SPLASH! milk science update: May 2013 issue
SPLASH! milk science update
MAY 2013 Issue
This month's newsletter tells the story of DNA-protein nets found in cow's milk that trap and kill bacteria, the immense task of cataloging all bacterial species found in milk, how milk letdown evolved and the hormones responsible for this critical physiological response, and a review of Mary Roach's new book.
We hope you enjoy this action-packed issue of SPLASH! milk science update!
The list of proteins in cow’s milk just keeps getting longer. Tim Reinhardt and colleagues have now discovered nearly 3000 unique proteins in cow’s milk (1). While that would be a story by itself, they also reveal evidence for web-like nets that immune cells secrete into milk when pathogens are present. Yes, milk is cooler than fiction. To learn about these bacteria-trapping nets, read this!
Milk enthusiasts probably all share a favorite bacterium: Bifidobacterium infantis, the species that coevolved with humans and promotes a healthy infant gut. Breast milk contains many other kinds of bacteria, but recording the full species register is a surprisingly tricky task. Recently, a team of Swiss researchers did the most complete job yet. Read this to find out more about this massive undertaking.
The production of milk by the mammary gland is a key adaptation of mammals. But simply producing the milk is not enough; that milk needs to get from the mammary gland to the nipple to be ingested by the infant. But how is this movement of milk accomplished? An amazing hormone called oxytocin. How did oxytocin, and therefore milk letdown, it evolve? Find out here.
The last time I read Mary Roach was on holiday, in the evenings that followed long hikes up, along, and down tabletop mountains in southern Venezuela. I read aloud from Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers because my tent buddy was too careful a packer to have allowed himself the additional mass of a book. As he sensibly tended to sore blisters and swollen bites, I enriched the moment by, for example, loudly vocalizing Roach’s prose about the precise details of how and when death occurs in people who are unlucky enough find themselves inside planes that explode in the sky. This time I’m digesting Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal in the tearoom of the University Library in Cambridge, England. Read more about Roach's new book here.
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Editorial Staff of "SPLASH! milk science update"
Dr. Danielle Lemay, University of California, Davis, USA
Anna Petherick, writer for Nature Publishing Group, United Kingdom
Prof. Foteini Hassiotou, University of Western Australia, Australia
Dr. Jeroen Heck, FrieslandCampina, The Netherlands
Prof. Katie Hinde, Harvard University, USA
Prof. Kevin Nicholas, Deakin University, Australia
Dr. Lauren Milligan, Smithsonian Institute, USA
Prof. Peter Williamson, University of Sydney, Australia
Prof. Daniela Barile, University of California, Davis, USA
Dr. Ross Tellam, CSIRO, Australia
Prof. Johan van Arendonk, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Caitlin Kiley, University of California, Davis, USA