Genome

Building a better green workhorse

Biologists at Washington University in St. Louis lead a team awarded $1.7 million from the National Science Foundation to streamline the genome of a cyanobacterium with the goal of developing a green cellular factory for sustainable production of food, feed and fuels.

Study Finds Neglected Mutations May Play Important Role in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mutations that occur in certain DNA regions, called tandem repeats, may play a significant role in autism spectrum disorders, according to research led by Melissa Gymrek, assistant professor in the UC San Diego Department of Computer Science and Engineering and School of Medicine. The study, which was published in Nature on Jan. 14, was co-authored by UCLA professor of human genetics Kirk Lohmueller and highlights the contributions these understudied mutations can make to disease.

Making sense of a universe of corn genetics

A new study details the latest efforts to predict traits in corn based on genomics and data analytics. The data management technique could help to “turbo charge” the seemingly endless amount of genetic stocks contained in the world’s seed banks, leading to faster and more efficient development of new crop varieties.

Genetic Code Evolution and Darwin’s Evolution Theory Should Consider DNA an ‘Energy Code’

Darwin’s theory of evolution should be expanded to include consideration of a DNA stability “energy code” – so-called “molecular Darwinism” – to further account for the long-term survival of species’ characteristics on Earth, according to Rutgers scientists. The iconic genetic code can be viewed as an “energy code” that evolved by following the laws of thermodynamics (flow of energy), causing its evolution to culminate in a nearly singular code for all living species, according to the Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics.

One-size-fits-all is no fit for heart health

From Weight Watchers to wearable tech – wherever we look, there are messages encouraging us to stay fit and healthy. But diets and training methods aside, when it comes to heart health, research from the University of South Australia shows that a far more personalised approach is needed…and it all starts with your genes.

Juicy Genomics

When Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award winner Kendrick Lamar rapped “I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA,” he almost certainly wasn’t talking about the humble tomato. But a new study unveiling more than 230,000 DNA differences across 100 tomato varieties which will allow breeders and scientists to engineer larger, juicier, more profitable plants, proves that tomatoes indeed have riches buildin’ in their DNA, too.

Researchers identify most powerful gene variant for height known to date

• Newly discovered gene variant in Peruvian populations is powerfully linked with height
• Five percent of Peruvians carry the variant, which originates exclusively from Native American populations
• The variant occurs on a gene that, when mutated, causes Marfan syndrome, a condition marked by connective tissue abnormalities, including serious cardiovascular problems
• The newly discovered variant is not associated with disease and may confer adaptive evolutionary advantage to populations that carry it

NEI researchers link age-related DNA modifications to susceptibility to eye disease

National Eye Institute (NEI) researchers profiling epigenomic changes in light-sensing mouse photoreceptors have a clearer picture of how age-related eye diseases may be linked to age-related changes in the regulation of gene expression. The findings, published online April 21 in Cell Reports, suggest that the epigenome could be targeted as a therapeutic strategy to prevent leading causes of vision loss, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Coronavirus by the Numbers

The Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ron Milo and colleagues at Caltech and Berkeley used his biomass-analyzing techniques to sort the mass of coronavirus data, with interesting results. For example, they found that the coronavirus mutation accumulation rate is relatively slow, which is good news for vaccines

New drug target for prostate cancer found in the non-coding genome

Scientists at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have identified the drivers of a crucial gene involved in prostate cancer, revealing new targets for drug design.

Researchers identified a set of cis-regulatory elements – namely enhancers and the promoter – in the non-coding region of the genome, which affect the expression of FOXA1 gene, one of the major drivers or oncogenes involved in prostate cancer development.

Grain traits traced to ‘dark matter’ of rice genome

Domesticated rice has fatter seed grains with higher starch content than its wild rice relatives — the result of many generations of preferential seed sorting and sowing. But even though rice was the first crop to be fully sequenced, scientists have only documented a few of the genetic changes that made rice into a staple food for more than half the world’s population.

Genes from ‘fossil’ virus in human DNA found to be active

Genes from a virus that was stitched into the human genome thousands of years ago are active, producing proteins in the human brain and other tissues, new research suggests. The finding might help explain why people who inherit this “fossil virus” appear to have a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

Red Algae Thrive Despite Ancestor’s Massive Loss of Genes

You’d think that losing 25 percent of your genes would be a big problem for survival. But not for red algae, including the seaweed used to wrap sushi. An ancestor of red algae lost about a quarter of its genes roughly one billion years ago, but the algae still became dominant in near-shore coastal areas around the world, according to Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Debashish Bhattacharya, who co-authored a study in the journal Nature Communications.

UK Partners With Bourbon Industry Leaders to Map White Oak Genome

Bourbon isn’t bourbon without the mighty white oak. Distillers have been aging bourbon in oak barrels as far back as the Roman Empire. Oak barrels give bourbon its unique caramel, vanilla, nutty and toasted flavors. Kentucky distillers rely especially on the white oak. But what if disease hits the species? How would industry professionals protect it? The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is partnering with Maker’s Mark Distillery Inc. in Loretto, Kentucky, and Independent Stave Company to research the DNA of the white oak.

Unlocking the Biochemical Treasure Chest Within Microbes

An international team of scientists lead by the Joint Genome Institute has developed a genetic engineering tool that makes producing and analyzing microbial secondary metabolites – the basis for many important agricultural, industrial, and medical products – much easier than before, and could even lead to breakthroughs in biomanufacturing.