Weedy rice has become herbicide resistant through rapid evolution

Biologists used whole-genome sequences of 48 contemporary weedy rice plants to show how herbicide resistance evolved by gene flow from crop rice. Almost all other cases of herbicide resistance in agricultural weeds result from selection of tolerant genotypes in the weed species.

Study identifies new dementia risk genes through novel testing approach

A new UCLA-led study has identified multiple new risk genes for Alzheimer’s disease and a rare, related brain disorder by using a combination of new testing methods allowing for mass screening of genetic variants in a single experiment. 

DNA recombinations are widespread in human genomes and are implicated in both development and disease

Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Japan in collaboration with other researchers from around the world have discovered that recombinations of specific genomic sequences that are repeated millions of times in the genome of each of our cells are pervasively found in both normal and in disease states. Identifying the mechanisms that lead to this myriad of recombinations involving DNA sequences that were once considered as “junk”, may be crucial to understanding how our cells develop and what can make them unhealthy.

Three New Species of Black-Bellied Salamander Found in Southern Appalachian Mountains

Three new species of black-bellied salamander have been discovered by a research team led by R. Alexander Pyron, the Robert F. Griggs Associate Professor of Biology at the George Washington University. The new salamanders, which are found in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, stem from black-bellied populations that were long considered to be a single species.

World’s New Stream Frog Found in Myanmar: Chula Researcher Indicates Its Ecosystem Is Intact

A biologist from the Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University working with researchers from Germany and Myanmar has discovered two of the world’s newest stream frogs in Myanmar highlighting the remaining diversity of ecosystems in Southeast Asia and cautions all those involved of the need to conserve our forests before our valuable wildlife become extinct.

Researchers Use Model of Hypothalamus to Implicate Genes Associated with Sleep, BMI, Puberty, and More

A new study has implicated several genes involved in a variety of bodily functions associated with the hypothalamus, a notoriously difficult-to-study region of the brain. The findings could help clinicians identify potential causes of dysfunction for many important traits regulated by the hypothalamus, such as sleep, stress, and reproduction.

UNH-Led Team Sequences Shea Tree Genome to Support Breeding and Conservation Efforts

An international team of researchers led by the University of New Hampshire has sequenced the shea tree’s genome, providing a valuable resource for the strategic development of the species which is best known for the popular product shea butter—a multimillion-dollar ingredient used in cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals and chocolate.

UCLA Health receives $4.8M NIH grant to improve genetic estimates of disease risk in diverse populations

UCLA Health will receive a $4.8 million grant from The National Institutes of Health to develop methods that will improve genetic risk estimates – polygenic risk scores – for specific diseases in people from diverse populations and mixed ancestries.

Overfishing of Atlantic Cod Likely Did Not Cause Genetic Changes

Overfishing likely did not cause the Atlantic cod, an iconic species, to evolve genetically and mature earlier, according to a study led by Rutgers University and the University of Oslo – the first of its kind – with major implications for ocean conservation.

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.

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.

How Did Red Algae Survive in Extreme Environments?

Red algae have persisted in hot springs and surrounding rocks for about 1 billion years. Now, a Rutgers-led team will investigate why these single-celled extremists have thrived in harsh environments – research that could benefit environmental cleanups and the production of biofuels and other products.

Research into SARS-CoV-2 mutation “hotspots” raises implications for vaccines and therapeutics

Researchers have found at least 10 distinct “hotspot” mutations in more than 80% of randomly selected SAR-CoV-2 sequences from six countries, and these genome hotspots – seen as “typos” that can occur as the virus replicates during cellular division – could have a significant impact in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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).

Russian expert is ready to comment on the coronavirus

Pavel Volchkov heads the Genome Engineering Lab at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), that has several key projects, all of them involving genome editing mediated by the CRISPR/Cas technology. Discovered just a few years ago, CRISPR/Cas has…

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.