Here are some of the more interesting research papers that appeared in top scientific journals in the last week.
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Decoding the platypus DNA
The Australian duck-billed platypus is the perfect example of weird – they lay eggs, feed their young, are toothless with webbed legs, and, more interestingly, have 10 sex chromosomes.
Belonging to an ancient group of mammals called monotremes, platypuses have always confused scientists. Now, by mapping the mammal’s entire genome, researchers have answered a few questions about the species. The team explains that they are a mixture of mammals, birds and reptiles and that they have retained many of the original characteristics of their ancestors that help them adapt to the environment in which they live.
A special type of rice grown in Zhejiang, China has been shown to be resistant to the plant pathogen Burkholderia plantarii. But how and why? Researchers who studied the seed of the plant found that a bacteria called Sphingomonas meloni that lived inside the seed helped the plant gain this resistance. The bacteria produce an acid called anthranilic acid which inhibits the pathogen, thus saving the crop.
Pocket DNA Sequencer
Minion device. Credit: https://nanoporetech.com/
Weighing just 450g and measuring 14cm, the MinION device from Oxford Nanopore Technologies helped sequence DNA on the move. Now, using special molecular labels, a team at the University of British Columbia has reduced the error rate to less than 0.005%. “A nice thing about this method is that it is applicable to any gene of interest that can be amplified … it can be very useful in all areas where the combination of high precision and long genomic information scope is valuable, such as cancer research, human genetics, and microbiome science, ”writes Ryan Ziels, one of the study’s authors, in a statement.
By the end of the 21st century, the population facing extreme droughts could more than double – from 3% (1976-2005) to 8% by 2099. The team notes that this could worsen human migration and conflict. . The document, based on 27 simulations of global climate and hydrological models spanning 125 years, also highlights the urgent need to manage water resources.
The proliferation of phytoplankton in the Persian Gulf, Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA / GSFC.
Researchers have now discovered that viruses play an important role in the evolution of microalgae by sequencing the entire genome of 107 different species of microalgae from different ecosystems. They compared the genomes of saltwater (marine) and freshwater microalgae and found that marine species contained more genes of viral origin. “Sequences of chlorovirus, coccolithovirus, pandoravirus, Marseillevirus, Tupanvirus and other viruses have been found integrated into the genomes of algae in marine environments,” the article notes.