Scientists discover “defense islands” used by bacteria
CRISPR/Cas9 — widely known for its applications in gene-editing — is also a part of the prokaryotic immune system. This means that it helps certain forms of bacteria protect themselves from viruses called phages that take over the genetic machinery of the cell and force them to replicate viral DNA. However, this mechanism isn’t the only one protecting bacteria from foreign substances.
A study published recently in Science magazine explains that bacteria have more defense systems than previously thought. These systems were found in different “defense islands” — genes that tend to cluster together in the genome.
According to Science News, the researchers found nine groups of anti-phage defenses and one anti-plasmid defense. This research was conducted by researchers of the Department of Molecular Genetics at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Source: Science News
Chinese scientists clone longtailed macaque babies
For the first time since Dolly the Sheep was created in 1996, scientists report the successful cloning of long-tailed macaques using the method used to produce Dolly.
The two female baby macaques — six and eight weeks old — are named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, drawn from the word zhonghua. The animals are reportedly healthy and are currently living in an incubator. One of the authors of this study, Qiang Sun, a researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai, said, "The two monkeys are very active and healthy, they progress very rapidly like human babies… Every other day, they seem more active and their motor system is much more developed and [there are] no signs of abnormality."
With the release of this news, the scientists of the study assure the public that experimenting is not a stepping stone to human cloning and is too risky to not pose ethical concerns.
Source: National Geographic
Plastic in oceans threatens coral reefs worldwide
Climate change and bleaching have already incorrigibly affected the coral reef population. Now, researchers at Cornell University have discovered that the presence of plastic makes corals more susceptible to disease and intensifies this affect.
Scientists say that these plastics — part of the oceans' trash such as bottle caps, plastic bags, etc. — act as carriers of pathogenic bacteria that lead to coral reef death due to a disease called white syndrome. The presence of plastic increases the corals disease susceptibility rates from four to 89 percent. Cornell University researcher Drew Harvell explains, “They basically tear open the skin of the coral and that can allow an infection from anywhere to start.”
As scientists predict that the plastic going into the coral reefs in oceans will rise to 15.7 billion plastic items, they warn that conservation efforts become necessary to curb the effects of human activity on nature.
Source: Science Daily