AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: em83

Not So Simple Sponge

Sponges are said to be the simplest of multi-cellular organisms. Because they are simple filter feeders, lacking nervous, digestive, and circulatory systems, they are an important piece in studying the evolution of animals. Sponges are found all over the world and suggest to be diverged early from other animals.

A recent study found extremely surprising evidence about sponges that could potentially shed new light on animal evolution. The study showed that higher complex genes, thought to be absent in sponges, proved to be present in all sponge types. Gene study is very important in sponges. Genes in sponges are involved in more basic structures and the functions of theses genes are currently unknown. It is important to study these genes because the genes we do know in other animals may serve a different function in sponges, suggesting these genes were “co-opted” later for the function we know now. Determining the function of genes in sponges is the next step in studying animal evolution.

These findings are ground breaking because they can lead to new ideas in determining gene function and early evolution of metazoan. Its amazing how much information scientists can conclude from such a simple organism!

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Nadia Prigoda-Lee/Attribution License


Misunderstood Teenager

Have you ever wondered why teenagers are known to act out? A study done at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York city proved that teenagers are more likely to act impulsively in a fight or flight situation. The experiment was done with 83 different people with ages ranging from 6-29. The people aged 13-17 were more likely to impulsively push a button they weren’t supposed to then any other age group. Why? Scientists came to the conclusion that the orbital frontal cortex peaked in teenage brains when they did not push the button–which suggested that this region controls the impulse to react.

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taken by: bottled_void
license: Attribution License

During adolescence, the teenage brain undergoes its second “pruning process“, which directly explains the findings of the scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College. Before puberty, the teenage brain has a huge growth spurt in the frontal lobe which deals with planning, impulse control, and reasoning. The adolescent brain is not used to the new things it can do because it is learning–which is why teenagers tend to act out and not make the correct decisions.


Diabetes–More Then Meets The Eye

In recent studies, it is said that people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may also show signs of the beginnings  of Alzheimer’s. As we studied in our last unit, type 2 diabetes develops in a person who has taken in a lot of glucose in their lifetime. So much glucose that after a while–receptors begin to not recognize insulin. Eating too much sugary, high-fat foods, is extremely detrimental to ones health. Common side affects of diabetes include: heart disease, nerve damage, vision loss, kidney damage, and foot damage. According to my article, not only can insulin resistance cause type 2 diabetes, but also can lead to memory loss and cognitive issues. In a study done at Brown University, it was found that not only can you’re liver and fat cells become diabetic but even you’re brain can become diabetic! The hippocampus, as our class is familiar with, deals with learning and memory. When insulin is resisted in the hippocampus, cognitive problems can occur. One of the main causes of Alzheimer’s is the mass build up of the protein beta-amyloid, in the brain. This build up leaves insoluble plaques between dead cells in the brain.

An investigation was conducted to find out if beta-amyloid buildup may be a cause of cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes. 20 rats were given a high-fat diet that led to type 2 diabetes and another group of 20 rats were given a healthy diet. Both groups of rats were trained to expect a shock while in a dark cage. When rats returned to their dark cages, scientists would measure how long it took for the rats to react to the shock. Of course, the rats with type 2 diabetes proved weaker. They stood still in their dark cages twice as long as the healthy rats did.

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s epidemic is only becoming more and more relevant as the years go by. This study is important. Although preventing diabetes may not prevent types of dementia, it will prevent many other serious health problems. Because of recent findings of links between the two diseases, scientists are doing everything possible  to prevent Alzheimer’s in patients with type 2 diabetes.




diabetes  by: GDS Infographics







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