"The process known as group selection was once accepted unthinkingly, then was widely discredited; it's time for a more discriminating assessment". Full article by David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson @ American Scientist
"Scientists believe they have found a way to grow teeth in the laboratory, a discovery that could put an end to fillings and dentures. The US team from Oregon have located the gene responsible for the growth of enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth which cannot grow back naturally." Full article @ BBC NEWS
MicroRNAs influence crucial decisions in the patterning of the early vertebrate embryo, reports a study in Nature. The study is the first example of microRNAs regulating a fundamental signaling cascade, the authors say. Full Story @ The Scientist
Darwinia is a virtual world populated by artificial evolving creatures. "Darwinia has been overrun by a computer virus which has multiplied out of control. Your task is to destroy the Viral Infection and save the Darwinians from extinction".
"Two new studies show that the effects of a mother's early environment can be passed on to the next generation. The effects of an animal's environment during adolescence can be passed down to future offspring, according to two new studies. If applicable to humans, the research, done on rodents, suggests that the impact of both childhood education and early abuse could span generations. The findings provide support for a 200-year-old theory of evolution that has been largely dismissed: Lamarckian evolution, which states that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring." Full story @Technology Review
"The known world of RNA is expanding faster than that of any other cellular building block. The latest additions are types of long and short non-coding RNAs formed by bidirectional transcription and unusual processing. The relationship between DNA, RNA and protein is no longer as simple as we once thought — that specific genomic sequences are transcribed into messenger RNAs, which are then translated into proteins. In recent years, a flurry of studies has reported the existence of a large and growing family of non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), describing the different mechanisms of their transcription and their role in regulating gene expression." Full article @ Nature
"Endogenous retroviruses, ancient viruses embedded throughout mammalian genomes, might help RNA viruses permanently integrate into the genomes of their hosts [via their functional Reverse Transcriptase]." article @ The Scientist
"DNA transfer from bacteria to animals is more common than thought. Researchers have found a surprise hidden in the DNA of a fruitfly: what seems to be the entire genome of a parasitic bacterium called Wolbachia. Smaller bits of the promiscuous parasite's genetic material turned up in worms and wasps, too." Full Sttory @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Wolbachia bacteria (yellow) within the developing egg of a fruit fly (red).
"The normal story we are told is that as rose civilization, so declined evolution. The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, inverts that formula as indicated by the title." Full story @ Gene Expression
"How's this for creativity? Take Escherichia coli bacteria. Transform them into light-sensitive organisms by fusing a photoreceptor from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis to a protein in the E. coli membrane. Make a film (in both senses) of such bacteria and use them to record an image with a resolution of 100 megapixels per square inch". For more details see the Special Issue on Synthetic Biology @ Nature
The synthetic biology paradigm. Genetic circuits are composed of interacting genes and proteins (blue shapes, top left). The pointed and blunt arrows represent positive and negative regulation, respectively. Synthetic circuits (top right) based on the natural circuit can be constructed from well-characterized components (red and orange shapes) with similar regulatory effects to form similar or simplified circuits. The dynamics of these synthetic replicas can be compared to the natural system as well as to mathematical models. Analysis of natural circuits, synthetic replicas and models together can help us understand mechanisms used by natural systems.
"A new approach to the decades-old problem of quantum gravity goes back to basics and shows how the building blocks of space and time pull themselves together". Full article @ Scientific American or via the IU Library for reprint.