The blueprint for life on our planet is typically written by DNA molecules using a four-letter genetic alphabet. But some bacteria-invading viruses carry around DNA with a different letter — Z — that may help them survive. And new studies show it is much more widespread than previously thought. A series of new papers describe how this strange chemical letter enters into viral DNA , and researchers have now demonstrated that the "Z-genome" is much more widespread in bacteria-invading viruses across the globe — and may have even evolved to help the pathogens survive the hot, harsh conditions of our early planet . The three separate studies were published on Thursday (April 29) in the journal Science. DNA is almost always made up of the same four-letter alphabet of chemical compounds known as nucleotides: Guanine (G), cytosine (C), thymine (T) and adenine (A). A DNA molecule consists of two strands of these chemicals that are tied together into a double-helix … [Read more...] about Some viruses have a mysterious ‘Z’ genome
Sterilize or pasteurize coir
Genes involved in tasting sweet and savory flavors on the tongue also play a key role in properly working sperm, new research in animals finds. These findings could lead to novel contraceptives for men , and suggest ways to help treat male infertility, the researchers said. In this research, scientists investigated proteins known as taste receptors. These receptors help tongues detect sugars, acids, salt and other chemicals responsible for basic tastes such as sweet, sour, salty, bitter and the savory taste known as umami. Oddly, in the past decade, research has shown taste receptors are also located in other parts of the body, including the stomach, intestines, pancreas, lungs and even the brain. But the functions of these receptors found outside the mouth have remained unclear. To help solve the mystery, researchers focused on receptors that help taste buds detect the sugars and amino acids responsible for sweet and savory tastes. The scientists … [Read more...] about Infertility May Be Linked to Taste Genes
The way that we segment history can be divided into two eras: before the advent of penicillin and after — or, in other words, pre-antibiotics and post-antibiotics. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered in 1928 by Scottish microbiologist Alexander Fleming, who found that the juices from the Penicillium fungi were able to destroy harmful bacteria. Medicine was transformed forever, and to this day, penicillin is prescribed for everything from lung infections to sexually transmitted illnesses. This extraordinary elixir was by no means produced by fungi by chance, for in some ways fungi operate more akin to humans and animals than plants. One of the reasons that we derive so many antibiotics from fungi is because we are more closely related to them than any other kingdom of organism, according to a 2008 TED Talk by famed American mycologist Paul Stamets. These properties of fungi — the ones that are used for antibiotic and antiviral medications — weigh heavy on the … [Read more...] about Ben Wheatley’s In The Earth finds horror in fungi
For decades, cosmologists have wondered if the large-scale structure of the universe is a fractal — that is, if it looks the same no matter how large the scale. After completing massive surveys of galaxies, scientists finally have an answer: No, but kind of, in a way. In the early 20th century, astronomers — beginning with Edwin Hubble and his discovery of the enormous distance to Andromeda , the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way — started to realize that the universe is almost unimaginably vast. They also learned that we can see galaxies scattered about, both near and far. And so, naturally, a question arose: Is there any sort of pattern to the arrangement of those galaxies, or is it totally random? The universe: Big Bang to now in 10 easy steps At first, it looked random. Astronomers saw giant galaxy clusters , each containing a thousand or more galaxies. And there were also much smaller groups of galaxies, and galaxies hanging out by themselves. … [Read more...] about Is there a pattern to the universe?