Missing Link in Algal Photosynthesis Found, Offers Opportunity to Improve Crop Yields
Photosynthesis is the natural process plants and algae utilize to capture sunlight and fix carbon dioxide into energy-rich sugars that fuel growth, development, and in the case of crops, yield. Algae evolved specialized carbon dioxide concentrating mechanisms (CCM) to photosynthesize much more efficiently than plants. This week, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of York report a long-time unexplained step in the CCM of green algae—which is key to develop a functional CCM in food crops to boost productivity “Most crops are plagued by photorespiration, which occurs when Rubisco—the enzyme that drives photosynthesis—cannot differentiate between life-sustaining carbon dioxide and oxygen molecules that waste large amounts of the plant’s energy,” said James Moroney, the Streva Alumni Professor at LSU and member of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). “Ultimately, our goal is to engineer a CCM in crops to surround Rubisco with more carbon dioxide, making it more efficient and less likely to grab oxygen molecules—a problem that is shown to worsen as temperatures rise.”. Read the entire article.
LSU Researchers Find Clue to ‘Maternal Instinct’
Oxytocin is widely referred to as the love hormone and plays an important role in the regulation of social and maternal behavior. In recent years, the oxytocin system in the brain has received tremendous attention as key to new treatments for many mental health disorders, such as anxiety, autism spectrum disorders and postpartum depression. New research led by a biologist and his students at LSU have discovered a group of cells that are activated by oxytocin in one area of female mouse brains that are not present in the same area in male mouse brains.
“Many researchers have attempted to investigate the difference between the oxytocin system in females versus males, but no one has successfully found conclusive evidence until now. Our discovery was a big surprise,” said Ryoichi Teruyama, LSU Department of Biological Sciences associate professor, who led this study published in PLOS ONE. Read the Press Release
Lauren Frankel Receives Undergraduate Research Prize from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Lauren Frankel just completed a bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.A., and is a recipient of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize. Frankel was nominated for research she completed after being awarded a competitive summer fellowship to study with Dr. Laura Lagomarsino at Louisiana State University to study computational phylogenomics last year. Over the course of the summer of 2018, Frankel analyzed two sequence capture datasets to infer phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships within Neotropical bellflowers. Nominator Lagomarsino says that “as a senior undergraduate, [Frankel] already performs bioinformatic research at a level well above what I expect of graduate students, and even many postdoctoral fellows.” Frankel was also a participant in a National Science Foundation funded REU program at the Ohio State University where she generated and analyzed RADseq data for a population genomic study of Palmer’s amaranth. She has also studied tropical biology during a semester in Peru.
Vinyard One of 73 Scientists to Receive DOE's Early Career Award
the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science announced selection of 73 scientists from across the nation – including 27 from DOE’s national laboratories and 46 from U.S. universities – to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program. The effort, now in its tenth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. Under the program, university-based researchers will receive about $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. For researchers based at DOE national laboratories, where DOE typically covers full salary and expenses of laboratory employees, grants will be about $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses. The research grants are planned for five years. Read more about the award.
Esselstyn Promoted to Associate Professor
Congratulations to Dr. Esselstyn on his promotion to Associate Professor! Esselstyn is the Curator of Mammals at the Museum of Natural Science and Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. In the lab, we study island biogeography, phylogenetics, systematics, co-evolution, and community ecology. Most of our research focuses on small mammals from Southeast Asia and Africa. In general, we conduct biodiversity surveys and use genetic and morphological characters of organisms to understand how species and populations are related to each other and how they interact with their environment. Our efforts help inform how biotic and abiotic processes produce the patterns of biodiversity we see today. The species-level diversity of mammals remains poorly documented, and we devote a lot of time and money to documenting this diversity. Click here to view Dr. Esselstyn's lab website.
Cormier Lab Published in PubMed
The Cormier Lab has three publications in PubMed that were accepted in June 2019. Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals: Linking Air Pollution and Poor Respiratory Health?; Elevated Levels of Type 2 Respiratory Innate Lymphoid Cells in Human Infants with Severe RSV Bronchiolitis; and Maternal childhood and lifetime traumatic life events and infant bronchiolitis.Click here for a detailed description and a link to the papers.
Maruska's Research Published in General and Comparative Endocrinology
The Maruska Lab has a new paper out showing that the mTOR kinase is involved in reproductive plasticity in male cichlid fish as they rise in social status to dominance - some similarities to mammals, and role in male reproduction may be conserved across vertebrates. Read the paper in General and Comparative Endocrinology.
The Kelly Lab's Research Featured on the Cover of Molecular Ecology
Lab member and Graduate student Joanna Griffiths asks whether physiological and transcriptomic responses to acidification differ among corals from different upwelling regimes. Ocean acidification (OA), the global decrease in surface water pH from absorption of anthropogenic CO2, may put many marine taxa at risk. However, populations that experience extreme localized conditions, and are adapted to these conditions predicted in the global ocean in 2,100, may be more tolerant to future OA. By identifying locally adapted populations, researchers can examine the mechanisms used to cope with decreasing pH. Read the paper in Molecular Ecology.
Department of Biological Sciences Selects New Chair
Professor Evanna Gleason has been selected as the next chair for the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Gleason began her role as chair in May of this year. Read more about Dr. Gleason.
Dr. William R. Lee (February 14, 1930 – April 30, 2019)
Dr. William R. Lee was a professor in Biological Sciences at LSU where he taught genetics for 33 years, and employed many students on his grants to do research in numerous areas of genetics. Respected by his students, a postdoctoral student of Bill’s established the Dr. William R. Lee Professorship in Genetics through the LSU Foundation. Bill established the Institute of Mutagenesis to draw together the expertise of scientists in various departments for creative research proposals that were awarded competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency. In 1996, he received the international award of the year in “recognition of his sustained research on the genetic effects on environmental mutagens in Drosophila” by the Environmental Mutagen Society. He presented his research to international conferences across the globe. Bill will be deeply missed. In remembrance of Bill, contributions may be made to the Dr. William R. Lee Professorship in Genetics through the LSU Foundation. For more information contact lsufoundation.org/williamlee.
LSU recognizes patent holding faculty at an award ceremony held at the Lod Cook Alumni Center on April 23. Learn more about LSU Innovation &Technology Commercialization.
Congratulations to Dr. Siebenaller
Dr. Joseph Siebenaller was presented with the Dr. Marion D. “Soc” Socolofsky Award for Teaching Excellence at a ceremony today. This award is given to a faculty member in the College of Science who embodies the pedagogic qualities Dr. Socolofsky was known for, i.e. strong mentoring, student involvement, going above and beyond the classroom, passion for the student experience, and public outreach. The recipient should also embody the personal qualities Dr. Soc was known for, i.e. genial, engaging with students, and seen as a resource/advocate.
Congratulations Dr. Joseph Siebenaller !
Scientists Construct New Family Tree for Perching Birds
Scientists have reconstructed the tree of life for all major lineages of perching birds, also known as passerines, a large and diverse group of more than 6,000 species that includes familiar birds like cardinals, warblers, jays and sparrows. LSU researchers led the massive project using 221 bird specimens from 48 countries, including 56 tissue samples from the LSU Museum of Natural Science’s Collection of Genetic Resources.
Pediatric Health Researchers Offer Insights for RSV Vaccine
A new publication in Frontiers in Immunology by Stephania Cormier, the LSU Department of Biological Sciences Wiener Chair professor, and colleagues offers new insights for vaccine development, both active and passive, to prevent this deadly disease. This study is of particular interest following the recent failure of ResVax, an RSV vaccine by Novavax, to prevent RSV disease in infants via maternal immunization. Read More
Superfund Research Program Community Outreach
Louisiana State University SRP Center team members participated in STEM night at Westdale Middle School. They showed students how to use Legos to model air chemistry and pollution.
First Steps: Scientists launch evolutionary study to explore the origins of fish that walk
A new research collaboration with support from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, begins an unprecedented study of walking cavefish to better understand the “fin-to-limb” transition that enabled the first vertebrates to walk on land more than 350 million years ago. This new research collaboration between LSU, New Jersey Institute of Technology, or NJIT, and University of Florida is set to launch the first evolutionary study of the unique pelvic structure and walking mechanics of the waterfall-climbing blind cavefish, or Cryptotora thamicola — the only living species of fish known capable of walking on land with a similar motion as four-limbed vertebrates, or tetrapods, which include mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Read More
LSU Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Laine Named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow
LSU Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Laine has been named a Fellow to the National Academy of Inventors. With the 2018 class, Laine is one of 148 NAI Fellows selected this year, and the fifth from LSU. More than 1,000 fellows represent more than 250 research universities and government and non-profit research institutes. The 2018 Fellows are named inventors on nearly 4,000 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 35,000 issued U.S. patents. Read More
Three LSU Faculty Among Top Cited Researchers 2018
The three LSU faculty included in the 2018 list of 6,078 scholars worldwide are Charles D. Nichols, professor of pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans; Johnny Matson, professor of psychology and Distinguished Research Master; and Brant C. Faircloth, assistant professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences and a research associate at the LSU Museum of Natural Science.
This is the first year that Clarivate Analytics has looked specifically at cross-field citations, and both Matson and Faircloth are included in this prestigious category, listing 2,020 scholars. As stated in the report, “...as frontier areas of research are frequently interdisciplinary, it is even more important to identify scientists and social scientists working and contributing substantially at the Cross-Field leading edge.”
Four LSU Professors among 2018 AAAS Fellows
Four LSU faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society. The four LSU professors are among the 416 AAAS members, who have been elevated to the rank of Fellow because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Read More
Three Graduate Degrees, Meditation and Drug Repurposing Research: It’s All a Balancing Act
Take it from someone who’s earned a Ph.D. and two masters degrees all while conducting cutting-edge drug repurposing research: knowing how to handle your stress is important. Recent graduate Misagh Naderi is involved in research to combat rare or orphan diseases. By using an online database of rare disease research, he and his team have created a system to repurpose existing FDA-approved drugs to treat orphan diseases. Since 2011, Misagh has taught the longest running student-lead program at the International Culture Center (ICC): Meditation at LSU. Misagh had been involved with mediation long before he came to LSU, and he also enjoys yoga, running, rock climbing, listening to audiobooks and making visually striking scientifically inspired graphics. We asked Misagh to tell us about his research and how he was able to keep his stress at bay while earning his two latest degrees. Read More
Being a Student Can Be Stressful. Science Can Help.
There’s no doubt about it – being a student can be stressful. From scheduling classes and waitlists, to taking exams, to waiting on grades, to lining up a summer job, to managing roommate drama, to making sure you on are track to graduation, to deciding what you will “do with your life” when you finish school, stressful events lurk in every corner. No matter how prepared you are, there’s always going to be a failed grade, a missed deadline or a miscommunication with a professor here and there.
But what is stress? Stress can be defined as a behavior or physiological change in an individual in response to a real or perceived stressor. Not all of us perceive the same stressors in the same way, however, meaning that one person may deal with a stressful event and remain happy and healthy, while another may become anxious and ill as a result. Read More
Larkin Lab featured in a Plant Physiology Magazine Cover Story
In work featured on the cover of the August 2018 issue of Plant Physiology, Narender Kumar and colleagues from the Larkin lab have identified the functions of specific amino acid motifs that are shared among SIM and related cell cycle regulators. Dr. Kumar and colleagues have identified sequences in the SIM protein that are important in allowing SIM to bind to and inhibit the function of proteins called cyclin-dependant kinases that would normally promote cell division, as well as sequences that are essential for the SIM to enter the cell's nucleus. The cover photo is a scanning electron micrograph taken by Dr. Kumar in LSU's Shared Instrument Facility showing a multicelllular leaf hair in a mutant lacking a functional SIM protein. Dr. Kumar is now doing postdoctoral work on root development in the lab of Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi at Purdue University."
The Artist of Surgery: An LSU Alum Shares His Experience as a Plastic Surgeon
Biological Sciences alum Dr. Sam Sukkar owns The Clinic for Plastic Surgery in Houston, Texas, and has 18 years of plastic surgery experience. He has completed over 5,000 procedures. He and his team pride themselves on providing the best patient care and procedures to fit their patients’ needs and expectations.
LSU Emeritus Professor Honored with Fungi Festschrift
The scientific journal Mycologia has honored LSU Boyd Professor of Biological Sciences Meredith Blackwell with a complete collection of her academic research on fungi. The collection, called a Festschrift, is often presented to a researcher or scholar to recognize their years of dedication and contributions to a particular field of study. Mycologia published Blackwell’s full anthology online on June 4, and it is the first Festschrift issued in the journal’s 110-year history.
Purple, Gold and...Green?
Researchers at LSU recently discovered a group of lizards in New Guinea that have lime-green blood. Prasinohaema are green-blooded skinks, a type of lizard, that somehow thrive with what would be toxic human levels of biliverdin, a green bile pigment. We humans do have some biliverdin in our blood, but these lizards have levels of biliverdin 40 times higher than those in humans.
College of Science Will Induct Five New Members onto its Hall of Distinction
The LSU College of Science will induct five new members into its Hall of Distinction on Friday, April 20. This year's honorees include field ornithologist Ted Parker, distinguished College of Science alumni H. Dupont Durst and James Lange, Boyd Professor Emeritus Robert O'Connell, and Professor Emeritus Ronald Siebeling. “The College of Science is excited to celebrate the achievements of five pioneering scientists who have contributed to historic discoveries and innovations in their fields,” said Cynthia Peterson, dean of the LSU College of Science and Seola Arnaud and Richard V. Edwards Jr. Professor. “These scientists dared to soar and forge new paths of discovery and innovation for future generations of scientists. We look forward to honoring their hard work and unwavering commitment to advancing science at LSU.”
Fish Species Rapidly Diversified in the Wake of Dinosaur Extinction
Following a mass extinction event 66 million years ago known as the “end of the dinosaurs,” or the “K-Pg extinction,” fishes began to rapidly diversify, giving way to the incredible number of fish species known today. This finding, published recently in Nature Ecology and Evolution by researchers at LSU, the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Michigan and Yale updates the understanding of relationships among the largest group of fish species, known as the spiny-rayed fishes, as well as the timing of their diversification.
Pat DiMario Awarded the TAF/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award
LSU Discover is proud to announce that the winner for the inaugural Tiger Athletic Foundation/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award is Dr. Patrick DiMario, professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Science. This award honors faculty who actively and effectively guide undergraduate researchers, helping them to move toward independent work, and encouraging them to publish or present their findings. Dr. DiMario will be honored at the annual LSU Distinguished Faculty Awards ceremony on May 2nd in the Lod Cook Alumni center.
Outstanding Faculty to Receive Rainmaker Awards for Research and Creative Activity
Three faculty members from LSU's Biological Sciences [6 faculty members total] who are leaders in their fields will receive the Rainmaker Award for Research and Creative Activity from the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED. Rainmakers are faculty members who balance their teaching and research responsibilities while extending the impact of their work to the world beyond academia. Among these honored were: Morgan Kelly, Karen Maruska and Anne Grove.
Researchers Computationally Find the Needle in the Haystack to Treat Rare Diseases
Researchers at the LSU Computational Systems Biology group have developed a sophisticated and systematic way to identify existing drugs that can be repositioned to treat a rare disease or condition. They have fine-tuned a computer-assisted drug repositioning process that can save time and money in helping these patients receive effective treatment.
Big Fish at TEDxLSU 2018
March 3rd 2018, several LSU researchers will take the stage at TEDxLSU to tell stories about their work and lives as scientists. One of these scientists is Julie Butler, a graduate student in LSU's Department of Biological Sciences who is studying fish neuroscience, or how fish brains light up in response to various signals including noise pollution and interactions with other fish.
Naohiro Kato Invents Biodegradable Mardi Gras Beads
LSU biologist Naohiro Kato is passionate about developing an innovative way to solve this problem by creating Mardi Gras beads... that can biodegrade! And the coolest thing about Naohiro's biodegradable Mardi Gras beads is that they were originally created from algae biomass
Former LSU Grad Student Elected into National Academy of Science
David Sibley, who received his PhD in 1985 from LSU’s Department of Zoology and Physiology, was elected this spring into the National Academy of Sciences. He is currently a professor of molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Nicholas Reid Accepted to Prestigious NSF Summer Research Experience
LSU Biological Sciences undergraduate student, Nicholas J. Reid gained acceptance to the prestigious NSF Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, from Molecules to Ecosystems. This 10-week program has only a 4% acceptance rate and is designed to expose participating students to core Molecular, Cell, Developmental, Evolutionary, and Ecosystem Biology.
Study Links Recovery of Oiled Marsh with Return of Salt Marsh Vegetation
Emeritus Professor John Fleeger's research on recovery from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is featured on the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiatives website. The article details the response of the benthic community in oiled sediments in Louisiana salt marshes. The research team in a recent publication with Fleeger as the lead author found that many benthic invertebrates recovered in about 3 years and that this recovery was strongly associated with the recovery of the principal marsh plant species Spartina alterniflora. However some invertebrates are still recovering from the spill after 4 years. Fleeger and the research team will continue to investigate these marsh sites to determine when all benthic species might recover and when the marsh will regain its full range of ecological services.
LSU Faculty Bring Antarctica’s ‘Heroic Age’ to Life
LSU Department of Biological Sciences Professor Vince LiCata and Department of Communication Studies Associate Professor Trish Suchy received a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists & Writers grant for a project in Antarctica in January and February. They will work with scientists and staff at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s research center, McMurdo Station, on a project called “Antarctica: Persistence of Vision.” They will recreate modern versions of some of the most iconic photography of the Antarctic continent captured more than 100 years ago....
TED Selects LSU Museum of Natural Science Curator as 2016 TED Fellow
TED, the international nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading ideas — usually in the form of short, powerful talks – has selected LSU Associate Professor and Museum of Natural Science Curator of Fishes Prosanta Chakrabarty as one of 21 TED Fellows for 2016...
Paper by Osborn and Homberger highlighted in "Anatomy Now"
Dr. Dominique G. Homberger and her former graduate student, Dr. Michelle L. Osborn (currently in the Department of Pathology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia in Athens) have recently published their study “The Human Shoulder Suspension Apparatus: A Causal Explanation for Bilateral Asymmetry and a Fresh Look at the Evolution of Human Bipedality” (Osborn ML, Homberger DG. The Anatomical Record, 298 (9): 1572-1588. doi: 10.1002/ar.23178). Their article was featured in the September edition of “Anatomy Now”, the official newsletter of the American Association of Anatomists.
Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium Ribbon Cutting and Symposium
On Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 2 p.m. there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by a symposium to celebrate the endowment and naming of the LSU Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium.
Dr. Irwin Brodo of the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, and Dr. Chelsa D. Specht of the University of California, Berkley, will deliver talks during the symposium.
LSU Museum of Natural Science Curator of Mammals Jacob Esselstyn and colleagues discover a new type of shrew rat.
The Sulawesi snouter (Hyorhinomys stuempkei). Image credit: Kevin C. Rowe / Museum Victoria, Melbourne.
Featured in October's "Journal of Mammalogy, " Esselstyn and his international colleagues describe their discovery of the animal on the Indonesian island of Sulaweisi.
This is not the first new species that Esselstyn has discovered. In 2006, he announced his findings of a new type of bat on the Philippines' Mindoro island.
Bravo for Paleo: Biology Student Offers Healthy Alternative to Fatty Game Day Food
2015 National Academies Gulf Coast Summer Institute
The Department of Biological Sciences hosted the 4th National Academies Gulf Coast Summer Institute (GCSI) on Undergraduate Education in Science July 20-24. LSU is one of seven national sites to host Summer Institutes. This HHMI-supported program aims to foster innovative approaches to teaching undergraduate biology. There were thirty participants from fifteen institutions in eight states, Puerto Rico and Lebanon. The GCSI was directed by Chris Gregg and Bill Wischusen. Twelve faculty from seven universities served as facilitators. Chris Gregg, Lori Patrick, Joe Siebenaller and Bill Wischusen were among the presenters and facilitators. As a result of their successful completion of the GCSI the following Biological Sciences faculty and postdoctoral researchers were bestowed the title of National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences: Joanna Bajsa-Hirschel, Jake Esselstyn, Brant Faircloth, Hollie Hale-Donze, Marylou Machingura, Dong-Ha Oh and Johnna Roose. Since 2004 thirty-three members of the Department of Biological Sciences have received recognition as National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences. Nation-wide from 2004 to 2013, there have been 963 participants and 145 facilitators in the National Academies Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Biology.
LSU Alumni Association International Student Scholarship
June 3, 2015
Congratulations to Sandra P. Galeano, PhD student in the Harms lab, who has been awarded the 2015 LSU Alumni Association International Student Scholarship!
Karen Maruska featured in LSU News
May 15, 2015
March 10, 2015
Dr. James Moroney has been awarded a 2014 Rainmaker award, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Senior Scholar award.
View full story.
Mechanisms of Biodiversity
January 15, 2015
Kyle Harms’ research highlighted in the Daily Reveille.
See full story: University researcher sheds light on mechanisms of biodiversity