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In the year of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin, researchers using comparative genomics have uncovered genetic clues about why some strains of the pathogen that causes Q fever, Coxiella burnetii, are more virulent than others.  

Relevant?   Well, sort of, though genetics came after Darwin, but the evolution of the pathogen makes it relevant and it also gives us a chance to remind you about Darwin Day here on February 12th.
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago situated some 1 000 km to the west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.  They were formed by volcanic activity around 10 million years ago. Out of the 19 islands, two are still active volcanoes.   Due to the isolation of the islands, a very unique ecosystem developed and many of the species found there exist nowhere else on Earth. All reptiles, half of the plants and some 40% of the birds are endemic. 
All life  depends on peaceful coexistence with a swarm of microbial life inside us that performs vital services from helping to convert food to energy to protection from disease.  With the help of a squid that uses a luminescent bacterium to create a predator-fooling light organ and a fish that uses a different strain of the same species of bacteria like a flashlight to illuminate the dark nooks of the reefs where it lives, scientists have found that gaining a single gene is enough for the microbe to switch host animals.
Monash Institute of Medical Research (MIMR) scientists have created Australia's first induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell lines.   They have derived the cells from skin cells, and reprogrammed them to behave as embryonic stem cells; a breakthrough that will allow Australian scientists unlimited access to study a range of diseases.

Until now, Australian scientists have had to import human iPS cells from America or Japan.

Program leader, Dr Paul Verma, said the significance of developing iPS cells 'in-house' cannot be underestimated. "We now have the capability to investigate any human disease we wish, rather than relying on iPS cells from specific diseases that have been generated elsewhere."
A new find in Arctic Canada strongly suggests that animals migrated from Asia to North America not around Alaska, as once thought, but directly across a freshwater sea floating atop the warm, salty Arctic Ocean.  

In 2006, John Tarduno, professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester and leader of the Arctic expedition, led an expedition to the Arctic to study paleomagnetism—the Earth's magnetic field in the distant past. Knowing from previous expeditions to the area that the rocks were rich with fossils, Tarduno kept an eye out for them and was rewarded when one of his undergraduate students uncovered the amazingly well preserved shell of a turtle.
If you're a woman and need an excuse not to clean the carpet, it's your lucky day.   The bad news is, whatever you may already have done may have an impact on having kids.   Researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health have found the first evidence that perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs — chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products — may be associated with infertility in women.