Genetics & Molecular Biology

Researchers have decoded the whole genome sequence of one widespread species and it turns out to be remarkably big -  6.5 gigabytes, largest animal genome sequenced so far. 

The honor goes to Locusta migratoria, the most widespread locust species. We all know about locusts: a single locust can eat its own bodyweight in food in a single day which is, proportionately, 60 times a human's daily consumption. They are capable of inflicting famine and wiping out livelihoods when they swarms, which can cost countries billions of dollars in lost harvests and eradication efforts.

The retina can be bombarded by reactive oxygen species in diabetes, prompting events that destroy healthy blood vessels, form leaky new ones and ruin vision, and now researchers have learned that those chemically reactive molecules must come from both the bone marrow as well as the retinal cells themselves to cause such serious consequences.

Excessive glucose in the blood prompts excessive production of reactive oxygen species, or ROS, and the light-sensitive retina is particularly vulnerable. Caldwell's research team had previously documented that ROS from white blood cells produced by the bone marrow as well as from retinal cells were the major instigators in diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness worldwide. But they weren't sure which mattered most.

Culturally, it's discussed that being a man in the Western world is going out of fashion. People are instead supposed to be homogenized into some sort of gender-neutral swirl of beliefs and actions, with only slight variation.

Even the Y chromosome is dwindling. Is it at risk of being lost?

The human Y chromosome contains 27 unique genes, compared to thousands on other chromosomes. Some mammals have already lost their Y chromosome, though they still have males, females and normal reproduction. This has led people to speculate that the Y chromosome is becoming superfluous. But the genes on the Y chromosome are important, they have been maintained by selection.  They're probably not going anywhere.

The Fleckvieh is a breed of cattle that originated in the Alpine region and is now found on every continent, with an estimated worldwide population of around 40 million.

With the rush to legalize marijuana in the interests of a libertarian society or, more suspect, for medical reasons, addiction is about to come back to the forefront.

Over 20 million people around the world are already addicted to marijuana. In the last few years, cannabis addiction has become one of the main reasons for seeking treatment in addiction clinics. Cannabis consumption is particularly high in individuals between 16 to 24 years old, a population that is especially susceptible to the harmful effects of the drug. 

Scientists may have figured out how the molecular switch for sex gradually and adaptively evolved in the honeybee. It's been a long journey

If you have been to a tomato farm, you know that commercial tomato plants have a very different look from the backyard garden variety. Rather than being tall and lanky plants, tomatoes that will be canned for sauces and juice are harvested from plants that stop growing earlier than classic tomato varieties and are more like bushes. The architecture of these compact bushy plants allows mechanical harvesters to reap the crop, but the early end of growth means that each plant produces fewer fruits than their home garden cousins.

The most complete sequence to date of the Neanderthal genome, using DNA extracted from a woman's toe bone that dates back 50,000 years, reveals a long history of interbreeding among at least four different types of early humans living in Europe and Asia at that time, according to University of California, Berkeley, scientists.

Population geneticist Montgomery Slatkin, graduate student Fernando Racimo and post-doctoral student Flora Jay were part of an international team of anthropologists and geneticists who generated a high-quality sequence of the Neanderthal genome and compared it with the genomes of modern humans and a recently recognized group of early humans called Denisovans.

Recently, scientists have begun to make precise genetic modifications to genes in order to move a beneficial effect of one plant to another. This is not without controversy but far superior to prior methods of optimizing plant biology.

The most random thing that can happen is letting natural radioactivity within DNA alter chemical compounds, providing a new pathway for genetic mutation.