Tag Archives: Genetics

* Surface mutation lets canine parvovirus jump to other species

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Canine parvovirus, or CPV, emerged as a deadly threat to dogs in the late 1970s, most likely the result of the direct transfer of feline panleukopenia or a similar virus from domesticated cats. CPV has since spread to wild forest-dwelling animals, including raccoons, and the transfer of the virus from domesticated to wild carnivores has […]

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Island foxes may be ‘least variable’ of all wild animals

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In comparison to their relatives on the mainland, the Channel Island foxes living on six of California’s Channel Islands are dwarves, at two-thirds the size. The island foxes most likely evolved from gray foxes brought to the northern islands by humans over 7,000 years ago. Some think island foxes may have been partially domesticated by […]

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Evolution of Darwin’s finches tracked at genetic level

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Researchers are pinpointing the genes that lie behind the varied beaks of Darwin’s finches – the iconic birds whose facial variations have become a classic example of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Last year, researchers identified a gene that helps to determine the shape of the birds’ beaks. Today in Science, they report a […]

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Breakthrough made in cleft lip and palate research

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Leading scientists have identified an important gene that is associated with cleft lip and palate. Experts say the discovery is a step closer to understanding how this birth defect arises, and will help in the development of medical approaches to prevent the disfiguring condition. An international team, led by Newcastle University, UK, and the University […]

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* Analysis of dog genome will provide insight into human disease

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An important model in studying human disease, the non-coding RNA of the canine genome is an essential starting point for evolutionary and biomedical studies, according to a new study led by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC). New research published today in PLOS ONE reveals an improved annotation of microRNAs in the dog genome to further […]

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Genomes of chimpanzee parasite species reveal evolution of human malaria

Understanding the origins of emerging diseases — as well as more established disease agents — is critical to gauge future human infection risks and find new treatment and prevention approaches. This holds true for malaria, which kills more than 500,000 people a year. Symptoms, including severe anemia, pregnancy-associated malaria, and cerebral malaria, have been linked […]

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Fungal pathogen sheds gene silencing machinery and becomes more dangerous

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For more than a decade, a rare but potentially deadly fungus called Cryptococcus deuterogatti has taken up residence in the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island. Unlike its cousin Cryptococcus neoformans, which mostly infects patients with compromised immune systems, this fungus has sickened hundreds of otherwise healthy people. Now, researchers have found that the pathogen tossed […]

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CRISPR everywhere

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Just under a year ago, a molecular-biology technique was thrust onto the world stage. Researchers in China announced that they had used the nascent gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to modify the genomes of human embryos, triggering a major ethics debate. Yet while this controversy has been playing out, researchers the world over have rushed to use […]

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Link made between genetics, aging

Scientists at the University of Georgia have shown that a hormone instrumental in the aging process is under genetic control, introducing a new pathway by which genetics regulates aging and disease. Previous studies have found that blood levels of this hormone, growth differentiation factor 11, decrease over time. Restoration of GDF11 reverses cardiovascular aging in […]

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* Newly found genomic causes of severe compulsiveness in dogs could aid study of human OCD

Research led by investigators in veterinary and human medicine has identified genetic pathways that exacerbate severity of canine compulsive disorder in Doberman pinschers, a discovery that could lead to better therapies for obsessive compulsive disorder in people. The discovery appears online in advance of print on Feb. 29, 2016 in the International Journal of Applied […]

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A new method to dramatically improve the sequencing of metagenomes

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An international team of computer scientists developed a method that greatly improves researchers’ ability to sequence the DNA of organisms that can’t be cultured in the lab, such as microbes living in the human gut or bacteria living in the depths of the ocean. They published their work in the Feb. 1 issue of Nature […]

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* Are we losing the fight against antibiotic resistance?

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Tackling antibiotic resistance on only one front is a waste of time because resistant genes are freely crossing environmental, agricultural and clinical boundaries, new research has shown. Analysis of historic soil archives dating back to 1923 has revealed a clear parallel between the appearance of antibiotic resistance in medicine and similar antibiotic resistant genes detected […]

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* Songbird’s reference genome illuminate key role of epigenetics in evolution of memory and learning

A well-known songbird, the great tit, has revealed its genetic code, offering researchers new insight into how species adapt to a changing planet. Their initial findings suggest that epigenetics — what’s on rather than what’s in the gene — may play a key role in the evolution of memory and learning. And that’s not just […]

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Don’t blame grey squirrels: their British invasion had much more to do with us

DNA profiling reveals grey squirrels are not as good invaders as we think, and that humans played a much larger role in spreading them through the UK. Grey squirrels were imported to the UK from the 1890s onward, and the traditional view is that they spread rapidly across the UK due to their ability cope […]

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* New way to detect human-animal diseases tested in lemurs

Advances in genetic sequencing are uncovering emerging diseases in wildlife that other diagnostic tests can’t detect. In a study led by Duke University, researchers used a technique called whole-transcriptome sequencing to screen for blood-borne diseases in wild lemurs, distant primate cousins to humans. The animals were found to carry several strains or species of parasites […]

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Orangutans: Lethal aggression between females

Researchers have for the first time witnessed the death of a female orangutan at the hands of another female. Even more extraordinary is that the perpetrator recruited a male orangutan as a hired gun to help her corner and attack the victim. Before this observation, lethal fights between females had never been observed in orangutans; […]

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* Dog domestication may have increased harmful genetic changes, biologists report

The domestication of dogs may have inadvertently caused harmful  genetic changes, a UCLA-led study suggests. Domesticating dogs from gray wolves more than 15,000 years ago involved artificial selection and inbreeding, but the effects of these processes on dog genomes have been little-studied. UCLA researchers analyzed the complete genome sequences of 19 wolves; 25 wild dogs […]

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Attention: Terrapin! Invasive pond slider on the move

Using genetic methods, scientists of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Dresden discovered that the introduced pond slider is capable of reproducing in Europe even outside of the Mediterranean region. The turtle, originally from North America, poses a significant threat to the native turtle fauna and, according to the authors of the study recently published in […]

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* When chickens go wild

“Don’t look at them directly,” Rie Henriksen whispers, “otherwise they get suspicious.” The neuroscientist is referring to a dozen or so chickens loitering just a few metres away in the car park of a scenic observation point for Opaekaa Falls on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. The chickens have every reason to distrust Henriksen and […]

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* A horse of a different color: Genetics of camouflage and the dun pattern

Most horses today are treasured for their ability to run, work, or be ridden, but have lost their wild-type camouflage: pale hair with zebra-like dark stripes known as the Dun pattern. Now an international team of scientists has discovered what causes the Dun pattern and why it is lost in most horses. The results, published […]

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Innovation sheds light on how genetic information travels from cell’s nucleus

Discovery science led by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry is opening a window on cell biology rarely seen before. New research featured in the Journal of Cell Biology has revealed a real-time look at how genetic information travels within a living cell. The discovery, observed through a specially designed high-powered microscope, […]

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* Scientists prevent, reverse diabetes-related kidney destruction in animal model

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, and scientists have found that infusing just a small dose of a cytokine, thought to help cause that failure, can instead prevent or reverse it. The cytokine IL-17A has long been considered a classic promoter of inflammation, which plays a major role in progression of diabetes-related kidney […]

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* Gene-editing technique successfully stops progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Using a new gene-editing technique, a team of scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center stopped progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in young mice. If efficiently and safely scaled up in DMD patients, this technique could lead to one of the first successful genome editing-based treatments for this fatal disease, researchers said. DMD, the most […]

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DNA repair enzyme identified as a potential brain cancer drug target

Rapidly dividing cells rely on an enzyme called Dicer to help them repair the DNA damage that occurs as they make mistakes in copying their genetic material over and over for new cells. UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have built on the discovery of Dicer’s role in fixing DNA damage to uncover a new […]

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Genetically modified mice reveal the secret to a painless life

Researchers have discovered the pharmaceutical recipe for painlessness. People born with a rare genetic mutation are unable to feel pain, but previous attempts to recreate this effect with drugs have had surprisingly little success. Using mice modified to carry the same mutation, UCL researchers funded by the MRC and Wellcome Trust have now discovered the […]

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* European seafood fraud? Largest genetic study of fish labeling accuracy

Tough new policies to combat fish fraud across Europe appear to be working, according to new evidence. The largest multi-species survey of fish labelling accuracy to date indicates a marked and sudden reduction of seafood mislabelling in supermarkets, markets and fishmongers in the EU. Scientists in six European countries tracked samples of the mostly commonly […]

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US government approves transgenic chicken

Transgenic chickens are the latest animals engineered to produce ‘farmaceutical’ drugs. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a chicken that has been genetically engineered to produce a drug in its eggs. The drug, Kanuma (sebelipase alfa), is a recombinant human enzyme marketed by Alexion Pharmaceuticals. It replaces a faulty enzyme in people […]

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Urban swans’ genes make them plucky

Researchers have discovered that swans’ wariness is partly determined by their genes. The research, which is published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, suggests that swans which are genetically predisposed to be timid are more likely to live in non-urban areas, and the findings could have important implications for releasing animals bred in […]

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Study uncovers hard-to-detect cancer mutations

New research shows that current approaches to genome analysis systematically miss detecting a certain type of complex mutation in cancer patients’ tumors. Further, a significant percentage of these complex mutations are found in well-known cancer genes that could be targeted by existing drugs, potentially expanding the number of cancer patients who may benefit. The study, […]

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China’s bold push into genetically customized animals

New kinds of dogs, goats, monkeys and pigs are being made quickly, though scientists voice worries about ethics. China’s western Shaanxi Province is known for rugged windswept terrain and its coal and wool, but not necessarily its science. Yet at the Shaanxi Provincial Engineering and Technology Research Center for Shaanbei Cashmere Goats, scientists have just […]

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