Archive for May, 2008

aphid nymphs

Several days ago, a microscope company performed demonstration of a brand-new high quality degital microscope. At the time, one of our study material, aphids, were observed with it. I liked the “full focus” or “quick depth composition” function, that enabled us to take very nice insect photos with deep focus. That’s really fantastic!

By the way, these first-instar aphid nymphs look very cute with numerous fine hairs. Normally we can’t see those hairs with normal binocular microscopes. For our study on polyphenism, it is important to observe study materials very carefully, to find phenotypic differences even if they are trivial.

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pixie dust

Do you know “pixie dust”?

It is a powder made from extracellular matrix of pig bladder. 

The powder has a mystery power to regenerate wounded organs, like to regrow a finger that was lost.

Probably the matrix can affect stem cells to launch proliferation, but the detailed mechanism is unknown.

If this remedy was generalized, wounded veterans could take their limbs back, for instance. Therefore, Pentagon has dedicated some big money to the research on this “pixie dust”, said the news below.

Salamander-inspired therapy may aid injured vets

 

Following is the BBC news on this topic.

Sphinx – an RNA gene that changes male fly behavior

Recently I’ve had many chances to hear about behavior-related genes in a fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster

I’ve just heard about a scientific news on a behavior gene, called “sphinx”.

Male-Male Courtship Pattern Shaped By Emergence Of A New Gene In Fruit Flies

This gene, that is expressed in male reproductive glands, was identified in 2002 as a non-protein-coding gene. The loss-of-function male flies for this gene are said to be attracted by other males, not by females.

In a brand-new paper published in May-27 issue of PNAS, the authors are analyzing the function of the gene, the news said.

I am very much interested in how this non-coding RNA changes the mating behavior. I will read the article tomorrow.

Parasitoid wasp

Last week, one of my colleague sent me this photo.

His son collected a lepidopteran worm to observe. Some days after that, the worm died with lots of weird stuffs.

I’m sure this is because of parasitoid wasp, which probably belongs to the family Braconidae. These parasitic wasps are really fascinating! The host insect species are diverse and the parasites adapt the life history and physiology of host species. 

I am not familiar with the parasitic wasps but the some wasps show phenotypic plasticity depending on host insect species. This sounds very interesting to me, so I will talk about this some time.

Raining

From the midnight, probably, it has been raining heavily. This is because a typhoon #200804, which is the first one for me this year, is now approaching Japan. So, I cannot use my bicycle to commute today.

This year, I am very busy because of lots of obligatory works and private things in addition to research activities. Furthermore, most of my research works are writing papers and grant proposals. I have been away from doing experiments by myself… that is actually frustrating to me…