Showing posts with the label DNA sequencing

Did scientists unearth the secret to aging?

  Image Credit: istockphoto Even the healthiest and luckiest animal, who's never had any illness or disease and has never been in a life-threatening situation, dies. Several predictions have been made that could explain this phenomenon. Most explanations revolve around the idea that DNA mutates over time, causing terminal diseases like cancer . This might lead you to think that large animals should die more quickly than small animals since large animals have more cells that can mutate.   While this idea could explain why small dogs tend to outlive large dogs, it doesn’t explain why the trend isn't always true between different species. For example, mice are far smaller and have far fewer cells than giraffes. It would make sense for mice to be less prone to developing deadly mutations and to live longer as a result. This is clearly not the case, as healthy mice tend to live to around 4 years whereas giraffes can live to be 25.   Why does this happen? And can the typical naked m

Are You an Expert in PCR? Taq Does Not Work the Way You Know

Credits: The University of California, Irvine's Departments of Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy have discovered new information on a critical enzyme that enables DNA sequencing . The discovery marks a significant step forward in the future of customized medicine, when physicians will be able to construct medicines based specifically on patients' DNA.  “Enzymes make life possible by catalyzing chemical transformations that otherwise would just take too long for an organism,” said Greg Weiss , UCI professor of chemistry and a co-corresponding author of the new study. “One of the transformations we’re really interested in is essential for all life on the planet – it’s the process by which DNA is copied and repaired.”  The enzyme researched by the UCI-led team is named Taq, after the bacterium in which it was initially found, Thermos aquaticus. The UCI-led research discovered that Taq, which aids in the replication of DNA, functions in a fundamentally different way th

'Fast food' eating bats have less healthy guts

Pallas's long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina), feeding on nectar from banana trees in Costa Rica Nectar-feeding bats have a diverse diet and a diverse gut microbiome too. When these bats get an easy and quick supply of food, in their case banana plantations, they take to this 'fast-food' since it is reliable. Just like humans, how this food is grown determines the nature of their gut microbiome, says a recently published study   The researchers collected fecal samples from bats that had foraged for an hour after sunset in intensive banana plantations, organic plantations as well as from bats feeding in their natural habitat. They used DNA sequencing to determine which bacterial groups were present, absent, more common , or they were linked to a specific habitat. They also measured the bat’s body condition, which included their size and weight. Bats feeding in plantations also had higher body mass and size, a result of the ready availability of food. While bats in natural

Plants, too, have microbiomes you know [Coffee-byte]

If you have read our post about being in sync with your microbes , you are well aware of 'microbiomes', the role they play in our lives and how unique they are to us. Researchers at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon, have now found that just like us, plants, too, have microbiomes!  Plant leaves, especially, are home to millions and millions of bacteria. Using modern sequencing technology, researchers mass sequenced the multitude of bacteria found there and identified these bacteria using unique sequences called 'barcodes'. While there were some microbes that were found on most plants, there were also some that were unique or rarely found.  The role of all the bacteria is not well understood but these microbes could be responsible for helping plants evade pathogenic infections or even help in faster growth. Certain bacteria were also found is certain areas where the air composition was markedly different, thereby showing that

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