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From the College of Natural Sciences
Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

Here’s what happens when you put some of the world’s smartest and most creative physicists in the same mental space with some of the world’s greatest bacteriologists: Border maintenance among warring colonies of bacteria is explained by applying a little math. That, my friends, is science at work. Physicists Harry Swinney and Avraham Be’er, coll...
Discovery of Giant Roaming Deep Sea Protist Provides New Perspective on Animal Evolution

Discovery of Giant Roaming Deep Sea Protist Provides New Perspective on Animal Evolution

AUSTIN, Texas — Groove-like tracks on the ocean floor made by giant deep-sea single-celled organisms could lead to new insights into the evolutionary origin of animals, says biologist Mikhail "Misha" Matz from The University of Texas at Austin. Matz and his colleagues recently discovered the grape-sized protists and their complex tracks on the oce...
Oldest Living Lineage of Ants Discovered in the Amazon

Oldest Living Lineage of Ants Discovered in the Amazon

AUSTIN, Texas—A new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant discovered in the Amazon rainforest by University of Texas at Austin evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling is likely a descendant of the very first ants to evolve. The new ant is named Martialis heureka, which translates roughly to “ant from Mars,” because the ant has a combinat...
Giant Cane and the Little Wasp That Could

Giant Cane and the Little Wasp That Could

AUSTIN, Texas—Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to investigate biological control for an invasive cane grass that is choking waterways across North America. The introduced European cane, Arundo donax, grows in dense stands in wetlands and rip...
New Source for Biofuels Discovered

New Source for Biofuels Discovered

AUSTIN, Texas--A newly created microbe produces cellulose that can be turned into ethanol and other biofuels, report scientists from The University of Texas at Austin who say the microbe could provide a significant portion of the nation’s transportation fuel if production can be scaled up. Along with cellulose, the cyanobacteria developed by Profe...
Coral Health And Bacterial Communities

Coral Health And Bacterial Communities

PORT ARANSAS, Texas—Bacterial communities endemic to healthy corals could change depending on the amount and type of natural and man-made dissolved organic matter in seawater, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute and Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Healthy corals naturally exude a surround...

When She's Turned On, Some Of Her Genes Turn Off

AUSTIN, Texas—When a female is attracted to a male, entire suites of genes in her brain turn on and off, show biologists from The University of Texas at Austin studying swordtail fish. Molly Cummings and Hans Hofmann found that some genes were turned on when females found a male attractive, but a larger number of genes were turned off. “When fema...
Fire ant-attacking fly spreading rapidly in Texas

Fire ant-attacking fly spreading rapidly in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas—Parasitic flies introduced to control red imported fire ants have spread over four million acres in central and southeast Texas since the flies’ introduction in 1999, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered using new flytraps they developed. Researchers at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) have released...

Fire ant lab celebrates 20 years of research

AUSTIN, Texas—The red imported fire ant laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL) is celebrating 20 years of research this month. Dr. Larry Gilbert, director of BFL and professor of integrative biology, first initiated fire ant research at the university in 1986 by bringing to the university two young researchers...

Evolution of complex calls and unusual male vocal cords in túngara frogs

AUSTIN, Texas--Male tropical túngara frogs have evolved masses on their vocal cords that help them woo females with complex calls, show scientists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. Dr. Mike Ryan, Clark Hubbs Regents Professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Marcos Gridi-Papp, ...