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BioTechniques News Roundup

09/13/2013

The BioTechniques Weekly News Roundup is a selection of articles and news from the past week that are of particular interest for researchers working at the lab bench.



  • In 1966, Tom Brock and Hudson Freeze, a graduate student at the time, stumbled across a new bacterium in the hot waters of Mushroom Spring in Yellowstone Park.

    That bacterium, Thermus aquaticus, lives at temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit and is the source of a very famous polymerase: Taq. For this finding, Brock and Freeze got one of the first Golden Goose Awards for “federally-funded research that led to demonstrable, significant human and economic benefits.” This year’s Golden Goose award winners included Martin Chalfie, Roger Tsein, and Osamu Shimomura for their work on the discovery of fluorescent proteins and Charles Townes for his work on the invention of the modern laser. See more on the first annual Golden Goose Awards at http://www.goldengooseaward.org/.

  • Everyone is still banking on the rise of nanopore sequencing—including the US government.

    This week it was announced that another $17 million would be allocated in 8 grants aimed at enhancing sequencing, with 5 of those targeting the development of nanopore approaches directly. "Nanopore technology shows great promise, but it is still a new area of science. We have much to learn about how nanopores can work effectively as a DNA sequencing technology, which is why five of the program's eight grants are exploring this approach," said Jeffery A. Schloss, Ph.D., program director for NHGRI's Advanced DNA Sequencing Technology program and director of the Division of Genome Sciences in a press release this week. To learn more about the program, visit
    http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2013/nhgri-06a.htm

  • Ever feel a bump under your finger, but when you looked closely couldn’t see anything there? Well, researchers have now shown that this sensation might not be just in your head. An article published this week in the journal Scientific Reports shows that human subjects can discriminate patterned wrinkles with wavelengths of 760 nm and amplitudes of only 13 nm. Surprisingly, the architecture of the human fingerprint is in the sub-millimeter range, so the researchers demonstrated that the finger is capable of detecting structures orders of magnitude smaller. Learn more at http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130912/srep02617/full/srep02617.html

  • Scientists continue to learn more about how the 3D architecture of the genome influences different biological processes. This week in Nature, a team of researchers reported that when it comes to the pluripotent genome, organization is focused around pluripotency factors such as nanog and Oct4, with clustering around binding sites and the creation of a unique higher-order genome structure. Studies such as this make it clear that our understanding of the genome at the moment is little too linear. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v501/n7466/full/nature12420.html

  • Viruses infect cells, causing hosts to mount an immune response. Much is know about this dynamic process, but seeing an infection from start to end at the cellular level could provide new insights into both pathogenesis and immune response. In an article published late last week in the journal PLoS Pathogens, researchers describe a method for real-time, whole body visualization of Chikungunya virus infection along with the host response in zebrafish. Infected cells could be monitored over time and, by using cell ablation, the importance of specific host response steps could be assessed. Check out the method and the time-lapse movies at http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.0030089

  • For me, memory is an amazingly interesting area of biology. While we are finding out more about memory at the molecular and cellular level each day, there is still much to be learned. In an effort to highlight this, the journal Current Biology has produced an excellent special issue on the biology of memory that is free for the month of September and well worth a look. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/

Keywords:  News