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EEB ecology & evolution eNewsletter

March 2014

Biology students program bacterial cells to make computer-like decisions

Screenshot from Plasmid Paul game, created by Michigan Synthetic Biology Team.Imagine bacterial cells programmed like computers to respond predictably to specific inputs – the cells detect mercury and turn red, or detect and destroy cancerous cells.

The Michigan Synthetic Biology Team developed the breakthrough technology that won the regional gold medal and advanced them to the international competition.

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Research feature: Culling vampire bats to stem rabies in Latin America can backfire

Close-up of a common vampire bat. Photo by Daniel StreickerCulling vampire bat colonies to stem the transmission of rabies in Latin America does little to slow the spread of the virus and could even have the reverse effect, according to Professor Pej Rohani and his colleagues.

Vampire bats transmit rabies virus throughout Latin America, causing thousands of livestock deaths each year, as well as occasional human fatalities. Poison and even explosives have been used since the 1960s in attempts to control vampire bat populations, but those culling efforts have generally failed.

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Recent grad finds rare, giant deep-sea oarfish – source of ancient sea serpent legends?

Jasmine Santana stands next to the giant oarfish, which can grow to 56 feet in length. Credit: Catalina Island Marine Institute.Alumna Jasmine Santana (BA Screen Arts and Culture major, EEB minor 2010), made a big media splash for her recent discovery of an intact adult oarfish.  

Santana, a marine science instructor, was snorkeling off the coast of Southern California in October 2013 when she spotted an enormous oarfish, a mysterious deep-sea creature.

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U-M Herbarium windfall: over $1.3 million from Edward G. Voss Trust

Edward Voss circa 1957.“Ed's bequest will be instrumental in enabling the Herbarium to enhance its position as the preeminent institution working with the plants of Michigan and the Great Lakes region. The plants of this region were Ed’s great love, and this will allow us to continue interests in research, documentation, and digitization,” said Professor Paul E. Berry, director of the Herbarium.

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Travel the globe with EEB photo contest winners

First place goes to: Fox kit by Jason Dobkowski.The EEB Honorary Photographer at Large Photo Contest is once again a treasure trove of eye-popping photographs that traipse the globe.

The wide variety of images includes adorable and fierce mammals, colorful amphibians, fantastic reptiles, birds in multiple poses, majestic scenery, underwater scenes and creatures, fungi, insects and plants.

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