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
Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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15.11.2017 | Event News
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