Simple genetic modification causes crops to need 25% less water

March 9, 2018 by  
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Scientists have discovered that a simple genetic modification may result in crops needing up to 25 percent less water than unaltered plants to produce the same yield. An international team led by scientists at the University of Illinois identified a specific protein called Photosystem II Subunit S (PsbS), which can be altered to encourage a plant to partially close its stomata, the small pores that facilitate gas exchange between plants and their environment. The scientists hypothesized that the closing of stomata would allow plants to retain more water without sacrificing its need for carbon dioxide, the atmospheric concentration of which has increased by 25 percent in less than a century. Stephen Long, study co-author and director of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), the international research project behind the study, said in a statement: “Evolution has not kept pace with this rapid change, so scientists have given it a helping hand”. As the world adapts to climate change , less water-intensive crops could be a game changer. “This is a major breakthrough,” explained Long. “Crop yields have steadily improved over the past 60 years, but the amount of water required to produce one ton of grain remains unchanged—which led most to assume that this factor could not change. Proving that our theory works in practice should open the door to much more research and development to achieve this all-important goal for the future.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study Approximately 90 percent of the world’s freshwater supply is used for agricultural purposes. As populations grow and resources become strained, more efficient plants could be a simple yet effective tool to sustain healthy communities. The research team published their positive results on the modification of a tobacco plant; their next step is to do the same for food crops. “Making crop plants more water-use efficient is arguably the greatest challenge for current and future plant scientists,” said study co-author Johannes Kromdijk in a statement . “Our results show that increased PsbS expression allows crop plants to be more conservative with water use, which we think will help to better distribute available water resources over the duration of the growing season and keep the crop more productive during dry spells .” Via New Atlas Images via University of Illinois

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Simple genetic modification causes crops to need 25% less water

Ancient microbes survive inside massive cave crystals for 50,000 years

February 20, 2017 by  
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Scientists have found strange, ancient microbes in Mexico’s Naica crystal caves that could be around 50,000 years old. Although the caves are so hot they’ve been described as hell – while also being so magical they’ve been described as Fairyland – the microbes have survived for thousands of years trapped in crystals . A biologist who studied the microbes referred to them as super life. Scientists discovered 40 different microbe strains and some viruses in the caves. The microbes are so bizarre that even their closest relatives are genetically 10 percent different, which is about as far away as mushrooms and humans, according to NASA Astrobiology Institute director Penelope Boston, who recently presented the research. The dormant microbes survived on minerals like manganese and iron. Related: Researchers discover that architecture has an impact on which microbes thrive around you The Naica caves are a great example of an extreme environment. Found by miners only around 100 years ago, the caves were isolated from the rest of the world for centuries until a mining company commenced drilling. According to Phys.org, some of the caves are as colossal as cathedrals , and are covered in crystals. But the magnificent caves are so sweltering the researchers could work for just about 20 minutes before retreating to a cool room around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They wore inexpensive space suits and kept ice packs on their bodies. The find doesn’t claim the prize for oldest extreme life – years ago scientists wrote about living microbes trapped in salt and ice that may be around half a million years old. But Boston told the BBC the microbes her team found are extraordinary because “they are not very closely related to anything in the known genetic databases” and scientists can add the recently found microbes “to this atlas of possibilities that we can apply to different planetary settings.” The findings draw on nine years of research, but have not yet been published in a journal. Boston aims to run more genetic tests on the microbes, but did present the find at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston, Massachusetts late last week. Via the BBC and Phys.org Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient microbes survive inside massive cave crystals for 50,000 years

Genealogy company’s new headquarters was inspired the ideas of shared lineage and migration

October 7, 2016 by  
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The architects conceived the space as an open environment furnished with modern objects, classic design and common areas that encourage collaboration. Concepts of regional migration , genealogy, genetics , and data are embodied in the organization of the headquarters. Color is used as a symbol of diversity that references shared genetic heritage. It also acts as a signaling tool. Related: Adobe’s New LEED Gold-Designed Campus Connects with the Outdoors in Utah Specific parts of the space reference genealogy in a direct way. A large, colorful art installation in the lobby represents diverse historical backgrounds of different populations. Fifteen different colors on this graph indicate fifteen main ancestries, while each column represent a sampled population and shared lineage. + Rapt Studio

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Genealogy company’s new headquarters was inspired the ideas of shared lineage and migration

Bio-artist Joe Davis to Build a Genetically Modified ‘Tree of Knowledge’ With Wikipedia Pages

May 16, 2014 by  
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Bio-artist Joe Davis plans to place 50,000 of the most popular Wikipedia pages into the DNA of apple trees to create a genetically modified Tree of Knowledge. Called Malus ecclesia , the project is part of Davis’ art residency at the genetics lab run by George Church at Harvard Medical School. Read the rest of Bio-artist Joe Davis to Build a Genetically Modified ‘Tree of Knowledge’ With Wikipedia Pages Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: apples , Art , bio-artist , DNA , Forbidden fruit , genetic modification , genetically modified food , genetics , harvard medical school , Joe Davis , Malus ecclesia , Tree of Knowledge , wikipedia

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Bio-artist Joe Davis to Build a Genetically Modified ‘Tree of Knowledge’ With Wikipedia Pages

Scientists Find Children’s Cells Living In Mothers’ Brains

February 9, 2013 by  
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The link between mother and child during pregnancy is perhaps the closest that two humans can ever be linked, but after childbirth they become two separate individuals — or do they? New research suggests that the connection between mother and child may be much stronger than previously thought. The study, which was published recently in  PLOS ONE , reveals that male cells have been found in the brains of women, sometimes decades after a woman had given birth. The findings could have broad implications, ranging from disease prevention to identifying immune disorders. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: blood-brain barrier , DNA , genetic biology , genetics , Mothers , neuroscience , parenting , pregnancy

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Scientists Find Children’s Cells Living In Mothers’ Brains

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