Tag Archives: genetics

Researchers find genes behind aggressive ovarian and endometrial cancers

In a major breakthrough for ovarian and uterine cancers, Yale researchers have defined the genetic landscape of rare, highly aggressive tumors called carcinosarcomas (CSs), pointing the way to possible new treatments. (more…)

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‘Life as Research Scientist’: Carla Spence, Biologist

Carla Spence is graduating with a Ph.D in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Delaware in Summer 2014.  She entered graduate school after receiving her B.S. in biology from the same University.  She loves spending her leisure time with her husband, Sean, 2 years old son Trent, and her 8 months old daughter Callia.   

Recently we spoke with Miss Spence to know more about her research, especially regarding the study published in BMC Plant Biology (doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-130) and also about why it is important, how life as a research scientist is, and so on. So let’s go ahead:

Q. Let us start with your research topic. What is your research area? Will you please tell us a bit more on this? What did you find?

Carla Spence:  The focus of this project is using natural soil microbes to increase the resistance of rice to blast disease.  Rice blast is caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae.  We isolated bacteria from the rice rhizosphere, which is the soil surrounding the roots, and found one bacterium, EA105, which can drastically inhibit the growth of M. oryzae.  What’s more interesting is that rice roots can be treated with EA105 and this triggers a defense response in the plant called Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) which makes the rice plants more resistant to M. oryzae infection.  EA105 can protect rice from M. oryzae without physically coming into contact with the fungus.  (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Startup Wants to Know How Damaged Your DNA Is

Exogen can check the DNA health not only of an individual but that of an entire region, thus answering questions on the impact of environmental events.

Currently if a scientist or doctor wanted to measure the level of a person’s DNA damage, they would have to look at some cells in a fluorescent microscope and manually count the number of DNA breaks. This kind of counting is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and a highly subjective process. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist Sylvain Costes, who has spent over a decade studying the effects of low-dose radiation on cellular processes, came up with a way to automate the job using a proprietary algorithm and a machine to scan specimens and objectively score the damaged DNA. (more…)

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Nourishing people—and an economy

Milk has a reputation for strengthening bones. In Malawi, the growing dairy industry is strengthening the livelihoods of small dairy farmers and the health of the country’s inhabitants.

In an effort to double the capacity of Malawi’s dairy value chain, MSU researchers led by Puliyur MohanKumar, professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, are applying successful outcomes from a similar MSU partnership project that helped transform India’s dairy industry. India, now the world’s top milk producer, shares similar environmental and cultural traits with Malawi. (more…)

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Big feet preference in rural Indonesia defies one-size-fits-all theory of attractiveness

People in most cultures view women with small feet as attractive. Like smooth skin or an hourglass figure, petite feet signal a potential mate’s youth and fertility.

Because they signal reproductive potential, a preference for mates with these qualities may have evolved in the brains of our Pleistocene ancestors and are viewed by evolutionary psychologists as evidence that the preference is hard-wired into our genetic makeup. (more…)

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Algorithms find genetic cancer networks

Researchers at Washington University in St., Louis, using powerful algorithms developed by computer scientists at Brown University, have assembled the most complete genetic profile yet of acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer. Findings are reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Powerful data-sifting algorithms developed by computer scientists at Brown University are helping to untangle the profoundly complex genetics of cancer.

In a study reported on May 1, 2013, in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis used two algorithms developed at Brown to assemble the most complete genetic profile yet of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer. The researchers hope the work will lead to new AML treatments based on the genetics of each patient’s disease. (more…)

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Antarctic and Arctic Insects Use Different Genetic Mechanisms to Cope With Lack of Water

Genomic techniques facilitate discovery that gene expression causes disparity

Although they live in similarly extreme ecosystems at opposite ends of the world, Antarctic insects appear to employ entirely different methods at the genetic level to cope with extremely dry conditions than their counterparts that live north of the Arctic Circle, according to National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded researchers.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers concluded, “Polar arthropods have developed distinct… mechanisms to cope with similar desiccating conditions.” (more…)

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Aztec Conquest Altered Genetics among Early Mexico Inhabitants, New DNA Study Shows

AUSTIN, Texas — For centuries, the fate of the original Otomí inhabitants of Xaltocan, the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state, has remained unknown. Researchers have long wondered whether they assimilated with the Aztecs or abandoned the town altogether.

According to new anthropological research from The University of Texas at Austin, Wichita State University and Washington State University, the answers may lie in DNA. Following this line of evidence, the researchers theorize that some original Otomies, possibly elite rulers, may have fled the town. Their exodus may have led to the reorganization of the original residents within Xaltocan, or to the influx of new residents, who may have intermarried with the Otomí population. (more…)

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