Biology

Blogs about biology

Marsarchaeota

An article published in the journal “Nature Microbiology” reports the discovery of a new group of archaea that was called Marsarchaeota. A team of microbiologists from Montana State University (MSU) discovered these microbes in Yellowstone National Park, USA, in hot springs where temperature and acidity are high and the main mineral is iron oxide. Their discovery could offer new information on their evolution and in general on the origin of life on Earth and on the importance of iron in the early stages of its history.

An illustration of the MAGESTIC system (Image courtesy Kelly Irvine/NIST. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Nature Biotechnology” describes a new refinement of the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic technique. A team of researchers of the Joint Institute of Metrology and Biology (JIMB) developed a system called MAGESTIC that was compared to the search-and-replace function of a word processor with respect to a blunt cutting tool.

Bodo saltans infected by the virus

An article published in the journal “eLife” describes a research on a species of giant virus called Bodo saltans virus (BsV), considered part of the most abundant group present in the seas. The name is due to the fact that it infects a species of microscopic plankton called the Bodo saltans. A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia succeeded in isolating this virus, classified as a Klosneuvirus, a sub-group of the Mimiviridae family.

Admixtures

An article published in the journal “Cell” describes a genetic research that focuses on the interbreeding between Homo Sapiens and Denisovans, a species of hominins known only thanks to a few bones that were preserved in conditions good enough to extract their DNA. A team of scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle compared the DNA of the Denisovans available with those of many modern humans from various different populations, concluding that there were at least two cases of interbreeding between the two species.

A female Eudorina colony with 32 large egg cells (Image courtesy Hiroko Kawai-Toyooka, University of Tokyo. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Communications Biology” describes a research that offers new clues about the genetic origin of the two sexes. A team of researchers led by Dr. Hisayoshi Nozaki of the University of Tokyo studied the volvocine green algae, a group of algae that includes species that have been studied for years in the research on this topic. In this case the analyzes focused on species of the Yamagishiella and Eudorina genera, discovering a key gene in the differentiation between males and females.