Malaria boosts mosquito sense of smell -- Researchers have discovered that the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, actually enhances the host mosquito's sense of smell making them bite humans more often. In fact, in a recent study, infected mosquitoes were three-times more likely to bite a human, simply from the odour of said human's feet. In the wild, that super-sense of smell allows the enhanced spread of the parasite, but more over, shows how the parasite can cause real, physical and neurological changes in the host. Now all we need is a way to block that change, or a way to mask the particular chemical signature that mosquitoes lock onto. [PLoS One]
Water untouched for 1 billion years could hold clue to formation of life -- Scientists in Ontario, Canada, have discovered free-flowing water, 1.5 miles below the Earth's surface that has been isolated from the world for at least 1 billion years, possibly even as long as 2.6 billion years.
The water contains both methane and hydrogen, two key components in the formation of life. Now researchers are carefully studying samples of the water for evidence of microbial life, which could have a massive impact on our theories of life on other planets, and life on Mars, deep below the barren landscape. [Nature]
Alligators replace their pearly whites once a year -- Alligators house about 80 teeth in their snappers, and new research has shown that they replace them all about once a year. Through molecular analysis and X-ray imaging, scientists discovered that alligators have a band of tooth stem cells that sit within their jaws, pumping out replacement teeth on command.
When an alligator loses a tooth, a whole host of chemicals instruct the stem cells to produce a new replacement, with each new tooth actually forming a family unit consisting of the main tooth, a replacement bud and the band of dental tissue. There's hope that, through analysis of the chemical composition of the tooth-growing trigger, we could induce the same effect within our own jaws, which carry remnants of dental stem cells too. One day the dentist could simply inject your gum with a cocktail of chemicals, inducing new teeth to grow and push out the old ones, just like when you were a child. [PNAS]
Fish are packing up and moving on because of the heat -- Global warming isn't just causing hotter weather on land, it's also increasing the temperature of large swaths of our oceans. Now it's been discovered that many fish populations are migrating out of their traditional habitats into cooler waters, impacting on diversity in these areas and reducing fish stocks. Combined with overfishing, it's rapidly depleting whole sections of historically highly-populated parts of the oceans, which is seriously bad news for costal regions that rely on fish for their livelihoods. [Nature]