Scientists in New Zealand have discovered that some cows have genes that give them a natural ability to produce skimmed milk and plan to use this information to breed herds of milkers producing only skimmed milk.
The researchers also plan to breed commercial herds producing milk with the unique characteristics required to make a butter that is spreadable straight from the fridge. They have already identified a cow, Marge, with the genes required to do this and say a commercial herd is likely by 2011. The milk is very low in saturated fats and so should be high in polyunsaturates and monounsaturated fats.
Experts say that the discovery of these rogue milkers could completely revolutionise the dairy industry. Ed Komorowski, technical director at Dairy UK says that the New Zealand approach could be used to breed cows that still produce full-fat milk but with only the good fats, which could swing things back in favour of full-fat milk. In the UK, for example, only 25% of milk sold is full fat. ‘In future if whole milk can be made to contain unsaturated fats – which are good for you – then it might mean that people change back to whole milk products. The big thing about dairy products is taste, so this would be a way of giving the benefits of taste without the disadvantage of saturated fats,’ according to Komorowski.
This may also overcome the problem of waste. ‘If you can genetically produce milk without fat then that may turn out to be a very good solution to what might later be a big disposal issue,’ says Komorowski. Producing skimmed and semi-skimmed milk means there is a lot of fat left over.
Komorowski noted, however, that although the lower-fat milk may be healthier, it will be interesting to see how much milk the cows actually produce.
The rogue cows were discovered when biotech company ViaLactia screened the range of milk compositions across the entire herd of 4m New Zealand cattle. New Zealand dairy firm Fonterra has already made milk products from Marge’s milk and they maintain the positive taste.
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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