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Genetics

US scientists have mapped 90 percent of the domestic turkey genome

In the past few months, we’ve received announcements regarding the mapped genomes of wheat, of apples, and even the repulsive human body louse. Now, researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have sequenced 90 percent of the genome of Meleagris gallopavo, which you may know as the domestic turkey.  Read More

The genome of the Golden Delicious apple has been sequenced (Photo: Glysiak)

No sooner do we hear about the sequencing of the wheat genome, than word comes this week that the genome of the apple has been decoded. The feat was accomplished through a collaboration between 18 research institutions in the US, Belgium, France, New Zealand and Italy, and was coordinated by Italy’s Istituto Agrario S. Michele all'Adige (IASMA). DNA sequences of the Golden Delicious apple were produced in 2007/08, and over 82 percent of the genome was assembled into the total 17 apple chromosomes in 2009. Now, over 90 percent of the genes have been anchored to a precise position in the chromosomes. It may all sound like Greek (or Italian) to us non-geneticists, but the upshot of the whole thing is that we should now be able to selectively breed apples like never before, resulting in hardier, tastier fruits.  Read More

Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 - the world's first synthetic organism

A research team, led by Craig Venter of America’s J. Craig Venter Institute, has produced the first cell controlled by a synthetic genome. The team had previously synthesized a bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome from one bacteria to another, but this is the first time they have combined the two techniques to create what they call a “synthetic cell” - although only its genome is actually synthetic. They now hope to be able to explore the machinery of life, and to engineer bacteria designed for specific purposes.  Read More

The first blue roses will be available for sale next week in Japan (Photo: Florigene Ltd /...

They may not be exactly blue in color, but the long-awaited commercial release of the blue rose is set to take place in Japan next week (November 3). Thought to be impossible to create because they lack the blue pigment delphinidin, Australia-based Florigene and its Japanese parent company Suntory Holdings (known more for its beer than its floral conquests) began working together in 1990 to create a blue rose by introducing a blue gene from panzies and then irises into roses. It took until 2004 before the team could announce the successful development of blue roses. But before you go ordering a dozen or so for your loved one, check out the price – around ¥2,000-3,000 (US$22-32) each.  Read More

The zebrafish is a popular aquarium species
 Pic credit: Charles Badland, Program in Neuro...

Since the eyes of the zebrafish contain a mosaic of light-sensitive cells whose structure and functions are nearly identical to those of human eyes, their study may help understand the progression of disease and find more effective treatments for blindness. A study of the retinal development of zebrafish larvae by scientists from Florida State Universityand has identified a genetic switch that should shed new light on these molecular mechanisms and, consequently, provide much needed insight on inherited retinal diseases in humans.  Read More

The modified tomato and its natural cousin
 Pic: Ars Technica.

It seems purple might just be your new favorite color if you’re interested in staving off cancer. British scientists are reporting in the journal Nature Biotechnology that they have genetically engineered a purple tomato that significantly extended the life of cancer-prone mice. The purple coloring is due to a class of pigments called anthocyanins, which are found in high concentrations in blackberries and blueberries and and have been associated with protection against a broad range of human diseases.  Read More

Researcher Hasse Walum photo: Sebastian Dahlgren

September 4, 2008 Comedian Robin Williams once defined the key issue of fidelity as being that men had a brain and a penis and only enough blood to run one at a time. We all know some guys are faithful, and some are not, but until now, it all appeared random behaviour. Now new research suggests that men who carry a certain gene behave differently in relationship. The incidence of the gene has been statistically linked to the incidence of a marital or relational crisis in the past year ,how strongly the man felt he had bonded with his partner, and what their respective partners thought about their relationship. One wonders if perhaps one day we’ll see genetic screening for prospective partners?  Read More

SOLiD System - a next-gen DNA sequencing platform announced

October 27, 2007 At the 57th annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, Applied Biosystems announced the worldwide commercial availability of SOLiD, the company’s next-generation DNA sequencing platform. The SOLiD System is an end-to-end next-generation genetic analysis solution comprised of the sequencing unit, chemistry, a computing cluster and data storage which promises unparalleled throughput, scalability, accuracy, and application flexibility.  Read More

October 17, 2007 Five teams are now registered to compete in the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics with the first team from outside the United States - UK company base4 innovation - joining the race for the the largest medical prize in history.  Read More

Biofuels excreted by genetically re-engineered bacteria may become part of the solution to...

August 2, 2007 If you ever doubt the creativity of modern science, just throw a serious challenge at it and watch the myriad responses you receive. Rising oil prices and historical data are signifying that Hubbert’s “peak oil” may be upon us, and the rush is on all over the world to find viable alternative energy sources to replace the dwindling crude that’s powered us into the technology age. But what if we could just ‘grow’ more oil? The deadly bacteria E. coli, might seem like an unlikely ally, but scientists in California are claiming they have successfully genetically manipulated the deadly bug and a host of other bacteria to produce pure hydrocarbon chains that can be processed into biofuels. In fact, they’re getting so good at it that they can coax the bacteria into producing a substance that’s exceptionally close to crude oil – minus the sulfur impurities that taint the oil we pump out of the ground - and ready to be put through a standard refinery to produce petrol, diesel, jet fuel or any other petroleum product. There’s also talk of other, far more pure and powerful fuels that need no further refinement before they go to the pump. Could the next great oil barons be bug farmers?  Read More

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