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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Biology

Connectase: An enzyme that fuses proteins in a specific manner

Dr Adrian Fuchs, post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and his team of researchers have discovered an enzyme that can fuse two proteins at specific recognition sites. This reaction enables the engineering of proteins with new characteristics, for example by labeling them with a detectable marker or by manipulating their interaction behaviour. Such applications are useful […]

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Biology

Decoding fibre secrets of two jute species

Jute is a type of bast fibre plant, of which there are more than hundred species. Jute is used as an affordable natural fibre source for many human purposes. There are only two commercially cultivated species, which have unique fibre characteristics, but they cannot be cross-bred. To gain insight into specific traits of these two species, Basic and Applied Research […]

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Biology

Clostridium difficile infection: Risk factors and potential vaccines

Antibiotics treatment is one of the main factors of risk for developing Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection, a condition responsible for nearly 500,000 infections and 30,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. Dr Joseph Shiloach, Dr Ashish Sharma and their collaborators at the Biotechnology Core Laboratory of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) optimised […]

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