(Aarhus University) Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, have found bacterial colonies in panda poo that can readily break down lignocellulosic biomass into ethanol, lactate and hydrogen. Combining engineering and biology the researchers aim to exploit the microbial culture and create green, sustainable bioethanol in a new biomimicry research project, that will also take a closer look at slug intestines and leafcutter ants.
(University of California – Riverside) A team led by UC Riverside geologists has discovered the first ancestor on the family tree that contains most animals today, including humans. The wormlike creature, Ikaria wariootia, is the earliest bilaterian, or organism with a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end connected by a gut. It was found in Ediacaran Period deposits in Australia and was 2-7 millimeters long, with the largest the size of a grain of rice.
(Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) A new study has provided the most comprehensive analysis of human genetic diversity to date, after the sequencing of 929 human genomes by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and their collaborators. The study uncovers a large amount of previously undescribed genetic variation and provides new insights into our evolutionary past, highlighting the complexity of the process through which our ancestors diversified, migrated and mixed throughout the world.
A puzzling modification of DNA that is typical in bacteria does not occur in humans or other mammals. This has been shown in a new study. The study shows that findings from the epigenetic marker 6mdA in animals are probably the result of limitations in technology and bacterial contamination of samples.
(University of Zurich) An international research team led by the University of Zurich and the Boyce Thompson Institute illuminate the origin of land plants by analyzing the first hornwort genomes. In this ancient group of land plants, they discovered genes that could help crops grow more efficiently with less synthetic fertilizer.
(Salk Institute) Just like humans and other animals, plants have hormones. One role of plant hormones is to perceive trouble and then signal to the rest of the plant to respond. A multicenter team led by current and former investigators from the Salk Institute is reporting new details about how plants respond to a hormone called jasmonic acid, or jasmonate. The findings could help researchers develop crops that are hardier and more able to withstand assault, especially in an era of rapid climate change.
Plants are essential for life on earth. They provide food for essentially all organisms, oxygen for breathing, and they regulate the climate of the planet. Proteins play a key role in controlling all aspects of life including plants. A team of scientists has now mapped around 18,000 of all the proteins found in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.