Biology

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.

Asgard archaea in the tree of life (Image courtesy Eva Fernandez-Caceres)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of new microorganisms that provide more information on the evolution of eukaryotic organisms, the ones formed by complex cells. The new species discovered are archaea that were called Thor, Odin and Heimdall, simpler organisms that however have some characteristics found only in eukaryotes and together with another archaea family called Loki whose discovery was announced in September 2015, form a group that was called the Asgard archaea.

Denisova Molar (Photo Thilo Parg / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

An article published in the journal “Molecular Biology and Evolution” describes a genetic research on Greenland Inuits. A team of researchers led by Dr. Fernando Racimo of the New York Genome Center used genomic information of about 200 people and comparing them with those of a number of hominids concluded that in particular two key genes for cold adaptation were inherited from hominids called Denisovans or their close relatives.