Field of Science

MolBio Pick of the Week!: Tumour cell ecosystems, electrical crayfish and fluorescing corals

ResearchBlogging.orgThis week, I'm hosting the MolBio Pick Of the Week, usually hosted on the MolBio Research Highlights Blog. The picks of the week are taken from, which contains a number of great science blog posts from all areas, however this post only chooses topics aggregated under 'biology'

1) Tumour cells are cells in the body that have escaped the control system of the surrounded cells and are therefore about to diversify and mutate to a far greater extent than the cells surrounding them. Iayork at Mystery Rays From Outer Space discusses the ecosystem within tumours that is created by this lack of control:

"A tumor, by the time we can detect it, is a collection of many cells, at least billions of them, and those cells are not all the same... Even cells that are unambiguously cancerous are very different within a tumor."

The appreciation of different cell types within a tumour creates new considerations for treatment. Rather than targeting the 'average' cell within a tumour, treatments can be geared towards the most dangerous cells, the ones most likely to lead to metastasis or spreading of the tumour.

2) Different animals use different systems to detect their surroundings. Recent research by Patullo and Macmillan into explores the idea that Crayfish use electrical signals to interact with their environment, making them one of the smallest fish to use electrical impulses as signals. So far, research has shown that Crayfish can respond to biologically relevant electrical signals (such as those produced by tadpoles, which they prey on) although as yet there is no neuronal data to support this. Marmorkrebs blog discusses this in detail.

3) Coral reefs are some of the largest and most beautiful symbiotic structures on earth. Lucas Brouwers explains that even those corals without much colour can still look beautiful: by producing fluorescence:

"When some of these corals are exposed to light of the right wavelength, they return the favor by fluorescing with amazing colours. The diversity of colours displayed by these fluorescent corals is remarkable, ranging from azure blue to a deep crimson red."

A recent study by Field and Matz looked at the evolution of these different fluorescent proteins, and created some amazing phylogenic trees drawn with fluorescing bacteria on Petri dishes.

That's it from me this week!


Some of the articles discussed in this week's selected posts:

Patullo, B., & Macmillan, D. (2010). Making sense of electrical sense in crayfish Journal of Experimental Biology, 213 (4), 651-657 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.039073

Park SY, Gönen M, Kim HJ, Michor F, & Polyak K (2010). Cellular and genetic diversity in the progression of in situ human breast carcinomas to an invasive phenotype. The Journal of clinical investigation, 120 (2), 636-44 PMID: 20101094

Field, S., & Matz, M. (2009). Retracing Evolution of Red Fluorescence in GFP-Like Proteins from Faviina Corals Molecular Biology and Evolution, 27 (2), 225-233 DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msp230


Alejandro Montenegro-Montero said...

Great job! I hope this will encourage others to host PoW down the road.
Thanks again, nice selections!

Lucas Brouwers said...

Thanks for including Where the wild things glow!