Biology

Housekeeping rules: Why reference genes matter in jute plants

Jute is a commercially grown fibre plant that provides a natural resource for modern day fibre usage. With the lack of diversity in jute plants, the recent sequencing of the jute genome offers a wide range of gene targets for crop breeding. In parallel, the use of quantitative approaches to study the expression pattern of jute genes has taken precedent. […]

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Biology

Tools to not rot jute: Solving a fungal problem

Jute is grown in Bangladesh for its fibres to manufacture various goods for everyday use. Along with environmental challenges, jute faces a devastating threat from the fungal pathogen Macrophomina phaseolina, which causes stem rot. Jute yields can be reduced by 30% with this disease. The long life of the fungus in the soil and seeds prevents the efficient control of […]

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Biology

How to behave in sloth bear territory

Sloth bears are considered to be one of the most dangerous mammals in India. The number of sloth bear attacks annually rivals and may even exceed the total number of all bear attacks from the seven other extant bear species combined. Communities sharing their environment with these bears need clear-cut advice on how to behave to avoid bears and what […]

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Biology

Is faster better? Towards development of quick-growing jute

Jute is an important fibre cash crop grown in Bangladesh alongside food crops. With limited land availability, maximising the timing of crop growth is critical for the farmer. To avoid long overlaps in the cultivation period, farmers benefit from faster-growing crops. Jute is in great demand, yet there are no fast-growing varieties available. With the completed sequencing of its genome, […]

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Biology

Ecuadorian essential oils: Ancestral knowledge meets scientific research

Ecuador has one of the highest biodiversity indices, but also one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation. New reforms and scientific research are needed to safeguard its biodiversity, which not only provides climate-balancing carbon capture but a world of natural medicines. Professors Paco Noriega and José Luis Ballesteros of the Universidad Politécnica Salesiana, in Quito-Ecuador, are leading research to […]

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Biology

Leaf spots on the prairies

Plants face a large number of threats from their surroundings. When microbes such as fungi act as pathogens on plants, they can cause disease. Some fungal pathogens of wheat appear as symptoms of spots on the leaves. Two important fungal species are the tan spot pathogen and the septoria nodorum blotch pathogen. These fungi can infect the same plant and […]

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Biology

Discovering when the first early modern humans left Africa

Previous evidence suggested that early modern humans left Africa 90,000 to 120,000 years ago, but new evidence has shown this event may have occurred much earlier. Professor Mina Weinstein-Evron (University of Haifa, Israel) and Professor Israel Hershkovitz (Tel Aviv University, Israel), together with their colleagues, have found a modern human fossil at Misliya cave in Israel, which dates to between […]

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Biology

The intricate world of the centrosome

Dr Ryoko Kuriyama is a Professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Alongside Dr Cody Fisher, she studies mammalian centrosomes, composite organelles responsible for the segregation of chromosomes during mammalian somatic cell division. Together, Kuriyama and Fisher, with the help of the United States National Science Foundation, investigate the detailed complexity of centrosome maturation, identifying the pericentriolar material protein […]

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Biology

Progesterone signalling is involved in marsupial pregnancy

Marsupials have a notoriously short pregnancy, and, for many years, researchers believed that progesterone played no part in this process. However, Professor Yolanda Cruz from Oberlin College, Ohio, USA, has studied pregnancy in the lab opossum (Monodelphis domestica) most of her career and believes this is not the case. The researcher unveiled a critical period between day 5 and day […]

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Biology

Investigating paedomorphism in the evolution of L. saxatilis

Littorina saxatilis (rough periwinkle) is often used as an example of adaptation to different ecological niches, with ecotypes adapted to life at different levels of the seashore. Professor Emilio Rolán-Alvarez and his colleagues at the University of Vigo, Spain, investigate whether one ecotype may have evolved from another by paedomorphosis. Their results indicate that, while there is some evidence in […]

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