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MU Research of Zebrafish Neurons May Lead to Better Understanding of Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

The zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish similar to a minnow and native to the southeastern Himalayan region, is well established as a key tool for researchers studying human diseases, including brain disorders. Using zebrafish, scientists can determine how individual neurons develop, mature and support basic functions like breathing, swallowing and jaw movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that learning about neuronal development and maturation in zebrafish could lead to a better understanding of birth defects such as spina bifida in humans.

Genetic Pre-Disposition Toward Exercise and Mental Development May be Linked, MU Study Finds

University of Missouri researchers have previously shown that a genetic pre-disposition to be more or less motivated to exercise exists. In a new study, Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, has found a potential link between the genetic pre-disposition for high levels of exercise motivation and the speed at which mental maturation occurs.

MU Researchers Find Rare Fossilized Embryos More Than 500 Million Years Old

The Cambrian Period is a time when most phyla of marine invertebrates first appeared in the fossil record. Also dubbed the “Cambrian explosion,” fossilized records from this time provide glimpses into evolutionary biology when the world’s ecosystems rapidly changed and diversified. Most fossils show the organisms’ skeletal structure, which may or may not give researchers accurate pictures of these prehistoric organisms. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found rare, fossilized embryos they believe were undiscovered previously. Their methods of study may help with future interpretation of evolutionary history.

Salamanders Help Predict Health of Ecosystems on U.S. Golf Courses, MU Researchers Find

Currently, there are more than 18,300 golf courses in the U.S. covering over 2.7 million acres. The ecological impacts of golf courses are not always straightforward with popular opinion suggesting that environmentally, golf courses have a negative impact on ecosystems. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that golf courses can offer a viable habitat for stream salamanders, and enhanced management practices may be beneficial to ecosystems within golf courses.

Logo Color Affects Consumer Emotion Toward Brands, MU Study Finds

Many studies have shown that a company’s logo is one of the most important aspects of marketing and advertising a brand, or features that distinctly identifies a company’s product or service from its competitors. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has found that the specific colors used in a company’s logo have a significant impact on how that logo, and the brand as a whole, is viewed by consumers.

Twitter Use Linked to Infidelity and Divorce, MU Study Finds

Twitter and other social networking services have revolutionized the way people create and maintain relationships. However, new research shows that Twitter use could actually be damaging to users’ romantic relationships. Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, found that active Twitter users are far more likely to experience Twitter–related conflict with their romantic partners. Clayton’s results showed that Twitter-related conflict then leads to negative relationship outcomes, including emotional and physical cheating, breakup and divorce.

Aging Workforce Requires New Strategies for Employee Retention, MU Researcher Says

As more baby boomers reach retirement age, state governments face the likelihood of higher workforce turnover. For example, in the state of Missouri, more than 25 percent of all active state employees will be eligible to retire by 2016. Such large numbers of retirees threaten the continuity, membership and institutional histories of the state government workforce, according to Angela Curl, assistant professor in the University of Missouri School of Social Work. In a case study of the state of Missouri’s Deferred Retirement Option Provision (BackDROP), Curl concluded that states may need to restructure deferred retirement incentives to encourage more employees to remain on the job longer and minimize the disruption to government operations.

MU Researchers Identify Coding Gene Responsible for Locomotion and Central Nervous System Development

Coding genes contain DNA sequences that are used to assign functions required for development and maintenance within a cell. These coding genes articulate how a fingernail grows, help develop nerve cells responsible for chewing, and are vital in helping the spinal cord facilitate movement in arms or legs. Recently, University of Missouri researchers identified a coding gene that has profound effects on central nervous system development and locomotion that could shed light on paralysis, stroke and other disorders of the central nervous system, including Alzheimer’s disease.

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