Plant’s Light Switch Can Control Cells

If only we could control our own with just a flip of a switch

Chandra Tucker shines a blue light on yeast and mammalian cells in her Duke University lab and the edges of them start to glow. The effect is the result of a light-activated switch from a plant that has been inserted into the cell.

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Malaria Mosquitoes Evolving Into New Species

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A mosquito feeding

Two strains of the type of mosquito responsible for the majority of malaria transmission in Africa have evolved such substantial genetic differences that they are becoming different species, according to researchers behind two new studies published today in the journal Science.

 

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Scientists Prove Which Came First — The Chicken or the Egg

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Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

One of the most puzzling and famous life questions has stumped people for generations. It’s the question of which came first: the chicken or the egg? In order for there to be an egg, a chicken would have had to lay it. In order for there to be a chicken, it would have had to hatch from an egg. It seems as though either answer could be the correct answer; until now. 

 

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Origins of Multicellularity: All in the Family

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This is Volvox carteri

One of the most pivotal steps in evolution-the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms-may not have required as much retooling as commonly believed, found a globe-spanning collaboration of scientists led by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute.

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Why Men Only Take Milliseconds to Decide If They Are Attracted to a Woman

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Men judge women in milliseconds because they are genetically programmed to.

Men take a fraction of a second to decide if they are attracted to a woman or not – but they should not be called shallow because they are genetically programmed to do so, scientists say.

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Hot Human-On-Neanderthal Action: A Scientific Update

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Did Neanderthals and Humans Share The Planet At The Same Time? 

So, remember a few weeks ago when new genetics research challenged the accepted idea that humans and neanderthals had never knocked boots? Back then, we mentioned that we were waiting to hear from Svante Pääbo, a hominid genetics expert who was due to publish his findings from sequencing the neanderthal genome. The Pääbo data would be the key to clearing up this ancient soap-operatic mystery.

This week, Pääbo weighed in and the answer looks pretty clear: If your ancestors are from anyplace other than Africa, you’ve got a little neanderthal in you. And so did your great-great-etc. grandma…

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A Step Closer to Personalized Genetic Medicine

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Stephen Quake brought the holy grail of personalised medicine a step closer after having all his DNA screened for diseases and susceptibility to treatments. 

A scientist has brought the holy grail of personalized medicine a step closer after having all his DNA screened for diseases and susceptibility to treatments.  Professor Stephen Quake, at Stanford University, spent $50,000 having his genetic make up mapped and then analysed for different diseases and sensitivity to medication.

 

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New Era of Designer Babies with Three Parents and No Hereditary Diseases

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How the new designer babies are made.

Dozens of human embryos with three parents have been created by British scientists, ushering in an era of designer babies.  The embryos – which effectively have two mothers and one father – have been genetically engineered to be free from incurable muscle, brain, heart and digestive illnesses, some of which kill within hours of being born.

 

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ACLU Takes on Biotech Over Patent on Genes

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Lisbeth Ceriani, a breast-cancer survivor who was also a plaintiff in an ACLU case to overturn the patent on the BRCA gene held by Myriad Genetics

For Lisbeth Ceriani, news that a judge had invalidated the patent on the gene that almost killed her was a victory. Gene patents, she says, are “turning our bodies into commerce.”

 

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Plant Breeding Breakthrough: Offspring With Genes from Only One Parent

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Researchers have developed a new method for producing plants that carry genetic material from only one of their parents.

A reliable method for producing plants that carry genetic material from only one of their parents has been discovered by plant biologists at UC Davis. The technique, to be published March 25 in the journal Nature, could dramatically speed up the breeding of crop plants for desirable traits.

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What Makes You Unique? Not Genes So Much as Surrounding Sequences, Study Finds

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Researchers have found that the unique, specific changes among individuals in the sequence of DNA affect the ability of “control proteins” called transcription factors to bind to the regions that control gene expression.

The key to human individuality may lie not in our genes, but in the sequences that surround and control them, according to new research by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Yale University. The interaction of those sequences with a class of key proteins, called transcription factors, can vary significantly between two people and are likely to affect our appearance, our development and even our predisposition to certain diseases, the study found.

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How Plants Put Down Roots: Geneticists Research Organ Development in the Plant Embryo

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One week old seed of the thale cress with embryo.

In the beginning is the fertilized egg cell. Following numerous cell divisions, it then develops into a complex organism with different organs and tissues. The largely unexplained process whereby the cells simply “know” the organs into which they should later develop is an astonishing phenomenon.

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