By Elizabeth Pennisi
Science – Despite a slow economy, business in genomics has boomed and has directly and indirectly boosted the U.S. economy by $965 billion since 1988, according to a new study. In 2012 alone, genomics-related research and development, along with relevant industry activities, contributed $31 billion to the U.S. gross national product and helped support 152,000 jobs, the biomedical funding advocacy group United for Medical Research announced today in Washington, D.C.
Impact of Genomics on the U.S. Economy is an update to an industry-conceived report from 2011 by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. At the time, Battelle calculated that the $3.8 billion U.S. federal investment in the Human Genome Project produced a return of $141 in economic output per dollar invested, a figure that President Barack Obama rounded off in his State of the Union address in February. Today’s update factors in an additional $8.5 billion in relevant federal support and, based on the total U.S. investment, concludes a 65 to 1 return on the government’s spending (adjusted to 2012 dollars).
Advocates for federal funding of biomedical research hope such rosy numbers will help persuade Congress to sustain support for the field.
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by Elizabeth Pennisi
ScienceNOW – Life demands tradeoffs, and plants are no exception. Virginia wildrye, common on U.S. prairies and rangelands, often plays host to a fungus that helps this grass grow. But the plant pays a price. Researchers have discovered that infected plants produce less pollen than their noninfected counterparts. Instead, the fungus causes the rye grass to make extra seeds, which transmit the fungus to the next generation and new locations. This is the first time a fungus has proven capable of manipulating plant reproduction. The finding highlights the complexity of the relationship between hosts and their guests.
By Heidi Ledford
Two publications are seeking to resurrect claims that plants can reject the inheritance of a mutated gene from their parents, in favour of a healthier ‘ancestral’ copy from their grandparents.
Susan Lolle, a plant geneticist now at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and her colleagues first published evidence in 2005 that plants had passed on genes correctly two generations down, even though the genome of the generation in between had only a mutated version1. This type of inheritance would require some hidden reservoir of genetic information outside of DNA, some suggested — perhaps in RNA transcribed from the healthy gene, which the plant would then use to correct the mutated one. If true, those findings would upend the modern concept of genetic inheritance, and predictably they have met with considerable scepticism.
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Source and Photo: Nature, 8th February, 2013
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