Audio long-read: Push, pull and squeeze – the hidden forces that shape life (podcast)

Nature Podcast  January 28, 2021 Researchers are probing the subtle physical forces that sculpt cells and bodies. At every stage of life, from embryo to adulthood, physical forces tug and squeeze at bodies from within. These forces are vital, ensuring that cells are correctly positioned in a developing embryo. But they also play a role in diseases like cancer. Yet despite their importance, relatively little is known about how cells sense, respond to and generate these forces. To find out, researchers have turned to bespoke tools and methods, using them to probe lab-cultured cells and whole animals to get to […]

Scientists unwind mystery behind DNA replication

Science Daily  October 17, 2019 Researchers at Cornell University have unraveled the mystery of how DNA’s double helix manage to replicate without being tangled up from a topological perspective. Using eukaryotes as their model system, they found that the intrinsic mechanical properties of the chromatin (a complex of DNA and proteins) determine how the chromatin fibers will entwine. This topology is crucial to the successful separation of newly replicated DNA: If the fibers twist too tightly too early, then the molecules are unable to properly segregate during cell division. They found that twisting a single chromatin fiber is much easier […]

Photosynthetic protein structure that harvests and traps infrared light

Phys.org  April 4, 2018 Plants and algae use chlorophyll to absorb energy from the Sun to power photosynthesis at wavelengths up to 720 nm. Researchers in the UK studied photosynthetic LH1-RC complex from the bacterium Blastochloris viridis, which can harvest and use light at wavelengths over 1,000 nm. They showed how it converts near-infrared light into an electrical charge to power cell metabolism, which enables the bacterium to live at the extreme red limit of photosynthesis on Earth. The study gives an insight into the efficiency and limits of photosynthesis… read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

How fungi grow: A movie from inside the cell

Science Daily  March 15, 2018 Fungi are used to produce food or medicine and in bioengineering. Using high-performance light microscopy, an international team of researchers (Germany, Greece, Belgium, USA – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Japan) watched mold fungi as they grew in the cell. Mold fungi are hyphal fungi consisting of filamentous cells, hyphae, which may form large networks, mycelia. The hyphae of about 3 µm in thickness exclusively grow by directed extension of their tips. An important objective of biological fundamental research is to understand this growth on the molecular level, as hyphal growth plays an important role […]