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Getting to the root - unearthing the plant-microbe quid pro quo

The microbial community or microbiome that inhabits the rhizosphere and endosphere - the niches immediately surrounding and inside a plant's root?facilitates the shuttling of nutrients and information into and out of the roots within the soil matrix. These underground microbial activities have not received as much attention as the effort to characterize the role of the microbial populations inside and on the surfaces of humans, but this is now changing owing to a recent publication.

Posted: Aug 1st, 2012

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Massive data for miniscule communities

It's relatively easy to collect massive amounts of data on microbes. But the files are so large that it takes days to simply transmit them to other researchers and months to analyze once they are received. Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a new computational technique that relieves the logjam that these 'big data' issues create.

Posted: Aug 1st, 2012

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Roots and microbes: Bringing a complex underground ecology into the lab

Beneath the surface of the earth, an influential community of microbes mingles with plant roots. In the first large-scale analysis of those communities, scientists have now catalogued and compared the hundreds of types of bacteria that associate with the roots of the model plant Arabidopsis under various conditions.

Posted: Aug 1st, 2012

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Hitting back at 'wiretapping' parasite

Dodder vines are parasitic plants that suck water, nutrients and information from other plants as they spread over them. Plant biologists at the University of California, Davis, have now shown that they can make plants resistant to dodder by attacking the junctions where the parasite taps into the host.

Posted: Jul 24th, 2012

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Synthetic Biology Scorecard finds federal agencies responding to bioethics report

Federal agencies have started taking steps to address the recommendations in a 2010 report from the presidential bioethics commission to improve the governance of synthetic biology research and development, though the government has not fully addressed any of the report recommendations, according to a scorecard tracking the efforts.

Posted: Jul 18th, 2012

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Searching genomic data faster

Biologists? capacity for generating genomic data is increasing more rapidly than computing power. A new algorithm will help them keep up.

Posted: Jul 11th, 2012

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Waste to watts: Improving microbial fuel cells

Certain kinds of bacteria are adept at converting waste into useful energy. These microorganisms are presently being applied to the task, through an innovative technology known as a microbial fuel cell or MFC.

Posted: Jul 5th, 2012

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