Biology

Strains of honeybee viruses provide intelligence in the battle against global bee extinction

The large-scale death of bees could culminate in an ecological and agricultural disaster. This may present as significantly reduced wild and domestic flora, as well as drastically reduced availability of various fruits, vegetables and nuts. There are several pressures on the global bee population, e.g., use of pesticides, destruction of habitat and infection with pathogen-carrying mites. Professor Ivan Toplak, an […]

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Biology

How did bacterial glycogen branching enzymes evolve?

Glycogen is a sugar which plays important roles in carbon and energy storage in bacteria. Glycogen with a highly branched, compact structure offers a more durable energy source – a characteristic linked with bacterial environmental durability, such as the ability to survive in deep sea vents. Dr Liang Wang at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai and Ms Qing-Hua Liu at […]

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Biology

Longer not stiffer: Targeting jute fibre quality

Jute is a phloem bast fibre crop grown for its fibres that are used in the manufacture of various goods. Due to its cheapness and biodegradable nature, jute is now in greater demand than other natural fibres. However, the fibre is short, making it hard to produce some jute products; moreover, the fibre is also stiffer than other plant fibres, […]

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Biology

Whither now for jute wither? Emergence of a new pathogen

Being sessile, plants face a number of threats, in the form of changing climate and microbes that cause disease. Plant diseases can wipe out entire fields of crops, leading to huge economic losses. In the jute fields in Bangladesh, there have been incidences of wilting of the plants, leading to their ultimate death. Scientists at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute […]

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Biology

Cellular decoding via jute CDPKs

Plants grow and survive by cellular responses to various signals from the environment, other organisms, or from within themselves. The cellular machinery to decode these signals in plants is highly complex and consists of several specialised proteins. One such protein family is the calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK) group of proteins that decode developmental and environmental stimuli-induced calcium changes into physiological […]

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Biology

Getting retting better by bacterial blending

Jute is the second most important fibre crop after cotton. Harvesting of jute is followed by retting, where the fibres are separated from stems. This is performed in open waters where natural microorganisms decompose the plant material. The fibre quality depends on retting efficiency. Given the water scarcity in Bangladesh and the resulting delays in harvest, the quality of fibres […]

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Biology

Pure and sound: Isolating the finest RNA from jute

Jute is an important crop grown for human usage of its fibres in everyday materials. There has been an increasing interest to study the behaviour of this crop in the field, to maximise its yield. Detailed studies of this plant at the molecular level involves several techniques that require isolation of cellular material such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) […]

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Biology

Searching TILL high yielding jute is unearthed

Jute fibres are sustainable, biodegradable alternatives to non-degradable plastic fibres. The cultivation of jute is hindered by the presence of only two cultivated varieties in Corchorus sp and their incompatibility for cross-breeding. Increasing the genetic diversity of jute is a priority, to increase the tolerance of this crop towards environmental stresses, as well as improving the quality of the fibres. […]

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Biology

Understanding plant pathogens using optical mapping

Macrophomina phaseolina MS-6 is a fungal pathogen responsible for causing a plethora of despairing diseases in more than 500 host plants, such as jute. A detailed study of the organism is vital for understanding mechanisms of infection in these plants. Whole-genome sequencing can aid this process and provide a better understanding of MS-6. Previously used sequencing methods like next-generation sequencing […]

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Biology

Transcription factors regulate stress resistance in jute

Dark jute is an increasingly valued bast fibre-yielding plant with a diversity of uses. However, there is a need for varieties that can tolerate challenging environmental conditions. Scientists of Basic and Applied Research on Jute Project at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute used molecular genetics methods to study the role of the transcription factor superfamily AP2/ERF in the adaptation of […]

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