Genetics & Molecular Biology
What with all the current talk of GMOs, I would remind folks here that some 20th century methods also raised fears. A more “traditional” method has been to double the chromosome content of plants — one well known example is Triticale is the hybrid of wheat (Triticum turgidum) and rye (Secale cereale). This, of course, should be familiar to those who remember the Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”. When crossing wheat and rye, wheat is used as the female parent and rye as the male parent (pollen
Female mosquitoes are predators of mammalian blood, relying on blood proteins to lay their eggs. While certain mosquito species are attracted to mammals by their emission of body heat and carbon dioxide, other species, such as Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti, have evolved a strong lust for the smell of humans. Such mosquitoes are also deadly vectors that contribute to the efficient spread of human diseases such as malaria, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, West Nile fever, and chikungunya, with the latter two commonly known as urban epidemics.
Mouse studies have determined that a small molecule called natriuretic polypeptide b (Nppb) released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as the sensation of itch.
Nppb streams ahead and selectively plugs into a specific nerve cell in the spinal cord, which sends the signal onward through the central nervous system. When Nppb or its nerve cell was removed, mice stopped scratching at a broad array of itch-inducing substances. The signal wasn’t going through.
Camels, valuable in desert regions throughout the world because of their ability to carry heavy loads over long distances without food or water, are divided into two species, the one-humped dromedary and the two-humped Bactrian camel.
Despite the extremely arid conditions where they are popular, camels also still provide enough milk for human consumption and also have an important role as a source of meat. Camels are specialists when it comes to adapting to the environment. Some characterize them as sustainable food producers.
There are some really cool improvements coming along in several crops that have been developed using the tools of biotechnology - GMOs if you will.
Some of these innovations have consumer health benefits. Some expand ways to encourage greater produce consumption. Some reduce food waste. Some prevent crop losses through disease and reduce the need for copper sprays.
These traits represent an expansion of biotech beyond the major row crops primarily grown for animal feed or for fiber to crops like apples, oranges, tomatoes, pineapples and potatoes. Whether these new options actually make it to consumers depends a great deal on decisions that will be made by gorillas.
Decades of focus on genes may have led the scientific community away from a balanced exploration of the organisms that those genes define - whether they be plants, animals or microorganisms - and more toward gene-focused directions: inward, toward the world of cellular and molecular biology, and outward, toward the broad-scale evolutionary issues of population and quantitative genetics. We've become too genetic variation heavy.
Because energy resources in the body must be optimized as much as possible, a new paper says, tasks inherently related to survival, like immune function, take priority. Any leftover energy is then dedicated to reproduction.
Yesterday a paper (“Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer” in Cell) came out that reported for the first time the production of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) by the method of early embryo cloning via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
This approach, technically called "therapeutic cloning" means that in theory hESC could be made from any of us and be given back to us as a self or autologous transplant.
However, this advance is also (despite the talking points being advanced by some of my colleagues to the contrary) a real big step toward the other kind of human cloning: reproductive cloning.