Sunday, April 6, 2014

This week in biology/medicine (March 31st-April 6th, 2014)

Strange animal defense mechanisms.

Chemists have developed small peptides of 7 amino acids that have enzymatic activity.  This could revolutionize the study of modern-day enzymes and of neurological diseases that are characterized by aggregates of small proteins.

Researchers have genetically engineered poplar trees with lignin that is more easily broken down for the purpose of paper production and biofuel.  The idea is that production of these compounds will require fewer chemicals, less energy, and be overall less damaging to the environment.

A dynamic genome database of the Chinese population has been created using genome sequencing data of 194 individuals.  The previously available human reference genome was made using the genetic data of 13 Caucasian individuals. (Open Access)


A comprehensive map of the hummingbirds' 22-million year family tree from a decade-long study shows rapid and on-going diversification.

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