Mark O. Martin's micro-blog essay about Woese's death.
"...Woese did some remarkable things during his life, and the world is a poorer place without his example and polite refusal to intellectually "knuckle under" to convention or criticism ... There is a saying that change can be evolutionary or revolutionary; the former is slow, while the latter is often bloody. It's also true in science, and in some ways, Carl Woese experienced both."
Modern agriculture favours the selection and spread of novel plant diseases. Furthermore, crop genetic resistance against pathogens is often rendered ineffective within a few years of its commercial deployment. Leptosphaeria maculans, the cause of phoma stem canker of oilseed rape, develops gene-for-gene interactions with its host plant, and has a high evolutionary potential to render ineffective novel sources of resistance in crops. Here, we established a four-year field experiment to monitor the evolution of populations confronted with the newly released Rlm7 resistance and to investigate the nature of the mutations responsible for virulence against Rlm7. A total of 2551 fungal isolates were collected from experimental crops of a Rlm7 cultivar or a cultivar without Rlm7. All isolates were phenotyped for virulence and a subset was genotyped with neutral genetic markers. Virulent isolates were investigated for molecular events at the AvrLm4-7 locus. Whilst virulent isolates were not found in neighbouring crops, their frequency had reached 36% in the experimental field after four years. An extreme diversity of independent molecular events leading to virulence was identified in populations, with large-scale Repeat Induced Point mutations or complete deletion of AvrLm4-7 being the most frequent. Our data suggest that increased mutability of fungal genes involved in the interactions with plants is directly related to their genomic environment and reproductive system. Thus, rapid allelic diversification of avirulence genes can be generated in L. maculans populations in a single field provided that large population sizes and sexual reproduction are favoured by agricultural practices.
The Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on earth. One of them, carried home recently by a group from Yale University, appears to be quite happy eating plastic in airless landfills.
"Des chercheurs de l'Université de Göteborg participent à un projet européen nommé BioVacSafe (Biomarkers for Enhanced Vaccine Safety). Ce projet est financé sur cinq ans à hauteur de 30,2 millions d'Euros (dont 17,5 millions proviennent de l'Initiative européenne pour les médicaments innovants - IMI). BioVacSafe porte sur la recherche de nouveaux biomarqueurs associés à des pathologies chroniques (allergies, maladies auto-immunes, etc)." [...]
"Nous voulons également améliorer notre capacité à étudier les effets secondaires des vaccins et leur interaction avec le système immunitaire, en particulier en termes de réactions inflammatoires."..."
Nicotiana benthamiana is a widely used model plant species for the study of fundamental questions in molecular plant-microbe interactions and other areas of plant biology. This popularity derives from its well-characterized susceptibility to diverse pathogens and especially its amenability to virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) and transient protein expression methods. Here we report the generation of a 63-fold coverage draft genome sequence of N. benthamiana and its availability on the Sol Genomics Network (http://solgenomics.net/) for both BLAST searches and for downloading to local servers. The estimated genome size of N. benthamiana is ~3 gigabases (Gb). The current assembly consists of ~141,000 scaffolds, spanning 2.6 Gb of which >50% are longer than 89 kilobases. Of the ~16,000 N. benthamiana unigenes available in GenBank, >90% are represented in the assembly. The usefulness of the sequence was demonstrated by the retrieval of N. benthamiana orthologs for 24 immunity-associated genes from other species including Ago2, Ago7, Bak1, Bik1, Crt1, Fls2, Pto, Prf, Rar1 and MAP kinases. The sequence will also be useful for comparative genomics in the Solanaceae as shown here by the discovery of microsynteny between N. benthamiana and tomato in the region encompassing the Pto/Prf genes.
American Society for Microbiology's newest journal earns a high impact factor ...Phys.Org (press release)PHYSorg Science News Wire : American Society for Microbiology's newest journal earns a high impact factor in latest rankings -- a press release...
Dr Dave Hone: The media need to understand the difference between a genuine scientific debate, and the fact that a very vocal minority can disagree with an overwhelming consensus of evidence...
One thing that seems to crop up regularly in both bad science journalism and in pseudoscience and non-science is the idea of a scientific debate. We see creationists talking about "teaching both sides" or the idea that there is "a debate over evolution", but there's also more than enough reports in the media with statements like "this study has reignited a debate" to make it a more general pattern.
Web-based database on Phytophthora species. Its aim is to provide a global atlas of the diversity and distribution of Phytophthora species, and ultimately to consitute a global network of scientists and other stakeholders.
A good source of up-to-date microbial taxonomy is the website Names for Life. NamesforLife was founded to solve a long-standing problem in biology: resolution of the ambiguity between nomenclature and biological objects and concepts.
When Nature recently accepted a review co-authored by Sarah Gurr, the plant pathologist from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom sent the journal a self-produced image to consider for its cover. It shows a fungus looking like one of those colossal, menacing tripods from H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, stalking through a field, with bats, frogs, and toads fleeing before it in a crazed panic. “Fungal Wars of the World,” Gurr called it.
The picture didn't make it, but many scientists agree with its message: Fungi have now become a greater global threat to crops, forests, and wild animals than ever before. They have killed countless amphibians, pushing some species to extinction, and they're threatening the food supply for billions of people. More than 125 million tons of the top five food crops—rice, wheat, maize, potatoes, and soybeans—are destroyed by fungi every year.
Like other infectious agents, fungi benefit from a combination of trends, such as increased global travel and trade, new agricultural practices, and perhaps global warming. But they have several unique features, researchers say—including the way they can switch from asexual to sexual reproduction—that enable them to exploit these opportunities particularly effectively.
In a study published in the journal Nano Letters, Biodesign immunologist Yung Chang joined forces with her colleagues, including DNA nanotechnology innovator Hao Yan, to develop the first vaccine complex that could be delivered safely and...
Scaling up the distribution of HIV medication over the last decade has vastly increased the number of people receiving treatment around the world. An estimated 8 million infected people received the antiretroviral drugs in 2011, compared to just...
According to César Torres and Sudeep Popat, researchers at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, certain kinds of bacteria are adept at converting waste into useful energy. These microorganisms are presently being applied to the ...
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