Insight into enzyme’s 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs

Using neutron crystallography, research team has mapped the three-dimensional structure of a protein that breaks down polysaccharides, such as the fibrous cellulose of grasses and woody plants, a finding that could help bring down the cost of creating biofuels.

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Natural resistance to malaria linked to variation in human red blood cell receptors

Researchers have discovered that protection from the most severe form of malaria is linked with natural variation in human red blood cell genes. A study has identified a genetic rearrangement of red blood cell glycophorin receptors that confers a 40 percent reduced risk from severe malaria. This opens a new avenue of research for malarial therapeutics.

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Researchers connect brain blood vessel lesions to intestinal bacteria

Bacteria in the gut can influence the structure of the brain’s blood vessels, and may be responsible for producing malformations that can lead to stroke or epilepsy, new research suggests. The study adds to an emerging picture that connects intestinal microbes and disorders of the nervous system.

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Tiny bubbles help heal broken bones, in pigs

Researchers have developed a much needed alternative to bone grafts that could help alleviate the long-term hospitalization, disability, and considerable costs to the health system associated with non-healing fractures.

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Plants call 911 to help their neighbors

A professor teamed with a local high school student on research that found injured plants will send out warning signals to neighboring plants. The signals are sent through airborne chemicals released mainly from leaves. In the study, neighboring plants that received the signal responded by boosting their defenses.

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Swirling swarms of bacteria offer insights on turbulence

When bacteria swim at just the right speed, swirling vortices emerge. As those patterns disintegrate into chaos, physicists detect a telling mathematical signature.

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More genes turned on when plants compete

Some people travel to northern California for wine. However, one plant biologist treks to the Golden State for clover. The lessons of plant diversity and competition learned from a clover patch can potentially unlock secrets on plant interactions around the globe.

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Gladiator games: In the natural world, biodiversity can offer protection to weaker species

In a study of competition among fungal species, researchers have found that biodiversity tends to beget biodiversity, a finding that could help in efforts to protect some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, including coral reefs.

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Liquid-crystal and bacterial living materials self-organize and move in their own way

Smart glass, transitional lenses and mood rings are not the only things made of liquid crystals; mucus, slug slime and cell membranes also contain them. Now, a team of researchers is trying to better understand how liquid crystals, combined with bacteria, form living materials and how the two interact to organize and move.

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Antibiotic-resistant microbes date back to 450 million years ago, well before the age of dinosaurs

Leading hospital ‘superbugs,’ known as the enterococci, arose from an ancestor that dates back 450 million years — about the time when animals were first crawling onto land (and well before the age of dinosaurs), according to a new study.

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Disentangling chloroplast genetics

Proper DNA inheritance is essential for healthy chloroplast: the energy center of all plant cells. Researchers discover a new gene in chloroplast that disentangles its DNA for proper plant health.

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Bacteria in marine sponge produce toxic flame retardant-like compounds, study finds

A common marine sponge hosts bacteria that specialize in the production of toxic compounds nearly identical to human-made fire retardants, researchers have discovered for the first time.

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