Waving In To complete their life cycle, Plasmodium…

Waving In

To complete their life cycle, Plasmodium parasites, causing malaria, must travel between multiple environments. Having entered a red blood cell, they transfer through the gut of a mosquito to its salivary glands, then through the skin of a new host to its bloodstream once the mosquito bites. In these latter stages, parasites are in their fastest-moving form, known as sporozoites. Studied in a dish, sporozoites attach to a flat surface with one end of the cell while the other remains active, causing them to make waving motions, visible here as curved lines. They move by rapidly building and dismantling filaments of actin, a key cytoskeletal protein also found in our cells. Recent research suggests that parasite-specific differences in the proteins assembling these filaments, especially profilin, enable them to be so dynamic. Understanding how they move so quickly may prove helpful in fighting malaria, as motility is crucial to successful infections.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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No assembly required: Nanoparticles that put themselves…

No assembly required: Nanoparticles that put themselves together

When you bring a box home from the furniture store, you don’t expect the screws, slats, and other pieces to magically converge into a bed or table. Yet this self-assembly occurs every day in nature. Nothing tells atoms to link together; nothing tells DNA how to form. Living materials contain the very instructions and ability to become a larger whole.

“Self-assembly is the universal process by which very complex structures are put together in nature. They are dynamic, they are multi-functional, they are adaptable,” said Nick Kotov, a University of Michigan researcher.

Unlocking self-assembly could allow us to create materials that don’t exist naturally and we can’t currently create ourselves.

Using self-assembly, scientists could create custom materials that are both versatile like biological systems and tough like industrial ones. These materials could be used in better water purifiers, more efficient solar cells, faster catalysts that improve manufacturing, and next-generation electronics. Using self-assembly in manufacturing could also lead to cheaper and more efficient processes.

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The Crisis

Correct me if I’m straying from the facts, but the 4300–3800 YBP date mentioned in this new paper at Eurasian Soil Science, on the “catastrophic aridization” of the steppes in the Lower Volga region, is roughly the time when big, tall, round headed folks rich in Yamnaya-related ancestry basically hijack the Beaker phenomenon, and just before the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization and, according to most sane people, the arrival of Indo-Europeans in South Asia. Coincidence?

Abstract: Diagnostic features of a catastrophic aridization of climate, desertification, and paleoecological crisis in steppes of the Lower Volga region have been identified on the basis of data on the morphological, chemical, and microbiological properties of paleosols under archeological monuments (burial mounds) of the Middle Bronze Age. These processes resulted in a certain convergence of the soil cover with transformation of zonal chestnut (Kastanozems) paleosols and paleosolonetzes (Solonetz Humic) into specific chestnut-like eroded saline calcareous paleosols analogous to the modern brown desert-steppe soils (Calcisols Haplic) that predominated in this region 4300–3800 years ago. [1] In the second millennium BC, humidization of the climate led to the divergence of the soil cover with secondary formation of the complexes of chestnut soils and solonetzes. This paleoecological crisis had a significant effect on the economy of the tribes in the Late Catacomb and Post-Catacomb time stipulating their higher mobility and transition to the nomadic cattle breeding.

Demkina et al., Paleoecological crisis in the steppes of the Lower Volga region in the Middle of the Bronze Age (III–II centuries BC), July 2017, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 791–804 See also…
Swat Valley “early Indo-Aryans” at the lab

The Bell Beaker Behemoth (Olalde et al. 2017 preprint)
Source via Eurogenes Blog