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Biochemistry

This category contains 16 posts

Pollutants produced by poriferans: using genetics to fill in blanks about sponge chemical production

Although its easy to mistake a sponge for a furry looking rock, these invertebrates and the microbes that inhabit them have some surprising chemical abilities.

Clamate Change: How clams may be able to cope with a warming world

Global temperatures are increasing at a rate never before seen in Earth’s history. Although efforts to mitigate this are still very important, it is also important to study and understand what is going to happen to the plants and animals that live here. Evidence of climate change already surrounds us, and the more we know, the better prepared we will be to cope with our new environment. In this study, a group of researchers have studied how two species of clams react to a warmer environment to understand the coping mechanisms they use for survival.

Paradise Loss: How humans are impacting coastal reef communities

Humans are drawn to beautiful beaches and warm water, and with us come the conveniences of modern day civilization. While life may be flourishing in the shops, restaurants and luxury hotels, this development is taking its toll on the fragile reef community just off shore. Although reefs may appear healthy to the naked eye, researchers have discovered coastal development impacts their biological diversity, and this may be an indication of more serious, long-term damage.

Eat Organic at Your Local Gyre Margin

Paper: Letscher, Robert T., et al. 2016. Nutrient budgets in the subtropical ocean gyres dominated by lateral transport. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 815–819 If you were a marine organism looking for some grub, where could you find something nutritious? Nutrients in the ocean accumulate in the bodies of living things, which tend to sink to deeper waters […]

Light on the Tree of Life: Evolution of Bioluminescence

The darkness can be scary sometimes–but that’s when evolution can get pretty crazy in its adaptations. Meet some of the fishes that can glow in the dark and learn about how many times this special ability evolved–it’s certainly surprised many scientists in the community!

Marine life: Coming to a PharmaSea near you!

The PharmaSea program is looking to expand our library of marine-derived compounds for use in drug discovery. Want to know what marine organisms are already used in medicine, and where this program is looking to find new medicines? Read on to find out!

Iceberg Buffet: How giant icebergs bring food to plankton

While icebergs are calving from Antarctic glaciers at alarming rates, they may provide a negative feedback for the carbon cycle. Giant icebergs bring large amounts of iron to iron-poor areas of the Southern Ocean, stimulating primary productivity and boosting carbon sequestration.

Mercury at elevated levels observed in only some elephant seals, but why?

Mercury: we know it from old-school thermometers and we know if from sushi; and now we know that the distribution in the ocean is reflected in the blood of northern elephant seals. N.B. No elephant seals were harmed during this research.

How a whole reef community’s response to OA is impacted by the individual responses of different players

Researchers from California used a unique ex situ experiment to monitor two near identical reef communities in different concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide to observe the unique responses of community members and their roles in the whole community response.

Carbon sinks: Diatoms in the deep sea

Fast-sinking phytoplankton particles deliver carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. Are plankton cells still able to survive when they sink to the deep ocean? If so, how long may they survive without any sunlight?

Ocean acidification may make “peekaboo” harder for shrimp

What happens to a shrimp’s shell when exposed to more acidic conditions? Read more to find out!

Toxic meal: Chemical cues from copepods increase red-tide toxicity

Yes, you can purchase a fuzzy red tide-forming algal cell. Aside from being much smaller and lacking any type of eye, these organisms can produce massive, toxin-rich blooms in the ocean. Nasty toxins can be harmful to other organisms in the water and even reach humans via the consumption of shellfish and fish. Through the release of chemical cues, copepods have been shown to promote further toxicity in bloom-forming algae.

Protecting Hometown Herring

River herring are anadromous fish, which means they live most of their life in the ocean but spawn in freshwater streams and rivers. Recent decades have seen a massive decline in river herring populations caused primarily by over-harvesting and decreased access to spawning habitat. These fish are now largely protected in freshwater systems during their spawning migrations, but they are still at risk of bycatch while in the ocean. Little is known about river herring movement behavior while they are in the ocean. Cutting edge technology in chemistry and genetics is helping to shed light on this.

Macrobioerosion rates and what they mean for reefs

Today macrobioerosion is a good thing that provides cement for the foundation of reef systems. So more macrobioerosion could mean more reefs, right? No! Perhaps too much of a good thing could have dire consequences for the future of the calcium carbonate budget.

What do diabetics and cone snails have in common? The need for insulin

Cone snails are a family of organisms that use venom injected into the water to help them capture their prey. A new study suggests that one of the components of their venom cocktail is insulin, the same hormone that diabetics use to lower their blood pressure. How does that work? Read on to find out! 

Using nitrogen isotopes to start from the bottom…of the marine food web!

Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are an important nitrogen source in the ocean and the δ15N of amino acids is helpful in figuring out where you stand on the food web. The amino acid δ15N of the bacteria Vibrio harveyi changed depending on the food (C:N ratio and type of nitrogen) used to grow the bacteria. This information could be helpful in assessing the trophic transfer of nitrogen and what happens to organic matter at the bottom on the food web.

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