It is easy to overlook this fact because they have become discretely embedded into our everyday lives. Plants provide us with food, medicines, and raw materials used by our industries. In spite of their importance, very few of us could name more than a tiny fraction of the plants that surround us.
True, most would have little difficulty in distinguishing between a buttercup from a dandelion (provided both are in flower) but only a hand full of experts could identify all 1600 native plants in the UK, and nobody is able to name all of the 250,000 or so plant species recorded world-wide.
Accurate plant identification on a large scale is nevertheless vital if we are to protect the most biodiverse regions of the world. Equally, plant identification based on DNA could help in the search for new sources of pharmaceutical drugs, check ingredients in food and industrial products or provide a new source of forensics information for criminal investigations.
In a step towards addressing these needs, a consortium of scientists from the United Kingdom, the USA, Sweden and Syria have collaborated in the search for one or more short pieces of DNA code that could eventually be used in an automated fashion to reliably identify almost all land plant species.
This study, recently published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, has provided a short-list of six gene regions that are present across almost all land plants, suitable for use on processed food products and sufficiently variable in their code to allow separation of closely related species. The next step is to test these regions (and a small number of others identified previously) against a very large number of plants from throughout the world.
Davina Quarterman | alfa
eTRANSAFE – collaborative research project aimed at improving safety in drug development process
26.09.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Beer can lift your spirits
26.09.2017 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
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.
A warming planet
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.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences
26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences