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Press release

February- 2018

Humpback microbiome linked to seasonal, environmental changes

       The study, which is the largest-ever of the whale microbiome, shows that monitoring whale’s skin microbes could offer a way to assess their health and nutrition over different seasons and environmental circumstances, and also to detect how they are affected by climate change and human-caused impacts on ocean ecosystems. The paper published, in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Source: phys

Image Credit: David W. Johnston, Duke University. The research was authorized by NOAA permit #808-735 and Antarctic Conservation Act permit #2009-14.

 

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Problems with herbicide-resistant weeds become crystal clear

       Penoxsulam (in yellow) binds to the surface of the enzyme (acetohydroxyacid synthase) in the weed and control them. Penoxsulam is a leading herbicide for crop protection especially for rice (background) and wheat.

Source: phys

Image Credit: University of Queensland

 

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Genetic study of soil organisms reveals new family of antibiotics

       A team of researchers at Rockefeller University has discovered a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study of a wide range of soil microorganism antibiotics. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes their study and how well samples of the new antibiotic worked in rats.

Source: phys

Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain

 

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Scientists identify factors which drive the evolution of herbicide resistance

       Scientists from the University of Sheffield have identified factors which are driving the evolution of herbicide resistance in crops - something which could also have an impact on medicine as well as agriculture. Xenobiotic chemicals, such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and antibiotics, are used in both agriculture and healthcare to manage pests and diseases. However, resistance has evolved to all these types of xenobiotics, rendering them ineffective with serious consequences for crop production and health. The new study, led by researchers from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, gives an important insight into how we can learn from past management of agricultural systems to reduce the likelihood of resistance evolving in the future.

Source: phys

Image Credit: Rothamsted Research

 

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Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth

       In a new study, a University of Iowa biologist identified a virus family whose set of genes is similar to that of eukaryotes, an organism classification that includes all plants and animals. The finding is important because it helps clarify how eukaryotes evolved after branching from prokaryotes some 2 billion years ago.

Source: phys

Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain

 

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January- 2018

Scientists elucidate the mechanism for inserting protein molecules into the outer compartment of mitochondria

       Researchers at the University of Freiburg have succeeded in describing how so-called beta-barrel proteins are inserted into the membranes of mitochondria. The proteins enable mitochondria to import and export molecules. With this discovery, the team led by Prof. Dr. Nils Wiedemann and Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner, in cooperation with the group of Prof. Dr. Carola Hunte, has clarified a fundamental question of protein biochemistry. The findings are published in the journal Science.

Source: phys

Image Credit: Christophe Wirth

 

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A non-tailed twist in the viral tale

       Viruses that contain a tail structure are the most common type of bacterium-infecting virus (bacteriophage) cultured in the laboratory or represented in DNA databases. However, in samples taken from marine environments, non-tailed viruses are more common. Kauffman et al report a previously unknown family of non-tailed marine viruses. a, T4, an example of a tailed virus. Its 169-kilobase genome is enclosed in a capsid structure, made of protein (dark purple), that is 111 nanometres long. The average capsid length for tailed marine viruses is 65 nm. The tail structures in certain other types of tailed virus have a different shape from that of T4. b, The cortovirus PM2, one of the few non-tailed marine bacteriophages identified so far. PM2 has lipid (yellow) associated with its capsid. Non-tailed marine viruses have an average capsid size of 54 nm. c, An autolykivirus, a member of a family of non-tailed marine viruses identified by Kauffman et al. The properties of these bacteriophages are consistent with the presence of lipid.

Source: nature

 

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Neuronal plasticity in nematode worms

       Hart and Hobert examined the neuron DVB in nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans). They report that, between days one and five of adulthood in male worms, DVB grows towards, and makes synaptic connections onto, spicule protractor muscles and the spicule neuron SPC, which control a male-specific mating behaviour involving movement of a structure called the spicule. This outgrowth is regulated, at least in part, by two cell-adhesion proteins: neurexin is expressed by DVB and promotes outgrowth; and neuroligin is expressed by the spicule protractor muscles and SPC, and inhibits outgrowth. The authors show that the expression of neuroligin is repressed when the male undergoes copulatory behaviours, activating these muscles and SPC — DVB outgrowth is therefore activity dependent.

Source: nature

 

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Hijacker parasite blocked from infiltrating blood

       A major international collaboration led by Melbourne researchers has discovered that the world's most widespread malaria parasite infects humans by hijacking a protein the body cannot live without. The researchers were then able to successfully develop antibodies that disabled the parasite from carrying out this activity.

Source: phys

Image Credit: Dr Drew Berry, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

 

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Ultrasound approach tracks gut microbes

       Bourdeau et al. genetically engineered bacteria to express what they term acoustic response genes (ARG), which encode the components of hollow structures called gas vesicles that scatter sound waves and generate an echo that can be detected by ultrasound. Pressure-pulse application causes gas-vesicle collapse and disappearance of the ultrasound signal, which can be used to improve signal detection when tracking the location of cells containing gas vesicles. This approach enables in vivo monitoring of a cell population deep within the mouse gut that cannot be tracked by light microscopy. b, The authors engineered two types of gas vesicle (red and blue) that collapse at different pressure-pulse levels, enabling cells containing these vesicles to be distinguished using ultrasound. One possible application of this work might be to introduce two bacterial strains that each contain one type of these gas vesicles into a mouse. This would enable non-invasive in vivo temporal and spatial monitoring of the dynamics of two distinct bacterial populations in the gut in regions such as the small intestine or colon.

Source: nature

 

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Ocean thermometer from the past

       Measurements of noble gases trapped in the ice core have been used to construct a record of global mean ocean temperatures 22,000–8,000 years ago.

Source: nature

Image Credit: Anais Orsi/WAIS-Divide SCO

 

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