Your DNA is not a blueprint. Day by day, week by week, your genes are in a conversation with your surroundings. Your neighbors, your family, your feelings of loneliness: They don’t just get under your skin, they get into the control rooms of your cells.
By and large, most research seeking to attribute a mental life to plants has been discredited over the years. Yet new research coming out of the University of Western Australia shows that while plants may not be able to think, they are—in a way—able to feel.
The UWA researchers arrived at this conclusion after they noticed that a change in the expression of thousands of plant genes occurred just minutes after they were sprayed with water. These genetic changes were short-lived (most reverted to their normal state within half an hour), suggesting that plants are highly in touch with their immediate environment and capable of dynamic responses to changes in their surroundings.
“Unlike animals, plants are unable to run away from harmful conditions,” said Olivier Van Aken, the lead researcher in the study. “Instead, plants appear to have developed intricate stress defense systems to sense their environment and help them detect danger and respond appropriately.
Scientists Discover That Eyes Are Windows To The Soul
The eye is the window to the universe, and some would say they are also windows to the soul… We have heard this phrase get passed around before: “The eyes are the windows of the soul”. People usually say this when they can see pain, anger, or some other emotion in somebody else’s eyes. But recent research gives a whole new meaning to this phrase. Eyes not only windows to emotions, they are windows to the soul.
researchers looked at two versions of the gene variant, or “allele”
known as 5-HTTLPR, and found that people with the short version were
more likely to smile and laugh while looking at
cartoons and funny clips from the movie Strangers in Paradise.
They found that people with the short allele displayed a more genuine smile and laugh than people with the long allele.
previous research has found that people with the short variant were more
vulnerable to depression and anxiety, this study also shows that they
are more responsive to the emotional highs of life as well.
the short allele is not bad or risky,” said Dr. Claudia
Haase of Northwestern University, coauthor of the study. “Instead, the
short allele amplifies emotional reactions to both good and bad
Many of us are familiar with the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), but a research group is France has identified the genes for C-type lectins in this species most likely originated from parasitic wasps that are known to lay their eggs in the caterpillars of this species. These proteins are carbohydrate binding proteins with a large number of roles in cells.
Parasitic wasps are common in the insect world, with virtually all Lepidopteran species being targets for parasitism. It is believed that ~100 million years ago a wasp ancestor domesticated the bracovirus, and now these parasitic wasps employ it as a biological weapon against the caterpillars. The virus is produced in the wasp’s ovaries and acts as a vector for horizontal gene transfer (HGT). In the eukaryotic world, it is fairly rare for such an exchange of DNA between organisms.
The virus has long since lost its ability to generate a successful capsid, and as a result is reliant on the wasp’s ovaries for replication. The virus is injected into the host along with the wasp’s eggs where the domesticated virus promotes the growth of wasp progeny within the caterpillar by inhibiting its immune system. Each wasp lineage has its own set of virulence determinants encoded by the virus.
Integration of viral DNA may occur occasionally, if a caterpillar host manages to successfully defend itself against a parasitic attack or if the wasp lays its eggs in the wrong target. In both cases the caterpillar may go onto to develop into a moth or butterfly in possession of viral and wasp derived genes as seen in the monarch butterfly.
Figure showing the hypothesised process for HGT to occur between wasps and Lepidopteran species (Source)
For the first time, scientists edited HIV-1 out of the human genome and made sure it wouldn’t come back. A team at Temple University published a paper in Nature: Scientific Reports detailing how they used the CRISPR/Cas-9
gene editing method to successfully knock out HIV-1 from human immune cells
grown in the lab. Their solution is “almost like how chicken pox works.”