Science & Tech

New study shows “horizontal gene transfer” allowed early plant life to adapt to harsher conditions on land—and reveals new species of algae in the process.

14
November
2019

Natural genetic engineering allowed plants to move from water to land, according to a new study by an international group of scientists from Canada, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“This is one of the most important events in the evolution of life on this planet—without which we as a species would not exist,” said University of Alberta genomicist and study co-investigator Gane Ka-Shu Wong. 

“The movement of life from water to land—called terrestrialization—began with plants and was followed by animals and then, of course, humans. This study establishes how that first step took place.”

RELATED: New research traces family tree of green plants over a billion years of evolution

The movement of plants from water to land was made possible when genes from soil bacteria were transferred to algae through a process called hori...

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20
November
2019
| 20:09 America/Tegucigalpa

Ancient snake’s cheekbone sheds light on how modern snake skulls evolved

Finding replaces guesswork about snake evolution with empirical evidence.

A tiny fossilized cheekbone in a 100-million-year-old snake skull is shedding new light on how modern snakes evolved. Paleontologists from Argentina and the University of Alberta examined a
19
November
2019
| 17:51 America/Tegucigalpa

Scientists discover new drugs with potential to treat stubborn cancers

New class of drugs could make radiation therapy and chemotherapy more effective by preventing cancer cells from repairing damage to their DNA.

Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a new class of drugs with the potential to make cancer treatment safer and more effective by preventing cancer cells from repairing
18
November
2019
| 00:25 America/Tegucigalpa

Some small mammals undeterred by industrial activity, study shows

New research suggests deer mice and red-backed voles in Alberta’s boreal forest aren’t bothered much by industry.

Two common species of small mammals are not significantly disturbed by industrial activity near their homes, according to a new study by University of Alberta scientists.  Researchers examined
13
November
2019
| 18:17 America/Tegucigalpa

Scientists developing warning system to teach bears to avoid trains

U of A researchers focus on animal learning to understand why bears frequent railway tracks in national parks and help reduce fatal collisions.

Researchers at the University of Alberta are working on a warning system aimed at teaching grizzly bears that frequent railway tracks to get out of the way of oncoming trains. The device uses a
07
November
2019
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Climate change affecting prairie birds as much as habitat loss

Preserving vanishing wetlands could help offset effects of long-term increases in temperature and precipitation, researchers suggest.

The grasslands of the Canadian Prairies are a hidden gem for bird watchers, with millions of migratory birds passing through the area each year. But they are also one of the most transformed
29
October
2019
| 13:00 America/Tegucigalpa

New technique could help decontaminate oilsands process water

Method developed by U of A engineering researchers removes one of the main contaminants in water used for bitumen extraction.

New technology developed by engineers at the University of Alberta shows potential in cleaning and decontaminating process water from oilsands production. The process relies on ozonation and
24
October
2019
| 19:59 America/Tegucigalpa

U of A spinoff company recognized for research to unlock anti-cancer drugs

Meros Polymers among spinoffs and U.S. patent holders celebrated at business incubator TEC Edmonton’s annual event.

A University of Alberta spinoff company looking to unlock an entire class of non-water-soluble drug options—including a number of anti-cancer drugs—was recognized at the TEC Edmonton 2019 Innovation
24
October
2019
| 19:23 America/Tegucigalpa

Blocking cannabinoid receptors affects zebrafish development, study shows

Disrupting natural endocannabinoid system causes physical and behavioural abnormalities in fish, U of A biologists find in study that could have implications for humans.

Disrupting natural cannabinoid receptors has a detrimental effect on the development of zebrafish, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists.  The study examined the
24
October
2019
| 17:53 America/Tegucigalpa

Researchers create blueprint for ‘quantum battery’ that doesn’t lose charge

New study provides proof of concept for a tiny battery that could power future quantum computers.

Scientists from the universities of Alberta and Toronto developed a blueprint for a new quantum battery that doesn’t leak charge. “A quantum battery is a tiny, nano-size battery meant to be used
23
October
2019
| 21:53 America/Tegucigalpa

New research traces family tree of green plants over a billion years of evolution

International group of researchers generates gene sequences from more than 1,100 plant species, yielding insights into everything from algae and ferns to farm crops and forest trees.

A co-ordinated international effort involving almost 200 plant scientists has revealed the history of how and when plants gained the ability to grow tall and make seeds, flowers and fruits, providing
21
October
2019
| 23:04 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Citizen scientists are helping to keep the study of dinosaurs alive

Volunteers have been instrumental in preparing specimens for research that is revealing more about dinosaurs, says renowned U of A paleontologist Philip Currie.

When I moved to Alberta in 1976 to become the curator of paleontology at the Provincial Museum of Alberta (now the Royal Alberta Museum), I was hamstrung by a lack of funding and an attitude that