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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Biology

Flowering phenology of spring ephemerals in the Appalachians

The historical records of when plant species burst into flower can highlight changes in seasonal events (phenology) that may mirror ecosystem responses to climate change. A team of four researchers, Jim Anderson (Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources at West Virginia University), Lori Petrauski (Field Ecologist for the National Ecological Observatory Network), Sheldon Owen (Extension Wildlife Specialist for the West […]

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Biology

A butterfly’s point of view: Contest or sex recognition?

For many years it was thought that when butterflies chase other males, this is a form of contest behaviour over territory. However, Dr Tsuyoshi Takeuchi from Osaka Prefecture University and his team sought to interrogate the literature to see if a more simple and more likely option could be provided. Their ‘Erroneous Courtship Model’ states that the male butterflies are […]

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Biology

New synthetic biology method revolutionises DNA cloning

Since the dawn of humanity, we have been modifying and altering the natural environment to suit our needs, from domestication of animals and plants to the modification of landscapes. Using synthetic biology, Dr Jeff Braman and Dr Peter Sheffield at Agilent Technologies, Inc. have developed a new method to assemble DNA. Their approach allows seamless assembly of independent, functionally tested, […]

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Biology

Could functional oils solve the antibiotic resistance problem?

Antibiotics have traditionally been used to control disease in farmed animals, such as broiler chickens and cattle. However, with the rise in antibiotic resistance, many countries have banned the use of antibiotics in this way. Dr Joan Torrent and his colleagues at Oligo Basics, of Cascavel, Paraná, Brazil, are investigating novel alternatives to antibiotics. They are focusing their efforts on plant-derived functional […]

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Biology

Growing soybean in Canada: Collaborative genomics research

The collaborative research initiative, SoyaGen, was launched officially in October 2015 to develop soybean as a valuable and viable crop in Canada. François Belzile and Richard Bélanger of the Université Laval, Québec, co-lead this ambitious project involving six research institutions. Supported by Genome Canada, Génome Québec, the Western Grain Research Foundation and fourteen other partners, the project also includes grower […]

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