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Light producing chemicals: how to make bioluminescence
The most remarkable luciferin in terms of its distribution is known as coelenterazine. This nitrogen-ring based molecule is found in nine separate groups, ranging from radiolarians to fish.
Flying through the air on a summer's evening or sparkling in the ocean you may see magical flashes of light that signal some of nature's most enchanting creatures, those that are bioluminescent.
Foregut fermentation in mammals
Foregut fermentation is best known from the ruminants, such as cattle, deer and giraffes, that regurgitate and rechew their food to aid microbial digestion. However, they are not the only mammals to have evolved this digestive strategy...
Agriculture in wood wasps
The most famous hymenopteran farmers are, without doubt, the attine ants. Rightly so, but they are not the only ones...
Agriculture in gall midges (Diptera)
Flies, fungi, farming - sounds interesting? Read on if you want to learn about some rather different gall midges...
Agriculture in beetles
Think of weevils and most likely you'll think of spoiled food. But some weevils have turned to farming...
Mitochondrial genome convergences
Most likely, mitochondria have a single evolutionary origin, but that doesn't mean they are immune to convergence...
Not many foods served in a restaurant can kill you, but pufferfish is the exception. Tetrodotoxin, the toxin responsible for such culinary fatalities, reveals a fascinating story of convergent evolution...
Pinhole eyes in Nautilus and giant clam
The pinhole eye has evolved not only in the Pearly Nautilus, but also in another group of molluscs, the bivalves and specifically the giant clams (Tridacna).
Lysozymes are common antibacterial enzymes that protect our eyes and nose from infection, but some animals have recruited them for a rather different purpose...
Sap feeding and honey-dew production in insects
Interestingly, it has now been shown that the saliva of the aphids has an analogue to the anti-coagulant properties of blood suckers, subverting the wound repair mechanism of the plant.
Chloroplast and mitochondrial plastid origins
Not only are there intriguing parallels in the story of gene loss in chloroplasts and mitochondria, but there is also the re-invention of bacterial pathways, such as oxidation of quinols.
Agriculture: from ants to dugongs
Human farmers tending their fields are a familiar sight. But don't forget about those fungus-farming termites or the fish with a garden of algae…
Beetles: insights into convergence
The beetles are probably the most diverse animal group on earth, so it is not at all surprising that they provide many fascinating insights into convergence.
Agriculture in ants: leaf-cutters (attines) and non-attines
In some species, special squads leave the nest early each day, ascend the tree-trunks and then spend hours cutting out pieces of leaf that are dropped to other units on the ground.