Genetics & Molecular Biology

If you enjoy a sweet, fleshy peach today, give some thanks to scientifically minded, free-market farmers in China 7,500 years ago.

A new analysis has found that the domestic peaches popular worldwide today can trace their ancestry back to the lower Yangtze River Valley in Southern China at least that long ago.  Radiocarbon dating of ancient peach stones (pits) discovered in the Lower Yangtze River Valley indicates that the peach seems to have been diverged from its wild ancestors as early as 7,500 years ago. 
In a new study, scientists have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.

In general, small, low molecular weight compounds can pass the blood-brain barrier, while larger, higher weight compounds tend to be more potent. In the new study, however, small molecules became powerful inhibitors when they bound to targets in cells expressing an RNA defect, such as those found in myotonic dystrophy.

A strain of E. coli that is a common cause of outbreaks of food poisoning in the United States has had its genome sequenced. E. coli strain EDL933 was first isolated in the 1980s but gained national attention in 1993 when it was linked to an outbreak of food poisoning from Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in the western United States.


A new study finds that 'good' cholesterol is damaged by a sugar-derived substance, methylglyoxal (MG), was found to damage the 'good' cholesterol High Density Lipoprotein - HDL - which removes excess levels of bad cholesterol from the body.

Methylglyoxal is formed from glucose in the body. It is 40,000 times more reactive than glucose and damages arginine residue (amino acid) in HDL at functionally important site causing the particle to become unstable.


The exchange of chemical signals between organisms is considered the oldest form of communication.

Acting as messenger molecules, pheromones regulate social interactions between conspecifics, for example, the sexual attraction between males and females. Fish rely on pheromones to trigger social responses and to coordinate reproductive behavior in males and females.


Human articular cartilage defects can be treated with nasal septum cells because they are able to adapt to the environment of the knee joint and can thus repair articular cartilage defects. 

The nasal cartilage cells' ability to self-renew and adapt to the joint environment is associated with the expression of so-called HOX genes. The scientific journal Science Translational Medicine has published the research results together with the report of the first treated patients.


A new study has found that both type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes are the result of the same mechanism - the formation of toxic clumps of a hormone called amylin.

The results, based on 20 years' work in New Zealand, suggest that type-1 and type-2 diabetes could both be slowed down and potentially reversed by medicines that stop amylin forming these toxic clumps.

As well as producing insulin, cells in the pancreas also produce another hormone called amylin. Insulin and amylin normally work together to regulate the body's response to food intake. If they are no longer produced, then levels of sugar in the blood rise resulting in diabetes and causing damage to organs such as the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves if blood sugar levels aren't properly controlled.


A study has identified a protein that appears to play a key role in protecting people infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis — the bacterium that causes tuberculosis — from developing the active form of the disease. The protein, interleukin-32, was discovered to be one biomarker of adequate host defense against TB.


The recently published genome of Brassica napus — commonly known as canola — paves the way for improved versions of the plant, which is used widely in farming and industry. 


A team of researchers  is a step closer to solving the mystery of how lizards regenerate their tails. They have found the genetic "recipe", which involves genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.

The scientists used molecular and computer analysis tools to examine the genes turned on in tail regeneration. The team studied the regenerating tail of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back.