Blogs about biology

Crystals of the Naica cave

At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute Penelope Boston announced the discovery of microorganisms in the Naica cave in Mexico, also known as the Cave of the Crystals because of the enormous gypsum crystals in which the bacteria were found. Those might be unique extremophile bacteria that adapted to the conditions existing in the cave.

Quinoa plants

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the DNA sequencing of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). A team of researchers led by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia made a genetic mapping of this plant highly regarded for its high nutritional content. The knowledge obtained is already used by farmers to improve its varieties and could allow to expand its cultivation.

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes the creation of a semi-synthetic organism. A team at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California, led by Floyd Romesberg created a bacterium of the Escherichia coli family with a modified genome that contains two artificial nucleotides in addition to the four existing in the DNA.

Roasted arabica coffee (Photo courtesy Joe Proudman / UC Davis)

In recent days at the 25th Plant and Animal Genome Conference held in San Diego the details of the sequencing of the DNA of arabica coffee – species Coffea arabica – were presented. Among the species of coffee it’s the dominant one making up about 70% of the drink’s production. A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) made the first public sequencing in order to contribute to improving its quality and develop varieties adapted to climate change.

Image from the simulation of the climate changes the followed the asteroid impact (Image courtesy Potsdam Institute für Climate Impact Research (Pik))

An article published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” describes a research on the climate consequences of the impact caused by the large asteroid that struck the Earth about 66 million years ago. A team of researchers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) created computer models to simulate these events and concluded that the atmospheric dispersion of sulfuric acid droplets may have darkened the planet’s skies resulting in the surface cooling.