Louis Pasteur famously compared science and its application to a tree and it’s fruit. The path from a fundamental discovery to application can be a long and winding one, but rewarding none the less.
Discoveries in basic genetics have now enabled scientists to wipe out lab populations of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. (Anthony Cornel)
Professor Ken Burtis, faculty advisor to the Chancellor and Provost, recently came across an exciting example. Burtis was looking for a study for his first year seminar class when he found a paper from Andrea Crisanti’s lab at Imperial College London. Crisanti’s team was able to wipe out a lab population of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes by introducing a disrupted gene for sex determination and using CRISPR “gene drive” technology to spread it through the population. Within eight generations, there were no female mosquitoes left for breeding.
It’s been widely reported that investigators got a break in the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case when they uploaded a DNA profile to a genealogy database, GEDmatch, and identified relatives of the suspect, Joseph DeAngelo. Did they get lucky, or did they have a good chance of finding him? UC Davis population biologists Graham Coop and M. D. “Doc” Edge have written a nice explainer of the science behind this search.
DNA overlap between first cousins and their common grandmother (GCBias.org)
An international team of researchers has identified a cause for chronic bad breath (halitosis), with the help of gene knockout mice from the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program. The results are published Dec. 18 in the journal Nature Genetics.
Prof. Kent Lloyd, director of the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program, in the lab. Gene-edited and “knockout” mice have become a vital tool in biomedical research. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)
While most cases of bad breath are linked bacteria growing in the mouth, up to 3 percent of the population have chronic halitosis of no obvious cause.
Full post: Mice Help Find Gene for Bad Breath
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By Diane Nelson
Our genes can influence how we respond to stress. Science shows that some people are more genetically predisposed than others to develop depression and anxiety in response to stressful situations.
UC Davis psychologists Johnna Swartz (left) and Jay Belsky have found that genetic traits that make people vulnerable to stress-related mental health problems, are also those best equipped to respond to positive interventions.
What’s more, researchers say that chronic exposure to stressful conditions—such as poverty, family discord, and poor nutrition—can alter the way genes behave in children and adolescents, making them more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and other negative effects of stress.
By Ann Filmer
Plant scientists and wheat breeders now have a new tool to develop more nutritious and productive wheat varieties: A public online database of 10 million mutations in wheat genes. Scientists at UC Davis and three institutions in the UK created the database, which will allow scientists worldwide to study the function of every gene of wheat. The research will be reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.
UC Davis Plant Sciences Professor, Jorge Dubcovsky is working to improve the yield and nutritional value of wheat, one of the world’s most important crops.