With increasing numbers of whole genomes being sequenced, researchers are keen to analyse the functions of the genes they contain and the proteins these genes encode. Yet, according to researchers writing in BMC Biology, to fully understand any genome, researchers must use palaeontology, geology and chemistry to help them discover the reasons why specific genes evolved.
Steven Benner and Eric Gaucher at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Frank and Rosalie Simmen at the University of Arkansas, and their colleagues from the United States and Norway used a diverse array of disciplines to investigate why the pig, Sus scrofa, has three different genes that encode the enzyme aromatase – an enzyme that catalyses the transformation of androgens, such as testosterone, into estrogens - whereas other hooved animals have only one.
The evidence that they collected suggests that the additional aromatase genes arose as a result of natural selection for pigs with larger litters than their ancestors. These larger litters may well have helped the animals to survive the dramatic cooling of the earth that started during the Oligocene period, around 35 million years ago.
Gemma Bradley | alfa
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
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New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
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DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
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MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
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Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
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