Genetics & Molecular Biology

Peak Organic Brewing Co. has announced that it has become the first brewer to receive Non-GMO Project verification for its beer.

They believe this makes their product more 'pure' than beers which contain grains that have instead been randomly mutated and hybdrized over thousands of years.

The genome of the loblolly pine is truly massive, aound seven times bigger than the human genome, making it the largest genome sequenced to date and the most complete conifer genome sequence ever published.

The achievement, described in GENETICS and Genome Biology, marks the first big test of a new analysis method that can speed up genome assembly by compressing the raw sequence data 100-fold.

Loblolly pine is the most commercially important tree species in the United States and the source of most American paper products. The tree is also being developed as a feedstock for biofuel. The genome sequence will help scientists breed improved varieties and understand the evolution and diversity of plants.

Babies are born with the ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, but most humans lose this ability after infancy because of declining levels of the lactose-digesting enzyme lactase. Most mammals also do not drink milk after weaning.

So did maintaining a high level of lactase confer an evolutionary advantage - reaping the nutritive benefits of milk - or is lactase persistence (lactose tolerance) simply due to dairy culture shaping?

When President Bush signed an executive order becoming the first to fund human embryonic stem cell research, he had made a compromise that navigated Federal law - his predecessor President Clinton's Dickey-Wicker Amendment - the ethical concerns about a technology that had just come into existence, and the needs of science. American Presidents compromised once upon a time.

Mutations within the gene FTO have been implicated as a genetic determinant of obesity risk in humans, but the mechanism for any link remains unknown.

A new paper says that the obesity-associated elements within FTO interact with IRX3, a distant gene on the genome that appears to be the functional obesity gene. The FTO gene itself appears to have only a peripheral effect on obesity. 

Soybeans are a tremendously successful crop and a new study that traced the genetic changes in varieties over the last 80 years of soybean breeding found that increases in yield gains and an increased rate of gains over the years are largely due to the continual release of greater-yielding cultivars.  

Some are concerned that converging on optimal crops for each region might be a bad thing but plentiful food tells a different story.

The eggs produced by adolescent girls are not the same as the ones produced by adult women, according to a recent study in Human Molecular Genetics, which lists evidence that there are two completely distinct types of eggs in the mammalian ovary – "the first wave" and "the adult wave".

 Professor Kui Liu from the University of Gothenburg and colleagues used two genetically modified mouse models to show that the first wave of eggs, which starts immediately after birth, contributes to the onset of puberty and provides fertilizable eggs into the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

In contrast, the adult wave remains in a state of dormancy until activated during the adult life and then provides eggs throughout the entire reproductive lifespan.

A new research effort in Ethiopia seeks to improve the productivity of chickpea varieties by harnessing the genetic diversity of wild species.

The federal Feed the Future Initiative is the latest rebranding of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Chickpea is the third most widely grown legume crop in the world, following soybean and bean, and it has the ability to capture and use atmospheric nitrogen, thus contributing to soil fertility.  This five-year, $4 million research program could be important in the developing world, where the chickpea provides a crucial source of income, food security and nutrition to poor farmers.
Bacteria and other microbes can be genetically engineered to perform a variety of valuable jobs, from producing safer, more effective medicines and sustainable fuels to cleaning up air, water and land.

Cells from eukaryotic organisms can also be modified for research or to fight disease. To achieve these and other worthy goals, the ability to precisely edit the instructions contained within a target’s genome is a must. A powerful new tool for genome editing and gene regulation has emerged in the form of a family of enzymes known as Cas9, which plays a critical role in the bacterial immune system.

 Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death, but recent advances in science and medicine have improved the chances of surviving a heart attack. In the United States alone, nearly one million people have survived an attack, but are living with heart failure—a chronic condition in which the heart, having lost muscle during the attack, does not beat at full capacity.

Scientists have been look at cellular reprogramming as a way to regenerate this damaged heart muscle. And it works. Scientists can transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble beating heart cells but it's complicated and the transformation is often incomplete.