Of unruly senescent cells that are
dispatched to the grave by a clever messenger Continue reading The visitor that one yearns for
Of unruly senescent cells that are
Humans have an intuitive sense for numbers. We know that 100 is smaller than 1000 and that a 4GB memory card stores less data than a 16GB one. Bearing this in mind, it was decided to approach the energy needs of Brazil and the world. Nowadays, it is very common to see a pie chart or a bar graph depicting various forms of energy consumption, in newspapers, televisions and magazines. One often wonders if these numbers makes any sense to a layperson. Is it possible to build on their numeracy skills, to further understand, say, their country’s needs? Continue reading “World energy needs as Itaipu dam equivalents”
Nature’s bountiful Colours
are indeed a treat
to our visual appetite too.
Continue reading “Microbial variegation”
What happens after we die. What is the microbiome signature of a human being ?
Gut microbes are the main driver of tissue decay when animals die, and were probably important for preserving soft-tissue anatomy in fossil animals.
Philip Donoghue at the University of Bristol, UK, and his colleagues studied the brine shrimp and monitored its decay (pictured, middle and right) under various conditions. They found that soon after death, the shrimp’s gut wall breaks open and bacteria spill out into the body cavity. The bacteria form sticky aggregates, or biofilms, that gradually replace shrimp tissue and contain mineral deposits, as revealed by microscopy. This mineralization is a key step in tissue preservation in fossils. Evolution of the gut led to an explosion in both animal diversity and the abundance of fossils, the authors say. Royal Society Publishing Proceedings B. 13 May 2015. Open access.
There have been so many interesting research news over the last six months that I decide to give them all in one installment. It may make a good holiday reading. The first in this series is about proteins in general.
1. Exploring the limits of protein sequence space
Exploring the variability of individual functional proteins is complicated by the vast number of combinations of possible amino acid sequences. Podgornaia and Laub take on this challenge by analyzing four amino acids critical for the interaction between two signaling proteins in Escherichia coli. They build all the possible 160,000 variants of one of the two proteins and find that over 1650 are functional. Even though there can be very high variability in the composition of the interface between the two proteins, there are nonetheless strong context-dependent constraints for some amino acids, which suggests why many functional variants are not seen in nature. Science STKE 10 Feburary 2015.
To combat a disease the quickness with which a drug decimates a population of a microorganism must be many orders of magnitude higher than the forces that shape the evolution of the microbe and its carrier. In the case of malaria the battle is not won yet as Anopheles is getting resistant to the insecticide and is clearly ahead of us. Continue reading Research News – 8
My research work focuses on first and second generation ethanol. The scientific community are large are bioprospecting for better cellulases and lignocellulose decontructors. Termites, although a nuisance when it shares its space with humans, could be a welcome guest for others.
Termite mounds can increase the robustness of dryland ecosystems to climatic change
Spotty vegetation patterns in tropical savannas and grasslands can be a warning sign of imminent desertification. However, Bonachela et al. find that termites can also produce spotty patterns. Their theoretical study, confirmed by field data from Kenya, shows that patterns produced by termite mounds are not harbingers of desertification. Indeed, the presence of termites buffers these ecosystems against climate change.
Editor’s summary, Science magazine.
Biotech route for rubber: Natural rubber trumps synthetic, petroleum-derived rubber in useful qualities such as elasticity and abrasion resistance. But rubber trees are quite susceptible to disease, leading scientists to search for other sources of natural rubber and to understand the specifics of its biosynthesis. Lettuce plants are a source of natural rubber, and now Qu et al. identify a scaffold protein called CPTL2 that keeps rubber-synthesizing enzymes from bouncing around the cell. Tethered to the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum, CPTL2 anchors a protein important for rubber polymerization in place. Plants with reduced expression of CPTL2 could not synthesize rubber, revealing its essential role. From the Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2014
Three research articles published recently relevant to Industrial Microbiology. Simultaneous consumption of Cellobiose, Xylose and Acetate. Uniqueness in the cellobiose paper published in ACS synthetic biology: co-consumption of cellobiose, xylose and acetate; evolutionary engineering for increased cellobiose consumption; sequencing revealed increased copy numbers of a particular gene than mutations; co-fermentation had higher ethanol yields and lower by-product formation. Producing a natural product using a consortium … Continue reading Research News – 5
There were many interesting articles published in the last three weeks. Some of them are inspiring in terms of experimental design while others clearly show the steep progress that has been made in synthetic biology. 1. Electric field increases enzyme activity: As reported in science: “Enzymes accelerate chemical processes by coaxing molecules into just the right reactive states. Fried et al. now elucidate the way the … Continue reading Research News – 4