The article, “Progress in the Ecological Genetics and Biodiversity of Freshwater Bacteria,” by Jürg B. Logue, Helmut Bürgmann, and Christopher T. Robinson, inaugurates a series of articles in BioScience on the theme “21st Century Directions in Biology.” Most issues of BioScience will include an article about the impacts of new molecular techniques on a range of biological fields.
The authors of the first “21st Century Directions in Biology” article summarize the history of techniques that allow the study of bacteria that cannot be cultured in the laboratory—the large majority. The first generation of such techniques was focused principally on the analysis of DNA sequences. Research that employed these techniques indirectly shed light on the nature of freshwater environments as a bacterial habitat. A particular problem in the study of freshwater environments is that they fluctuate greatly over time and space. It has become clear, however, that freshwater is quite different from terrestrial soil and marine environments in terms of the bacteria present.
Progress has brought new information to bear on the long-debated question of what exactly constitutes a bacterial species. It has also clarified the role of random events in the distribution of such species: randomness appears to be a substantial, although not all-powerful, influence.
The newest techniques can analyze specific functional capabilities of bacteria, such as their ability to metabolize particular molecules. Moreover, some techniques can analyze multiple capabilities in parallel. These are being combined with accurate and sensitive measurement techniques. Such research is yielding new understanding of how microbial populations shift in response to environmental change, a question that is likely to loom larger as freshwater becomes a more limiting resource for human populations.
Nerves control the body’s bacterial community
26.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Ageless ears? Elderly barn owls do not become hard of hearing
26.09.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
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...
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