Researchers who were looking for organisms that eke out a living in some of the most inhospitable soils on Earth have found a hardy few. A new DNA analysis of rocky soils in the martian-like landscape on some volcanoes in South America has revealed a handful of bacteria, fungi, and other rudimentary organisms, called archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.
Living systems owe their existence to a pair of information-carrying molecules: DNA and RNA. These fundamental chemical forms possess two features essential for life: they display heredity — meaning they can encode and pass on genetic information, and they can adapt over time, through processes of Darwinian evolution.
A long-debated question is whether heredity and evolution could be performed by molecules other than DNA and RNA.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) have provided the first evidence that engineered nanoparticles are able to accumulate within plants and damage their DNA. In a recent paper, the team led by NIST chemist Bryant C. Nelson showed that under laboratory conditions, cupric oxide nanoparticles have the capacity to enter plant root cells and generate many mutagenic DNA base lesions.
A bionic bacterium, would that be the bacterial equivalent of the six million dollar man from the equally named 70’s tv show, with enhanced strength, speed and vision? Unfortunately the answer is no. With man-made amino acids in its DNA … Continue reading
For years, nanotechnologists have been captivated by the potential of quantum dots – semiconducting particles that can absorb and emit light efficiently and at custom-chosen wavelengths. Their true potential however, has been difficult to grasp because of the lack of … Continue reading
Antibiotic resistant bacteria infections are on the rise. Numbers of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) cases are skyrocketing and ways to treat them are limited. By using the proteins expressed in the bacteria itself, scientists have found a new way to … Continue reading
Ten years ago this month, the first complete human genome sequence was published. While many have questioned why this has not translated into more relevant clinical applications, it has increased the molecular understanding of disease. Increasingly, the relationship between genome … Continue reading