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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.

Products of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism may have anticancer effects, study shows

A class of molecules formed when the body metabolizes omega-3 fatty acids could inhibit cancer’s growth and spread, University of Illinois researchers report in a new study in mice.

First dogs in the Americas arrived from Siberia, disappeared after European contact

A study reported in the journal Science offers an enhanced view of the origins and ultimate fate of the first dogs in the Americas. The dogs were not domesticated North American wolves, as some have speculated, but likely followed their human counterparts over a land bridge that once connected North Asia and the Americas, the study found.

DNA enzyme shuffles cell membranes a thousand times faster than its natural counterpart

A new synthetic enzyme, crafted from DNA rather than protein, flips lipid molecules within the cell membrane, triggering a signal pathway that could be harnessed to induce cell death in cancer cells. It is the first such synthetic enzyme to outperform its natural counterparts.

Study: Larger sample sizes needed to increase reproducibility in neuroscience studies

Small sample sizes in studies using functional MRI to investigate brain connectivity and function are common in neuroscience, despite years of warnings that such studies likely lack sufficient statistical power. A new analysis reveals that task-based fMRI experiments involving typical sample sizes of about 30 participants are only modestly replicable. This means that independent efforts to repeat the experiments are as likely to challenge as to confirm the original results.

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