Biology

Blogs about biology

Biocrust in Utah (Photo courtesy Tami Swenson)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research that seeks to understand how communities of very diverse microorganisms that include fungi, bacteria and archaea can adapt to biocrusts, which means in the biological crusts of soil in very dry and arid environments. A team of scientists led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory tried to understand it using the tools of exometabolomics, a big word that indicates the set of all the products of the metabolism of a biological organism.

Halobacterium salinarum (Image courtesy of Alexandre Bison/Harvard University)

An article published in the journal “Nature Microbiology” describes a research on the mechanisms of cell size regulation in the three domains of life: archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes. In a previous research, a team led by Ariel Amir of Harvard University discovered that bacteria from the E. coli family and eukaryotes of the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as budding yeast, use the same cellular mechanisms to have uniform cell size in a population. Now, together with other collaborators, the team discovered that archaea use the same mechanisms as well.

Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the sequencing of the genome of the Iberian ribbed newt, also known as Spanish ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl) (photo © Peter Halasz), a salamander that lives in the Iberian Peninsula and in Morocco. A team of scientists led by Professor András Simon of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, performed the genetic analysis of this animal finding a family of genes that could provide new clues to its ability to regenerate complex tissues. The team also carried out genetic modification experiments.

Structure of the FGF10-FGFR2b complex

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research that identified a genetic mutation that according to the authors may have contributed to the development of certain organs in various species of vertebrates, including humans. This is a very old mutation, which may have occurred more than 700 million years ago and yet it may have had consequences long after, for example in the development of lungs and inner ear but also in forelimbs.

Some results of the CRISPR/dCas9 tests

An article published in the journal “Cell” describes the experimentation on mice of a variant of the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic modification system to treat a number of diseases. A team of researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies used a version of CRISPR/Cas9 that doesn’t modify the DNA avoiding the risk of causing unexpected mutations but can activate one or more genes creating an epigenetic therapy for diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, acute kidney disease or muscular dystrophy.