Bottom-Up is the Way Forward for Nitrogen Reduction at Institutions

WOODS HOLE, Mass. — Nitrogen is an element basic for life — plants need it, animals need it, it’s in our DNA — but when there’s too much nitrogen in the environment, things can go haywire. On Cape Cod, excess nitrogen in estuaries and salt marshes can lead to algal blooms, fish kills, and degradation […]

Citizens and Scientists Release 28-Year Record of Water Quality in Buzzards Bay

WOODS HOLE, Mass. — A long-lasting, successful relationship between scientists at the MBL Ecosystems Center and the citizen-led Buzzards Bay Coalition has garnered a long-term record of water quality in the busy bay that lies west of Woods Hole. That record has already returned tremendous value and last week, it was published in Scientific Data, […]

Fast-Learning Cuttlefish Pass the Snacking Test

WOODS HOLE, Mass. – Much like the popular TikTok challenge where kids resist eating snacks, cuttlefish can do the same. Cuttlefish can delay gratification – wait for a better meal rather than be tempted by the one at hand – and those that can wait longest also do better in a learning test, scientists have discovered. This […]

Building a Brain: Pioneering Study Reveals Principles of Brain Tissue Structure, Assembly

Contact:; 508-685-3525 WOODS HOLE, Mass. — Understanding how the brain works is a paramount goal of medical science. But with its billions of tightly packed, intermingled neurons, the human brain is dauntingly difficult to visualize and map, which can provide the route toward therapies for long-intractable disorders. In a major advance published this week […]

Fast Action Needed to Protect Shellfish from Acidic Ocean, State Panel Warns

Contact:; 508-685-3525 Shellfish and lobsters are under siege by an increasingly acidic ocean, warns a report released this week by a Massachusetts commission of lawmakers, regulators, and marine scientists. Ocean acidification causes shellfish to form weaker, smaller shells, making them more vulnerable to predation and their offspring more likely to perish. This environmental threat […]

Imaging the First Moments of a Body Plan Emerging in the Embryo

Contact: Diana Kenney; 508-685-3525 By Hank Hogan Egg cells start out as round blobs. After fertilization, they begin transforming into people, dogs, fish, or other animals by orienting head to tail, back to belly, and left to right. Exactly what sets these body orientation directions has been guessed at but not seen. Now researchers […]

Microbes in Dental Plaque are More Like Relatives in Soil than on the Tongue

Contact: Diana Kenney; 508-605-3525 By Alison Caldwell University of Chicago Medicine Study suggests plaque may have been a “stepping stone” for microbes into the body CHICAGO and WOODS HOLE, Mass. — From the perspective of A. Murat Eren, the mouth is the perfect place to study microbial communities. “Not only is it the beginning […]

How the Insect Got its Wings: Scientists (At Last!) Tell the Tale

Contact:; 508-685-3525 WOODS HOLE, Mass. – It sounds like a “Just So Story” – “How the Insect Got its Wings” – but it’s really a mystery that has puzzled biologists for over a century. Intriguing and competing theories of insect wing evolution have emerged in recent years, but none were entirely satisfactory. Finally, a team […]

The Wily Octopus: King of Flexibility

Contact:; 508-685-3525 WOODS HOLE, Mass. — Octopuses have the most flexible appendages known in nature, according to a new study in Scientific Reports. In addition to being soft and strong, each of the animal’s eight arms can bend, twist, elongate and shorten in many combinations to produce diverse movements. But to what extent can […]

To Push or to Pull? How Many-Limbed Marine Organisms Swim

WOODS HOLE, Mass. — When you think of swimming, you probably imagine pushing through the water—creating backwards thrust that pushes you forward. New research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) suggests instead that many marine animals actually pull themselves through the water, a phenomenon dubbed “suction thrust.” The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that […]