Research News


Easley's paper in Analyst selected as Hot Article

A recent manuscript from Prof. Christopher Easley’s research group—in collaboration with Prof. Robert Judd’s group at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine—was selected as a “Hot Article” by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal, Analyst. The article is entitled “A microfluidic interface for the culture and sampling of adiponectin from primary adipocytes” and is currently featured on the journal’s blog (http://blogs.rsc.org/an/). Free access will be provided to readers for the next several weeks. http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2015/AN/C4AN01725K

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Auburn oil spill research indicates recovery for microscopic invertebrates

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The results are in on Deepwater Horizon oil spill research conducted by an Auburn University postdoctoral researcher, and her study indicates microscopic animals at the base of the food web that were harmed during the 2010 oil spill have recovered. The researcher, Pamela Brannock of the Department of Biological Sciences in Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, together with a team from Auburn Professor Kenneth Halanych’s lab and the University of Texas San Antonio, gathered and analyzed sediment samples taken before and after the oil reached Dauphin Island. The samples provided a basis for comparison to assess how the microscopic communities of marine invertebrates that live between the sand grains, or meiofauna, fared the oil spill.

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Auburn researchers investigate potential invasion of large, predatory lizards

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Alabama could potentially be the new home of the Argentine Black and White Tegu, a large predatory lizard reaching 4 feet in length and more than 10 pounds. The tegus, native to South America, have made their way to southern Florida where they are rapidly flourishing. The lizards are known to eat small mammals, birds and most importantly, other reptile eggs, which presents a threat to alligators and the rare gopher tortoise, both native to the Southeast.

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Professors receive NSF funding to reduce exposure and ingestion of arsenic in groundwater

Professors James Saunders, Ming-Kuo Lee, and Ashraf Uddin, all of the Department of Geology and Geography, recently received a $345,000 three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled, “Metal(loid) Sequestration by Natural Bacterial Sulfate Reduction and Field-Scale Biostimulation.” The researchers will evaluate if indigenous sulfate-reducing bacteria can be stimulated to make nanoparticle biominerals of iron sulfides that have the capacity to remove arsenic from contaminated groundwater. Two sites will be evaluated: an industrial site in Florida that is routinely doused with arsenic-rich pesticides; and an alluvial aquifer in Macon County, Ala., where arsenic contaminates groundwater by a natural biogeochemical process. The project was funded jointly by the Environmental Engineering and Low-Temperature Geochemistry and Geobiology programs at NSF.

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COSAM sophomore’s presentation earns top honors at regional conference

If Natasha Narayanan’s performance at the 2014 Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society is any indication of what lies ahead in her academic and professional career, she is headed toward a consummate future. Narayanan, a COSAM sophomore and Honors College student majoring in biochemistry, gave an oral presentation titled, “Streamlined Chemical Synthesis of Tricyclic Nucleic Acid Analogues for Antisense Technology” during the undergraduate symposium portion of the conference. In recognition of both her research and eloquence, Narayanan’s talk was selected as the best oral presentation in the organic chemistry division out of 60 total presenters.

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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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