Beautiful Science

Scientists from the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore have discovered that clusters of cadherin - a type of cell protein known for forming junctions between cells - also play a role in stabilising the cell cortex, a region under the cell membrane. The microscope images show a single embryo cell (right) and two cells after cell division (far right). The top set of images gives a surface view of the cells. Here, the green dots are the "non-junctional" and non-adhesive cadherin clusters on the surface of the cells. The bottom set of images shows a cross-sectional view of the cells - where a belt of cadherin (white-green line) can be seen forming a junction between the two daughter cells. With this new discovery, scientists around the world will have to re-evaluate their understanding of cadherin. They must now consider its role in stabilising the cell cortex, along with its classical function in maintaining junctions between cells. This fresh perspective may unlock new avenues of investigation regarding the role of cadherin in health and disease, the scientists said. The study was published in the scientific journal Current Biology.



The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi (left), a small moth with a yellowish coif of scales, is named after Mr Trump (right), who is known for his signature hairstyle. PHOTOS: REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

INSPIRED BY TRUMP

Insects are among the largest groups of animals on this planet, but the number of people studying them are vanishingly small. The world of insects is fascinating and there is a lot to discover, as evident by this new species from California...
We do not know anything about what Neopalpa donaldtrumpi does for a living. We do not know its host plant, its larval or pupal stages, et cetera. This is something for the next generation of young scientists to discover. 

DR VAZRICK NAZARI, an evolutionary biologist and systematist who discovered a new moth species and named it in honour of United States President Donald Trump. He said this was meant to draw public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the US that still contain many undescribed species. He added that "the specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales on the frons (head) of the moth to Mr Trump's hairstyle". The moth is small, with a wingspan of less than 1cm. It has orange-yellow and brown wings, and bright yellow scales on its head.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'Beautiful Science'. Print Edition | Subscribe