of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in Illinois reveals that – despite their alarming decline in numbers – the few remaining populations have retained a surprising amount of genetic diversity.

Genomic study ties insect evolution to the ability to detect airborne odors

A new study reveals that all insects use specialized odorant receptors that enable them to detect and pursue mates, identify enemies, find food and – unfortunately for humans – spread disease. This puts to rest a recent hypothesis that only some insects evolved the ability to detect airborne odors as an adaptation to flight, the researchers said.

Nowhere to hide: Molecular probe illuminates elusive cancer stem cells in live mice

After a primary tumor is treated, cancer stem cells may still lurk in the body, ready to metastasize and cause a recurrence of the cancer in a form that’s more aggressive and resistant to treatment. University of Illinois researchers have developed a molecular probe that seeks out these elusive cells and lights them up so they can be identified, tracked and studied not only in cell cultures, but in their native environment: the body.

Study: In darters, male competition drives evolution of flashy fins, bodies

Scientists once thought that female mate choice alone accounted for the eye-catching color patterns seen in some male fish. But for orangethroat darters, male-to-male competition is the real force behind the flash, a new study finds.

Chemicals that keep drinking water flowing may also cause fouling

Many city drinking water systems add softening agents to keep plumbing free of pipe-clogging mineral buildup. According to new research, these additives may amplify the risk of pathogen release into drinking water by weakening the grip that bacteria – like those responsible for Legionnaires’ disease – have on pipe interiors.  

Study explores risk factors linked to chikungunya and dengue outbreaks

In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers analyzed chikungunya and dengue outbreak data from 76 countries over a period of 50 years, focusing on regions across the Indian Ocean that are hard hit by these and other mosquito-borne infectious diseases.

In rats, perinatal exposure to phthalates impairs brain structure and function

Male and female rats exposed in the womb and during lactation to plasticizing chemicals known as phthalates had significantly fewer neurons and synapses than those that were not exposed, researchers report in a new study. The phthalate-exposed rats had reductions in the size of their medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region that regulates behavior, and showed deficits in cognitive flexibility.  

Using an electronic device counteracts benefits of taking a break in nature, researchers find

Using a laptop negates the benefits that nature offers in recovering from mental fatigue, according to research from the University of Illinois.

Study: Protein found to be key component in irregularly excited brain cells

Researchers discovered that the tumor suppressor protein p53 is involved in the irregular brain cell activity seen in autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy.

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