3-D Cell Culture: Making Cells Feel Right at Home, Suspended in Magnetic Fields

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This is a 3-D cell culture grown with magnetic levitation.

The film “Avatar” isn’t the only 3-D blockbuster making a splash this winter. A team of scientists from Houston’s Texas Medical Center has unveiled a new technique for growing 3-D cell cultures, a technological leap from the flat petri dish that could save millions of dollars in drug-testing costs.

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Scientists Identify Driving Forces in Human Cell Division

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Metaphase in a human cervical carcinoma (HeLa) cell. Chromosomes (red), microtubules (green).

If you can imagine identical twin sisters at rest, their breath drawing them subtly together and apart, who somehow latch onto ropes that pull them to opposite sides of the bed — you can imagine what happens to a chromosome in the dividing cell.

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Lizard Moms Choose the Right Genes for the Right Gender Offspring

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The male of this species can be two to three times the mass of the female, but the females seem to be in control of the genetic destiny.

Two Dartmouth biologists have found that brown anole lizards make an interesting choice when deciding which males should father their offspring. The females of this species mate with several males, then produce more sons with sperm from large fathers, and more daughters with sperm from smaller fathers. The researchers believe that the lizards do this to ensure that the genes from large fathers are passed on to sons, who stand to benefit from inheriting the genes for large size.

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All Americans Are Struggling To Get Enough Sleep

How much would you pay for a good sleep? Simmons and Panasonic are working together to create a $10,000 bed that is intended to help people all asleep, then gently wake them up.

All Americans are struggling to get more snooze time, but a report out today shows that race and cultural differences play a role in sleep-related habits.   The National Sleep Foundation releases its annual “Sleep in America Poll,” which reveals how much sleep Americans are getting, what their bedtime habits are, and who’s seeing the doctor and taking medications when sleep is elusive. This year, for the first time, the report explored differences in the sleep habits of different ethnic groups: Asians, African Americans, Hispanics and whites.

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Giant Panda Genome Reveals New Insights Into the Bear’s Bamboo Diet

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A panda eats a large bamboo stalk.

A Chinese-led team including international researchers with a scientist from Cardiff University, has shed new light on some of the giant panda’s unusual biological traits, including its famously restricted diet.

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Canine Morphology: Hunting for Genes and Tracking Mutations

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Researchers studying the dog genome have a new understanding of why domestic dogs vary so much in size, shape, coat texture, color and patterning.

Why do domestic dogs vary so much in size, shape, coat texture, color and patterning? Study of the dog genome has reached a point where the molecular mechanisms governing such variation across mammalian species are becoming understood.

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Aphid’s Genome Reflects Its Reproductive, Symbiotic Lifestyle

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Colony of young aphids.

Aphids could be considered the “mosquitoes” of the plant world, depending on the “blood” of plants to survive. They live in symbiosis with bacteria that pass from one generation to the next, producing essential amino acids. Aphids with the same genotype can be wingless or winged. In different seasons, they develop as asexual females who produce offspring with identical genes through parthenogenesis. When temperatures drop, they can give birth to males who then fertilize the eggs laid by females.

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Life’s Smallest Motor, Cargo Carrier of the Cells, Moves Like a Seesaw

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A molecular motor gives up its secrets.

Life’s smallest motor — a protein that shuttles cargo within cells and helps cells divide — does so by rocking up and down like a seesaw, according to research conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Brandeis University.

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Agricultural Scientists Sequence Genome of Grass That Can Be a Biofuel Model Crop

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John Vogel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) with the first wild grass to be sequenced, Brachypodium distachyon.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their colleagues at the Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute have announced that they have completed sequencing the genome of a kind of wild grass that will enable researchers to shed light on the genetics behind hardier varieties of wheat and improved varieties of biofuel crops.

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Genetic Test for ‘Speed Gene’ in Thoroughbred Horses

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New research identifies the ‘speed gene’ contributing to a specific athletic trait in thoroughbred horses.

Groundbreaking research led by Dr Emmeline Hill, a leading horse genomics researcher at University College Dublin’s (UCD) School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine has resulted in the identification of the ‘speed gene’ in thoroughbred horses.

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Value of Sexual Reproduction Versus Asexual Reproduction

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Sexual vs. asexual reproduction – Only the snail’s hairdresser knows for sure

Living organisms have good reason for engaging in sexual, rather than asexual, reproduction according to Maurine Neiman, assistant professor of biology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and researcher in the Roy J. Carver Center for Genomics.

The study looked at sexual, as well as asexual, varieties of a New Zealand freshwater snail, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, by sequencing mitochondrial genomes and found that the sexually reproducing snails had accumulated harmful DNA mutations at about half the rate of the asexual snails.

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Researchers Synchronize Blinking ‘Genetic Clocks’ — Genetically Engineered Bacteria That Keep Track of Time

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A supernova burst in a colony of coupled genetic clocks show them flashing in synchrony.

Researchers at UC San Diego who last year genetically engineered bacteria to keep track of time by turning on and off fluorescent proteins within their cells have taken another step toward the construction of a programmable genetic sensor. The scientists recently synchronized these bacterial “genetic clocks” to blink in unison and engineered the bacterial genes to alter their blinking rates when environmental conditions change.

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