Who would get mixed with a hefty chap two meters high? There would be few those who wish. Just imagine that in a moment of danger this “hefty chap” becomes thrice as large... Is it fantasy? It is, if we are talking about people. But if it comes to unicellular algae, it is a typical scenario provided by nature for them. The scenedesmus unicellular alga grows thrice as large in presence of predators - cladoceran and rotifers that eat up unicellular algae. This is a defence mechanism as rotifers are unable to swallow such big cell.
This interesting peculiarity of the scenedesmus unicellular alga was investigated by the researchers of the Zoological Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences) in St. Petersburg. They managed to prove that the cell’s “image change” occurs at the genetic level at the point of transcription - information read-out from DNA.
To ascertain the transformation mechanism the researchers applied the actinomycin D inhibitor, which blocks read-out of hereditary information from DNA and, as a result, protein synthesis. An alga specimen was cultivated in a lean solution of chemical fertilizers. For the first experiment, the alga was transplanted into two glasses with rotifers that started to eat up the algae. The researchers added actinomycin D in one of the vessels, the other remaining intact for comparison.
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
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