image of a Halictus bee - male
image of Winter Flounder
symbolization of the red algal common ancestor suffering severe losses of important genes and functions

Why don't we live on a red planet?

image of Huan QiuIf you watched the recent movie "Star Trek Into Darkness", you might still remember the weird planet Nibiru that is covered with red plants. As absurd as it may sound, this could have been the situation on Earth. Then, why are most grasses and plants green and not red? A new paper led by Huan Qiu, a research associate in Dr. Debashish Bhattacharya's lab provides an intriguing answer. Huan analyzed a comprehensive genome database that included red algae and their sister lineage, the green algae (including land plants). He found that the red algal common ancestor suffered severe losses of important genes and functions. Read more - Read story

City Bees: graduate student Tina Harrison publishes paper in Functional Ecology

image of Tina HarrisonIn a paper titled "Urban Drivers of Plant-Pollinator Interactions", graduate student Tina Harrison reviewed urban drivers of plant-pollinator interactions for the July, 2015 issue of Functional Ecology, a special issue on urban ecology. Co-authored by advisor Dr. Rachael Winfree, this contribution is particularly apropos because Tina is a Fellow on the Department's GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, US Dept Education) project, titled "Ecology and Evolution in Urban Environments". Harrison and Winfree present urbanization as a "unique and productive study system" for investigating effects of global change on pollinator ecology. Read more

Breeding Like Rabbits Doesn't Work for Fish

image of Malin PinskiA new paper by Malin Pinsky and David Byler (Princeton University) out in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals a counter-intuitive pattern: ocean species that grow quickly and reproduce frequently (think sardines, anchovies and flounder) are more likely to experience dramatic plunges in population than larger, slower growing fish such as sharks or tuna. Why is this counterintuitive? Because for life on land, the situation is in nearly the opposite. Rabbits, for example, are doing pretty well compared to rhinos. News stories Rutgers Today, BBC News, International Business Times, ClimateWire Read more