eLife Episode 45: Ant Undertakers and the Human Cell Atlas

26 February 2018
Presented by Chris Smith.

In this episode, we hear about disease control in insects, placental development, post-traumatic stress disorder, the mission to create a human cell atlas and how crickets amplify their song...

In this episode

Ants poison diseased brood to halt the spread of infection.

00:37 - Ant Infection Control

Ants prevent the spread of disease by killing other ants that are infected.

Ant Infection Control
with Chris Pull, Royal Holloway

But first, this winter we’ve seen very high levels of respiratory infections that have caused severe outbreaks when they’ve spread around care homes and hospitals. Transmission tends to occur in these environments because individuals are cared for at high density; and the way institutions control infections under these circumstances is by using strict policies that isolate and even exclude cases. That’s us humans, but there are other classes of animals that also live in high density and they’ve developed ingenious infection control strategies of their own. Speaking with Chris Smith, Chris Pull explains how he's been looking at what ants do…

Tree crickets turn leaves into baffles to make themselves sound louder by making a hole in the centre.

06:22 - Crickets make leaf amplifiers

Tree crickets amplify the sounds of their mating calls by cutting a hole into the centre of a leaf and using it as an acoustic baffle, as Chris Smith hears from Natasha Mhatre...

Crickets make leaf amplifiers
with Natasha Mhatre, University of Toronto

Tree crickets amplify the sounds of their mating calls by cutting a hole into the centre of a leaf and using it as an acoustic baffle, as Chris Smith hears from Natasha Mhatre...

Failure of trophoblast cells to invade maternal uterine spiral arteries is linked with pre-eclampsia.

13:34 - An animal model of pre-eclampsia

Mice that lack a protein called IFNG2 suffer from the symptoms of pre-eclampsia

An animal model of pre-eclampsia
with Katie Bezold Lamm, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Every year millions of women fall pregnant; but up to 10% of them can develop the condition pre-eclampsia, which is associated with dangerously high blood pressure that can be life threatening if it’s not managed promptly and appropriately. And although doctors are very good at doing that, we’re still not entirely sure why the condition occurs in the first place; which makes predicting and preventing it that much more difficult. Now, speaking with Chris Smith, MIT scientist Katie Bezold Lamm explains how she has found a way to produce a very similar manifestation in mice, which might give us new clues as to what’s going on…

Understanding post traumatic stress disorder.

19:18 - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

People with post-traumatic stress disorder pay more attention to surprise.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
with Pearl Chiu & Brooks King Casas, Virginia Tech

People with Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, experience harrowing flashbacks to frightening events and encounters from their past. Usually these are triggered by some sort of reminder of what happened to them originally, and patients are also more alert to potential threats than the average person. But what has changed in the brain to make them respond like this? Speaking with Chris Smith, Virginia Tech researchers Pearl Chiu and Brooks King Casas explain how they’ve been trying to find out…

White blood cell

25:58 - Human Cell Atlas

Scientists are planning to create a map that contains the molecular fingerprints of every cell in the body.

Human Cell Atlas
with Sarah Teichman, Sanger Institute

One of the largest biological endeavours of recent years was the human genome project that mapped and sequenced all 3 billion of the genetic letters in our DNA code. Now scientists are embarking on an even more ambitious initiative. Speaking with Chris Smith, the Sanger Institute's Sarah Teichman...


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