blog navigation

Life Sciences

blog posts

  • Study: Large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation

    Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial – or detrimental – to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.

  • New algorithm fuses quality and quantity in satellite imagery

    Using a new algorithm, University of Illinois researchers may have found the solution to an age-old dilemma plaguing satellite imagery – whether to sacrifice high spatial resolution in the interest of generating images more frequently, or vice versa. The team’s new tool eliminates this trade-off by fusing high-resolution and high-frequency satellite data into one integrated product, and can generate 30-meter daily continuous images going back to the year 2000. 

  • Leatherback sea turtles choose nest sites carefully, study finds

    The enormous, solitary leatherback sea turtle spends most of its long life at sea. After hatching and dispersing across the world’s oceans, only the female leatherbacks return to their natal beaches to lay clutches of eggs in the sand. A new study offers fresh insights into their nesting choices and will help efforts to prevent the extinction of this globally endangered giant of the sea, researchers said.

  • Study: Ancient mound builders carefully timed their occupation of coastal Louisiana site

    A study of ancient mound builders who lived hundreds of years ago on the Mississippi River Delta near present-day New Orleans offers new insights into how Native peoples selected the landforms that supported their villages and earthen mounds – and why these sites were later abandoned.

  • New microscope technique reveals internal structure of live embryos

    University of Illinois researchers have developed a way to produce 3-D images of live embryos in cattle that could help determine embryo viability before in vitro fertilization in humans.

  • Increased risk of suicide, mental health conditions linked to sexual assault victimization

    An analysis of nearly 200 independent studies involving more than 230,000 adult participants finds that having been sexually assaulted is associated with significantly increased risk of anxiety, depression, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder.

  • ‘Native America’ documentary including work by U. of I. researchers at Cahokia to be screened on campus

    University of Illinois anthropologists talk about their work at Cahokia in the new documentary “Native America,” about the cities built by Native Americans.

  • Study finds brain markers of numeric, verbal and spatial reasoning abilities

    A new study begins to clarify how brain structure and chemistry give rise to specific aspects of what researchers call “fluid intelligence,” the ability to adapt to new situations and to solve problems one has never encountered before.

  • Lessons in nature boost classroom engagement afterward, researchers report

    Third-graders who spend a class session in a natural outdoor setting are more engaged and less distracted in their regular classroom afterward than when they remain indoors, scientists found in a new study.

  • Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

    Specially tailored, ultrafast pulses of light can trigger neurons to fire and could one day help patients with light-sensitive circadian or mood problems, according to a new study in mice at the University of Illinois.

  • For kids with ADHD, regular 'green time' is linked to milder symptoms

    CHAMPAIGN, lll. - A study of more than 400 children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has found a link between the children's routine play settings and the severity of their symptoms, researchers report. Those who regularly play in outdoor settings with lots of green (grass and trees, for example) have milder ADHD symptoms than those who play indoors or in built outdoor environments, the researchers found. The association holds even when the researchers controlled for income and other variables.

  • Scientists identify genes that disrupt response to breast cancer treatment

    Scientists at the University of Illinois may have unlocked the genetic code that determines why many patients with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer fail to respond to the widely used drug tamoxifen.

  • Honey bee researcher Gene Robinson elected to National Academy of Medicine

    Entomology professor Gene Robinson, an international leader in honey bee research, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine “for pioneering contributions to understanding the roles of genes in social behavior.” Robinson directs the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report

    Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say.

  • 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.

  • Five Illinois faculty members named Sloan Research Fellows

    Five University of Illinois faculty members received the 2016 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

  • Brain tissue structure could explain link between fitness and memory

    Studies have suggested a link between fitness and memory, but researchers have struggled to find the mechanism that links them. A new study by University of Illinois researchers found that the key may lie in the microstructure of the hippocampus, a region in the middle of the brain involved in memory processes.

  • Genomic study explores evolution of gentle ‘killer bees’ in Puerto Rico

    A genomic study of Puerto Rico’s Africanized honey bees – which are more docile than other so-called “killer bees” – reveals that they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. According to the researchers, these changes likely contributed to the bees’ rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years.

  • Stem cells from muscle could address diabetes-related circulation problems

    Stem cells taken from muscle tissue could promote better blood flow in patients with diabetes who develop peripheral artery disease, a painful complication that can require surgery or lead to amputation.

  • 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.

  • Many Midwestern retailers sell mislabeled invasive vines

    Gardeners hoping to celebrate the beauty of American bittersweet – a native vine that produces orange berries in the fall and is used for wreaths – may be unwittingly buying an invasive bittersweet instead. That’s because many Midwestern retailers are selling oriental bittersweet with labels misidentifying it as the native plant, researchers report. These sales are occurring in stores and online.

  • Klaus Schulten, pioneer in biophysics and computational biology, has died

    University of Illinois physics professor Klaus Schulten, an innovator in the use of computational methods to study the chemical and biological processes driving living cells, died Monday, Oct. 31, at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. He was 69.

  • Study shows new forests cannot take in as much carbon as predicted

    As carbon emissions continue to rise, scientists project forests will grow faster and larger, due to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, which fuels photosynthesis. But a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom finds that these projections are overestimated.

  • Breastfed babies less likely to be picky eaters as toddlers

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Babies who are breastfed exclusively for their first six months of life may be less likely to become picky eaters as preschoolers, according to a recent study of 129 mothers and their children.

  • Study: Childhood concussions impair brain function

    A new study finds that pre-adolescent children who have sustained sports-related concussions have impaired brain function two years following injury.

  • Study finds parallels between unresponsive honey bees, autism in humans

    Honey bees that consistently fail to respond to obvious social cues share something fundamental with autistic humans, researchers report in a new study. Genes most closely associated with autism spectrum disorders in humans are regulated differently in unresponsive honey bees than in their more responsive nest mates, the study found.

  • Study reveals 10,000 years of genetic continuity in northwest North America

    A study of the DNA in ancient skeletal remains adds to the evidence that indigenous groups living today in southern Alaska and the western coast of British Columbia are descendants of the first humans to make their home in northwest North America more than 10,000 years ago.

  • Measure of age in soil nitrogen could help precision agriculture

    University of Illinois engineers developed a model to calculate the age of nitrogen in corn and soybean fields, which could lead to improved fertilizer application techniques to promote crop growth while reducing leaching.

  • Slowing dangerous bacteria may be more effective than killing them, researchers report

    A new study suggests it may be possible to slow dangerous infections by manipulating the messages microbes send to one another, allowing the body to defeat an infection without causing the bacteria to develop resistance to the treatment.

  • Study identifies chemical in diet that determines a honey bee’s caste

    A closer look at how honey bee colonies determine which larvae will serve as workers and which will become queens reveals that a plant chemical, p-coumaric acid, plays a key role in the bees’ developmental fate.

  • Study rewrites early history of corn in corn country

    A new study contradicts decades of thought, research and teaching on the history of corn cultivation in the American Bottom, a floodplain of the Mississippi River in Illinois. The study refutes the notion that Indian corn, or maize, was cultivated in this region hundreds of years before its widespread adoption at about 1000 A.D.

  • Exercise appears to improve brain function among younger people

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - As an expanding body of work continues to confirm links between exercise and improved brain function in older adults, a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam suggests similar improvements among younger populations as well.

  • Emotional suppression reduces memory of negative events

    By peering at the brains of study subjects prompted to suppress negative emotions, scientists have gained new insights into how emotional regulation influences negative feelings and memories. They hope the findings will lead to new methods to combat depression.

  • 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.  

  • Urbana campus faculty members named University Scholars

    Seven Urbana campus faculty members have been named University Scholars and will be honored at a campus reception Sept. 28 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the ballroom of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.

  • Study: Second-generation biofuels can reduce emissions

    Second-generation biofuel crops like the perennial grasses Miscanthus and switchgrass can efficiently meet emission reduction goals without significantly displacing cropland used for food production, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Illinois and collaborators published their findings in the inaugural edition of the journal Nature Energy. The researchers call it the most comprehensive study on the subject to date.

  • Old drugs, new tricks: Medications approved for other uses also have antibiotic action

    A number of drugs already approved to treat parasitic infections, cancers, infertility and other conditions also show promise as antibiotic agents against staph and tuberculosis infections, according to a new study by University of Illinois chemists and collaborators.

  • Survival of many of the world’s nonhuman primates is in doubt, experts report

    A report in the journal Science Advances details the grim realities facing a majority of the nonhuman primates in the world – the apes, monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises inhabiting ever-shrinking forests across the planet. The review is the most comprehensive conducted so far, the researchers say, and the picture it paints is dire.

  • Forget butterflies and bees, box like an ant: Study measures speed of trap-jaw ant boxing

    Boxer Muhammad Ali famously declared his intent to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” but perhaps boxers should look to another type of insect for inspiration: the trap-jaw ant.

  • Study: Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economics

    It may seem off-putting to some, but human waste is full of nutrients that can be recycled into valuable products that could promote agricultural sustainability and better economic independence for some developing countries.

  • Study of pipestone artifacts overturns a century-old assumption

    CHAMPAIGN, lll. - In the early 1900s, an archaeologist, William Mills, dug up a treasure-trove of carved stone pipes that had been buried almost 2,000 years earlier. Mills was the first to dig the Native American site, called Tremper Mound, in southern Ohio. And when he inspected the pipes, he made a reasonable - but untested - assumption. The pipes looked as if they had been carved from local stone, and so he said they were. That assumption, first published in 1916, has been repeated in scientific publications to this day. But according to a new analysis, Mills was wrong.

  • Should we worry about ticks this summer?

    Editor’s note: The number of tick-borne illnesses diagnosed annually in the United States doubled between 2004 and 2016, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summer is prime tick season, and people spending time outdoors should be vigilant, says University of Illinois entomology professor Brian F. Allan. An expert in the spread of insect- and tick-borne diseases, Allan discussed ticks in Illinois, how to prevent bites and when to seek medical attention in an interview with News Bureau biomedical sciences editor Liz Ahlberg Touchstone.

  • Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilms

    Stiff microbial films often coat medical devices, household items and infrastructure such as the inside of water supply pipes, and can lead to dangerous infections. Researchers have developed a system that harnesses the power of bubbles to propel tiny particles through the surfaces of these tough films and deliver an antiseptic deathblow to the microbes living inside.

  • Decision-making is shaped by individual differences in the functional brain connectome

    Each day brings with it a host of decisions to be made, and each person approaches those decisions differently. A new study by University of Illinois researchers found that these individual differences are associated with variation in specific brain networks – particularly those related to executive, social and perceptual processes.

  • Study links brain structure, anxiety and negative bias in healthy adults

    Healthy college students who have a relatively small inferior frontal cortex – a brain region behind the temples that helps regulate thoughts and emotions – are more likely than others to suffer from anxiety, a new study finds. They also tend to view neutral or even positive events in a negative light, researchers report.

  • Fred A. Kummerow, successful crusader against trans fats, dies at 102

    Fred A. Kummerow, a pioneer in the study of dietary contributors to heart disease who led a decades-long crusade to remove trans fats from the food supply, died Wednesday, May 31, at his home in Urbana, Illinois. He was 102.

  • Muscle-powered bio-bots walk on command

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new generation of miniature biological robots is flexing its muscle.

  • People with tinnitus process emotions differently from their peers, researchers report

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Patients with persistent ringing in the ears – a condition known as tinnitus – process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report in the journal Brain Research.

  • Nowhere to hide: Molecular probe illuminates elusive cancer stem cells in live mice

    After a primary tumor is treated, cancer stem cells may still lurk in the body, ready to metastasize and cause a recurrence of the cancer in a form that’s more aggressive and resistant to treatment. University of Illinois researchers have developed a molecular probe that seeks out these elusive cells and lights them up so they can be identified, tracked and studied not only in cell cultures, but in their native environment: the body.

    In a paper published in the journal ACS Central Science, the researchers described the probe’s effectiveness in identifying cancer stem cells in cultures of multiple human cancer cell lines as well as in live mice.

  • Force triggers gene expression by stretching chromatin

    A new study by University of Illinois researchers and collaborators in China has demonstrated that external mechanical force can directly regulate gene expression.