Biologists unravel part of the mystery behind disappearance of shell material
Chitin, the Earths second-most abundant biological material, is a major component in the flurry of skeletal debris discarded daily by crustacean creatures in the worlds oceans. If left undisturbed, this tough insoluble material, a cousin to cellulose, would pile up on the oceans floor and wreak havoc with marine ecosystems. Fortunately, armies of bacteria act as chitins cleanup crew, and two Johns Hopkins University biologists have made a key discovery about how and when these microscopic soldiers launch their search-and-devour missions.
Writing in the Online Early Edition of "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" for the week of Dec. 29, 2003, Xibing Li and Saul Roseman reported that they had found a genetic master switch that reacts to the presence of nearby chitin and sets off a biological chain reaction, causing the bacterial feast to begin. Understanding this process is important because 1011 tons of chitin (pronounced "KITE-in") are dumped annually in the oceans, largely by tiny sea animals called copepods, which shed their shells as they grow. "If nothing happened to this debris, wed be up to our eyeballs in chitin, and the carbon and nitrogen cycle upon which marine life depends would be gone within 50 to 75 years," said Roseman, a professor of biology in the Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins.
Phil Sneiderman | EurekAlert!
Platinum nanoparticles for selective treatment of liver cancer cells
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New molecular blueprint advances our understanding of photosynthesis
15.02.2019 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.
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Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens
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Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light
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Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs. The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications.
DNA is not only a popular research topic because it contains the blueprint for life – it can also be used to produce tiny components for technical applications.
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