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Jul 20, 2012

What’s the Deal With Seedless Watermelons?

Seedless watermelons aren’t seedless. They have those little white seeds that don’t have hard black shells, like the seeds in seeded watermelons. How do they do that?  Glad you asked! In seeded watermelons, the seed develops its hard seed coat (or testa) once it is fertilized. But, because seeds in seedless watermelons cannot be fertilized,… 

May 22, 2012

Sharing Colors to Survive

At first glance, the vibrantly colored and patterned butterflies living in Central and South America wouldn’t seem to have much in common with that notorious beast of burden – the mule. In a paper published last week in Nature, though, researchers found that different species of Heliconius butterflies use interbreeding to acquire colorful wing patterns… 

May 17, 2012

Hemlock History Repeating Itself?

Scientists trying to save eastern hemlock trees from widespread insect attacks may have uncovered a case of déjà vu, dating back millennia. “Our hypothesis is that 7,000 to 8,000 years ago, insects hammered the eastern hemlock in a similar way to how it’s being hammered now,” says Kevin Potter, lead researcher on a paper published… 

May 8, 2012

Why Don’t We Study Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs have garnered a lot of attention over the past few years, including coverage from mainstream media outlets (e.g., a search of the New York Times website for “bed bugs” calls up 4,270 mentions over the past 12 months). But their high profile has not led to a commensurate increase in related research. Bed… 

Feb 27, 2012

Fruit Flies, Mice and How Their Genetic Codes Can Help You

In the past two weeks, NC State geneticists Trudy Mackay and David Threadgill, working with collaborators from across the globe, have published landmark scientific papers and made available new resources that will make it easier for researchers to tease out the links between an organism’s genetic blueprint and its behavior or traits. 

Jan 30, 2012

What’s A Genotype? What’s A Phenotype? And Why Do I Care?

Genetics research is interesting stuff, and news stories about exciting new findings seem to crop up almost daily. But many people simply don’t have the vocabulary to understand what’s going on. “What is a genotype anyway?” you might ask. “What’s a phenotype? And why should I care?” Good questions! Let’s talk about this a little… 

Dec 16, 2011

Trivial Pursuits: The Abstract’s 2011 Quiz

The Abstract staff will be taking off for a couple of weeks to prepare for 2012. In an attempt to amuse and entertain ourselves you, we’ve pulled together a quick quiz on some of the research we’ve written about over the past year. See how you do! Questions: 1). Until recently, researchers thought Greece was… 

Dec 6, 2011

If Your Family Tree is a Straight Line …

Incest is best – or is at least very acceptable – for bedbugs looking to colonize new areas, according to new research from NC State entomologists Coby Schal, Ed Vargo and Warren Booth. The research, presented today at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual meeting in Philadelphia and currently undergoing peer review, shows… 

Nov 28, 2011

Read This! Book Recommendations For Kids And Armchair Researchers

I think it is important to get the general public – and kids – interested in research. It’s never too late to get grown-ups excited about science. And maybe the child you encourage today will be a future Albert Schweitzer, Marie Curie or Steve Jobs. With the holidays approaching, now’s your chance to go buy… 

Oct 25, 2011

With or Without You

Virgin motherhood by a copperhead snake. Sperm storage for more than five years by an eastern diamondback rattlesnake before fertilization and motherhood. Reptile reproduction, to steal from Alice in Wonderland,  is getting curioser and curioser. In a new paper, Dr. Warren Booth, an NC State postdoctoral researcher, and a colleague from Georgia State University show two… 

Oct 12, 2011

Research! Coming Soon To A Home Near You

Citizen science is all about getting people to become active participants in the scientific process. And a new research project that focuses on the wild life in our homes is a great opportunity to use citizen science to collect meaningful data and advance our understanding of the world around us in a fun and interesting… 

Oct 5, 2011

Mackay Wins State’s Top Honor

Geneticist Dr.Trudy Mackay will receive the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor, for her contributions to science. 

Sep 25, 2011

Rogue Receptor Critical For Ill Effects of Devastating Kidney Disease

Effects of a particularly devastating human kidney disease may be blunted by making a certain cellular protein receptor much less receptive, according to new research by scientists from North Carolina State University and a number of French universities and hospitals. The findings take a major step toward suggesting a beneficial treatment for rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis… 

Aug 31, 2011

Leapin’ Lizards

If you live in the southeastern U.S., you see these little guys (and gals) everywhere – the ubiquitous green or brown Anole lizard known scientifically as Anolis carolinensis. But aside from being cute and able to regenerate part of its tail, this little lizard – and its newly sequenced genome – may help scientists solve… 

May 18, 2011

Corn Gene Repels Diseases, or A Dating Game With No Winners

Remember “The Dating Game”? The concept of the show – which first appeared on television in the 1960s – was simple. A woman was separated by partition from three eligible bachelors. She’d ask the men any number of mind-numbing/slightly racy questions and then, based on the quality of the answers, select one of the bachelors…