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PNAS highlights for the week of May 16 - 20

veins with alternating strong and weak adherence properties. Adhesion dropped when the separation between the veins bonding the aspartate became so small that the leucine segments no longer fit between the veins.

The researchers suggest this precise spatial control of amino acids on inorganic surfaces could have many technological applications.

Tracing the Rise of Ants

In a perspective article, Edward O. Wilson and Bert Hlldobler explore the evolutionary history of ants, tracing their waves of expansion from the first appearance more than 100 million years ago.

Over the past two decades, fossil discoveries combined with studies of anatomy, behavior, and DNA have helped clarify the phylogeny of ants, the authors say. Yet some puzzles remain, such as how the important and ancient subfamily Ponerinae spread so widely while retaining relatively primitive social organization--a question the authors term "the ponerine paradox."

A full explanation will require further discoveries in paleontology and ecology, the authors note. Until then, Wilson and Hlldobler offer a combined phylogenetic and ecological "dynastic-succession" hypothesis that ties together existing knowledge.

Key events in this history include an initial adaptation to forest ground litter and soil coincident with a surge in flowering plants, then an advance to ecological dominance in tropical forests, and finally a broad expansion up into trees and outward into drier environments.

Fish Genitalia May Balance Attractiveness with Predatory Escape

Male genital size in some fish species may be driven by competing evolutionary mechanisms, reflecting a tradeoff between the capacity to attract mates and the ability to quickly evade predators, researchers report.

Diversity of male genitalia size in animals with internal fertilization has intrigued scientists. Most evolutionary explanations have centered on postmating sexual selection,
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Contact: Leikny Johnson
PNASNews@nas.edu
202-334-1310
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
16-May-2005


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Related biology news :

1. Other highlights in the Aug. 7 JNCI
2. Other highlights in the July 24 JNCI
3. Other highlights from the July 10 JNCI
4. Other highlights in JNCI, June 26
5. Other highlights in JNCI, June 12
6. Other highlights from the June 6 JNCI
7. Other highlights in the May 16 JNCI
8. InfoSNM highlights advances in computer, information sciences for molecular imaging
9. Landmark study highlights complex genetic risk factors behind type 2 diabetes
10. Other highlights from the April 18 Journal of the National Cancer Institute
11. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols highlights reliable methods for gene and protein analyses

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