The first public release of plant gene chip information is being launched at the Society for Experimental Biology conference in Swansea on Friday 12th April. Scientists from the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre (NASC), part of a multi-million pound resource network, will announce a newly accessible plant gene chip database which is available through the internet.
Unlike in GATTACA, where a drop of Ethan Hawke`s blood or an eyelash could tell you what genes he had, gene chips can tell you much more; not only which genes are there, but also how active they are, and therefore - what they may be doing.
Gene chips are produced in a similar manner to silicon chips, but instead of wires and transistors, the chips are covered with nucleotides and `virtual genes`. These chips allow scientists to take a small sample of an organism and then electronically show the simultaneous state of thousands of the RNA products from genes in that organism. This potentially gives you a `barcode` for the plant or animal and can be used in applications stretching from basic research to the real-time effects of GM manipulation, providing an exhaustive `contents` list for a transgenic organism. The `barcode` allow you to take a snapshot of the state of an organism telling you, for example, which genes are switched on in response to different exposures of light in a flower. The data is generated using Affymetrix gene chip technology and has been one of the hottest applications in the biological community for the last few years.
Jenny Gimpel | alphagalileo
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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...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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