Genetics & Molecular Biology

Black rice has a rich cultural history; called "Forbidden" or "Emperor's" rice, it was reserved for the Emperor in ancient China and used as a tribute food. In the time since, it remained popular in certain regions of China and recently has become prized worldwide for its high levels of antioxidants.

Despite its long history, the origins of black rice have not been clear. Black rice cultivars are found in locations scattered throughout Asia. However, most cultivated rice (species Oryza sativa) produces white grains, and the wild relative Oryza rufipogon has red grains.

Lovers of french fries, rejoice: the new, non-bruising potato made by Idaho food giant Simplot has hit the market.
Though gluten sensitivity can be claimed by anyone embracing a popular food fad, celiac disease must be diagnosed, and that requires a tissue sample from the small intestine, which can be extremely unpleasant. 

But it's important because in celiac disease the immune system regards gluten as a virus or bacteria, which causes the body to trigger an unnecessary inflammatory reaction in the small intestine - an autoimmune reaction. When the food that you eat enters the small intestine, it is reduced to tiny fractions and presented to the T cells on HLA molecules. The HLA molecules present various elements of what you consume, as well as what is inside the cells. 
Things have been a little intense lately and the little voice in my head keeps begging, "How did I get here?"  

In other times of quiet introspection the little voice in my head says, "What would you have done differently?"

What the heck happened? 
I’ve been a critic of the Food Babe for a long time. Actually, I’ve been the critic of anyone that attempts to manipulate the public perception of science, while presenting zero scientific evidence. Especially deplorable are those that use fear to force a message, and scare people about safe food while profiting in the process.
It’s an old story now, but when ‘Food Babe’ Vani Hari visited my university to sell her science-blind worldview I was not exactly thrilled. We professors are tasked to teach from evidence, with foundation in a scholarly literature. Why would we subject our students to the daft rants of a dim food activist that lines her pockets by frightening people away from safe food?

In the game of wheat genetics, Jorge Dubcovsky's laboratory at UC Davis has hit a grand slam, unveiling for the fourth time in a dozen years a gene that governs wheat vernalization, the biological process requiring cold temperatures to trigger flower formation.

Identification of the newly characterized VRN-D4 gene and its three counterpart genes is crucial for understanding the vernalization process and developing improved varieties of wheat, which provides about one-fifth of the calories and proteins that we humans consume globally.

The new study, reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also shows how the spring growth habit in some wheat varieties traces back to ancient wheat that grew in what is now Pakistan and India.

High levels of saturated fat in the blood could make an individual more prone to inflammation and tissue damage, a new study suggests.

Received wisdom on the health risks of eating saturated fat has been called into question recently. This new research supports the view that excessive consumption of saturated fat can be bad for us.

Scientists from Imperial College London studied mice that have an unusually high level of saturated fat circulating in their blood. The research, published today (3 September 2015) in Cell Reports shows that the presence of saturated fats resulted in monocytes - a type of white blood cell - migrating into the tissues of vital organs.

Researchers have identified a mutation in plants that allows them to break down TNT, an explosive that has become highly prevalent in soil in the last century, particularly at manufacturing waste sites, mines, and military conflict zones.

TNT, or 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, is a toxic and persistent environmental pollutant that accumulates in the roots of plants, inhibiting growth and development. The identification of a plant mechanism that not only evades the negative impacts of TNT, but breaks down this harmful substance could lead to improved revegetation and remediation of TNT-contaminated sites.

In a way, cancer resembles a runaway car with a gas pedal stuck to the floor, hurling out of control. Most new targeted cancer therapies seek to fix the gas pedal itself, and thus thwart the aggressive behavior of the tumor. But for many types of cancers, the pedal simply cannot be repaired, so new alternatives are desperately needed. A team at Baylor College of Medicine has discovered a way to step on the brakes of some of the deadliest cancers.

A new study clearly establishes a partial genetic basis underlying racial differences in slow-wave sleep, suggesting that it may be possible to develop sleep-related therapies that target specific genetic variants.

Using a panel of 1,698 ancestry informative genetic markers, the study found that greater African genetic ancestry was associated with lower amounts of slow-wave sleep in African-American adults. African ancestry explained 11 percent of the variation in slow-wave sleep after adjustment for potential confounders. Although a similar association was observed for delta power, no association with African ancestry was observed for sleep duration and efficiency.