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The Artful Amoeba

The Artful Amoeba

A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on Earth

Mitochondria Are Related to Ocean Bacteria, But Not to the Ones We Thought

Mitochondria Are Related to Ocean Bacteria, But Not to the Ones We Thought

Your floor-model animal mitochondrion. Public domain. Click for link. Two billion years ago, around the time atmospheric oxygen levels were rising, one cell engulfed another, and instead of becoming lunch, the ingestee became an Earth-changer and, eventually, a vital part of you: mitochondria.These microscopic cell inhabitants/engines allowed their host cell to suddenly begin to burn oxygen when digesting their food, an energy source that vastly expanded the amount of energy they could harvest from a given morsel of food.

April 16, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
Could a Mystery Virus be the Culprit in Kawasaki Disease?

Could a Mystery Virus be the Culprit in Kawasaki Disease?

In the Nature podcast interview that went along with my Kawasaki Disease story at Nature (look for the interview halfway down the page at the story here), I talked about the tantalizing work of Dr.

April 6, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
Can Diseases Cross Oceans By Wind?

Can Diseases Cross Oceans By Wind?

Aneurysms in the coronary arteries of a Kawasaki victim. Public domain; click for source. That's the question I examine in my first feature story for Nature , published today online and in the print magazine April 5.

April 4, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
Planthoppers of Iran: Are You OK?

Planthoppers of Iran: Are You OK?

A planthopper, Siphanta acuta, but not a planthopper of Iran. Photos of them have proven elusive. Creative Commons Brocken Inaglory; click image for license and source.

March 28, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
MegaGrass Discovered in Mediterranean Marine Meadows

MegaGrass Discovered in Mediterranean Marine Meadows

  A lush, rhizomatous seagrass meadow in the Mediterranean. Creative Commons Arnaud-Haond et al. 2012, PLoS One. Click image for link. In the world of gigantic plant and fungus clones, there is no lack of contenders for the title Oldest, Heaviest, and Most Ginormous.

March 1, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
Mystery of Alaskan "Goo" Rust Solved at Last

Mystery of Alaskan "Goo" Rust Solved at Last

Light, sweet, orange goo crude. Last fall the small Alaskan coastal village of Kivalina was inundated by a mysterious orange "goo"(click for photo). Locals and others suspected a toxic algal bloom (see here for image), or perhaps some sort of chemical release, or millions of microscopic "crustacean eggs".Yet just a month later the mystery substance was identified as none other than a plant-parasitic fungus called a rust -- completely harmless to humans and aquatic life, and probably not bad plankton food.

February 29, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer
TGIF: Snails that Fly, or, the Potato Chips of the Ocean

TGIF: Snails that Fly, or, the Potato Chips of the Ocean

On land, snails and slugs -- the Gastropods -- are confined to terrestrial prison, but in the ocean, they are free to shed their shells and fly. These are the sea angels, the sea butterflies, and the sea elephants -- and probably quite a few more I'm not aware of.For instance, this slinky and mysterious creature is a heteropod ("different foot"), or sea elephant: It's called a sea elephant because of that sausage-esque proboscis it holds aloft.

February 17, 2012 — Jennifer Frazer

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