Genetics & Molecular Biology

A new research effort in Ethiopia seeks to improve the productivity of chickpea varieties by harnessing the genetic diversity of wild species.

The federal Feed the Future Initiative is the latest rebranding of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Chickpea is the third most widely grown legume crop in the world, following soybean and bean, and it has the ability to capture and use atmospheric nitrogen, thus contributing to soil fertility.  This five-year, $4 million research program could be important in the developing world, where the chickpea provides a crucial source of income, food security and nutrition to poor farmers.
Bacteria and other microbes can be genetically engineered to perform a variety of valuable jobs, from producing safer, more effective medicines and sustainable fuels to cleaning up air, water and land.

Cells from eukaryotic organisms can also be modified for research or to fight disease. To achieve these and other worthy goals, the ability to precisely edit the instructions contained within a target’s genome is a must. A powerful new tool for genome editing and gene regulation has emerged in the form of a family of enzymes known as Cas9, which plays a critical role in the bacterial immune system.

 Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death, but recent advances in science and medicine have improved the chances of surviving a heart attack. In the United States alone, nearly one million people have survived an attack, but are living with heart failure—a chronic condition in which the heart, having lost muscle during the attack, does not beat at full capacity.

Scientists have been look at cellular reprogramming as a way to regenerate this damaged heart muscle. And it works. Scientists can transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble beating heart cells but it's complicated and the transformation is often incomplete. 

Researchers have made a discovery regarding the behavior of a synthetic molecular oscillator, which could serve as a timekeeping device to control artificial cells.

The people generally called Clovis were not the first humans in America but they were the first to accomplish expansion on the North American continent. Then they died out, leaving only speculation. 

Starting somewhere around 13,000 years ago, they hunted mammoth, mastodons and giant bison with big spears. Today there exists only one human skeleton  - a small boy between 1 and 1.5 years of age that was found in the 12,600 Anzick Site in Wilsall, Montana. It was found in association with Clovis tools, making it among the oldest human skeletons in the Americas. 

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are among the first components of the immune system to confront certain pathogens and they have a critical function at mucosal barriers, like the bowel or the lung, where the body comes in direct contact with the environment.  

But they went undetected by researchers until just five years ago. The reason is that immune cells are found in the blood, lymph nodes, or spleen and these cells aren't there. Once they mature they directly go to tissues, such as the gut or the skin, rather than blood.And they are rare.A mouse might have 200 million lymphocytes but only a few thousand ILCs.  

A drug given to pregnant mice with models of autism prevents autistic behavior in their offspring, according to a new report, and though the drug could not be administered prenatally in humans - there is no way to screen for autism in human fetuses - clinical trials of this drug administered later in development, in young children who have already developed autistic symptoms, have showm promise. 

The causes of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, are complex and not well understood.

Researchers have discovered an unusual bacterial protein that attaches to virtually any antibody and prevents it from binding to its target. Protein M, as it is called, probably helps some bacteria evade the immune response and establish long-term infections.

If follow-up studies confirm Protein M's ability to defeat the antibody response, it is likely to become a target of new antibacterial therapies. The protein's unique ability to bind generally to antibodies also should make it a valuable tool for research and drug development.

Why do men and women have different heights? Why do people have different predispositions to BMI, blood pressure and lipid levels?

Chromosome X is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes and researchers from the University of Helsinki set out to analyze the commonly occurring genetic variation in chromosome X  to find genetic factors that could explain individual differences in various traits.

Hundreds of genetic variants having an effect on these traits have already been identified but the X chromosome has not been studied in most of  previous studies. 25,000 Northern European individuals later, the researchers say they have some answers. 

Vaccines are the safest, cheapest and most effective way to protect against infectious diseases  but to make a good one remains a challenge, and traditional approaches are now stretched to the limit while fatal diseases, like HIV and malaria, remain without vaccine. 
 But a major breakthrough that turns vaccine design on its head has now been published in Nature on the 6th of February - a new computational method that, from the protective antibodies of patients, can design the vaccine specific to induce them (and protect against the disease).