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chaitanya athale
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Taken from Thomas Levenson's article in the BOSTON GLOBE, December 11, 2016: the PCR story:

"In the early 1960s, a young biologist named Thomas Brock went to Yellowstone National Park. He knew that the park’s hot springs were home to microbes that live on sunlight, and he wanted to understand their ecology — how all those micro-organisms interacted in such neatly contained environments. This was pure curiosity-driven research on what Brock thought were stable microbial communities.

In 1965, though, he started to wonder about some pink filaments he’d noticed in the hot waters of the outflow channel of Yellowstone’s Octopus Spring. These turned out to be bacteria that could live in near-boiling water — thought then to be an utterly inhospitable environment. The next year, with an undergraduate research assistant, Hudson Freeze, he found another such microbe living downstream, at slightly cooler temperatures. That fall, the two researchers managed to grow that organism, named Thermus aquaticus, in their lab.

Thanks to a couple of biologists who poked around Yellowstone, it seems less likely that we are alone in the cosmos.

In the years since, the tally of what have come to be called extremophiles has exploded. There are microbes that thrive in highly acid environments, in exceptionally alkaline ones, inside rocks, at the bottom of the deep ocean, in nuclear waste, in the pillar of salt that was Lot’s wife, and more. As pure discovery, this work is beautiful, revealing a living world more complex, more opportunistic, more ubiquitous than we had previously imagined. Because of extremophiles, scientists have drastically expanded their view of which settings might harbor life beyond Earth. Thanks to a couple of biologists who poked around Yellowstone, it seems less likely that we are alone in the cosmos.

Still, nothing in Brock and Freeze’s initial work suggested extremophiles might actually matter in any dollars-and-cents way. Paying to send a couple of guys to poke around with pretty-in-pink microbes in a national park could have as easily been ridiculed as a French fruit flies moment.

But if such a view had kept Brock and Freeze from their hot springs, the cost to humanity would have been enormous. In 1976, a decade after the bacterium was first identified, a different team of scientists found in T. aquaticus a molecule they named Taq polymerase, a version of the enzyme that cells use to synthesize new DNA from an existing strand of genetic information. In T. aquaticus, this ubiquitous molecular tool possessed one striking property: Like its parent organism, it could function at much higher temperatures than other enzymes.

Seven years later, another young biologist, driving through an April night, had an epiphany. Kary Mullis went on to create what’s called the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. PCR is a cheap, swift process that “amplifies” a section of DNA, creating as many copies of the desired genetic information as needed — billions in a few hours. The procedure is now used across the whole spectrum of biotechnology, from genetic testing and disease detection to the analysis of ancient DNA.

One more thing: The PCR process has to flip between hot and cold — which is where the heat-tolerant Taq polymerase comes in. It’s the vital cog that makes the reaction work. Human beings, lots of them, are alive today thanks to work that took almost two decades to bring home, begun when two curious people waded into a hot spring." http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2016/12/11/let-waste-more-money-science/afvbusk8G5T5IcrgldkmJJ/story.html?event=event25

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One is what one eats was never truer. Scientists in NCL Pune and CSTRI Mysore (both in India) have now come up with an "in vivo" dyeing process for silk. Feed the worms with the dye, and they'll poop, I mean pop it.

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Physicist, self-taught, botanist and polymath. From the period referred to as the 'bengal renaissance', JC Bose was very much the modern Indian, at the anvil of moving from colony to independence.

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And to think Bamboo would have anything with RSA encryption. The Mast Flowering has certainly fascinated me, and the idea of understanding the evolutionary and ecological context in which these very useful plants (the sub-phyllum is divided into "tribes") choose to flower en masse and with such long periods ranging, depending on species between 31-120 years.

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Me be like ninja....
A comparison.
**Stay tuned for a big announcement tomorrow!


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And to think Bamboo would have anything with RSA encryption. The Mast Flowering has certainly fascinated me, and the idea of understanding the evolutionary and ecological context in which these very useful plants (the sub-phyllum is divided into "tribes") choose to flower en masse and with such long periods ranging, depending on species between 31-120 years.

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Hah! 5s rule should now be 5 millisecond rule....
We've all heard about the "five-second rule," and many may even still live by it, but has science anything to say? Well, now it does. The people involved scienced the crap out of this, just in case you’re thinking this wasn’t a serious study.

Researchers at Rutgers University used a nonpathogenic microorganism Enterobacter aerogenes on four different surfaces to determine the validity of the "rule." Watermelon, bread, bread with butter, and gummy candy were the foods used on the familiar household surfaces of stainless steel, carpet, wood, and tile. The contact times were 1, 5, 30, and 300 seconds on surfaces of 25cm² that had been inoculated with said bacterium. The food samples had a contact area of 16cm², with each dropped from a height of 12.5 cm. A total of 128 scenarios were evaluated with each scenario replicated twenty times, totaling 2,560 measurements.

Take a wild guess as to what the results were…
Research showed that some transfer takes place at times < 1s, which in this context is “instant.” As shocking as it may be, the five-second rule has been conclusively disproven. To be clear, the study states:

“this research shows that the 5-second rule is “real” in the sense that longer contact time result in more transfer…"

With food, watermelon, being moist, transferred the most. As for surfaces, carpet allowed the least amount to transfer. What this means is transfer of bacteria can happen very quickly, but factors like food type and surface play just as big a role. Therefore, next time you drop a dry baby carrot on the ground (tile), for less than five seconds, you can confidently assume it will be “safer” to eat than a peeled banana dropped on the same spot.

Reference:
Longer Contact Times Increase Cross-Contamination of Enterobacter aerogenes from Surfaces to Food
Robyn C. Miranda and Donald W. Schaffner
Appl. Environ. Microbiol. AEM.01838-16; Accepted manuscript posted online 2 September 2016, doi:10.1128/AEM.01838-16

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The idea of biological control has been around for a while. Screw-worm-fly sterile insect release (SIT) is one of them. But what about vertebrate 'pests' such as rats. Since these are very comfortable around humans, and breing vertebrates, often chemicals affecting them affect us too. Now there is a company that does chemical sterilization of rats from their food. And it does so through liquids that rats can drink. Neat solution to many problems, including crop and foodstock damage. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/20/man-v-rat-war-could-the-long-war-soon-be-over

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Wolbachia infected Aedes aegypti released in Guandong. #sterilemosquito reaches China. The #oxitech stratgy sounds more robust. Remains to be seen how controllable this is. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/sterile-mosquitoes-released-in-china-to-fight-dengue-fever

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