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A round-up of the latest science and news from Australasia.

Aphid Genome Sequenced

By Stephen Luntz

The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is the latest species to have its genome published, thanks to an international collaboration including the University of Otago.

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Indigenous Migraine Treatment

By Stephen Luntz

Native lemongrass (Cymbopogon ambiguus) is used in indigenous medicine to relieve headaches. No clinical studies have been done to confirm its effectiveness, but in vitro research at Griffith University suggests that belief in its properties is credible.

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Cosmetic Passes Test

By Stephen Luntz

The belief that smearing oatmeal on your face is good for the skin is more than an urban (or rural) myth, according to Ms Becky Macdonald of The Biopolymer Network, who has found proteins in oats that are likely to work well in moisturising the skin.

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Gene Implicated in Kidney Stone Formation

By Stephen Luntz

Research on mice with a gene removed has unexpectedly shed light on the cause of kidney stones and liver failure.

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Gannets Divorce for Real Estate

By Stephen Luntz

Australasian gannets prefer to stay in long-term “marriages” to increase their chance of breeding success. However, a gannet will “divorce” in favour of another mate if it’s the only way to hold onto a prime bit of land.

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Quantum Dots Controlled

By Stephen Luntz

Developments in the production of magnetic quantum dots could increase the speed and power of computers.

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Devil in the Genetic Detail

By Stephen Luntz

Genetic diversity may save the Tasmanian devil in the wild, with increasing evidence that a genetically distinct population in the north-west of the island may have natural immunity to the facial tumour disease that is ravaging its cousins.

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The Taste of Fat

By Stephen Luntz

Australian and New Zealand researchers have challenged the traditional belief that humans can only detect five tastes. Their claimed sixth taste – fat – could hold the key to why some people have been able to resist the tide of obesity.

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Alien Clusters Infiltrate Galaxy

By Stephen Luntz

The Milky Way is filled with stars that arrived as part of captured formations. Now an Australian/Canadian study has concluded that one-quarter of the globular clusters that ring the galaxy come from dwarf galaxies. Globular clusters are spherical islands of stars, usually a few hundred thousand strong, sitting offshore of galaxies like pilot fish around sharks.

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Hormone Hinders Memory

By Stephen Luntz

Luteinising hormone (LH), which plays a role in regulating testosterone, has a strong correlation with poor memories in older men.

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