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Archive for December, 2011

BioEngineered Cyanobacteria Produce Twice As Much Hydrogen

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Read the article by Rebecca Boyle from popsci here

Read the actual PNAS paper, Lubner, Applegate et al. 2011

Researchers led by Carolyn Lubner at Penn State worked with a cyanobacterium called Synechococcus and another bacterium, Clostridium acetobutylicum. In nature, photosynthetic organisms use light-capturing enzymes nicknamed Photosystem I and II, which absorb light and excite electrons to a higher energy state. Another enzyme called FNR then uses these electrons to produce an energy-storage molecule. This molecule is used to make sugars to keep the organism alive, and that’s your basic photosynthesis process.

Lubner et al replaced the FNR enzyme with a hydrogenase enzyme, which combines electrons with hydrogen ions to make molecular hydrogen (instead of a sugar-producing system). Then they used this enzyme to stitch together iron-based terminals of a Photosystem I enzyme from each of the bacteria. This stitch served as a molecular wire, easily and quickly transferring electrons. The researchers doped it with vitamin C, which served as the electron feedstock.

The result was a high-throughput hydrogen-producing system — electron flow was more than twice as high as the bacteria’s individual rates, the authors say. It produced hydrogen molecules for several hours, as long as it had vitamin C to use. The system is easily adaptable to other enzyme terminals and other bacteria, the authors say. As such, it could be used to produce a wide range of potential biofuels.”

Categories: Uncategorized

BMCDB Mini Holiday Party: TGIT

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey folks

Just a quick reminder, we will have a BMCDB holiday celebration in LSA 1022 at 5:30 today. Come by and have some pizza and few libations and chat up a storm. Cya there!

“The Twelve Days of Research (To be sung to the tune of “The Twelve days of Christmas”)

On the first day of research, My Prof he said to me, Make us a cup of tea On the second day of research, My Prof he said to me, Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the third day of research My Prof he said to me, Tutor three new students who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the fourth day of research My Prof he said to me, Fabricate some data Tutor three new students who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the fifth day of research My Prof he said to me, TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the sixth day of research My Prof he said to me, Plagiarise some papers TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the seventh day of research My Prof he said to me Go to Summer school Plagiarise some papers TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you Make us a cup of tea On the eighth day of research My Prof he said to me Get some bloody funding Go to summer school Plagiarise some papers TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the ninth day of research My Prof he said to me No I haven’t read it Get some bloody funding go to summer school Plagiarise some papers TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the tenth day of research My Prof he said to me Where’s your bloody thesis No I haven’t read it Get some bloody funding Go to summer school Plagiarise some papers TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the eleventh day of research My Prof he said to me Pull yourself together Where’s your bloody thesis No I haven’t read it Get some bloody funding Go to Summer school Plagiarise some papers TAKE an MSc Fabricate some data Tutor three new students Who the hell are you? Make us a cup of tea On the first day of research My Prof he said to me: AT LEAST YOU’VE GOT YOUR B S C.”

2012 IGPS Registration Is Open: Win Some Cash!

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The application process for the

2012 Interdisciplinary Graduate and Professional Symposium (IGPS)

is now open!  Please go to http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/about/igps.html to learn how to apply.

 If you have any questions, please send them to Terri Harris at igpscoordinator@ucdavis.edu. Monetary prizes will be given to a number of students in various categories.

Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

Livermore, represennnnt!

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

From the Contra Costa Times by Suzanne Bohan:


Years after their discovery, the super-heavy elements with atomic numbers of 114 and 116 have finally been named by their Russian and American discoverers. The elements are flerovium and livermoreium also known as Fl and Lv.

Lawrence Livermore National Labs

LIVERMORE — The city of Livermore and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory may soon have an element named in their honor.

Lab scientists and colleagues at a Russian institute synthesized a superheavy element a decade ago and it landed a spot as No. 116 on the periodic table — the master list of elements.

Temporarily called ununhexium, it will become “livermorium,” an international chemistry organization announced this week. The name honors the scientists who helped create it and the city hosting the national security lab.

If approved after a five-month public comment period, it will be the second element associated with the laboratory.

In 1997, “Lawrencium” was named for the lab’s founder, E.O. Lawrence.

Livermorium would have the atomic symbol Lv.

Livermorium was first made in Dubna, Russia, in July 2000. The work was a collaboration between science teams led by Yuri Oganessian at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Ken Moody at the Livermore lab.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry reviewed the work over a decade and in June accepted the discovery of ununhexium and another element, No. 114, also created in joint work of the two labs.

In June 2011, the chemistry union officially accepted elements 116 and 114 as the heaviest elements.

Element 114 will be named flerovium, to honor Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, where superheavy elements, including element
114, were synthesized.

Read the complete article here.

Categories: Interesting link

C. elegans inherit traits without DNA

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

From Cell:

Transgenerational Inheritance of an Acquired Small RNA-Based Antiviral Response in C. elegans
Oded Rechavi, Gregory Minevich, Oliver Hobert

Summary
Induced expression of the Flock House virus in the soma of C. elegans results in the RNAi-dependent production of virus-derived, small-interfering RNAs (viRNAs), which in turn silence the viral genome. We show here that the viRNA-mediated viral silencing effect is transmitted in a non-Mendelian manner to many ensuing generations. We show that the viral silencing agents, viRNAs, are transgenerationally transmitted in a template-independent manner and work in trans to silence viral genomes present in animals that are deficient in producing their own viRNAs. These results provide evidence for the transgenerational inheritance of an acquired trait, induced by the exposure of animals to a specific, biologically relevant physiological challenge. The ability to inherit such extragenic information may provide adaptive benefits to an animal.

Graphical abstract

Get the complete manuscript here.

Categories: Interesting link

Last chance until 2014!

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Wake up early to watch tomorrow’s lunar eclipse!

From the Christian Science Monitor by Denise Chow


In this June 16 photo, the moon exhibits a deep orange glow as the Earth casts its shadow in a total lunar eclipse as seen in Manila, Philippines, before dawn. The last total lunar eclipse of the year will be on Saturday. And there won’t be another one for three years. Viewers in the western half of the United States will have the best views Saturday well before dawn, Pacific and Mountain Standard Time.

Bullit Marquez/AP

A total lunar eclipse will occur early Saturday morning (Dec. 10), casting the moon into shadow and making it appear bright red and supersized.

In North America, skywatchers located in western Canada and the United States should have a great view of the eclipse, which will start at around 7:45 a.m. EST (4:45 a.m. PST, 1245 GMT), when the Earth’s shadow begins to creep across the lunar disk.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, throwing the moon into shadow.

“For people in the western United States, the eclipse is deepest just before local dawn,” NASA scientists said in a statement. “Face west to see the red moon sinking into the horizonas the sun rises behind your back. It’s a rare way to begin your day.”

Observers in Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and central and eastern Asia should also be well placed for the celestial show. [Video: Return of the Blood Red Moon]

Unlike solar eclipses that are often visible to people within only a narrow slice of the globe, a lunar eclipse can be seen by anyone on the moon-facing side of the planet, explained Alan MacRobert, senior editor of the magazine Sky & Telescope.

“We’re all looking at this together,” MacRobert said in a statement.
The reddened moon

By 9:05 a.m. EST (6:05 a.m. PST, 1405 GMT), the moon will be fully engulfed in a glow that could range from light orange to blood red.

Skywatchers in the central time zone may get only a short glimpse, as the moon will set while it is only partially eclipsed, before the total eclipse stage begins, MacRoberts said. Unfortunately, people farther east will also miss out on the opportunity due to the setting moon and rising sun.

But for those who are favorably placed, this eclipse promises a stunning show, NASA officials said.

“Not only will the moon be beautifully red, it will also be inflated by the moon illusion,” NASA scientists explained. “For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects.”

Read the complete article here.

Categories: Interesting link

Rats feel empathy

December 9, 2011 1 comment

From Science by Dan Ferber


This trapped rat’s cage-mate ultimately opened the container’s door to set the rat free, without any rewards, researchers found.
CREDIT: © Science/AAAS

Empathy lets us feel another person’s pain and drives us to help ease it. But is empathy a uniquely human trait? For decades researchers have debated whether nonhuman animals possess this attribute. Now a new study shows that rats will free a trapped cagemate in distress. The results mean that these rodents can be used to help determine the genetic and physiological underpinnings of empathy in people.

A few years ago, neuroscientist Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, reported in Science that mice possess a simple kind of empathy called emotional contagion. They sense what another mouse is feeling and feel it themselves. For example, when one mouse receives a painful chemical injection into its paw, the mouse and its cagemate lick their paw to ease the pain.

That’s a necessary first step toward empathy, but it’s not sufficient, says neuroscientist Jean Decety of the University of Chicago in Illinois, a co-author of the new study. To truly empathize, one needs to understand on some level what the other individual is experiencing, as when a mother senses what’s upsetting her child. Only then can she help, Decety says.

To find out whether rats can feel true empathy and act on it, Decety and his University of Chicago colleagues, neuroscientist Peggy Mason and graduate student Inbal Bartal, placed pairs of unrelated rats in plastic cages for 2 weeks so they became familiar with each other. They then put one of the rodents into a small Plexiglas container inside the cage. Using a commercial bat detector, the team showed that many of the trapped rats emitted high-pitched squeaks, indicating that they were distressed. The small container was outfitted with a door that was rigged to fall to the side when the free rat bumped or nudged it.

After running rat pairs through a week of daily testing sessions, the researchers found that three-quarters of the rats with trapped cagemates had learned how to open the door (see video), whereas only one rat in six without a trapped cagemate learned to do this. This difference showed that rats with trapped cagemates were motivated to learn how to free them.

But what motivated the rats in the first place? To find out, the Chicago team kept up daily tests on the rodents that had learned how to open the container. Each free rat kept liberating its trapped cagemate for a month, which ruled out simple curiosity as a motivation. What’s more, the free rat would liberate its cagemate even when the trapped animal exited into a separate cage, which showed that the free rat wasn’t simply seeking the reward of schmoozing with its friend. The rats also freed trapped cagemates even when they had the option of bumping open an identical container and obtaining five chocolate chips for themselves, which showed that their motivation to help was on par with their desire for a tasty treat. In fact, half of the time they even shared chips by leaving one or two for the trapped rat, the team reports online today in Science.

Read the full article here.

Categories: Interesting link