Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) combined different microscopic imaging methods to gain a greater understanding of the relationships between biomass cell wall structure and enzyme digestibility, a breakthrough that could lead to optimizing sugar yields and lowering the costs of making biofuels.
With increasing demands for sustainable energy, being able to cost-efficiently produce biofuels from plant biomass is more important than ever. However, lignin and hemicelluloses present in certain plants mean that they cannot be easily converted into biofuels. A recent study appears to have solved this problem, using gene manipulation techniques to engineer plants that can be more easily broken down into biofuels.
Scientists in Spain employed computational techniques to improve the characterization of proteins. The system they developed has allowed them to predict, for example, the relationship between two human proteins and telomeres, which led to their possible implication in cellular aging and the development of cancer; this awaits experimental verification.
A European project investigated the effect of brown spider venom on the structure and biophysical properties of cellular membranes. By using state-of-the-art fluorescent techniques, scientists succeeded in directly visualising venom-induced changes in cells.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made a major advance in understanding how flu viruses replicate within infected cells. The researchers used cutting-edge molecular biology and electron-microscopy techniques to "see" one of influenza's essential protein complexes in unprecedented detail.
In an experiment performed on oilseed rape, scientists use RNAi suppression as a tool to switch off the enzyme responsible for oil breakdown, specifically for the duration of seed development. This results in the accumulation of around 8% more oil in the seed.
Systems to improve patient rehabilitation, methods that help detect diseases, and smart biomaterials for optimising treatments - scientific advances in the field of biomedical engineering are unstoppable. A number of leading UPC teams are carrying out research aimed at harnessing technology to improve people's health.
For the very first time researchers have streamed braille patterns directly into a blind patient's retina, allowing him to read four-letter words accurately and quickly with an ocular neuroprosthetic device.
Scientists have engineered bacteria that are capable of sacrificing themselves for the good of the bacterial population. These altruistically inclined bacteria can be used to demonstrate the conditions where programmed cell death becomes a distinct advantage for the survival of the bacterial population.
Scientists have confirmed for the first time that a plant, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants. This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bioenergy.
Researchers from the UK, USA and India, led by scientists at the University of York, are embarking on a major four-year project which aims to develop new strains of rice to help to feed millions of people.