Double meaning in genetic code

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code:

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists have discovered a second code hiding within DNA. This second code contains information that changes how scientists read the instructions contained in DNA and interpret mutations to make sense of health and disease.

A research team led by Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, made the discovery. The findings are reported in the Dec. 13 issue of Science. The work is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, also known as ENCODE. The National Human Genome Research Institute funded the multi-year, international effort. ENCODE aims to discover where and how the directions for biological functions are stored in the human genome.

Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.”

The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The UW team discovered that some codons, which they called duons, can have two meanings, one related to protein sequence, and one related to gene control. These two meanings seem to have evolved in concert with each other. The gene control instructions appear to help stabilize certain beneficial features of proteins and how they are made.

The discovery of duons has major implications for how scientists and physicians interpret a patient’s genome and will open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

“The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Plants recognize their siblings

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover:

 

 

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

The next time you venture into your garden armed with plants, consider who you place next to whom. It turns out that the docile garden plant isn’t as passive as widely assumed, at least not with strangers. Researchers at McMaster University have found that plants get fiercely competitive when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but they’re accommodating when potted with their siblings.

The study appears today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“The ability to recognize and favour kin is common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown in plants” said Susan Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. “When plants share their pots, they get competitive and start growing more roots, which allows them to grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get them. It appears, though, that they only do this when sharing a pot with unrelated plants; when they share a pot with family they don’t increase their root growth. Because differences between groups of strangers and groups of siblings only occurred when they shared a pot, the root interactions may provide a cue for kin recognition.”

Though they lack cognition and memory, the study shows plants are capable of complex social behaviours such as altruism towards relatives, says Dudley. Like humans, the most interesting behaviours occur beneath the surface.

Dudley and her student, Amanda File, observed the behavior in sea rocket (Cakile edentula), a member of the mustard family native to beaches throughout North America, including the Great Lakes.

So should gardeners arrange their plants like they would plan the seating at a dinner party?

“Gardeners have known for a long time that some pairs of species get along better than others, and scientists are starting to catch up with why that happens,” says Dudley. “What I’ve found is that plants from the same mother may be more compatible with each other than with plants of the same species that had different mothers. The more we know about plants, the more complex their interactions seem to be, so it may be as hard to predict the outcome as when you mix different people at a party.”

 

Source: phys.org

Tomb of Attila the Hun

 

 

Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun:

 

Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun

Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun

 

Budapest| Construction workers building the foundations of a new bridge over the Danube River in the Hungarian capitol, have unearthed a spectacular 5th century sepulchre. The analysis of the monument revealed that it was the burial chamber of a great hunnic leader, most likely  that of King Attila himself.

“This site is absolutely incredible!” explains Albrecht Rümschtein, an historian from the Lorand Eötvös University in Budapest and member of the team of specialists investigating the tomb. “We found many horse skeletons, as well as various weapons and other artefacts, all traditionally associated with Huns. These objects include a large sword made of meteoric iron, which could certainly be Attila’s legendary “Holy War Sword of the Scythians”, allegedly given to him by the god Mars himself. In fact, this definitely seems to be the resting place of the almighty Attila, but further analysis needs to be done to confirm it.”

Nicknamed “the scourge of God” by roman historians, Attila was the ruler of the Huns, a nomadic people originating possibly from Central Asia. He ruled from 434 A.D., until his death in 453 after a feast celebrating his latest marriage to a beautiful and young gothic princess named Ildico. He led many military raids on both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires provoquing what has become knowned as the Barbarian Invasions or the Great Migration, a large movement of germanic populations that greatly accelerated the fall of Rome and the advent of the Middle Ages in Europe. He his considered by most Hungarians, as the founder of the country.

The discovery of this funerary site could bring many clarifications concerning the origins and identity of the hunnic people and of Attila himself, which have both been sources of debate for centuries. The analysis of pieces of pottery and jewelry found on the site, should bring a new light on their cultural origins and trade networks, and help scientists better understand this badly documented people.

 

Source:  worldnewsdailyreport.com

The Brain cleans itself while Sleeping

Scientists discover the first real reason we need sleep:

  Scientists discover the first real reason we need sleep:


Scientists discover the first real reason we need sleep:

 

Scientists report that the first major mechanical reason our brain needs sleep – certain cleaning mechanisms in the brain work better when we shut down the brain .

Similar to how dump trucks take to the streets of the city during the predawn hours, because there is less traffic , our brains cleaners also work better when there is less going on.

“This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake ,” said study researcher Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester.

” In fact, the nature of restful sleep seems to be the result of active settlement of the byproducts of neuronal activity that accumulate during wakefulness. ”

We’ve known that our brain memories are consolidated during sleep and perform other important functions.

There are also benefits for the body during sleep – rest allows our muscles , bones and organs to repair themselves .

It also keeps our immune system healthy.

We know that sleep has all these benefits, but until now we did not know any of the specific changes that lead to these benefits of sleep .

All our cells accumulate while working residues and waste products can be toxic. If not removed they can accumulate and kill cells . Throughout the rest of the lymph system these waste products washed away the body, but the brain is cut from these actions because of the blood – brain barrier .

When the brain is asleep, the channels between the cells grow . This allows the fluid in the depths of the brain tissue to remove toxic proteins that accumulate during the day, including the kind that are responsible for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Pictured above , from Xie et . al in Science, shows that when mice sleep , the full ( pale blue ) liquid channels between neurons expand and flush out waste .

Physicists discover Universe is a hologram

 

Latest calculations chime with 1997 theory that reality is only perceived as 3D and is actually a 2D projection on the boundary of the universe:

Physicists discover ‘clearest evidence yet’ that the Universe is a hologram

Physicists discover ‘clearest evidence yet’ that the Universe is a hologram

 

A team of physicists have provided what has been described by the journal Nature as the “clearest evidence yet” that our universe is a hologram.

The new research could help reconcile one of modern physics’ most enduring problems : the apparent inconsistencies between the different models of the universe as explained by quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

The two new scientific papers are the culmination of years’ work led by Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan, and deal with hypothetical calculations of the energies of black holes in different universes.

The idea of the universe existing as a ‘hologram’ doesn’t refer to a Matrix-like illusion, but the theory that the three dimensions we perceive are actually just “painted” onto the cosmological horizon – the boundary of the known universe.

If this sounds paradoxical, try to imagine a holographic picture that changes as you move it. Although the picture is two dimensional, observing it from different locations creates the illusion that it is 3D.

This model of the universe helps explain some inconsistencies between general relativity (Einstein’s theory) and quantum physics. Although Einstein’s work underpins much of modern physics, at certain extremes (such as in the middle of a black hole) the principles he outlined break down and the laws of quantum physics take over.

The traditional method of reconciling these two models has come from the 1997 work of theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena, whose ideas built upon string theory. This is one of the most well respected ‘theories of everything’ (Stephen Hawking is a fan) and it posits that one-dimensional vibrating objects known as ‘strings’ are the elementary particles of the universe.

Maldacena has welcomed the new research by Hyakutake and his team, telling the journal Nature that the findings are “an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory.”

Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist regarded as one of the fathers of string theory, added that the work by the Japanese team “numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture.”

 

Reference: http://www.independent.co.uk

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news:

 

 Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it's really bad news


Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news

So what is with all the dying bees? Scientists have been trying to discover this for years. Meanwhile, bees keep dropping like… well, you know.

Is it mites? Pesticides? Cell phone towers? What is really at the root? Turns out the real issue really scary, because it is more complex and pervasive than thought.

Quartz reports:

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

The researchers behind that study in PLOS ONE — Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose, Dennis vanEngelsdorp — collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.

The discovery means that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, is actually a significant part of Colony Collapse Disorder. And that likely means farmers need a whole new set of regulations about how to use fungicides. While neonicotinoids have been linked to mass bee deaths — the same type of chemical at the heart of the massive bumble bee die off in Oregon — this study opens up an entirely new finding that it is more than one group of pesticides, but a combination of many chemicals, which makes the problem far more complex.

And it is not just the types of chemicals used that need to be considered, but also spraying practices. The bees sampled by the authors foraged not from crops, but almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, which means bees are more widely exposed to pesticides than thought.

The authors write, “[M]ore attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.”

While the overarching issue is simple — chemicals used on crops kill bees — the details of the problem are increasingly more complex, including what can be sprayed, where, how, and when to minimize the negative effects on bees and other pollinators while still assisting in crop production. Right now, scientists are still working on discovering the degree to which bees are affected and by what. It will still likely be a long time before solutions are uncovered and put into place. When economics come into play, an outright halt in spraying anything at all anywhere is simply impossible.

Quartz notes, “Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.”

Scientists discover what’s killing bees

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought:

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

The mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.

Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But vanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health.

“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”

The study found another complication in efforts to save the bees: US honey bees, which are descendants of European bees, do not bring home pollen from native North American crops but collect bee chow from nearby weeds and wildflowers. That pollen, however, was also contaminated with pesticides even though those plants were not the target of spraying.

“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” says vanEngelsdorp.

Scientists discover Hypnosis secret

Scientists discover why some people just can’t be hypnotised:

Scientists discover why some people just can't be hypnotised

Scientists discover why some people just can’t be hypnotised

It is certainly one of the more mysterious medical treatments. But one question has always remained: why can some people be hypnotised and others can’t? The answer, it seems, may well lie with our decision-making ability. Scientists at Stanford University in the U.S. have discovered that people susceptible to hypnosis find it easier to make decisions and have better attention spans.

Quick thinkers: People who are easily hypnotised are better at decision making and concentrating
Quick thinkers: People who are easily hypnotised are better at decision making and concentrating. On the other hand, those who are precise in their habits and make judgements quickly are less likely to succumb. The study was published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. Hypnosis is described as a trance-like state during which a person has a heightened focus and concentration. It has been used to help manage pain, control anxiety and combat phobias. It’s also increasingly being used to reduce conditions linked to stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome. But Dr David Spiegel, who led the research, says up to a quarter of people he sees cannot be hypnotised.  To try and establish why, he scanned 12 people who were susceptible to hypnosis and 12 who were not.
Hypnosis: Performed by Derren Brown, it has been used to help manage pain and control stress
Hypnosis: Nobody likes Derren Brown but Performances by him has been used to help manage pain and control stress Dr Spiegel and his colleagues found no differences between the typical structures of the two groups’ brains. But when they looked at the subjects’ brains at rest, they noticed the brains of the easily hypnotised people behaved differently: they were most active in areas that decide what to focus on. Dr Spiegal told the Los Angeles Times: ‘The highly hypnotisable are people who can readily immerse themselves in thinking about things without having their attention interrupted by pesky reminders of reality or of competing cognitive demands. ‘They can harness their minds to imagine something about themselves – and make it so.’ In everyday life, says Dr. Spiegel, these high hypnotisable people are notably different than their less hynotisable peers. ‘They get side-tracked by sunsets and lost in movies; they tend to show up three hours late for things because they lost track of time.’ By contrast, those who are resistant to hypnosis tend to be more judgmental, fastidious in their habits and less trusting of people. The researchers looked at the activity of three different networks in the brain: the default-mode network, used when the  brain is idle; the executive-control network, which is involved in making decisions; and the salience network, which is involved in prioritising. Both groups had an active default-mode network, but people who could be easily hypnotised had more activity between the decision-making and prioritising networks. They also had more activation between  an important control region of the brain and the area involved in focusing attention. In people who struggled to be hypnotised there was little connectivity between these two regions. Dr Spiegal said the results came close to finding a ‘brain signature’ which reveals who can and cannot be hypnotised. The hope is to use this to shed light on how hypnosis could be more widely used to combat pain, ease stress and overcome phobias.

Researchers Discover Bacteria Produces Pure Gold

Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold:

Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold

Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold

Gold was produced by a bacteria that, according to researchers at Michigan State University, can survive in extreme toxic environments and create 24-karat gold nuggets. Pure gold. Maybe this critter can save us all from the global economic crisis? Of course not—but at least it can make Kazem Kashefi—assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics—and Adam Brown—associate professor of electronic art and intermedia—a bit rich, if only for the show they have put together. Kashefi and Brown are the ones who have created this compact laboratory that uses the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans to turn gold chlroride—a toxic chemical liquid you can find in nature—into 99.9% pure gold. Accoding to Kashefi, they are doing “microbial alchemy” by “something that has no value into a solid [in fact, it the toxic material they use does cost money. Less than gold, but still plenty], precious metal that’s valuable.” The bacteria is incredibly resistant to this toxic element. In fact, it’s 25 times stronger than previously thought. The researchers’ compact factory—which they named The Great Work of the Metal Lover—holds the bacteria as they feed it the gold chloride. In about a week, the bacteria does its job, processing all that junk into the precious metal—a process they believe happens regularly in nature. So yes, basically, Cupriavidus metallidurans can eat toxins and poop out gold nuggets. It seems that medieval alchemists were looking for the Philosopher’s Stone—the magic element that could turn lead to gold—in the wrong place. It’s not a mineral. It’s a bug.