News

Salmonella…mmm! How good is your food safety knowledge?

Jean Balchin Feb 13, 2018

It’s swiftly coming up to that time again, where hordes of students return to the major cities for their tertiary education (not to mention flat initiations, couch burning, toga parties and dodgy drinking decisions). This time of the year also coincides with peaks in Campylobacter and Salmonella food poisoning cases among those aged between 20 and 25 years old. Food Safety Information Council consumer … Read More

Caw Caw! Magpies living in bigger groups are no bird brains

Jean Balchin Feb 13, 2018

A recent study conducted by the University of Exeter and the University of Western Australia has found that wild magpies living in larger groups are more intelligent than magpies living in smaller groups. The study also found smarter female magpies had greater reproductive success. The research suggests that the demands of living in complex social groups may play a role in … Read More

Global study finds women hold different views of harassment

Jean Balchin Feb 08, 2018

A recent survey of 1,734 female undergraduate students across 12 countries has revealed that women have different perceptions of inappropriate behaviour by men across 47 different categories. For example, Australian woman are less likely to consider wolf-whistling in the street, being asked for sex at a social event and a man overstaying his welcome in their home as unacceptable behaviour than … Read More

Deciphering the genetic landscape of Ireland

Jean Balchin Feb 07, 2018

FineSTRUCTURE analysis demonstrates that haplotypes mirror geography across the British Isles as illustrated in A.) FineSTRUCTURE clustering dendrogram B.) Principle Component space. Administrative boundaries in map sourced from GADM (https://gadm.org). A recent study in PLOS Genetics has revealed a previously hidden genetic landscape of Ireland, shaped through geography and historical migrations. The genome-wide study, led by Ross Byrne and … Read More

Taking a broader approach to depression and bipolar disorder

Jean Balchin Feb 07, 2018

According to the authors of a guideline summary on major depression published in the Medical Journal of Australia, doctors should take a broader approach to the management of depression in their patients, with treatments “tailored to depressive subtypes and administered with clear steps in mind.” The summary, written by a large group of authors representing the Royal Australian and New Zealand … Read More

Microplastics causing big problems for iconic ocean giants

Jean Balchin Feb 06, 2018

According to a new analysis for the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, microplastics in our oceans are posing a significant risk to filter-feeding marine animals like manta rays and whale sharks. Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimetres long . If you’ve ever bought a shower scrub, or exfoliator, you’ve probably heard of microbeads too. Microbeads are a type of … Read More

‘Forgotten’ antibiotic offers hope against worst superbugs

Jean Balchin Feb 01, 2018

An antibiotic virtually forgotten since its discovery 40 years ago could help develop new drugs against life-threatening infections caused by some of the world’s most dangerous superbugs. What are Superbugs? So-called “superbugs” possess antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of the medication used previously to treat them. These resistant microbes are difficult to treat, … Read More

How palaeolithic humans shaped the modern genome

Jean Balchin Jan 31, 2018

When we think about our ancestry, we think about our grandmothers and grandfathers – and, if we have photo albums nearby, or a family member interested in genealogy, we might know a bit more about our great-grandmothers, great-grandfathers, and so on. I remember traveling around Scotland a few years ago, and chancing upon a small churchyard. Every second gravestone, most … Read More

Buzz Off! Mosquitoes might learn to fear the smell of swatters

Jean Balchin Jan 29, 2018

  Most of us think of mosquitoes as irritating little pests, plaguing us during the summer months when open windows are a necessity. But new research, reported in Current Biology on January 25 shows that mosquitoes can learn to associate a particular odour with an unpleasant mechanical shock akin to being swatted. As a … Read More

If music be the food of love, play on

Jean Balchin Jan 26, 2018

From the frosty swathes of Iceland to the deep forests of Aotearoa, music may be heard reverberating through every culture and peoples. Songs serve many different purposes, as we all know; accompanying a dance, soothing an infant, or expressing love. A recent study in Current Biology wherein recordings were analysed from all over the world reveals that vocal songs sharing one of … Read More