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Why do plants grow toward the light?

April 16, 2012 12:07 pm | News | Comments

The simple answer is auxin, a plant hormone. But the transport of auxin through the plant is a complex and little-understood process. Recent research in Europe has identified an important new link in this process, finding that auxin is stored in specific sites.

Fine-scale analysis illuminates human brain’s composition

April 16, 2012 3:57 am | News | Comments

A study of the expression of approximately 1,000 genes in the brains of individual humans and mice has shed light on the human brain’s structure and its high degree of similarity among humans. Only 5% of the nearly 1,000 genes surveyed in three particular regions show differences in expression between humans, and even compared mice there is great consistency.

Botanists discover chloroplasts’ direct route to the cell nucleus

April 13, 2012 9:05 am | News | Comments

Chloroplasts were once living beings in their own right, before being swallowed up by larger cells and used as solar power generators. Until recent research that fast-forwarded the lengthy evolutionary process, the mechanism for this change were not understand. According this new work, chloroplast genes take a direct route to the cell nucleus, where the gene function can be correctly read despite the structural differences in the DNA.


Water, water everywhere—but is it essential to life?

April 13, 2012 9:01 am | News | Comments

New research using a spectroscopic technique called circular dichroism has analyzed an oxygen-carrying protein myoglobin that can refold in an environment that is almost completely devoid of water molecules. The findings are challenging one of the key beliefs in chemistry: that proteins are dependent on water to survive and function.

Researchers find a way to detect “hypervirulent” Salmonella strains

April 13, 2012 4:56 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists conducting a global search for hypervirulent strains of Salmonella , the most common cause of infection, hospitalization, and death due to foodborne illness in the U.S., have developed a way to force the normally stealthy bacteria to reveal its biological weaponry before infection.

Athletic frogs have faster-changing genomes

April 12, 2012 12:20 pm | News | Comments

In the past, biologists trying to explain why some species have faster-changing genomes than others have focused on features such as body size, generation time, fecundity, and lifespan. The problem with previous tests is that they based their measurements of metabolism on animals at rest, rather than during normal physical activity. A recent study of frogs have found the correlation between fitness and genomes.

Medical device power—without the cord

April 11, 2012 11:18 am | News | Comments

Technological advances have produced implantable, electronic solutions for dosing and therapeutic functions in humans. However, these medical devices use probes, actuators, and electronic controls that need power. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies have recently succeeded in wirelessly transmitting power from a portable transmitter module to a receiver, offering the possibility of wirelessly-powered medical devices.

Green light: New method directly IDs antigens

April 10, 2012 2:14 pm | News | Comments

Using genetic engineering techniques, researchers in Germany have generated cells that emit green fluorescent light when stimulated by the binding of a cognate antigen. Previously antigens, which induce destructive immune responses, could not be identified directly without some prior knowledge of their structure.


Researchers find identical DNA codes in different plant species

April 10, 2012 9:46 am | News | Comments

After running on 48 computer processors for four weeks and completing 32 billion searches, a computer program designed to compare multiple genomes has revealed identical long strings of genetic code shared by different plant species. Previous efforts had revealed identical codes in animals, but this is the first to uncover the phenomenon in plants.

Neutron scattering unlocks milk protein

April 4, 2012 6:05 pm | by Agatha Bardoel | News | Comments

Small-angle neutron scattering instrument at the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory can be used for a surprising variety of biological studies. Recently, researchers in The Netherlands successfully analyzed and characterized the internal protein structure and composite particles of a cow named Martha.

Study: Our ancestors used fire a million years ago

April 3, 2012 1:29 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Over the years, experts have claimed human use of fire from as long as 1.5 million years ago, but until recent excavation and analysis work at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa the claims have only been conjecture. Researchers say that while the new evidence is not “rock solid”, the fires that once burned deep inside the cave offer pretty strong evidence.

Gene mapping for everyone? Study says not so fast

April 2, 2012 3:46 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Today, scientists map entire genomes mostly for research, but as genome mapping gets faster and cheaper, scientists and consumers have wondered about possible broader use: Would finding all the glitches hidden in your DNA predict which diseases you'll face decades later? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, say experts.

Ancient cotton unveils secrets of domesticated crop evolution

April 2, 2012 10:24 am | News | Comments

Using high-throughput gene sequencing techniques, scientists studying 1,600-year-old cotton from the banks of the Nile have found what they believe is the first evidence that punctuated evolution has occurred in a major crop group within the relatively short history of plant domestication.


Panel backs sharing studies of lab-made bird flu

April 2, 2012 5:24 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

On Friday, the U.S. government's biosecurity advisers said they support publishing research studies showing how scientists made new easy-to-spread forms of bird flu because the studies, now revised, don't reveal details bioterrorists could use. The announcement could end debate sparked by the government’s request last December that scientists refrain from publishing all the details of their work.

Research reveals deep-ocean impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

March 27, 2012 12:19 pm | News | Comments

From an extensive study that grew out of an initial research cruise to the Gulf of Mexico in October 2010, scientists have published the first evidence of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep-sea corals. The team used underwater vehicles and 2D gas chromatography to determine precisely the source of the petroleum hydrocarbons they found.

Scientists capture first full image of vitamin B12 in action

March 27, 2012 8:11 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report they have created the first full 3-D images of B12 and its partner molecules twisting and contorting as part of a crucial reaction called methyltransfer. The reaction is crucial to biological systems and has implications for fuel development.

A faster way to probe proteins

March 26, 2012 4:21 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new way to analyze proteins that doesn't require any pretreatment. The technique is extremely fast, allowing scientists to see, for the first time, how a protein changes its shape over picoseconds.

Electron beams make DNA sequencers from graphene

March 23, 2012 8:49 am | by Ann Manser | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Delaware have recently conducted high-performance computer modeling to investigate a new approach for ultrafast DNA sequencing based on tiny holes, called nanopores, drilled into a sheet of graphene. Only recently have scientists figured out a way to build the sheets so that electronics could keep up with the extremely fast DNA base detection rate.

Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells

March 22, 2012 1:28 pm | by Cathryn Delude, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | News | Comments

Our memories leave traces that we may conjure up in remembrance, accompanied by time, place, and sensations. These memory “engrams” are more than just conceptual. Recent optogenetics studies have shown that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory.

Why the world in our head stays still when we move our eyes

March 22, 2012 1:12 pm | News | Comments

With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging scientists in Germany have identified two areas of the brain that compare the movements of the eye with the visual movements cast onto the retina so as to correctly perceive objects in motion. Without this ability the brain would not be able to distinguish what is in motion: the world or us.

Doctors find clue in quest to predict heart attack

March 22, 2012 7:07 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Most heart attacks happen when fatty deposits in an artery burst open, a blood clot forms to seal the break, and the blood clot blocks blood flow. Unfortunately, today's best tests can't predict when that's about to happen. Now scientists have found a clue that one day may help doctors determine if a heart attack is imminent, in hopes of preventing it.

Biosensor breaks through the barrier of multimodal analysis

March 22, 2012 6:51 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have built a multimodal bio-image sensor that can render images of the 2D distribution of proton concentration (pH) and fluorescence intensity for multimodal analyses of biochemical objects.

Nanoslinky is not a toy

March 21, 2012 4:08 am | News | Comments

Remember Slinky, the coiled metal spring that “walks” down stairs with just a push, momentum and gravity? Researchers at NIST have developed their own version of this classic—albeit 10 million times smaller—as a new technology for manipulating and measuring DNA molecules and other nanoscale materials.

New tool to reveal structure of proteins

March 19, 2012 9:47 am | News | Comments

A new method to reveal the structure of proteins could help researchers understand biological molecules—both those involved in causing disease and those performing critical functions in healthy cells. The new solid-state NMR method uses paramagnetic tags to help visualize the shape of protein molecules.

QB3, Pfizer expand support for translational research

March 18, 2012 7:14 pm | News | Comments

The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) has renewed and expanded a three-year agreement with Pfizer Inc. to collaborate on research projects at the University of California (UC) with the potential to transform world-class science into better medicine. Renewal spans 4 UC campuses.

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