A sodium surprise

Irregular heartbeat — or arrhythmia — can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising discovery that could someday impact treatment of the life-threatening condition.

The taste of love: what turns male fruit flies on

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have found a gene that seems to unleash the courtship ritual in male fruit flies. Males missing this gene are capable of courtship; they just have trouble getting started. Usually male fruit flies are “highly sexed,” to the point that they will court and mount “perfumed dummies,” decapitated females coated in waxy pheromones.