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Beat Müller
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News releases

Apr 14, 2014 Beneficial organisms react differently to parasite drug

The drug ivermectin is used around the world to combat parasites in humans and animals. The active ingredient is also known to harm dung-degrading beneficial organisms. An international research team headed up by evolutionary biologists at the University of Zurich have now demonstrated that certain dung organisms react more sensitively to ivermectin than previously assumed. Hence there is a need for more sophisticated field tests.

Apr 10, 2014 Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep

When digesting ruminants exhale methane. Their contribution to this global greenhouse gas is considerable. So far the assumption had been that camels with similar digestion produce the same amount of the climate-damaging gas. However, researchers at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have now shown camels release less methane than ruminants.

Apr 9, 2014 Brain Size Influences Development of Individual Cranial Bones

abstract

In mammals, embryonic cranial development is modular and step-wise: The individual cranial bones form according to a defined, coordinated schedule. The typical increase in the size of the brain in mammals in the course of evolution ultimately triggered changes in this developmental plan, as a study conducted on embryos of 134 species of animal headed by palaeontologists from the University of Zurich reveals.

Mar 31, 2014 Using different scents to attract or repel insects

abstract

Flowering plants are able to make flexible use of their scents. If the focus is on pollination they attract insects with the scent of their flowers. If they are infested with parasites, they reduce the release of floral scents which then attracts more beneficial partner insects for their defence. This has been demonstrated by a Swiss-Italian team led by evolutionary biologists from the University of Zurich using a plant that is closely related to rapeseed.

Mar 24, 2014 Unfolded proteins collapse when exposed to heat and crowded environments

Not only folded proteins fulfil important functions in the human body; unfolded or intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) likewise assume major tasks. Researchers at the University of Zurich have observed how molecular forces influence protein structure. The unfolded proteins become smaller when exposed to elevated temperatures and density stress.

Mar 20, 2014 Amphibians and dinosaurs were the new large predators after the mass extinction

Abstract

Immediately after the biggest extinction event of all time there were once again functioning and complete food webs in the oceans of the Early Triassic. Contrary to previous assumptions there were large predators, too. Large predatory fish and amphibians, and later dinosaurs too, were the last link in the food chain. This is demonstrated in new studies by palaeontologists at the Universities of Zurich and Utah, USA.

Mar 12, 2014 Parasites in humans influence each other via shared food sources

Humans are often infected by parasites, sometimes even several species at a time. Such co-infections are more difficult to treat if the parasites interact with each other. An ecologist from the University of Zurich and his international team have compiled a list of the numerous possibilities as to how parasites can interact: They are most likely to do so indirectly via the food source they share.