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News
In this News Blog you will news about Brachypelma spp. and other interesting news concerning the smallest among us.

You will also find messages about updates and other things concerning Brachypelma.org here.

After a while it is also possible that I will post some of my notes from my biology studies here, unless they are more relevant in other sections of the site.



ScienceDaily: Project Fruit Fly: What Accounts for Insect Taste?

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A Johns Hopkins team has identified a protein in sensory cells on the "tongues" of fruit flies that allows them to detect a noxious chemical and, ultimately, influences their decision about what to eat and what to avoid.

A report on the work, appearing April 19 in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), raises the possibility that the protein -- TRPA1 -- is a new molecular target for controlling insect pests.

"We're interested in how TRPA1 and a whole family of so-called TRP channels affect not just the senses, like taste, but also behavior," says Craig Montell, Ph.D., a professor of biological chemistry and member of the Center for Sensory Biology in Johns Hopkins' Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

Montell notes that when his team knocked out the TRPA1 sensor, the behavior change -- an alteration in food preference -- was stark. "This is the first TRP channel in insects that responds to a naturally occurring plant chemical known as an antifeedant, so now we have a target for finding more effective chemicals to protect plants from destruction by insect pests."

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Creepy crawly ancient cockroach ancestor

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Last Updated on Friday, 23 April 2010 16:25
 

ScienceDaily: Where Did Insects Come From? New Study Establishes Relationships Among All Arthropods

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Since the dawn of the biological sciences, humankind has struggled to comprehend the relationships among the major groups of "jointed-legged" animals -- the arthropods. Now, a team of researchers, including Dr. Joel Martin and Dr. Regina Wetzer from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), has finished a completely new analysis of the evolutionary relationships among the arthropods, answering many questions that defied previous attempts to unravel how these creatures were connected.

Their study is scheduled for publication in the journal Nature on Feb. 24.

Now, for the first time, science has a solid grasp of what those relationships are, and a framework upon which to build. The new study makes a major contribution to our understanding of the nature and origins of the planet's biodiversity. The paper's other researchers are Jerome C. Regier, Andreas Zwick and April Hussey from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute; Jeffrey W. Shultz of the University of Maryland's Department of Entomology; and Bernard Ball and Clifford W. Cunningham from Duke University's Department of Biology.

There are millions of distinct species of arthropods, including all the insects, crustaceans, millipedes, centipedes, spiders, and a host of other animals, all united by having a hard external shell and jointed legs. They are by far the most numerous, and most diverse, of all creatures on Earth -- in terms of the sheer number of species, no other group comes close. They make up perhaps 1.6 million of the estimated 1.8 to 1.9 million described species, dominating the planet in number, biomass, and diversity.

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Quotation: Insects and evolution

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The fist undoubtedly phytophagous insects are known from the Carboniferous. Thereafter, modern orders appeared steadily with the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) arriving last at the scene, at the same time as the rise of the angiosperms. Reciprocal evolution and counterevolution between plants and herbivorous insects has almost certainly been, and still is, an important mechanism driving the increase in richness observed in both land plants and insects through their evolution.
Begon, M., Townsend, C.R. & Harper, J.L. (2008), Ecology From individual to Ecosystems. 4. edition. Oxford, Blackwell publishing Ltd

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Last Updated on Sunday, 18 April 2010 20:46
 

ScienceDaily: Ladder-Walking Locusts Use Vision to Climb, Show Big Brains Aren't Always Best

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Scientists have shown for the first time that insects, like mammals, use vision rather than touch to find footholds. They made the discovery thanks to high-speed video cameras -- technology the BBC uses to capture its stunning wildlife footage -- that they used to film desert locusts stepping along the rungs of a miniature ladder.

The study sheds new light on insects' ability to perform complex tasks, such as visually-guided limb control, usually associated with mammals.

According to lead author Dr Jeremy Niven of the University of Cambridge: "This is another example of insects performing a behaviour we previously thought was restricted to relatively big-brained animals with sophisticated motor control such as humans, monkeys or octopuses."

Because insects such as bees and flies spend a lot of time flying, most research has concentrated on how insects use vision during flight. Many insects that spend a lot of time walking, such as stick insects, crickets and cockroaches have relatively small eyes and use long antennae to 'feel' their way through the environment.

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