from Singularity Hub:
Ever wanted a rose that smelled like bananas? Maybe a petunia that reeked of root beer? Researchers at the University of Florida Gainesville have isolated 13 genes in flowers that key for the blossom’s fragrance.
According to a news release from UF and an interview in Discovery News, these scientists have already started work on tastier tomatoes, and their first crop of petunias that smell like roses are scheduled to blossom this summer.
A new way of using the genetic code has been created, allowing proteins to be made with properties that have never been seen in the natural world. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the creation of new or “improved” life forms incorporating these new materials into their tissue.
In the genetic code that life has used up to now, there are 64 possible triplet combinations of the four nucleotide letters; these genetic “words” are called codons. Each codon either codes for an amino acid or tells the cell to stop making a protein chain. Now Chin’s team have created 256 blank four-letter codons that can be assigned to amino acids that don’t even exist yet.
from the Institute For the Future:
Looking for a way to see if a drug might give you side effects–without having to deal with the whole pesky process of experiencing those effects?
Science writer David Ewing Duncan highlights an experimental technology from Cell Dynamics International involving reverse engineering cells from the body, such as blood cells, into pluripotent stem cells, and then engineering them back into organ cells in order to test out how different stimuli and medications might impact one’s cells.
from The Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies:
- Smart grids
- Radical materials
- Synthetic biology
- Personal genomics
- Data interfaces
- Solar power
from Singularity Hub:
China grows a lot of rice – about 60 million tonnes a year. It also consumes most of that, only exporting around 1% of its crop. So, high demand for production with little fear of export restrictions? Sounds like a recipe for genetic modification.
According to Reuters, China recently approved the commercial use of genetically modified rice and corn to be phased in probably within the next two to three years
Both strains of GM grains were created locally. Huazhong Agricultural University developed Bt rice, which contains proteins from Bacillius thuringiensis bacteria that allow it to resist the rice stem borer, a major pest in China. [...]
[...] Others point out that GM crops are the intellectual property of the developers, which have almost exclusively been large chemical corporations. Farmers are (generally) not allowed to plant their own left over seeds from GM crops, but instead must purchase seed from the developer.
This is seen as an enforcement of the patent rights of the company, but there is concern over most of the world’s seed supply being under the control of a few business institutions.
I hope we get to see more debate on this issue in the near future.