Life Sciences and Chemistry

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences and chemistry area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Anthrax: pre-publication and special issue

Recent events have confirmed that bioterrorism is no longer a threat but a reality. To provide wide-ranging access to the latest scientific information about anthrax and other potential bioweapons, Nature has put together a special online focus on this issue. This focus includes the pre-publication* of two research papers on anthrax toxin, as well as a collection of research, news and feature articles from our electronic archive. Because of the heightened interest in this area, among both the scient

A rosy glow

Genetic engineering gives us the fluorescent daisy.

It’s produced in Italy and guaranteed to make the face of that special someone light up. It’s the luminous bouquet. Under ultraviolet light the apparently normal blooms glow an unearthly green.

“The fluorescent flowers show that genetic engineering can be developed just for beauty,” says their developer, Tito Schiva of the Experimental Institute of Floriculture, San Remo. The technique should work for any white flower, Sch

Meat fuelled Midas’ rot

The gold-loving king’s rich diet may have hastened his decay.

Legend says that lust for gold was the cause of King Midas’ downfall. But his appetite for meat may have destroyed the final monument to his greatness 1 .

A mound excavated 44 years ago in Turkey is thought to be the resting place of the eighth-century BC ruler of Phrygia. The large tomb, although built of durable cedar wood, is in surprisingly bad shape, says geophysicist Timothy Filley of the Car

Flies caught napping

Researchers discover two molecules that help fruitflies sleep.

Mutant flies that lack the chemicals sleep more. In mammals the same molecules are also involved in learning and memory, supporting the idea that one function of sleep is to consolidate our record of the day’s experiences 1 .

The molecules are cyclic AMP and CREB, chemical messengers that work within cells. Cyclic AMP activates CREB, which then switches on genes.

Joan Hendricks, of th

Computers spot shape clues

Two techniques may help deduce proteins’ functions.

Imagine trying to guess what machines do just be looking at them. Even a can-opener would pose problems, if you didn’t know about cans. This is the challenge that faces molecular biologists as they try to make sense of protein molecules in the cell.

Two new techniques may help. One deduces a protein’s function from its shape; the other deduces its shape from a list of component parts 1 , 2 .

ATTO-TEC® Stable activated fluorescent dyes at room temperature (RT)

ATTO-TEC® has developed the second generation of fluorescent dyes which are stable at room temperature for more than six months.

With Atto 520, Atto 565 and Atto 590 we are pleased to offer three stable fluorescent dyes as amine-reactive succinimidyl esters which will be available from November 2001 on. This allows researchers an easy handling for selectively target- labeling by linking a fluorophore to primary amine groups on proteins or modified nucleic acids.
Further stable activate

Protection racket generates drug leads

Chemists build molecules by paring them down

Complex molecules, such as many drugs, can be fiddly to assemble. By binding their starting compounds in chains 1 , chemists in Denmark may have found a way speed the automated chemical synthesis of such complicated products.

Les Miranda and Morten Meldal of Carlsberg University in Copenhagen have solved the following problem. Complex molecules are usually built up from a core with several near-identical hooks on w

Oral flex – Chameleon tongues have special muscle to haul in dinner

Chameleons can reel in prey anywhere within two-and-a-half body lengths of their jaws. Their tongues can overcome even a bird’s weight and reluctance to be eaten. How? Muscles that are unique among backboned animals, researchers now reveal.

Anthony Herrel of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and colleagues put crickets at different distances from the noses of two chameleon species, Chameleo calyptratus and Chameleo oustaletti. The tongues of these 12-cm-long reptiles pull at maximum stren

Bugs offer power tips

Chemists copy bacterial tricks for making clean fuel.

Bacteria are teaching chemists their tips for creating lean, green fuel. US researchers have developed a catalyst based on a bacterial enzyme that converts cheap acids to hydrogen, the ultimate clean power source.

Unlike other fuels, hydrogen is non-polluting: its combustion makes only water, instead of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide or the poison carbon monoxide. Thomas Rauchfuss and colleagues at the University of Illino

Core code cracked

Sequencers expose secret chromosome centre.

February’s celebrations hid a dark secret: the human genome sequencers hadn’t touched the hearts of our chromosomes. Now, at last, one chromosome’s inscrutable midpoint, its centromere, has given up its genetic secrets.

Centromeres look like the ’waist’ in an X. They share out chromosomes fairly when a cell divides. Defective centromeres may underlie many cancers, in which problems with chromosome movement

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