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Big-headed ants get their name from the soldier ants, left, which are larger than other workers and have disproportionately sized heads. The ants pictured here are from Australia.

Study: Big-headed ants grow bigger when faced with fierce competitors

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:October 2, 2014

The big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) is considered one of the world’s worst invasive ant species. As the name implies, its colonies include soldier ants with disproportionately large heads. Their giant, muscle-bound noggins power their biting parts, the mandibles, which they use to attack other ants and cut up prey. In a new study, researchers report that big-headed ant colonies produce larger soldiers when they encounter other ants that know how to fight back.

Published Date: October 2, 2014


University of Illinois animal biology professor Alison Bell and doctoral student Laura Stein study how stickleback fish dads influence the behavior of their young.

Stickleback fish dads influence offspring behavior and gene expression

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 30, 2014

Researchers report that some stickleback fish fathers can have long-term effects on the behavior of their offspring: The most attentive fish dads cause their offspring to behave in a way that makes them less susceptible to predators. These behavioral changes are accompanied by changes in gene expression, the researchers report.

Published Date: September 30, 2014


After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 29, 2014

Kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman and his colleagues found that children who engaged in an after-school physical activity program performed better on several measures of cognitive function at the end of the intervention.

Published Date: September 29, 2014


Biochemistry professor David Shapiro (center), M.D.-Ph.D student Neal Andruska (left), graduate student Xiaobin Zheng and their colleagues discovered a new mechanism by which estrogen contributes to the pathology of breast cancer.

Scientists discover a new role for estrogen in the pathology of breast cancer

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 29, 2014

Biochemistry professor David Shapiro, M.D.-Ph.D student Neal Andruska, graduate student Xiaobin Zheng and their colleagues discovered a new mechanism by which estrogen contributes to the pathology of breast cancer.

Published Date: September 29, 2014


University of Illinois microbiology professor Isaac Cann and his colleagues found bacterial enzymes in the human gut that can rival those of the cow rumen in their ability to break down the plant fiber hemicellulose for biofuels production.

Search for better biofuels microbes leads to the human gut

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 23, 2014

Scientists have scoured cow rumens and termite guts for microbes that can efficiently break down plant cell walls for the production of next-generation biofuels, but some of the best microbial candidates actually may reside in the human lower intestine, researchers report.

Published Date: September 23, 2014


University of Illinois animal biology professor Chi-Hing (Christina) Cheng and her colleagues discovered that the proteins that bind to ice crystals inside the bodies of Antarctic fishes to keep the fishes from freezing also prevent the ice from melting at higher temperatures.

Study: Antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fishes prevent freezing...and melting

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 22, 2014

Antarctic fishes that manufacture their own “antifreeze” proteins to survive in the icy Southern Ocean also suffer an unfortunate side effect, researchers report: The protein-bound ice crystals that accumulate inside their bodies resist melting even when temperatures warm.

Published Date: September 22, 2014