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Bird Louse Study Shows How Evolution Sometimes Repeats Itself

Published: August 16, 2012.
Released by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Birds of a feather flock together and – according to a new analysis – so do their lice.

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More news from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mission Possible: This Device Will Self-destruct When Heated
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Where do electronics go when they die? Most devices are laid to eternal rest in landfills. But what if they just dissolved away, or broke down to their molecular components so that the material could be recycled?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enhance Cognitive Flexibility in At-risk Older Adults
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A study of older adults at risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease found that those who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids did better than their peers on tests of cognitive flexibility -- the ability to efficiently switch between tasks -- and had a bigger anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region known to contribute to cognitive flexibility.

Study: Gene Regulation Underlies the Evolution of Social Complexity in Bees
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin's day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living - from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies - offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.

Trap-jaw Ants Jump with Their Jaws to Escape the Antlion's Den
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Some species of trap-jaw ants use their spring-loaded mandibles to hurl themselves out of harm's way when an ant-trapping predator stalks, researchers report in the journal PLOS ONE. This dramatic maneuver doubles the ants' survival when other escape methods fail, the researchers found.

Plant Breeder Boosts Soybean Diversity, Develops Soybean Rust-resistant Plant
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- It took decades of painstaking work, but research geneticist Ram Singh managed to cross a popular soybean variety ("Dwight" Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode and other pathogens of soy.

College Readiness Declines When School's Focus Is Improving Test Scores, Study Finds
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Education reform policies that penalize struggling schools for poor standardized test scores may hinder -- not improve -- students' college readiness, if a school's instructional focus becomes improving its test scores, suggests a new study that explored efforts to promote a college-going culture at one Texas high school.

Tiny Silicone Spheres Come Out of the Mist
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Technology in common household humidifiers could enable the next wave of high-tech medical imaging and targeted medicine, thanks to a new method for making tiny silicone microspheres developed by chemists at the University of Illinois. Led by chemistry professor Kenneth Suslick, the researchers published their results in the journal Advanced Science.

School Reform in Post-Katrina New Orleans Harmful to Black Community, Scholars Say
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- By most media accounts, education reform in post-Katrina New Orleans is a success. Test scores and graduation rates are up, and students once trapped in failing schools have their choice of charter schools throughout the city.

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