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Breakthrough Technique for Studying Gene Expression Takes Root in Plants

An open-source RNA analysis platform has been successfully used on plant cells for the first time – a breakthrough that could herald a new era of fundamental research and bolster efforts to engineer more efficient food and biofuel crop plants. The technology, called Drop-seq, is a method for measuring the RNA present in individual cells, allowing scientists to see what genes are being expressed and how this relates to the specific functions of different cell types.

Mouse Study Yields Long-Awaited Insights into Human Stomach Cancer

Mice have been instrumental in the study of cancer, but like all animal models of human diseases, they have their limitations. For stomach cancer in particular, mice have historically been regarded as quite poor research organisms because rodents rarely develop spontaneous stomach tumors. But results from a new study are about to shake up the paradigm.

Uncovering Uncultivated Microbes in the Human Gut

A human’s health is shaped both by environmental factors and the body’s interactions with the microbiome, particularly in the gut. Genome sequences are critical for characterizing individual microbes and understanding their functional roles. However, previous studies have estimated that only 50 percent of species in the gut microbiome have a sequenced genome, in part because many species have not yet been cultivated for study.

Faster, Cheaper, Better: A New Way to Synthesize DNA

In what could address a critical bottleneck in biology research, Berkeley Lab researchers announced they have pioneered a new way to synthesize DNA sequences through a creative use of enzymes that promises to be faster, cheaper, and more accurate.

Gene Enhancers Are Important Despite Apparent Redundancy

Scientists answered a long-standing question about the role of enhancers. And by better linking the genomic complement of an organism with its expressed characteristics, their work offers new insights that further the growing field of systems biology, which seeks to gain a predictive understanding of living systems.

A Whole-Genome Sequenced Rice Mutant Resource for the Study of Biofuel Feedstocks

Researchers at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute, are reporting the first whole-genome sequence of a mutant population of Kitaake, a model variety of rice. Their high-density, high-resolution catalog of mutations facilitates the discovery of novel genes and functional elements that control diverse biological pathways.

Researchers Find New Mechanism for Genome Regulation

The mechanisms that separate mixtures of oil and water may also help the organization of a part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new Berkeley Lab study. Researchers found that liquid-liquid phase separation helps heterochromatin organize large parts of the genome into specific regions of the nucleus. The work addresses a long-standing question about how DNA functions are organized in space and time, including how genes are silenced or expressed.

Sequencing of Green Alga Genome Provides Blueprint to Advance Clean Energy, Bioproducts

Scientists have sequenced the genome of a green alga that has drawn commercial interest as a strong producer of quality lipids for biofuel production. The chromosome-assembly genome of Chromochloris zofingiensis provides a blueprint for new discoveries in producing sustainable biofuels, antioxidants, and other valuable bioproducts.

Scientists Sequence Genome of Snail That Spreads Parasitic Worm

Scientists have characterized the genome of a freshwater snail that is instrumental in transmitting a parasitic worm to humans. The achievement could help researchers disrupt the life cycle of B. glabrata and potentially eliminate schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever.

What a Genome-Wide Screening Can Reveal about Cancer Survival

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a 12-gene score tied to the odds of relapse-free breast cancer survival. The scoring system is based on an analysis of large genomic datasets and patient data, and it could eventually be developed for clinical use.