Monday, June 18, 2012

Biggest Plant Biotech Patent Expiry: Roundup Ready Soybean Patent Expires soon

The world’s most widely adopted biotech trait, Roundup Ready® soybeans, is set to go off patent soon in the U.S. – the last applicable Monsanto-owned patent is expected to expire in 2014. Monsanto is amending all Roundup Ready soybean trait licenses to extend through the final patent expiration. As a result, the last crop year for which Monsanto will collect royalties on the technology is 2014. Licensees have no obligation to destroy or return seed due to expiration of the Roundup Ready soybean trait licenses. Monsanto will not use variety patents against U.S. farmers who save varieties containing the Roundup Ready trait for planting on their own farms after expiration of the trait patent. Farmers should check with seed suppliers regarding the

Friday, June 8, 2012

For the First time, genome of a polar alga, Coccomyxa subellipsoidea, sequenced fully.

Life is diverse and life exists in every part of the earth including the most extreme habitats. One such extreme habitat is the polar regions. There is poor understanding of the adaptive mechanisms used by polar organisms to function under extreme cold conditions.  More than 30 psychrophylic microbial genomes have been fully sequenced and these  Psychrophilic prokaryotes were found to possess various adaptive strategies for survival in cold environments, including cold-induced desaturation of fatty acids in membrane lipids, protective mechanisms against increased amounts of solubilized oxygen and ROS, synthesis of antifreeze lipoproteins and glycoproteins, and global change in amino acid composition of encoded proteins to decrease protein structural rigidity.

For the first time  the genome of  a polar eukaryotic  unicellular green alga  Coccomyxa subellipsoidea (C169) has  been sequenced by  a team of  Researchers from  Mediterranean Institute of Microbiology (France), University of Nebraska (USA)  DOE Joint Genome Institute (USA), University of Rostock (Germany), Hiroshima University (Japan) and Georgia Tech Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics (USA).

Analysis of the 48.8 MB genome of this alga (for comparison (approximate ): Human genome size-3000 mb, E.coli genome size 4.5 MB, Rice genome size 370 MB) revealed that like the psychrophylic  microbes sequenced, this eukaryotic alga is also possessing special features

Thursday, June 7, 2012

BREAKTHROUGH DISCOVERY: Neonatal genome sequencing for mutation detection

Non-invasive prenatal diagnostics analysis is desired for detection of  inherited mutations and common polymorphisms.  But, proper methods were not available  for doing this.   A new method has been discovered  by researchers from University of Washington (USA),  University of Bari (Italy),  Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (USA), University of Washington School of Medicine (USA),  University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (USA), Seattle Children’s Research Institute (USA) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (USA) combines   genome sequencing of two parents, genome-wide maternal haplotyping,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Human ancestors originated in Asia (not in Africa) and moved to Africa

Reconstructing the origin and early evolutionary history of anthropoid primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) is a current focus of paleoprimatology. Although earlier hypotheses frequently supported an African origin for anthropoids, recent discoveries of older and phylogenetically more basal fossils in China and Myanmar indicate that the group originated in Asia. Given the Oligocene-Recent history of African anthropoids, the colonization of Africa by early anthropoids hailing from Asia was a decisive event in primate evolution. However, the fossil record has so far failed to constrain the nature and timing of this pivotal event. 

Scientists from France and Myanmar  describe a fossil primate from the late middle Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar, Afrasia djijidae gen. et sp. nov., that is remarkably similar to, yet

Friday, June 1, 2012

ENVIRONMENT MEETS GENOMICS: EXPOSOME – the new buzzword in environmental biology

Our body is exposed  to  agents that can cause / predispose our body to various disorders both internally and externally from conception to death.  The  exogenous sources   of these agents include: air, water, diet, drugs, and radiation while the internal or endogenous source include processes like inflammation, lipid peroxidation, oxidative stress, existing diseases, infections, and gut flora.  These agents are said to be major determinants  of  chronic diseases like cancer and were  studied poorly due to lack of proper methodology especially to study the body response and the variation in the population to exposure to these agents. But the developments in the field of  omics  have opened up new ways of looking into this complex unresolved problem. Simply Exposome  is the  comprehensive measurement of all exposure events (exogenous and endogenous) from conception to death.

The CDC  (centre for disease control and prevention) defines exposome as

Tissue Biopsy for cancer detection may disappear soon: Genomic method of cancer detection

Tissue Biopsy for cancer detection may disappear soon: Simple blood plasma assay (a liquid biopsy) may be the method of cancer detection in future

Blood plasma,  the straw-colored liquid component of blood that normally holds the blood cells in whole blood in suspension contains dissolved proteins, glucose, clotting factors, mineral  ions,  hormones  and carbon dioxide and DNA. Plasma of cancer patients contains cell-free tumor DNA that carries information on tumor mutations and tumor burden. Though individual mutations have been probed earlier, for the first time a method has been  developed  ( by a team of researchers from UK) for tagged-amplicon deep sequencing (TAm-Seq) which resulted in  screening  5995 genomic bases for low-frequency mutations. Using this method they  identified cancer mutations present in circulating DNA at allele frequencies as low as 2%, with sensitivity and specificity of >97%.They identified mutations throughout the tumor