Following a three-year-long trial in the rice of fields of China, scientists report a new genetically modified strain that promises to dramatically reduce the otherwise huge carbon footprint of rice farming. The new GMO crop emits only 1% of the methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas – that an unaltered rice paddies leaches out into the atmosphere. So far, the crop looks extremely advantageous but the unfavorable social climate against GMOs doesn’t help at all, particularly in China where the public is very sensitive and no genetically modified rice variety has been allowed on its fields apart from this trial. China is the second largest producer of rice in the world.
The first humans to reach the Americas came from Siberia in a single group some 23,000 years ago, at the height of the last Ice Age, says the new study. On their way to Alaska, they hanged around in the northern regions for a few thousands of years before moving deeper into North and South America.
Mice with genetic hearing loss could sense and respond to noises after receiving working copies of their faulty genes, researchers report. Because the mice’s mutated genes closely correspond to those responsible for some hereditary human deafness, the scientists hope the results will inform future human therapies.
A team at University of Chicago made the most comprehensive woolly mammoth genome sequencing ever. By comparing its genome with that of its distant cousins, the Asian and African elephants, the researchers were able to determine which are the mammoth’s specific genes. These were ran with libraries and repositories to identify what these do. We now know which of mammoth’s gene shaped its uncanny skull and small ears, how it got hair to cover all its body or how the mammoth adapted a special fat metabolism and cold coping mechanism. To test their findings, the researchers transplanted a mammoth gene into a human cell. The kidney cell produced new proteins which were tolerant to heat or cold, as suspected showing their other genetic determinations are also likely correct.
In an announcement that’s been a long time coming for science fiction fans, the White House has, for the first time, come out in support of a global moratorium on altering the human germline. It’s a decision that has implications not just for this particular type of scientific inquiry, but also for the future of government involvement in science. With
We seem to be losing the war on elephant poachers, but a new toolset that involves tracing slaughter hotspots in Africa based on DNA taken from ivory might be exactly what law enforcement needed all these years. This way, researchers at University of Washington, in collaboration with INTERPOL, found that most of the ivory seized since 2006 originates in just two areas.
DNA analysis of the jawbone of a human who lived in modern day Romania some 40,000 years ago has the most Neanderthal ancestry ever seen. Up to 9% of the ancient man’s DNA was Neanderthal, suggesting interbreeding occurred much earlier than previously thought. In fact, this European human had a Neanderthal ancestor four to six generations back in his family tree. How would it be to have a Neanderthal for a great-great-great-grandfather?
A recent study involving a Papua New Guinea tribe that practiced cannibalistic funeral customs sheds new light on prion-related conditions such as mad cow disease.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reiterated its stance against modifying human embryos, after a paper published last week by Chinese researchers reported how they modified the DNA of human embryos to eradicate certain inheritable diseases from the lineage. Modifying human embryos was banned in 1996 for US government bodies, but in some states private entities are allowed to carry out such research.
European males are on average 11 centimeters taller now than they were in the 1870s, which is quite a lot by all means. Everybody makes fun of Napoleon for being short, but as a matter of fact he was actually standing above average height! Thank better nutrition and medicine for that. Even so, what in the world are the Dutch eating that makes them this tall? The average Dutchman now stands over six feet tall, and while the rest of the world seems to have stopped, they’re still riding a growing trendline. The answer by actually be evolutionary – the tall Dutchmen have more babies.