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Latest Joan Strassmann Stories

Veil Of Ignorance Is Sometimes Bliss
2013-10-24 08:22:27

Washington University in St. Louis A range of examples suggests a lack of information about their fellows can favor cooperation and prevent conflict among animals — and even among genes For the Oct. 16 issue of Biology Letters, a special issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of W.D. Hamilton’s famous paper on kin selection, two Washington University in St. Louis biologists contributed an article describing intriguing exceptions to one of his predictions. The basic idea of...

Model Organisms Gone Wild
2013-09-13 14:08:40

Washington University in St. Louis Amoebas that are placid, model organisms in the lab, farm bacteria and carry guards to protect their crops in the wild Model organisms, brought into labs because they are easy to work with, adapt to the lab, often shedding characteristics that allowed them to survive in the wild. Scientists who work with model organisms rarely look at the wild strains, but when they do, they can be surprised by what they find. This is what happened with the...

Tiny Single-celled Organisms Have Amazingly Complicated Social Lives
2013-07-30 09:06:00

Washington University in St. Louis In 2011, Nature announced that scientists had discovered a single-celled organism that is a primitive farmer. The organism, a social amoeba called Dictyostelium discoideum, picks up edible bacteria, carries them to new locations and harvests them like crops. D. discoideum enjoyed a brief spell in the media spotlight, billed as the world's smallest farmer. Now a collaboration of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis and Harvard University...

Image 1 - Close Family Ties Keep Microbial Cheaters In Check
2011-12-17 04:14:20

Experiments on "slime mold" explain why almost all multicellular organisms begin life as a single cell Any multicellular animal, from a blue whale to a human being, poses a special challenge for evolution. Most of the cells in its body will die without reproducing; only a privileged few will pass their genes to the next generation. How could the extreme degree of cooperation required by multicellular existence actually evolve? Why aren't all creatures unicellular individualists...

2011-12-15 17:10:50

Experiments explain why almost all multicellular organisms begin life as a single cell Any multicellular animal, from a blue whale to a human being, poses a special difficulty for the theory of evolution. Most of the cells in its body will die without reproducing, and only a privileged few will pass their genes to the next generation. How could the extreme degree of cooperation multicellular existence requires ever evolve? Why aren't all creatures unicellular individualists determined...

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2011-01-20 06:42:08

A species of amoeba -- Dictyostelium discoideum -- has shown primitive farming behavior as it travels along, according to a new study. In results of the study, reported Jan. 19 in the journal Nature, evolutionary biologists Joan Strassmann and David Queller of Rice University show that the social amoebae (commonly known as slime molds) increase their odds of survival through a rudimentary form of agriculture. Research by lead author Debra Brock, a graduate at Rice, found that some amoebae...

2010-05-27 16:42:27

Rice researchers find first to starve in slime mold thrive at others' expense Rice University evolutionary biologists reported in a paper published this week that the first cells to starve in a slime mold seem to have an advantage that not only helps them survive to reproduce, but also pushes those that keep on eating into sacrificing themselves for the common good. The paper by Rice graduate student Jennie Kuzdzal-Fick and her mentors, David Queller and Joan Strassmann, Rice's Harry C. and...

2009-11-09 14:36:14

Rice evolutionary biologists argue for new meaning of 'organismality' Rice University evolutionary biologists David Queller and Joan Strassmann argue in a new paper that high cooperation and low conflict between components, from the genetic level on up, give a living thing its "organismality," whether that thing is an animal, a plant, a bacteria "“ or a colony. Some of the traits scientists use to describe an organism, such as individuality or even membership in the same species, may...

2009-10-01 14:48:30

Cheaters may prosper in the short term, but over time they seem doomed to fail, at least in the microscopic world of amoebas where natural selection favors the noble. But why? Shouldn't "survival of the fittest" give the sneaky cheaters an edge? Not necessarily, as it turns out amoebas that cooperate for the benefit of all "“ and even die for the cause "“ bring their own genetic weapons to the fight. Researchers from Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) are...


Word of the Day
reremouse
  • A bat.
The word 'reremouse' comes from Middle English reremous, from Old English hrēremūs, hrērmūs ("bat"), equivalent to rear (“to move, shake, stir”) +‎ mouse.
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