Research News


Auburn researchers make breakthrough discovery about evolution of spiders and their webs

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – A group of Auburn researchers has published a study that could overturn some long-held paradigms regarding spider web evolution. Because of similarities in behaviors associated with web construction and the complicated nature of the webs, it has long been thought that all orb-weaving spiders shared a common ancestor. The study shows that spiders that weave orb-shaped webs are not all closely related and that the orb web was likely not the pinnacle of web evolution.

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Auburn scientists design leading therapeutic drug in fight against Ebola virus

AUBURN UNIVERSITY—An Auburn University research team has produced a new drug candidate that could one day slow or even stop the deadly Ebola virus. The discovery will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry. The group, led by professor of chemistry and biochemistry Stewart Schneller, has designed a compound aimed at reversing the immune-blocking abilities of certain viruses, including Ebola. “In simple terms, the Ebola virus has the ability to turn off the body’s natural immune response,” Schneller said. “We have made a small tweak in compound structure that will turn that response back on.”

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Clamping down on crocs in Costa Rica

An Auburn graduate student and former "Gator Boy" who wrestled with alligators in Eufaula continues his research in Costa Rica; this time, with crocodiles. "In terms of behavior, crocodiles seem to be a lot gnarlier than alligators," said Chris Murray, a member of the Craig Guyer lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University, who is investigating the physiological and ecological factors that affect crocodilians within that country. "They're larger, and don't tire out nearly as fast, if ever, in some instances. They have a lot of fight and they're more nimble and flexible than your average alligator." He is seeking solutions for crocodile population issues identified by a Costa Rican commission that studies the animals.

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Hood Lab research featured in popular press

Hood Lab research featured in popular press

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Auburn scientists make ground-breaking discovery in the field of evolutionary study

For more than a century, researchers have believed that sponges represented the earliest living lineages of the animal tree. Thanks to modern genomic sequencing techniques, scientists in Auburn's College of Sciences and Mathematics discovered that ctenophores, or comb jellies, are actually at the base of the animal kingdom. The research results have been published in the journal Nature and can be read at this link. "The placement of comb jellies at the base of the animal tree rewrites some of our very basic understanding of how animals first evolved on this planet," said Kenneth Halanych, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn. "The new genomic data overturns 150 years of scientific theories about the early evolution of animals." Halanych and the team of scientists, including Kevin Kocot, postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn, along with an international team of scientists led by Leonid Moroz, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Florida, have studied the complete genome of a comb jelly, Pleurobrachia bachei, known as the "Pacific sea gooseberry." They were able to show that the species is remarkably distinct from other animals in that the genetic mechanisms used in ctenophore nerves and muscles are different from those seen in other animals.

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Auburn to Host Genomics Workshop

Auburn to Host Genomics Workshop

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