Biology

Action research creates a shared future for elephants and humans

In 2009 a crisis faced the elephant and human populations of central Mali, when a vital fresh water source dried up. Reduced rainfall and increased human activity, including vast herds of domestic cattle, contributed to this critical problem. Dr Susan Canney of the University of Oxford and Director of the Mali Elephant Project, decided a new and prompt approach was […]

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Biology

Rice husk biochar with beneficial microbes: A promising agricultural inoculant and soil ameliorant

The research of Shohei Ebe and Takashi Ano from Kindai University into the relationship between a microbe and rice husk biochar (RHB) suggest the latter is an activator of beneficial microbes that can be used to combat phytopathogenic microorganisms. Having isolated a novel lipopeptide producing Bacillus sp. that benefits from RHB presence in the soil, these are promising insights into […]

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Biology

Systems biology and metabolic networks predict heterosis

Heterosis or hybrid vigour is the improved function of a desirable quality in hybrid offspring. Predicting heterosis would mean that plant and animal breeding need not depend on time-consuming and costly field tests of numerous combinations. Dominique de Vienne, Professor at the University Paris-Saclay, France, uses metabolic networks and systems biology to study heterosis. Modelling metabolic systems has relied on […]

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Biology

Stentor coeruleus: Do these tiny cells have out-of-body experiences?

Occasionally, a person who recovers from a medical crisis reports an “out-of-body experience”. In unique research, Dr Benjamin Scherlag of the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, USA, is using a single-celled organism called Stentor coeruleus to re-create the events that occur during an out-of-body experience. Dr Scherlag has shown that these cells can be revived from an apparently dead state […]

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Biology

Untangling cross resistance patterns in the brown planthopper
Using long-term monitoring of insecticide susceptibilities

In many countries, rice is a staple crop within people’s diets. There are many insect pests to rice. Of these pests, one of the most devastating to crops is the brown planthopper. Recently, in Asia, the brown planthopper has become resistant to various pesticides, including the frequently used imidacloprid. Dr Tomohisa Fujii from Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center, NARO and […]

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Biology

Understanding plant thermoregulation in the face of climate change

Plants possess the fascinating ability to control their body temperature. This physiological process is fundamental for the growth, reproduction, and survival of numerous species of plants. In the face of climate change, as temperatures increase and rainfall patterns become more variable, understanding the capability of plants to adapt to changing conditions is becoming critical. Prof Peter Kevan and colleagues at […]

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Biology

Z-DNA the new biology: The third dimension of cancer therapeutics

DNA comes in many different shapes and sizes. Z-DNA, also known as left-handed DNA, is different from the more familiar right-handed B-DNA. Until recently, the role of Z-DNA in humans was a mystery. In a scientific breakthrough, Dr Alan Herbert of InsideOutBio Inc., Charlestown, Massachusetts, has identified the purpose of unusual DNA sequences called “flipons”. Flipons get their name from […]

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Biology

Unravelling the properties of membrane proteins

30 years ago Matthias Wilm laid the scientific foundation for a methodology which today facilitates the synthesis and self-assembly of lipid membranes with proteins, granting insight into a complexity that has evolved over a million years of membrane protein evolution. From a biomedical to an environmental context, the use of molecular beams promises radical changes to how scientists solve problems […]

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Biology

Experimental and computational studies of plant ion channels

The yields and nutritional profiles of crops are affected by their intake of nutrients. To understand how plant ion channels uptake and regulate sodium and potassium, Dr Janin Riedelsberger at the Center for Bioinformatics, Simulation and Modeling (CBSM), University of Talca and her collaborators combine computational and experimental approaches. The computational methods are used to model the channel protein’s molecular […]

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Biology

Directed evolution of CRISPR-Cas9 to increase specificity

Building upon previous CRISPR research and gene editing methods found in nature, Dr Lee and colleagues from ToolGen have developed a method of screening multiple Cas9 variants. Their method seeks to quickly and effectively screen many mutations of Cas9 to find one which possesses maximised on-target activity and minimised off-target activity. After successful development and implementation of the system, Sniper-Screen, […]

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