Puzzling galaxy cluster not so puzzling after all, maybe

Astronomers have been taking another look at a merging galaxy cluster that threw up some surprising results earlier this year, and they think that it’s behavior is not so strange, after all.

Many astronomers have been taking a close look at merging galaxy clusters, because they may be able to help resolve one of the big mysteries of cosmology — the nature of dark matter.

BGI President Yang: “Let’s collaborate” on century of life science

Big numbers — of DNA base pairs sequenced, numbers of genomes completed, volumes of data collected and dollars invested — were in the air Nov. 9 when Dr. Huanming (Henry) Yang, president and cofounder of BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) gave a talk on campus.

Henry Yang

Huanming (Henry) Yang, president of BGI, answering a question following his talk at UC Davis, Nov. 9. (Joe Proudman)

During his visit to campus, Yang visited the new BGI@UC Davis joint facility at the Sacramento campus as well as the Genome Center on the Davis campus. His visit was sponsored by the Office of Research and the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

Filling the tank at dark matter detector experiment

Contributed by the LUX Collaboration

An experiment to look for one of nature’s most elusive subatomic particles is finally under water, in a stainless steel tank nearly a mile underground beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The Large Underground Xenon experiment, nicknamed LUX, will be the most sensitive device yet to look for dark matter. Thought to comprise more than 80 percent of the mass of the universe, dark matter has so far eluded direct detection. The LUX detector, under construction for more than three years in South Dakota, was installed underground in a protective tank in July. The tank was filled with water last week, and all systems are functioning well.

Pigs join the genome club

The genome of the domestic pig is published in the journal Nature today, Nov. 14. The pig genome was completed by an international team led by researchers at Wageningen University in The Netherlands, the Univesity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and included Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. Lewin became involved in the project when he was heading the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before joining UC Davis.

UC Davis receives Gates Foundation “Grand Challenges Explorations” grants

Three UC Davis research teams are winners of Grand Challenges Explorations grants to support innovative global health and development research projects, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A group led by Professor Savithramma Dinesh-Kumar of the Department of Plant Biology and Genome Center, will pursue making cassava, one of the Africa’s most important crop plants, resistant to viruses. Elizabeth Maga, associate research biologist in the Department of Animal Science, will work on preventing diarrhea in children. And plant sciences professor Pam Ronald is collaborating with Oregon State University on making rice more nutritious and disease-resistant.

Foods For Health Institute needs study volunteers

From the Food For Health Institute

The UC Davis Foods for Health Institute is recruiting participants for two important projects in our Human Studies program.

The Dairy Fat Inflammation study tests the effect of consuming different cheeses on the fats in your blood that influence inflammation. Men and women 18-65 years old, with two of the following: high fasting blood triglycerides, glucose; low HDL, a large waistline, high blood pressure, or a BMI greater than or equal to 30, are encouraged to participate in this clinical study. Upon completing the two test days, participants will receive information on their lipid and nutritional content as well as a $40 gift card to Safeway. (Is it valid for the cheese counter? — Ed.)

Sequencing the unsequenceable: Genome Center technology advances Fragile X research

The UC Davis Genome Center has been applying one of the world’s most advanced commercial genome sequencing machines to study the developmental disorder, Fragile X syndrome.

The DNA code is made up of four letters, A, T, C and G. Fragile X syndrome occurs when a large number of three-letter repeats CGG appears in part of the fragile X mental retardation gene, FMR1. A run of more than 200 repeats causes full-blown fragile X syndrome, switching off the gene altogether and causing serious intellectual disability. But shorter sequences of repeats can also cause a range of problems including learning disabilities, seizures and fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome.