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'Boss' genes could save human hearts - and the reef
UQ researchers have revealed rare decision-making genes in cells, which control how cells develop and respond to stress caused by disease or their environment. Researchers hope that in the future, they may be able to block a cell's bad decisions to prevent disease. (2020-12-13)

Spiders in space: without gravity, light becomes key to orientation
Humans have taken spiders into space more than once to study the importance of gravity to their web-building. What originally began as a somewhat unsuccessful PR experiment for high school students has yielded the surprising insight that light plays a larger role in arachnid orientation than previously thought. (2020-12-09)

Novel gene variants that modify the risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease discovered
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have identified 216 new genetic modifiers of late-onset Alzheimer's disease. The newly-identified biomarkers could potentially be used in the future to refine risk assessment, patient prognosis and act as therapeutic targets for this untreatable condition. (2020-12-08)

Synthetic llama antibodies rescue doomed proteins inside cells
Columbia researchers created a new technology using synthetic llama antibodies to protect endangered proteins inside cells. The technology could treat dozens of diseases. (2020-12-07)

Tweaking carotenoid genes helps tomatoes bring their a-game
Researchers led by the University of Tsukuba demonstrated that Target-AID gene editing technology can be used to simultaneously introduce single-base changes into multiple genes in tomatoes. Using this technique, the researchers altered three genes associated with carotenoid accumulation, resulting in elevated levels of carotenoids, particularly lycopene, in the resulting tomato lines. This technology will allow tomato breeders to introduce multiple advantageous gene changes into elite commercial cultivars, bypassing lengthy back-crossing steps between generations. (2020-12-01)

Rock-a-bye fly: Why vibrations lead to sleepiness
Researchers discover that gentle vibration can induce sleep in flies through a simple form of learning (2020-12-01)

Tomato's wild ancestor is a genomic reservoir for plant breeders
Today's tomatoes are larger and easier to farm than their wild ancestor, but they also are less resistant to disease and environmental stresses like drought and salty soil. Researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute created a high-quality genome for the ancestor, discovering structural variants that are involved in fruit flavor, size and ripening, stress tolerance and disease resistance. Plant breeders could use the resource to develop tomatoes that taste better, are more nutritious and more resilient. (2020-12-01)

After 100 years, Cornell University plant pathologists revisit fire blight hypothesis
Historically credited as being the first bacterium ever characterized as a plant pathogen, fire blight is a bacterial disease that leads to significant losses of pear and apple. The role of insects in the spread of this disease has been long studied. In a new study, plant pathologists based at Cornell University and Cornell AgriTech take a hypothesis that has been more or less ignored for 100 years and provided support for its validity. (2020-12-01)

Fruit flies reveal new insights into space travel's effect on the heart
Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have shown that fruit flies that spent several weeks on the International Space Station (ISS)--about half of their lives--experienced profound structural and biochemical changes to their hearts. (2020-11-25)

Eating dried fruit may be linked with better diet quality and health markers
Penn State research found that people who ate dried fruit were generally healthier than those who did not, and on days when people ate dried fruit they consumed greater amounts of some key nutrients than on days when they skipped. However, they also found that people consumed more total calories on days when they ate dried fruit. (2020-11-24)

Sestrin makes fruit flies live longer
Researchers identify positive effector behind reduced food intake. (2020-11-24)

BICRA gene provides answers to patients, doctors and scientists
Researchers identified the BICRA gene as a new disease gene involved in a neurodevelopmental disorder and found evidence that BICRA functions in neural development in humans and flies. (2020-11-23)

Minuscule migrations
Cells move constantly throughout our bodies, performing myriad operations critical to tissue development, immune responses and general wellbeing. This bustle is guided by chemical cues long studied by scientists interested in cellular migration. (2020-11-20)

The very hungry, angry caterpillars
In the absence of milkweed--their favorite food--monarch butterfly caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) go from peaceful feeders to aggressive fighters. Researchers reporting in the journal iScience on November 19 observed that caterpillars with less access to food were more likely to lunge at others to knock them aside, and caterpillars were most aggressive during the final stages before metamorphosis. (2020-11-19)

Very hungry and angry, caterpillars head-butt to get what they want
When food is scarce, monarch butterfly caterpillars go from docile to domineering. The results look something like a combination of boxing and ''bumper'' cars. The less food, the more likely caterpillars were to try to head-butt each other out of the way to get their fill, lunging and knocking aside other caterpillars to ensure their own survival. And, they are most aggressive right before the final stages of their metamorphosis. (2020-11-19)

A gel for dosage compensation
Researchers at the MPI of Immunobiology and Epigenetics have discovered how the MSL complex responsible for dosage compensation can distinguish the X chromosome from autosomes in flies. The Akhtar lab used a unique research approach to determine the minimal molecular components essential for recognizing the X chromosome. The study, now published in Nature, shows that the MSL2 protein and the roX RNA form a gel which ''attaches'' the MSL complex to the X chromosome. (2020-11-18)

Small differences, big impact
In a new study, researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have identified a handful of variations in an amino acid sequence critical for retaining the ancestral function of a gene over the course of 600 million years of evolution. (2020-11-17)

Researchers from CSIC identify the genetic program that allows us to see in 3D
A group of researchers from the Institute of Neurosciences UMH-CSIC, in Alicante, led by Dr. Eloísa Herrera, has discovered a genetic program essential for the formation of bilateral circuits, such as the one that makes possible 3D vision or the one enabling motor coordination. The finding, carried out in mice, is published today in Science Advances. (2020-11-13)

Cellular survivors
When it comes to complex life -- that of the multicellular variety -- cell death can be just as important as survival. It allows organisms to clean house and prevent the proliferation of damaged cells that could compromise tissue function. (2020-11-12)

Sugar work: U-M study finds sugar remodels molecular memory in fruit flies
A high-sugar diet reprograms the taste cells in fruit flies, dulling their sensitivity to sugar and leaving a ''molecular memory'' on their tongues, according to a University of Michigan study. (2020-11-11)

In flies, consuming high-sugar diet reduces sensitivity to sweetness
In fruit flies fed a high-sugar diet for one week, a complex that regulates taste-related sensory neurons reprogrammed the neurons to make the flies less sensitive to sweet taste. Half of these changes were not reversed even after the flies returned to a control diet, the study shows, suggesting flies' perception of sweet taste was permanently altered. Anoumid Vaziri and (2020-11-11)

One third of UK fruit and vegetables are imported from climate-vulnerable countries
One third of UK fruit and vegetables are imported from climate-vulnerable countries - and this is on the rise. Researchers call for a radical rethink of our trade strategies to ensure people in the UK have continued access to fruit and vegetables. (2020-11-09)

Natural enemy of Asian fruit fly - previously thought to be one species - is in fact two
CABI scientists have led new research which reveals strong evidence that a natural enemy of the prolific Asian fruit fly Drosphila suzukii - previously believed to be one species - is in fact two with only one of the parasitoid proving suitable as a biological control agent against the pest. (2020-11-05)

Nervous systems of insects inspire efficient future AI systems
Study explores functions of fruit fly's nervous system in food seeking / results valuable for the development and control of artificial intelligence. (2020-11-05)

Biologists create "atlas" of gene expression in neurons, documenting diversity of brain cells
New York University researchers have created a ''developmental atlas'' of gene expression in neurons, using gene sequencing and machine learning to categorize more than 250,000 neurons in the brains of fruit flies. Their study, published in Nature, finds that neurons exhibit the most molecular diversity during development and reveals a previously unknown type of neurons only present before flies hatch. (2020-11-04)

Buffalo fly faces Dengue nemesis
Australian beef cattle researchers trial the use of insect-infecting bacterium Wolbachia to tackle buffalo fly, a major blood-sucking pest that costs the industry $100 million a year in treatments and lost production. (2020-11-03)

Molecular interactions regulating trans-synaptic signalling and synapse formation
Scientists at Korea's Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) and colleagues have uncovered some of the complex molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of the brain's neural circuits. Their findings were published in The Journal of Neuroscience and could be relevant for developing treatments for diseases, such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. (2020-11-02)

Breakdown of gene coordination during aging suggests a substantial challenge to longevity
In a study published in the journal Nature Metabolism, researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel report evidence that supports, for the first time, a longstanding theory on the aging process in cells. Using a novel approach from physics, they developed a computational method that quantifies the coordination level between different genes. With this approach, they measured the gene activity of individual cells and compared cells from old and young subjects, discovering phenomena never before observed. (2020-11-02)

'BAH-code' reader senses gene-silencing tag in cells
UNC Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers and colleagues have identified an evolutionarily conserved pathway responsible for ''closing down'' gene activity in the mammalian cell. The finding is closely related to the Polycomb pathway defined decades ago by a set of classic genetic experiments carried out in fruit flies. They repor the BAHCC1 protein is critically involved in silencing genes and acts as an integral component of the Polycomb gene-repressive pathway in mammalian cells. (2020-11-02)

The protein dress of a neuron
New method marks proteins and reveals the receptors in which neurons are dressed (2020-11-01)

Beetle larvae think with a brain 'under construction'
In human brains, hundreds of billions of nerve cells are interconnected in the most complicated way. This is no different for insects, although their brains 'only' have up to one million nerve cells. To a large extent, the brain develops in the embryo, but in many animals it is completed only after birth. Biologists from Göttingen University found that beetle larvae start using their brains, although still 'under construction'. Results were published in PLOS Biology. (2020-11-01)

A groundbreaking genetic screening tool for human organoids
Researchers from the laboratory of Jürgen Knoblich at IMBA - Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences - developed CRISPR-LICHT, a revolutionary technology that allows genetic screens in human tissues such as brain organoids. By applying the novel technology to brain organoids, the ER-stress pathway was identified to play a major role in regulating the size of the human brain. The results are published in the renowned journal Science. (2020-10-29)

Researchers map genomes of agricultural monsters
The University of Cincinnati is unlocking the genomes of creepy agricultural pests like screwworms that feast on livestock from the inside out and thrips that transmit viruses to plants. (2020-10-28)

Waiter! This soup is not fly
Black Soldier Fly larvae contains more zinc and iron than lean meat and its calcium content is higher than milk. Less than half a hectare of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than cattle grazing on around 1200 hectares, or 52 hectares of soybeans. New research has identified the barriers for introducing fly protein into Western human diets as a sustainable, healthy alternative to both meat and plant proteins. (2020-10-28)

Research provides a new understanding of how a model insect species sees color
Through an effort to characterize the color receptors in the eyes of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, University of Minnesota researchers discovered the spectrum of light it can see deviates significantly from what was previously recorded. (2020-10-26)

Common liverwort study has implications for crop manipulation
A new study on genetic pathways in the common liverwort could have future implications for crop manipulation. (2020-10-26)

Cause of Alzheimer's disease traced to mutation in common enzyme
Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have discovered a new mechanism by which clumps of tau protein are created in the brain, killing brain cells and causing Alzheimer's disease. A specific mutation to an enzyme called MARK4 changed the properties of tau, usually an important part of the skeletal structure of cells, making it more likely to aggregate, and more insoluble. Getting to grips with mechanisms like this may lead to breakthrough treatments. (2020-10-24)

The consequences of mating at the molecular level
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba identified a novel mechanism by which mating affects the behavior of germline stem cells (GSCs). By studying Drosophila melanogaster, the researchers showed that the neurons that are activated during mating result in increased intracellular calcium signaling in cells adjacent to GSCs, which in turn resulted in the activation of the protein matrix metalloproteinase to increase GSCs. This study describes how stem cell behavior is regulated by environmental cues. (2020-10-20)

Tiny beetles a bellwether of ecological disruption by climate change
New research shows that as species across the world adjust where they live in response to climate change, they will come into competition with other species that could hamper their ability to keep up with the pace of this change. (2020-10-19)

Fats fighting back against bacteria
With antibiotic-resistant superbugs on the rise, this research shows a new way that cells are using to protect themselves - using fats as a covert weapon, and giving us new insights into alternative ways to fight infection. (2020-10-16)

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