Genetics & Molecular Biology

The skeletal hormone osteocalcin also, boosts testosterone production to support the survival of the germ cells that go on to become mature sperm, say researchers writing in Cell.

Bone was once thought of as a "mere assembly of inert calcified tubes" but in the last ten years, scientists have gained a much more dynamic picture of bone as a bona fide endocrine organ with links to energy metabolism and reproduction. 
The existence of functional, non-protein-coding DNA is all too frequently portrayed as a great surprise uncovered by genome sequencing projects, both in large media outlets and in scientific publications that should have better quality control in place. Eric Lander, writing a Human Genome Project 10th anniversary retrospective in Nature, explains the real surprise about non-coding DNA that was revealed by big omics projects.
The search for actively 'jumping' genes in humans has found new evidence that the genome contains numerous pesky mobile elements that may help to explain why people have such a variety of physical traits and disease risks. 

Using bioinformatics, the study in Genome Research set out to compare the standard assembly of genetic elements as outlined in the reference human genome to raw whole-genome data from 310 individuals recently made available by the 1000 Genomes Project, the team found 1,016 new insertions of retrotransposon insertion polymorphisms (RIPs), expanding the catalog of insertions that are present in some individuals and absent in others. 
Humans have about 23,000 genes and we are at the top of the food chain but the animal with the most genes is the near-microscopic freshwater crustacean Daphnia pulex, or water flea, clocking in around 31,000.

Daphnia is the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced.   The findings are part of a comprehensive report by members of the Daphnia Genomics Consortium, an international network of scientists led by the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB) at Indiana University Bloomington and the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute.
Ashwani Kumar1 and Sven Schubert2 Abstract Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPcase) catalyzes the first step in the fixation of atmospheric CO2 during C4 photosynthesis. Under saline conditions, Hatzig et al. (2010) found an increase in PEPcase activity in young shoots of maize, whereas activity in old
Why are we forked creatures instead of tumbling beach balls of undifferentiated cells?

An embryo begins by dividing into identical cells, but within hours these cells begin to make genetic decisions, turning off some genes and turning on others. So the ball of cells acquires a front end and a back end, a top and a bottom, nerve cells and muscles cells, all still carrying the same DNA, but DNA now packaged in such a way that some genes are shrink wrapped and silent but others are spread-eagled for easy access and active.

There once was a time when the parts you had were all you were going to get; when something went wrong that was that.    As science and medicine progressed in leaps during the 20th century replacement parts became available, like artificial joints, and state-of-the-art metal or ceramic implants eliminated pain and gave many relief from arthritic knees, shoulders and hips.

But what once was the future is now old tech and, instead, the goal is to take a patient's own cells and create replacement joints.   A team of  researchers have found a way to create these biological joints in animals, and they believe biological joint replacements for humans aren't far away.
While hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on masking and treating male pattern baldness, surprisingly little is known about its cause at the cellular level.

A Journal of Clinical Investigation study has found that stem cells play an unexpected role in explaining what happens in bald scalps.   Using cell samples from men undergoing hair transplants, researchers compared follicles from bald scalps and non-bald scalps and found that bald areas had the same number of stem cells as normal areas in the same person but noted that another, more mature cell type called a progenitor cell was markedly depleted in the follicles of bald scalps. 
Scientists writing in Nature Genetics have produced the full genome of a wild strawberry plant. 

The woodland strawberry - Fragaria vesca - is closely related to garden-variety cultivated strawberry and this berry contains large amounts of anti-oxidants (mainly tannins, the substances that give wine their astringency), as well as vitamins A, C and B12 and minerals – potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, the strawberry fruit is rich in substances for flavor and aroma.

The production of high quality chocolate will benefit from the recent sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome - Theobroma cacao - considered by chocolate experts to produce the world's finest chocolate. The Maya domesticated this variety of Theobroma cacao, 'Criollo', about 3,000 years ago in Central America and it is among the oldest domesticated tree crops, though today many growers prefer to grow hybrid cacao trees ('Trinitario') that produce chocolate of lower quality but are more resistant to disease.