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BioLine

CBS BioLine

CBS BioLine is a graduate student-led blog and quarterly email newsletter centered on sharing recent research findings and stories across the College. The aims of the initiative are three-fold: 

  1.  Provide students practice communicating their work to new audiences,

  2.  Increase communication across programs, and

  3. Celebrate the work of student researchers.


The success of CBS BioLine relies on contributions from the CBS community. Learn more about its origin story and the nuts and bolts of submitting.

Recent BioLine Entries

Breaking the Ice by Plunging Into a Puddle

How I learned to embrace embarrassment in science

Flies buzzed around my sweaty face as I pushed a patch of especially tall grassy sedges out of my way. It was a hot summer day and I stood in the middle of a wetland on Leech Lake in a long-sleeved shirt and chest-high waders. Thick clumps of roots and deceptively deep puddles added extra effort to every step. After an hour in the meadow, I was tired like I’d run miles.

I was having a great time. Sort of.

Luciferin, the lights behind science and food security

Using fungi bioluminescence in plants could increase crop pollination for food production.

On dark, starless, summer nights, sometimes we get surprised by steady lights emitted by click beetles or flashing lights from fireflies. Have you ever wondered why those lights liven up the sky? The lights are used to communicate, attract prey, defend, and mate. Maybe similar lights can be designed for plants to talk to insects to increase natural insect pollination rates of crops for food production. 

The flies are alright

Taking care of insects in the pursuit of science

It’s always warm in the fly room. The frequent clicking and spraying of the humidifier makes the air warm and thick, imbued with the unmistakable sticky smell of fly food. For those of us working here, it is an escape from the blustering Minnesota winter even if we have to shed all those layers to get comfortable.  Comfort is essential because you need to be on your toes when taking care of so many lives. 

A Novel, Cost-Effective Method for Disease Detection

One of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been accessible, low-cost, and rapid detection systems for tracking the spread of the virus. At the Engelhart and Adamala lab, we developed a detection system called Apta-NASBA that can detect SARS-CoV-2, as well as other pathogens, using a different fluorescent colour output per pathogen. 

Stop eating at Popeyes. Have olive oil instead.

Fad diets promise weight loss and a long healthy life. But, no diet follows through like the Mediterranean diet does.

When you look at places with the highest proportion of centenarians — no, not centaurs the mythical man horse combo; rather, people that live to be over 100-years-old — the small island of Sardinia nestled in the Mediterranean has the third highest population in the world right behind the US and Japan. 

Scientists know that the high levels of olive oil in Sardinian diets explains why they live so long. But they didn’t know why until now.

Fresh forays into fly vision

Flies in the lab get a color TV while researchers watch their neurons fire. Researchers at the UMN devise a new set up to get a deeper look at how flies see color. 

Fly eyes play an important role in picking up information about the world around them, finding food and avoiding danger. But before this information can become useful, neural circuits in the brain need to simplify and extract the important components. Within milliseconds these little insects make complex decisions about where to turn, what to eat and what to avoid. 

A tale of stress and broken hearts

Researchers found that stress is a risk factor for a fatal muscle disease that may cause a decline of patients' health due to heart failure.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a fatal muscle wasting disease that affects 1 in 3,500 boys, totaling 620 baby boys born each year in the US.

Life as we know it, and as we don’t

Age-old existential questions such as “how did we get here?” and “are we alone?” bridge the gap between science and philosophy. Scientists who study astrobiology -- the study of the story of life past, present, and future in the Universe -- seek to answer these questions.

The field of astrobiology is as big as the Universe itself; it encompasses many disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, and planetary science, to name a few.

Natural selection imitates a highly competitive economy – then everybody dies

We typically expect natural selection to improve the condition of a species, leading to their long-term survival; however, 99.9 percent of all species on Earth are now extinct. It seems that natural selection might be pretty good at helping us make it through today, but pretty awful at preparing us for tomorrow.

Complicated relationships within your salad

Plants inhabit many environments across the globe, and some groups can survive extreme conditions. One of these groups is the amaranth family. Members of this family, including several important crops such as amaranth, quinoa, spinach, and sugar beet, are well known for evolving adaptations to survive extreme environments, such as C4 photosynthesis in hot and often dry places and tolerance to highly elevated levels of salt or heavy metals.