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Not all gross: mucus is vital for healthy airways. William Brawley/Flickr

Health Check: what you need to know about mucus and phlegm

We tend to notice mucus only when it’s abnormal and the sticky fluid is expelled from orifices. But actually it’s pretty amazing stuff. Every moment of our lives mucus is protecting our internal organs…
The bobtail squid and bioluminscent bacteria are just one of hundreds of examples of mutualism. Klaus Stiefel/Flickr

It takes two: how mutualisms evolve in a world of selfish genes

Reproduction for a female fig wasp can be a nightmarish process. When she is ready to lay her eggs, she leaves the fig in which she was born and became pregnant and searches for another. After she finds…
Every living organism needs the same five basic processes – and we can now model ecosystems on them. erban/Flickr

Life boils down to five ‘rules’ … or so says the Madingley Model

It may sound overly simple, but just five processes can define us as animals: eating, metabolism, reproduction, dispersal and death. They might not seem like much, but, thanks to a mathematical model from…
Dusty collections, or the foundations of science? David Iliff

Naturalists are becoming an endangered species

The phrase “Natural History” is linked in most people’s minds today with places that use the phrase: the various Natural History Museums, or television programmes narrated so evocatively by renowned naturalist…
Don’t mess with me. Crystal Ernst

Explainer: what is a pseudoscorpion?

Pseudoscorpions are commonly known as “false scorpions” or “book scorpions”. They belong to the Arachanida class, and, as the name suggests, they are like scorpions but without a stinger on their back…
It’s a delicate business, but the study of life can make our lives better. Kalense Kid/Flickr

Australia can nurture growth and prosperity through biology

AUSTRALIA 2025: How will science address the challenges of the future? In collaboration with Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb, we’re asking how each science discipline will contribute to Australia…
Glowing plants are frivolous? Most people don’t think so. jsalamandras

DIY scientists should not trade creativity for funding

The hobbyists who conduct biology in their garage are not a threat to society, according to a recent report published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. They aren’t developing a new…
This diet’s driving me batshit. dsevictoria

Do bats eat mozzies or moths? The clue is in the poo

Bats fascinate me. So, naturally, does their diet. Recent research showed that bats made “feeding buzzes” over saltmarsh habitats. These habitats are full of mosquitoes and this specific buzz is made only…
Publishing a peer-reviewed paper isn’t easy, but new research confirms it’s worth the fight. Cartoon by Nick Kim, Massey University, Wellington

Predicting who will publish or perish as career academics

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it’s fair: if you’re an academic, your publishing record will have a crucial impact on your career. It can profoundly affect your prospects for employment, for…

Wetlands improve polluted streams

A team of US researchers has found that watershed wetlands can help to improve the quality of streams polluted by acid rain…
A good yarn: chromosomes are shared out to dividing cells by mitotic spindles. Triesquid

‘Mitotic spindles’ could help develop better chemo drugs

Cells use a tiny machine called the mitotic spindle to share genetic material equally between cells when they divide. But when this process goes wrong it can lead to cancer. For many years we’ve been interested…
  1. Elegans alive (left) and dead (right).
Wellcome Trust

The worm that died in a blaze of blue glory

Never has “feeling blue” carried such a sense of finality. A new study has revealed the simple worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) meets its death in a flash of azure. And, according to researchers, the blue…

Shedding light on biology’s ‘dark matter’

Researchers have discovered a method which might illuminate the biological phenomenon of “microbial dark matter” – a near-invisible…

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