The safety of early applications of synthetic biology may be adequately addressed by the existing regulatory framework for biotechnology, especially in contained laboratories and manufacturing facilities. But further advances in this emerging field are likely to create significant challenges for U.S. government oversight, according to a new report authored by Michael Rodemeyer of the University of Virginia. Synthetic biology promises major advances in areas such as biofuels, specialty chemicals, and agriculture and drug products
Eating carcasses of livestock treated with antibiotics is wreaking havoc on the health of Spanish vultures, a new study carried out in Spain suggests. The researchers say that the practice of feeding vultures livestock carrion--although promoted by bird lovers--may actually threaten the species and should be ended.
Data collected from seventy-one nestlings from carrion-dependent areas suggest that the antibiotics used in meat production both collect in the vultures' bodies and inhibit their immune systems
Purdue University researchers have determined a process that regulates activity of genes that control seed germination and seedling development.
Mike Hasegawa, the Bruno C. Moser Distinguished Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, and Kenji Miura, a former Purdue postdoctoral researcher and now an assistant professor at Tsukuba University in Japan, discovered the step involved in keeping seeds from germinating in adverse conditions such as freezing temperatures or drought, a factor in the survival of plant species.
A new gene that provides resistance to a fungal disease responsible for millions of hectares of lost wheat yield has been discovered by scientists from the U.S. and Israel.
"This is the first step to achieving more durable resistance to a devastating disease in wheat," said Dr Cristobal Uauy, co-author of the report, recently appointed to the John Innes Centre in Norwich.
Resistance to stripe rust has previously been achieved using genes that are specific to single races of the disease
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and several partner institutions have published the sequence and analysis of the complete genome of sorghum, a major food and fodder plant with high potential as a bioenergy crop. The genome data will aid scientists in optimizing sorghum and other crops not only for food and fodder use, but also for biofuels production. The comparative analysis of the sorghum genome appears in the January 29 edition of the journal Nature
In an effort to improve rice varieties, a Purdue University researcher was part of a team that traced the evolutionary history of domesticated rice by using a process that focuses on one gene.
Scott A. Jackson, a professor of agronomy, said studying the gene that decides how many shoots will form on a rice plant allows researchers to better understand how the gene evolved over time through natural selection and human interaction
From the dwindling Atlantic cod to the increasingly rare American ginseng plant, species are racing to adjust to relentless human exploitation. According to a new analysis, the rate at which hunted and harvested species are changing their size and breeding schedules is unmatched in natural systems. Ecologists say the results point to errors in the way we manage fisheries and other harvested populations.
Researchers have noted rapid changes in heavily exploited fish and other species since the 1970s
There is an old wives' tale saying that women lose one tooth for every child they have. While this is not precisely true, pregnancy does take a toll on a woman's teeth. On one hand, they tend to crave sweeter, calorie-rich foods. On another hormonal changes affect a woman's saliva, diminishing its ability to protect her teeth.
For years, archaeologists and anthropologists have known that dental health among women takes a dive when a society shifts from hunting and gathering to early agriculture
Colony collapse disorder might be messing with bees and other insects like there's no tomorrow, but nevertheless, a new day dawns for human agriculture. It seems that we don't need them quite as much as we thought.
A study out of UC Berkeley mines data from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization from 1961 to 2006 and compared the yields of both pollinator-dependant and non-pollinator-dependant crops. They found that in developing countries and developed, crop yields were still going up. In the tropics, there was no difference between seed- and wind-pollinated crops
The differences between a tiger and a lion are easy to spot. But even to the trained eye, two species of earthworms can be tough to tell apart. Indeed, what was previously thought to be one species of common garden worm may in fact be four, according to research published online 8 October in Molecular Ecology. The surprising findings, say the ecologists who authored the report, may have implications for the use of pesticides in agriculture...
Here is one greenhouse effect that is welcome: the roofs of hothouse farms in Spain reflect so much sunlight that they may be pushing down local temperatures. Spain's semi-arid areas have slowly been transitioning from farming to greenhouses since the 1970's. Those areas have seen an annual temperature drop of .3 degrees per year. The rest of Spain has seen a rise of .5.
Scientific American here highlights urban farming. The idea is that we spend all this time, water and energy not only growing and fertilizing plants the old-fashioned way but then transporting the food products all the way from the farms to the cities, where most of the people live and where--by 2050, a whole lot more people are going to live.
The article describes growing fruits and vegetables inside tall glass buildings like some kind of modern-day hanging gardens (I wonder if they give +2 happy faces like in Civilization). We've got construction and glassmaking technology
A newly discovered family of genes acts as a plant's daily alarm, triggering a growth spurt just before dawn. By tweaking these genes, scientists may one day be able to engineer crops that grow for longer every day to produce bigger yields.
The timing of the growth spurt is known to be choreographed by the plant's circadian clock, which is reset by changes in light at dawn and dusk. The clock dictates when most physiological processes, such as the uptake of water and the breakdown of starch, happen throughout the day
Despite thousands of years of coexistence, exploitation and cheese, humanity seems to have missed an intriguing fact about cows: they like to point north. Or possibly south. After some exploration, it was found that other animals, such as deer, do this too.
Researchers have explored the matter and found that the ruminants are aligning themselves to magnetic north, not true north. In other words, this is about the magnetic field, not maximizing heat from the sun or getting out of the wind.
The biologist Paul Ehrlich came to public attention in 1968 with the publication of his book, The Population Bomb. Worries about the potential problems of a soaring global population had boiled and cooled over previous decades. And the issue had become so enmeshed with political decisions that many just wished to ignore it. The warnings of Thomas Malthus, the eighteenth-century writer who had had such influence on many thinkers on the problems of uncontrolled population growth, had slipped into the background