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Rachel Shahan, Ph.D., and Che-Wei Hsu, together with their collaborators, created this atlas of a plant root. The atlas was generated using a technique called single-cell RNA-sequencing, which samples gene expression from individual cells. By condensing the data to three dimensions, the result is a colorful swirl of dots (110,427 dots to be exact), with each dot representing one cell. The location of the dots represents how similar a cell is to its neighbors. Dots are grouped closer… read more about Check It Out! A Road Map for a Plant Root »

DURHAM, N.C. – If you had to guess which part of the world has the highest levels of atmospheric mercury pollution, you probably wouldn’t pick a patch of pristine Amazonian rainforest. Yet, that’s exactly where they are. In a new study appearing Jan. 28 in the journal Nature Communications, an international team of researchers show that illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon is causing exceptionally high levels of atmospheric mercury pollution in the nearby Los Amigos Biological Station. One stand of old-growth… read more about Modern Day Gold Rush Turns Pristine Rainforests into Heavily Polluted Mercury Sinks  »

DURHAM, N.C. -- The tweets of a little song sparrow and its "bird brain" are a lot more complex and akin to human language than anyone realized. A new study finds that male sparrows deliberately shuffle and mix their song repertoire possibly as a way to keep it interesting for their female audience.  The research, from the lab of Stephen Nowicki, Duke University professor of biology and member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and colleagues at the University of Miami, shows that singing males keep track of… read more about Birds Shuffle And Repeat Their Tunes To Keep The Audience Listening »

Duke University had a very exciting year in science in 2021. Here is a roundup of some of the science stories covered this year. Robo Dragonfly: DraBot uses air pressure, microarchitectures and self-healing hydrogels to watch for changes in pH, temperature and oil Identifying New Drug Targets for COVID-19: The coronavirus’s tangled strands of RNA could offer new ways to treat people who get infected Ghost Forests: Rising seas and inland-surging seawater are leaving behind the… read more about The Year in Science at Duke »

Fall is the perfect time to get together, reconnect, and toast to the ability to work in our labs and see each other in person. In that spirit, Duke Biology held a Fall Art and Appreciation reception, celebrating the creativity and talent of our students, postdocs, staff, and faculty. The weather was perfect for an outside gathering. We used this opportunity to see colleagues who left the department mid-pandemic, such as Jo Bernhardt, Caroline Usher, Michael Barnes, and Greg Piotrowski, and give them a safe and… read more about Art and Appreciation! »

DURHAM, N.C. -- It’s hard to know what climate change will mean for Earth’s interconnected and interdependent webs of life. But one team of researchers at Duke University says we might begin to get a glimpse of the future from just a few ounces of microbial soup. Every drop of pond water and teaspoon of soil is teeming with tens of thousands of tiny unicellular creatures called protists. They’re so abundant that they are estimated to weigh twice as much as all the animals on Earth combined. Neither animals nor plants nor… read more about Tiny Microscopic Hunters Could Be a Crystal Ball for Climate Change »