Rattlesnakes trap raindrops in the scales to water themselves

It has been observed that rattlesnakes can drink raindrops running down the scales on their back. This can be very useful especially in those drought phases during which you need to take advantage of even the shortest thunderstorms to drink as much as possible, a behavior that helps these snakes to survive in desert environments with very rare rains.

In order to understand how the serpents are able to hold the water among the scales of their body for longer, a team of researchers has realized a study whose results have then appeared on ACS Omega.

The researchers specifically analyzed this behavior in the Crotalus atrox rattlesnake, which can be found mainly in the southwestern areas of the United States and northern areas of Mexico. This serpent, when it rains, comes out from its den and literally collects the rain, but also the sleet or even the snow, trapping it between the scales of its own body. For doing so, it flattens the body itself, in order to maximize the area of the collection, so that the raindrops flow on its back. In this way the snake is then able to suck the water from the scales.

The researchers have analyzed at the nanoscopic level the scales of this serpent comparing them with those of two other species of serpents which do not show this behavior but which live in desert environments too, that is, the serpents of the genus Lampropeltis and that of the subspecies Pituophis affinis catenifer. The researchers have dropped drops of water on the back of these serpents. In the Crotalus atrox, these droplets tended to unite and stick to the scales forming small “puddles” which did not happen on the skin of the other two serpents.

Using scanning electron microscopy, the researchers took a closer look at the scales of Crotalus atrox and discovered nano-channels that form a sort of labyrinth and which also help to collect water through a sticky, hydrophobic surface on which the water itself almost seems to stick.

People who did more physical activity since childhood consume more fruit and vegetables

Regular physical activity since childhood is linked to a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables than people with lower physical activity or persistent inactivity levels. A researcher from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland who analyzed the data contained in a Finnish national study is of this opinion.

The same data shows, among other things, that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in Finland has increased during this century, as stated by Irinja Lounassalo, a PhD student at the aforementioned Finnish University that carried out the study. The same data suggested that men who reduced their level of physical activity showed a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables than their peers who had been less active until adulthood.

It follows that a reduction in physical activity in leisure time may be linked to an additional health risk resulting from a diet too low in fruit and vegetables.

“In health guidance, it would be important to recognise that these two health behaviours could facilitate each other,” explains Lounassalo, a doctoral candidate at the University of Jyväskylä. “For example, when you aim to increase a person’s level of activity, improving the quality of the diet at the same time could happen quite naturally. This could be a way to promote more holistic wellness.”

Mycoplasma genitalium: scientists discover how it survives in the human body

A team of researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (IBB-UAB) analyzed the techniques used by Mycoplasma genitalium, a pathogenic bacterium that also attacks the human body and is proving increasingly resistant to antibiotics, to spread.

In particular, researchers have analyzed the processes that this bacterium puts in place to grab the few quantities of metals that are present in our body and that are used by these same bacteria to survive and multiply.

In our bodies, in fact, the metals are quite scarce because they are bound to the proteins that preserve them and transport them inside the cells or tissues where they are then used. In order to acquire these scarce quantities of metal, which are real essential nutrients for them, bacteria put in place increasingly complicated and sophisticated mechanisms.

Mycoplasma genitalium (Mge), an emerging sexually transmitted pathogen, is proving to be increasingly good at doing this and is becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. And this is becoming more and more a serious problem as this pathogen can be responsible for several diseases of the genito-urinary tract.

Researchers have identified the protein this bacterium uses to regulate metal absorption, a protein that acts as a ferric absorption regulator. In addition, they identified several other important proteins that play a role in the transport of the same metals in the microorganism.

“Through transcriptomic and proteomic techniques, we have been able to determine changes in the gene expression of Mge in the presence and absence of metals,” says Carlos Martínez, the main author of the research. “In addition, we were able to identify the metals required by bacteria for growth using a mass spectrometry analysis developed by the analytical chemistry unit UAB,” says Sergi Torres, another of the authors of the study.