Sex as Stress Management in Microbes

Why is sex so popular? The question of why so many organisms reproduce sexually has mystified evolutionary biologists since before Darwin, who wrote that “The whole subject is as yet hidden in darkness.” In a recent article in Genome Biology and Evolution titled “What’s genetic variation got to do with it? Starvation-induced self-fertilization enhances survival in Paramecium,” the authors suggest that the molecular mechanisms underlying sex and the stress response may be more tightly coupled than previously appreciated, providing a new explanation for the widespread prevalence of sex in nature.

The existence of sex has puzzled biologists for over a century. Compared to asexual reproduction, sex has several disadvantages. The foremost of these is that each sexual organism produces only half as many offspring as asexual individuals. For example, if each adult has two children, two asexual individuals can produce four offspring, while two sexual individuals—one male and one female—produce only two offspring between them. From an evolutionary perspective, this is a staggering cost, even without taking into account other disadvantages of sex, such as the need to find a mate and the potential dangers of doing so (especially if you’re a male praying mantis or black widow spider).

Despite these costs, sex is widespread, with an estimated 99% of eukaryotes (cells with nuclei) reproducing sexually at least some of the time. This paradox has resulted in a number of hypotheses attempting to explain the near ubiquity of sex. According to Francesco Catania, lead author of the new study and a research group leader at the University of Münster, one popular explanation is that sex produces genetic diversity—this is why you and your siblings are not identical to your parents. The argument is that this genetic diversity may produce some individuals that are better adapted to changing or harsh environments. In contrast, asexual reproduction generally produces offspring that are each identical to the parent.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia provides a fascinating counterpoint to this argument, as it can undergo both asexual reproduction and a version of sexual reproduction that notably does not produce genetic diversity (i.e. a kind of selfing). For most of their life cycle, paramecia reproduce asexually, with each cell splitting into two. When a cell reaches sexual maturity however, each paramecium may produce two identical sexual nuclei—similar to the nuclei that are present in sperm and egg cells. If another paramecium is not around to mate and exchange nuclei with, these two nuclei fuse with each other. The result is a type of sexual self-fertilization that can result in daughter cells that are genetically identical to their parents. Thus, in Paramecium, sexual reproduction can be uncoupled from the generation of genetic diversity, suggesting that there are other potential benefits to sex in this organism. Catania and his coauthors realized that this makes Paramecium a unique model in which to investigate and potentially identify these other benefits.

To identify other reasons that P. tetraurelia may engage in sex, the researchers followed cultures of paramecia over the course of eight days, beginning immediately after self-fertilization (day 0) and continuing past the point at which the cells again became capable of sexual reproduction (on day 6). Each day, they subjected a subset of cells to stress by heating them to a high temperature for just over a minute. Interestingly, they found that cells that had just undergone self-fertilization or that were preparing for sexual reproduction (day 0 and day 6 cells) survived the heat shock more often than those that were rapidly reproducing asexually. This survival advantage could explain why paramecia continue to engage in sex despite the fact that no new diversity is generated, and it suggests an underappreciated benefit of sex: enhanced survival in the face of stress.

This finding hints at a mechanistic link between sex and the stress response. The authors point out that many heat shock proteins, which are most well-known for their role in protecting against stress, are also involved in cellular processes associated with reproductive development and sex. It may therefore be that the increased expression of such proteins during sexual reproduction provides added protection from stressors.

How common is this relationship between sex and stress? While some aspects of Paramecium biology are unique, Catania notes that many unicellular and multicellular organisms engage in self-fertilization and, after several generations of this process, may produce offspring that are copies of their parents. In addition, many proteins involved in reproduction and the stress response are ancient and highly conserved across eukaryotes. Thus, a connection between sex and stress may be widespread, a finding that could have far-reaching implications. According to Catania, the results of their study lead to several new hypotheses about the origin and maintenance of sex: “First, the intimate association between the stress response and sex may have contributed to the persistence of sex in nature. Furthermore, these two pathways, often treated as unrelated, might in fact share a common evolutionary origin.”

Catania notes that additional studies in other organisms will be needed to test these ideas. However, there is reason to believe that their results may be generalizable to other species. “Over the years, research on Paramecium has yielded important insights in many areas of biology. This model has a lot more to offer despite its unusual biology, and we argue that it can be successfully used to gain new insights into many biological phenomena.”

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Covid-19 Software Automates Staff Availability and Stress Factor Monitoring

With the Governments encouraging a gradual return to work, The WorkScreener Covid-19 Isolation Checker enables employers to automatically receive reporting on staff availability and stress factors.

The Isolation Checker also eliminates all the effort of phoning around and using Spread Sheets. And the software can be set up to push messages/advice according to each staff member’s needs.

HIPAA and GDPR compliant, Isolation Checker is quick to implement using technology built for large scale NHS data management and includes a short Covid-19 questionnaire that can identify risk factors in worker availability.

Thomson Screening takes care of set up, data capture and consent management. And employers can focus on deploying workforces according to requirements with reporting according to each employer’s requirements (and can include mapping).

About Thomson Screening.
The company was formed by City, University of London, and has been operational since 2013. The company’s software products are WorkScreener (Occupational Health) and SchoolScreener (School Health).

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Ten-year-old autistic boy invents genius new tool for stress and anxiety relief

ORANGE COUNTY, CA March 2020 – A young autistic boy has come up with an ingenious idea to harness the power of a trending beauty tool and take it to new heights!

Gemstone facial rollers have become a must-have beauty item on many women’s shelves over the last couple of seasons. The handheld tool has rollable gemstones like jade or rose quartz on either end and beauty buffs say they offer an instant cooling and relaxing facial treatment that helps to drain excess fluid and toxins from the skin and increase circulation.

Ten-year-old Malachi Mitchell was fascinated by the tool while watching his mother use it in the evenings. It wasn’t long before he was trying it out on himself, rolling it on his arms and neck, which he found soothing. As a child with autism and ADHD, anxiety is a common occurrence and Malachi’s mother Alana was relieved to find something that calmed his nerves.

“I wanted my mom to bring the roller with us everywhere so I could use it whenever I wanted, but we couldn’t really do that because it was too big,” explains Malachi.

It was then that the aspiring inventor came up with the brilliant idea to turn the roller into a necklace that he could take on the go.

10 Year Old Boy With Autism Invents Genius NEW Tool

[VLOG post, 2 min watch] PUTTING MY HEART ON MY SLEEVE, the MOST VULNERABLE facebook post of our lives?Click below to watch the inspirational story!It also happens to be the emotional journey behind our newest product, the stone roller necklace (patent pending). ❎ I wear it to help my son Malachi all day long❎ Help us create awareness❎ Handy fidget tool for adults and childrenMy son Malachi (10 Years old, Autism Spectrum) played the biggest role in this product invention. Our jaws dropped when we heard his idea, then dropped again when we realized that his idea was completely unheard of!If you want to support us, please watch and share the video to help create awareness, and comment below and let Malachi know what you think!Learn More Here:

Posted by on Monday, 16 March 2020

“Our jaws dropped when we heard his idea, then dropped again when we realized that his idea was completely unheard of,” said Alana, “Malachi has struggled in the past with bullies and other children not understanding how he is, but the process of inventing a successful product and obtaining a patent has really given him a boost of confidence!”

The necklaces are made from 100 percent genuine stones and Malachi’s clever design means skincare lovers can now enjoy the benefits of their favorite skincare device anytime, anywhere!

The gemstone necklaces can be used for people and children like Malachi who enjoy tactile stimuli, or as a stress reliever for those who feel the need to fidget, or even as a tool to cultivate mindfulness or awareness.

“I’ve always wanted to be an inventor and build all kinds of cool gadgets and robots and stuff, but sometimes it’s hard to do things with autism,” says Malachi, “My mom says we need people like me in the world because we think differently!”

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Best Ways To Beat Your Addiction

Addiction is a growing problem across this country and across the world. The key reason for the growing addiction problem is the easy availability of drugs in society along with numerous psychological problems that cause addictive behavior. Addictive behavior is deemed toxic, chronic, and long lasting. It eats away at the fabric of life. Therefore, it must be addressed and treated as soon as possible. You might find that addictive behavior is starting to take over your life or other loved one’s life. The fact is that there are studies that suggest a few ways to gain control over the addictive behavior. Take a look at the following.


Support Groups And Friends

It’s difficult trying to go it alone and get rid of the addictive behavior. The important fact is that you need friends and support more than ever. Good friends that understand your problem and are willing to step in and help are key to overcoming the addiction. In addition, there are also addiction groups in most communities that support each other in efforts to beat the addiction. Find those groups and join them. They are a nonjudgmental and a safe haven that provides the type of support that you might require to learn more about your addiction.


Avoid Triggers

Triggers are people, places, things, or events that lead to you wanting to take drugs or drink alcohol. For example, meeting with your pals at a local hangout triggers your drug addiction or alcohol problem. Perhaps, returning to your old neighborhood triggers those addictive behaviors. Learn to recognize your stress triggers and try to take control of them before they control you. Get started by making a list of your triggers and the best way to avoid them.


Get Busy

Don’t just sit around thinking about the drug or that you need the drug. Get busy and fill your time with a lot of hobbies and special projects. Think of a lot of activities to distract you away from the addictive behavior. For example, one young man found a healthy way to beat the addiction. He decided to take up jogging. He would jog all around his neighborhood and in a local park for a few hours a day. Working out and getting stronger and healthier replaced the addictive behavior. However, some people will state that he simply replaced one addiction for another. On the surface, it is true. However, the new addiction gave him new energy and a new life.



Journaling is the practice of writing down all your feelings, thoughts, and emotions in a journal or personal diary daily. Often, writing down your feelings leads to new insights about your addictive behavior. Writing down feelings  and emotions in the journal is also a way to reduce a lot of stress and tension in your life, which leads to addictive behavior’s like drugging, drinking, smoking, shopping, and sex.


Get Involved

Another way to beat addictive behavior is to get involved with others in your community that are on a special project. For example, keep busy helping out with a community project beautifying the neighborhood, working with the elderly, or working in a soup kitchen that feeds the poor. Getting involved helping others will get you out of your own troubles and develop more confidence in yourself as an individual that is appreciated for their unique contribution to the world.