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Family break-ups lead to domestic violence in fruit fly relationships

Male fruit flies with strong family ties are less likely to become abusive during mating than others, according to new research.

Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) courtship is known to be a violent affair. Males compete aggressively for a female’s attention, attacking each other with their front legs - often harming the object of their affection in the cross fire.

The wintering whereabouts of penguins

Knowing where and how Antarctic penguins, seabirds and marine predators migrate is critical for conservation efforts. Although electronic tracking devices have helped scientists track marine animals’ migration patterns, the devices can be expensive, invasive for the animal and challenging to retrieve. Scientists have discovered a new and potentially better way to track where penguins go over the winter using forensics.

Unknown virus in ‘throwaway’ DNA discovered

Dr Aris Katzourakis and Dr Amr Aswad, both of the Zoology Department, have found that Next-Generation Sequencing and its associated online DNA databases could be used in the field of viral discovery.

Whilst their research focused on the genome of fish, the method can be used to identify viruses in a range of different species, and the team have now developed algorithms that detect DNA from viruses in the blood or tissue sample of the species studied.

£6.3m funding to develop Africa’s agriculture without losing biodiversity and harming human societies

Researchers from the University of Oxford have been awarded funding from the Research Councils UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) as part of a £6.3 million project to investigate how to achieve food security whilst protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services and promoting social equity.

Good bacteria passed between generations benefit you more

New research carried out by researchers in the University’s Department of Zoology has tracked the evolutionary history of 106 bacterial symbioses, in a range of animal, plant and fungi species.

Published in Nature Communications, the findings have revealed that how bacteria is passed and contracted is key to the intensity of symbiont relationships. When bacteria are passed vertically, straight from mother to offspring, they tend to be much better for their hosts than if they are transmitted via the environment (horizontally).