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Survival of the fittest, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, is a slow biological process that takes place in a species over many generations. But Spanish researcher Marta López Darias and colleagues had a different idea. Her EU-funded research contributes to the growing body of evidence pointing to "rapid evolution in action".
Published: 27 March 2013
Published: 21 March 2013
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) & cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) are parasitic diseases transmitted to humans by the bite of sand flies. In VL, the parasite migrates to the internal organs such as liver, spleen and bone marrow. Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, mucosal ulcers, fatigue, anaemia and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen. VL if left untreated will almost always result in the death of the host. Meanwhile, CL is the most common form of leishmaniasis. It is a skin infection caused by a single-celled parasite that is also transmitted by sand fly bites and can cause facial disfigurement.
Published: 22 February 2013
The bioeconomy is growing at an unprecedented rate, and the demand for new services and more efficient tools to boost business in this industry is ever increasing. Because of this growth, the need for management of biological information is proving to be vital in keeping up with demand and new concepts. This is evident with the latest figures, which reveal that the global market for bioinformatics is expected to reach more than EUR 4.5 billion next year. In order to home in on this demand, Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, has devised a concept aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Its focus is on developing new business from the management of biological information.
Published: 23 January 2013
The bioeconomy concept is rapidly growing in importance on a global scale. It embraces the sustainable use of biological resources from the land and sea, as well as waste, as inputs to food and feed, industrial and energy production, and also covers the use of bio-based processes inindustry. This is vital as we continue to consume the Earth's resources, many of which are not renewable, at an accelerating rate.. The bioeconomy is already a reality. For example, bio-fuels (ethanol and diesel), are being made directly from agricultural crops, and even bio-waste has the potential to become an alternative to chemical fertilizers or to generate bio-energy, which could meet 2 % of the EU renewable energy target. Indeed Europe is leading the way in various fields of biosciences and technologies but international competitors are catching up.
Published: 8 January 2013
Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on a molecular scale, brings together different sciences. It is not just about the physics of atomic arrangements, but also about the chemistry of each element involved. The mix becomes yet more complex when living organisms interact with the tiny structures. But by embracing this complexity - bringing together chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers - a research project has provided new insights into nanotechnology.
Published: 18 December 2012
Researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States have developed a new interactive website that allows users to explore the evolutionary tree of life. Called OneZoom, the site went live on 16 October. This latest development is important because it gives the public a means to look at how life on Earth began, moving on to various points that unlock the mysteries of life categories by using mapping software. The work was presented in the journal PLoS Biology.
Published: 31 October 2012
For many of us, spiders are our worst phobia, the stuff of nightmares. But these scuttling, eight-legged creatures could be on the brink of delivering a major benefit to human health.
Published: 5 September 2012
Fungi play an important role in the ecosystem, but scientists are still finding out just how big a role they really play in nature. Some fungi are easily recognisable, like mushrooms, most of which stick up out of the ground. Other fungi, however, exist beneath the Earth's surface where they extend, creating fungal threads through the soil. These fungal threads operate in a manner similar to road networks allowing bacteria to travel across them. Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany are only now discovering another important traveller on these fungal highways: contaminants that would have otherwise remained immobile in the ground. These networks contribute to the restoration of impacted areas. Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, this study was funded in part by the BIOGRID ('Biotechnology information and knowledge grid') project, which received almost EUR 835 000 under the Information Society Technologies (IST) Thematic area of the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).
Published: 3 September 2012
Researchers from Germany and the United States have succeeded in uncovering how myosin and actin filaments work together to regulate muscle and other movement processes. They provided an image of the proteins tropomyosin and troponin that control how myosin binds to actin. The findings of this study could help researchers establish how genetically determined modifications affect the actin-myosin-tropomyosin complex in some types of hereditary heart disease.
Published: 29 August 2012