News

From the College of Natural Sciences
Gut Microbiome Influenced Heavily by Social Circles in Lemurs, UT Study Says

Gut Microbiome Influenced Heavily by Social Circles in Lemurs, UT Study Says

Social group membership is the most important factor influencing the composition of a lemur's gut microbiome, according to research at The University of Texas at Austin.

Study of Secret Sex Lives of Trees Finds Tiny Bees Play Big Part

Study of Secret Sex Lives of Trees Finds Tiny Bees Play Big Part

A stingless bee visits a Miconia tree near Soberania National Park, Panama. Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin spent nearly four years mapping trees, bees, and pollen to reveal how different pollinators aid in the sexual reproduction of trees in one of the most detailed pollinator-mediated paternity tests in wild plants. Credit: Antonio Castilla/Univ. of Texas at Austin

​When it comes to sex between plants, tiny bees the size of ladybugs play a critical role in promoting long-distance pairings. That's what scientists at The University of Texas at Austin discovered after one of the most detailed paternity tests in wild trees ever conducted.

UT Austin Ranks No. 10 Among U.S. Universities for Science in Latest Nature Index

UT Austin Ranks No. 10 Among U.S. Universities for Science in Latest Nature Index

The University of Texas at Austin ranked No. 11 among all U.S. institutions (academic and nonacademic) and No. 10 among U.S. universities for publication of scientific research, according to the latest report from the Nature Index.

Scientists on the Trail of Central Texas’ Elusive Satan Fish

Scientists on the Trail of Central Texas’ Elusive Satan Fish

X-ray images of a preserved Widemouth Blindcat, a.k.a. Satan fish (Satan eurystomus). Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

As Halloween approaches, scientists are pondering a mysterious creature that may be lurking in underwater caves deep beneath a major U.S. city. It's eyeless, has see-through skin and spends its life in the total darkness of the Edwards Aquifer, thousands of feet below the bustle of San Antonio. Meet the Widemouth Blindcat, a.k.a. Satan fish. The fish were collected from deep-water wells for decades, but biologists have not seen one alive since 1984.

Visualizing Science 2017: Finding the Hidden Beauty in College Research

Visualizing Science 2017: Finding the Hidden Beauty in College Research

Five years ago the College of Natural Sciences began an annual tradition called Visualizing Science with the intent of finding the inherent beauty hidden within scholarly research. Each spring faculty, staff and students in our college community are invited to send us images that celebrate the splendor of science and the scientific process. Every year they deliver the moments where science and art meld and become one, and this year is no exception.

Cracking the Code: Why Flu Pandemics Come At the End of Flu Season

Cracking the Code: Why Flu Pandemics Come At the End of Flu Season

You might expect that the risk of a new flu pandemic — or worldwide disease outbreak — is greatest at the peak of the flu season in winter, when viruses are most abundant and most likely to spread. Instead, all six flu pandemics that have occurred since 1889 emerged in spring and summer months. And that got some University of Texas at Austin scientists wondering, why is that?

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

Oleander aphid. Credit: Alex Wild

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are investigating an innovative new way to protect crops from pathogens, thanks to a four-year cooperative agreement worth up to $5 million awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Insect Allies Program.

University of Texas at Austin Alum Michael W. Young Awarded Nobel Prize

University of Texas at Austin Alum Michael W. Young Awarded Nobel Prize

After research at The University of Texas at Austin first had him studying genetics using fruit flies over 40 years ago, Michael W. Young has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His pioneering research in the same insects led to the identification of a gene that determines living things' circadian rhythms.

Why Poison Frogs Don’t Poison Themselves

Why Poison Frogs Don’t Poison Themselves

The phantasmal poison frog, Epipedobates anthonyi, is the original source of epibatidine, discovered by John Daly in 1974. Epibatidine has not been found in any animal outside of Ecuador, and its ultimate source, proposed to be an arthropod, remains unknown. This frog was captured at a banana plantation in the Azuay province in southern Ecuador in August 2017. Credit: Rebecca Tarvin/University of Texas at Austin.

Don't let their appearance fool you: Thimble-sized, dappled in cheerful colors and squishy, poison frogs in fact harbor some of the most potent neurotoxins we know. With a new paper published in the journal Science, scientists are a step closer to resolving a related head-scratcher — how do these frogs keep from poisoning themselves? And the answer has potential consequences for the fight against pain and addiction.

The Terrifying Science Behind Floating Fire Ant Colonies

The Terrifying Science Behind Floating Fire Ant Colonies

Portrait of a red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Public domain image by Alex Wild, produced by the University of Texas at Austin "Insects Unlocked" program.

Hurricane Harvey has revealed its magnitude through devastating floods and damages, and now it has introduced another scourge -- giant clusters of floating fire ants.