Category Archives: Genetic resources

Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities

Nature – Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify ‘biodiversity hotspots’ where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a ‘silver bullet’ strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world’s species at risk…. Read More.

Source: Nature
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Wheat varieties are being developed to resist global threat

By John Bakum

Chronicle Online – Innovative techniques in wheat breeding are necessary to meet the needs of the world’s growing population and overcome environmental challenges, said Ravi Singh at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, Feb. 16-20, in Vancouver, Canada.

Singh, Cornell plant breeding and genetics adjunct professor and distinguished wheat breeder at the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement in Mexico, said that enhanced breeding techniques such as shuttle breeding are helping create new durable disease-resistant varieties of wheat that will increase yields to better meet global demand.

Souce and Photo: Chronicle Online, Fevruary 20th, 2012
Click here to read the complete article at Chronicle Online.
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More Than Just Packaging, the Genome Affects the Way Our Genes Change and Develop, Researcher Says

ScienceDaily — Since Charles Darwin first put forth the theory of evolution, scientists have been trying to unlock the mysteries of genetics. But research on the genome — the organism’s entire hereditary package encoded in DNA and RNA — has been less extensive. There is a tendency to think of the genome as a static and passive container of information, says Dr. Ehud Lamm of Tel Aviv University’s Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas……. >>Read More<<

Source: ScienceDaily, February 13rd, 2012
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Scientists develop a new tool for studying the sugarcane genome

By Fábio de Castro
Agência FAPESP – A tool developed by a group of researchers from Brazil and the United States should help the scientific community study numerous aspects of the complex sugarcane genome.
An article published in the open access BioMed Central Research Notes described the construction and sequencing of a Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) library of an important commercial sugarcane variety.
BAC libraries are considered fundamental tools for the detailed characterization of chromosome regions that contain genes of interest. These libraries make the large-scale physical mapping of the genome possible.
The study’s participants included scientists from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering Center (CBMEG) and the Biology Institute of the Department of Genetics and Evolution, as well as researchers from the Embrapa Informática na Agricultura and the Arizona Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona.
According to the lead author of the study, IB-Unicamp professor and CBMEG Laboratory on Regulation of Gene Expression Studies coordinator, Paulo Arruda, the sequencing of a complex genome like that of sugarcane could help the scientific community identify useful genes and compare them to those of other plants.
“We used the library as a tool to understand the phylogenetic relationship – that is, the evolutionary lineage – among sugarcane, sorghum and corn. The article describes how the library was prepared, from the fragmentation of a portion of the genome to the cloning and analysis. This library could be used by groups that study different aspects of the sugarcane genome,” Arruda explained in an interview with Agência FAPESP.
The group headed by Arruda has worked for years on several aspects of the sugarcane genome. Currently, one of their major research interests involves the genetic relationship among sugarcane and other important species, such as corn and sorghum, throughout evolution.
For some time, the group has been working with the hypothesis that corn originated from a cross between two species of the same family.
“Our hypothesis is that a sugarcane ancestor could be involved in this process. But, in order to answer this question, we needed to sequence at least part of the sugarcane genome,” explains Arruda.
The sugarcane genome, however, contains roughly 750 million nucleotides – the “letters” that form a genetic code – which make its sequencing extremely complex.
“One of the possible approaches to address this is to construct a BAC library. First, we ‘slice’ the genome into smaller pieces of roughly 125,000 nucleotides on average. Then, we clone these segments in bacteria. With a collection of bacteria containing these fragments of the sugarcane genome, we can rapidly produce a large quantity of DNA for study,” explains Arruda.
Available tool
In the article, the scientists describe how they prepared a collection of 36,000 bacteria, each of which contains a sugarcane genome fragment of approximately 125,000 nucleotides.
“We obtained a sample from this library and sequenced some of these fragments of 125,000 nucleotides so that we could compare them to sorghum genome,” said Arruda.
The researchers discovered regions of microsynteny between the cloned inserts of the sugarcane genome and the sorghum genome.
“It was a quick first analysis, showing that these fragments are well distributed and reveal that it is possible – from a nucleotide content perspective – that the corresponding sugarcane haploid genome is a little smaller than the sorghum genome,” explains Arruda.
According to Arruda, other groups could utilize the tool to study completely different aspects of the sugarcane genome, such as specific fragments that control the development of the plant, or cytological studies focused on the organization of the chromosomes in the nucleus.
“Once constructed, these libraries could be useful for innumerous types of studies,” he said.
The article, BAC Library of the sugarcane variety (Saccharum sp.) and its inferred microsynteny with the sorghum genome, by Paulo Arruda et al., can be read clicking here.

Source and Photos: FAPESP, May 30th, 2012.
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Tiny Plants Could Cut Costs, Shrink Environmental Footprint

ScienceDaily – Tall, waving corn fields that line Midwestern roads may one day be replaced by dwarfed versions that require less water, fertilizer and other inputs, thanks to a fungicide commonly used on golf courses.
Burkhard Schulz, a Purdue University assistant professor of plant biochemical and molecular genetics, had earlier found that knocking out the steroid function in corn plants would create tiny versions that only had female sex characteristics. But brassinazole, the chemical used to inhibit the plant steroid biosynthesis, was prohibitively expensive.  >>Continue Reading<<

Source and Photo: ScienceDaily, May 15th, 2012.
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BIOTA-FAPESP launches e-book on benthic organisms

By Fábio de Castro

Agência FAPESP – The BIOTA-FAPESP program recently released its e-book, Biodiversity and Benthic Marine Ecosystems on the Northern São Paulo Coast, Southeastern Brazil. In 550 illustrated pages, the publication presents an integrated inventory of fauna associated with marine substrates – benthic organisms – on the northern São Paulo coast. This highly diverse and complex biota includes important organisms in the biogeochemical cycles of oceans and seas.

The content is the result of the Thematic Project “Benthic Marine Biodiversity in São Paulo State,” funded by FAPESP from 2000 to 2005 and coordinated by Antonia Cecília Zacagnini Amaral, of the Department of Zoology at the Biology Institute of Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). …… >>Read More<<

Source and Photo: FAPESP, April 25th, 2012
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Work of Brazilian researcher is featured in Nature

By Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – For more than 20 years, researcher Paulo Mazzafera has attempted to create a naturally caffeine-free variety of coffee that can be grown on a commercial scale. The study was featured in Nature magazine on March 15. Twice before, Mazzafera, full professor at the Vegetal Biology Department at State University of Campinas (Unicamp) Biology Institute, believed that he had reached his objective. The first was in 2004, when in partnership with Maria Bernadete Silvarolla, a researcher at the Campinas Agronomy Institute (IAC), he discovered some plants from Ethiopia that were caffeine-free through natural mutations…..>>Read More<<

Source and Photo: FAPESP, May 2nd, 2012
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