Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cell. They play a vital role in defending us from infections, by engulfing and destroying bacteria and viruses or cancerous cells. A new study by UC Davis engineering student Emmet Francis, working with Professor Volkmar Heinrich in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, adds to our knowledge of how neutrophils are drawn towards infection sites and how they can attack their targets.
First, Francis and Heinrich looked at how isolated neutrophils respond to chemical messengers called anaphylatoxins. These molecules guide immune cells to their targets but can cause severe illness in excessive amounts.
Until about twenty years ago, Putah Creek near the UC Davis campus was a dry, trash-filled ditch. Then a lawsuit led to the Putah Creek Accord, which mandated year-round water flows to help protect fish and habitat. In this episode of the Three Minute Egghead podcast, Kat Kerlin hears how restoring water has brought the creek back to life.
Feature story: Little Creek, Big Impact
For more episodes, follow Three Minute Egghead on Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes.
Kat Kerlin writes about the environment for UC Davis Strategic Communications. Follow her at @UCDavis_Kerlin.
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By Greg Watry
Your body plays host to a microbial ecosystem that’s ever-evolving, and its composition has implications for your overall health. The same holds true for plants and their microbiomes and the relationship is of pivotal importance to agriculture.
In a paper appearing in PLOS Biology, Joseph Edwards, ’17 Ph.D. in Plant Biology, Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan, Departments of Plant Biology and Plant Sciences and their colleagues tracked root microbiome shifts throughout the life-cycle of rice plants (Oryza sativa). The research could help inform the design of agricultural probiotics by introducing age-appropriate microbes that promote traits like nutrient efficiency, strong roots and increased growth rates in the plants.
By Greg Watry
Software inspired by speech recognition technology could help scientists understand the secret language inside cells. A machine learning algorithm called patteRNA, designed by UC Davis researchers, rapidly mines ribonucleic acid, commonly called RNA, for specific structures, providing a new method to establish links between structure, function and disease.
The study, co-authored by integrative genetics and genomics Ph.D. student Mirko Ledda and Assistant Professor Sharon Aviran, UC Davis Genome Center, appears in Genome Biology.
Deciphering the biological role of RNA structures
RNA is essential to all biological processes, from gene expression and regulation to protein synthesis. While DNA stores an organism’s genetic information, RNA puts that genetic information to use.
By Kat Kerlin
Mike Gil is used to spreading the word about his love of science through his nonprofit sciall.org and its YouTube channel, but he’s about to get a bigger audience. His TED Talk, recorded last summer, was posted today on TED’s main channel. Only a fraction of talks given at TED conferences are posted to the main website, which has millions of subscribers.
“Who here is fascinated by life under the sea?” he asked the audience in his opening line. All hands go up.
By Greg Watry
Within every cell is a transportation system that rivals our most complex roadways and interchanges. Known collectively as the cytoskeleton, this system is used by molecular machines called motor proteins to transport cargo throughout the cell. It’s also essential to the vital process of cell division.
Image of the mitotic spindle in a human cell showing microtubules in green, chromosomes (DNA) in blue, and kinetochores in red. (Wikimedia Commons)
By Heidi Meier and Ann Filmer
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a media statement in late December profiling a multi-state outbreak of food poisoning caused by the bacteria E. coli O157:H7 with 17 reported illnesses. Romaine and leafy greens are among the suspected sources of contamination, but no definitive source or location has been confirmed at this time, according to the CDC.
A lettuce field in California (photo by Trevor Suslow, UC Davis)
By Larkin Callaghan
A recent meeting at UC Davis marked 20 years of effort towards a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. When the Targeted Action Group on Vaccines was founded twenty years ago, the HIV epidemic was in a very different place – politically, socially, scientifically, and emotionally. Known as TAG, this program has brought together researchers, students, advocates, and industry, who are invested in and working towards an HIV vaccine.