When it comes to rare plants, it’s all about economics: from the theft of the world’s smallest waterlily to a snowdrop bulb that sold for £725. But is the accepted definition of a ‘rare plant’ missing something vital, asks Robbie Blackhall-Miles
The emergence of catalysis in early genetic polymers such as RNA is considered a key transition in the origin of life, pre-dating the appearance of protein enzymes. DNA also demonstrates the capacity to fold into three-dimensional structures and form catalysts in vitro. However, to what degree these natural biopolymers comprise functionally privileged chemical scaffolds for folding or the evolution of catalysis is not known. The ability of synthetic genetic polymers (XNAs) with alternative backbone chemistries not found in nature to fold into defined structures and bind ligands raises the possibility that these too might be capable of forming catalysts (XNAzymes). Here we report the discovery of such XNAzymes, elaborated in four different chemistries (arabino nucleic acids, ANA; 2[prime]-fluoroarabino nucleic acids, FANA; hexitol nucleic acids, HNA; and cyclohexene nucleic acids, CeNA) directly from random XNA oligomer pools, exhibiting in trans RNA endonuclease and ligase activities. We also describe an XNA-XNA ligase metalloenzyme in the FANA framework, establishing catalysis in an entirely synthetic system and enabling the synthesis of FANA oligomers and an active RNA endonuclease FANAzyme from its constituent parts. These results extend catalysis beyond biopolymers and establish technologies for the discovery of catalysts in a wide range of polymer scaffolds not found in nature. Evolution of catalysis independent of any natural polymer has implications for the definition of chemical boundary conditions for the emergence of life on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe.
The Cereal Supply and Demand Brief provides an up-to-date perspective of the world cereal market. The monthly brief is supplemented by a detailed assessment of cereal production as well as supply and demand conditions by country/region in the quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation. More in-depth analyses of world markets for cereals, as well as other major food commodities, are published biannually in Food Outlook.
There’s a lot more to consider when looking at climate change in future models than meets the eye. Yes carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels plays a part, but so can the simple changes in the agricultural practices that feed a growing world. And a new study published this week in the journal Nature reveals that levels of carbon dioxide will likely be on the rise, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, as summer heat and the tail-end of the growing season will spark major crop plants to
Zachary Lippman and colleagues report the recovery in tomato of novel, chemically induced alleles in the SFT (florigen) gene and a newly identified suppressor of the SELF PRUNING gene. These alleles, in combination with previous florigen pathway mutations, allow for the quantitative fine-tuning of fruit yield, which may be applicable to other crop species.
Intraspecific genetic incompatibilities prevent the assembly of specific alleles into single genotypes and influence genome- and species-wide patterns of sequence variation. A common incompatibility in plants is hybrid necrosis, characterized by autoimmune responses due to epistatic interactions between natural genetic variants. By systematically testing thousands of F1 hybrids of Arabidopsis thaliana strains, we identified a small number of incompatibility hot spots in the genome, often in regions densely populated by nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat (NLR) immune receptor genes. In several cases, these immune receptor loci interact with each other, suggestive of conflict within the immune system. A particularly dangerous locus is a highly variable cluster of NLR genes, DM2, which causes multiple independent incompatibilities with genes that encode a range of biochemical functions, including NLRs. Our findings suggest that deleterious interactions of immune receptors limit the combinations of favorable disease resistance alleles accessible to plant genomes.
Deep sequencing of RNAs produced by Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) or the Angola strain of Marburgvirus (MARV-Ang) identified novel viral and cellular mechanisms that diversify the coding and noncoding sequences of viral mRNAs and genomic RNAs. We identified previously undescribed sites within the EBOV and MARV-Ang mRNAs where apparent cotranscriptional editing has resulted in the addition of non-template-encoded residues within the EBOV glycoprotein (GP) mRNA, the MARV-Ang nucleoprotein (NP) mRNA, and the MARV-Ang polymerase (L) mRNA, such that novel viral translation products could be produced. Further, we found that the well-characterized EBOV GP mRNA editing site is modified at a high frequency during viral genome RNA replication. Additionally, editing hot spots representing sites of apparent adenosine deaminase activity were found in the MARV-Ang NP 3′-untranslated region. These studies identify novel filovirus-host interactions and reveal production of a greater diversity of filoviral gene products than was previously appreciated.
This study identifies novel mechanisms that alter the protein coding capacities of Ebola and Marburg virus mRNAs. Therefore, filovirus gene expression is more complex and diverse than previously recognized. These observations suggest new directions in understanding the regulation of filovirus gene expression.
Billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer explains why today's middle class is feeling stuck, how that hurts the whole economy and what President Obama can do about it -- with a stroke of his executive pen.
"Progress in the software industry has been crushed under the weight of technical debt accumulated over the last 40 years. The tools, languages, libraries, and platforms we all rely on suffer from massive incidental complexities responsible for billions of dollars in wasted productivity. Anyone who spends any amount of time as a developer and loses days, weeks, or months implementing some library that “should” exist or working around some shitty software tech to implement a task that “should be simple” knows, deep down, that this can’t be the best humans are capable of. It’s not that we don’t know any better. Given more time and resources that could be devoted to tasks other than shipping the next release, most programmers at least have ideas for how to do things better. But we never seem to get these resources because of the failed economics of our software commons. I’ll explain the problem and tell you can what you can do right now to start changing the game......"
In the course of evolution, animals have become adapted to certain food sources, sometimes even to plants or to fruits that are actually toxic. The driving forces behind such adaptive mechanisms are often unknown. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now discovered why the fruit fly Drosophila sechellia is adapted to the toxic fruits of the morinda tree. Drosophila sechellia females, which lay their eggs on these fruits, carry a mutation in a gene that inhibits egg production. The flies have very low levels of L-DOPA, a precursor of the hormone dopamine, which controls fertility; interestingly, large amounts of L-DOPA are contained in morinda fruits. Flies that were fed with L-DOPA can compensate for the genetic deficiency and considerably increase their reproductive success. The same gene mutation also contributes to the resistance that these flies have to the toxic acids produced in the fruits and killing all other fruit fly species.
Vultures are scavengers that fill a key ecosystem niche, in which they have evolved a remarkable tolerance to bacterial toxins in decaying meat. Here we report the first deep metagenomic analysis of the vulture microbiome. ........... Our findings show a strong adaption of vultures and their bacteria to their food source, exemplifying a specialized host–microbial alliance.
..."Cloud&Heat places servers on remote premises (potentially your office). They process data for Cloud&Heat’s data customers, and heat your building with the waste heat. Cloud customers get cheap pay-as-you-go cloud compute, block storage and object storage, based on OpenStack. Heat customers (the people who host the server cabinets) get free heating."...