Genetics & Molecular Biology

In 8,000 B.C., when there were only about 10 million people on the entire planet, the boom and bust of famine and feast and wondering when the next meal would be was already a cultural concern. 

And so agriculture was created. Mankind set out to do genetic engineering, doing RNA Interference (RNAi) cereals, legumes, roots and tubers. They not only scientifically selected for larger fruits, uniform ripening and taste, they even turned dangerous natural foods into healthy ones. 
When Dr. He Jiankui announced that he had used CRISPR to prevent future HIV infection in twin girls, there was outrage across the United States, but most of it had nothing to do with science. It was instead concern that a mad scientist with suspect ethics had used a new technology to edit human embryos, and if that remains unchecked Frankenhumans could be born. 

It may be 2018 but it feels like 2001 all over again. 

The idea of scientists tinkering with the genes of babies was once the provenance of science fiction, but now it’s apparently entered the realm of reality: On Nov. 26, Chinese scientist He Jiankui reported the historic live births of twin girls whose genes he had edited. The goal may have been noble: to use CRISPR to alter their genes to include a variant protective against transmission of HIV.

A biosynthetic pathway in bacteria includes a a carboxylase enzyme which adds CO2 to a precursor molecule, producing a highly unusual antibiotic called malonomycin.

Unchecked antibiotic resistance could result in an estimated 10 million deaths every year by 2050, while guesses on cost to the global economy go as high as $70 trillion in lost productivity. 

The researchers found that CO2 was introduced into the malonomycin structure, by a carboxylase enzyme that has never been characterized in bacteria before. Malonomycin carboxylase is most similar to a carboxylase enzyme in human cells which uses vitamin K to add CO2 to proteins in our bodies, triggering essential physiological responses including blood coagulation.
It takes a few years, a lot of grain and even more water to make a steer big enough to send to market - a company wants to get that process down to a few weeks. 
Few people have heard of the groundcherry because during legacy days of agriculture, when foods had to be optimized for various regions as easily as possible, it fared poorly compared to other farming crops due to undesirable characteristics, like falling on the ground and needing weeds.

Though people who sell the organic process think a limited monoculture past is worth paying a premium for, the future may belong to the groundcherry and other orphan crops, thanks to biotechnology and the gene editing tool CRISPR, the successor to legacy organic processes like Mutagenesis and transgenic options like Genetically Modified Organisms.

DNA methylation is a molecular process that helps enable our bodies to repair themselves, fight infection, and get rid of environmental toxins, but new research has shown one way it can go awry: Obesity. 

Scholars identified how DNA methylation is associated with a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can lead to liver cirrhosis and death. 
Their evidence is that DNA methylation has a role in the initiation of NAFLD-related fibrosis, 

Francisella tularensis bacteria are the cause of tularemia, a life-threatening disease spread to humans via contact with an infected animal or through the bite of a mosquito, tick or deer fly. The bacteria are able to suppress host inflammation when infecting mouse and human cells - and lipids help. A lipid is waxy, fatty acid but what helps bacterium to impair the host immune response and increase the chance of infection may also be a potent inflammation therapy against bacterial and viral diseases. 
Starting in the 1960s, a Green Revolution in India led to a boom in rice and wheat production and that helped reduce hunger - but it meant demands on the water supply and pollution from fertilizer.

When Indians have embraced modern technology more recently, pollution from fertilizer has gone down, but rice takes a lot of water. And "natural" rice is not great nutritionally. Nutrient deficiencies are already widespread in India today--30 percent or more are anemic--and many regions are chronically water-stressed. 
A gene called called C6orf106, or "C6", has existed for 500 million years, but understanding how it controls the production of proteins involved in infectious diseases, cancer and diabetes is only being understood more recently. The human genome was first fully sequenced in 2003, which means there are still thousands of genes that we know very little about.

Our immune system produces proteins called cytokines that help fortify the immune system and work to prevent viruses and other pathogens from replicating and causing disease. C6 regulates this process by switching off the production of certain cytokines to stop our immune response from spiralling out of control.