Nobel Prize for chemistry honors exquisitely precise gene-editing technique, CRISPR – a gene engineer explains how it works

The tools to rewrite the genetic code to improve crops and livestock, or to treat genetic diseases, has revolutionized biology. A CRISPR engineer explains why this technology won the Nobel, and its potential.

Piyush K. Jain, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, UF Health Cancer Center, University of Florida • conversation
Oct. 7, 2020 ~8 min

Tags:  crispr  nobel-prize  agriculture  gene-editing  nobel-prize-2020  nobel-prize-in-chemistry  gene-edited-babies  gene-edited-livestock

Ancient DNA is revealing the genetic landscape of people who first settled East Asia

By studying the DNA of people who lived in East Asia thousands of years ago, scientists are starting to untangle how the region was populated.

Melinda A. Yang, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Richmond • conversation
Sept. 15, 2020 ~11 min

Tags: ancient-dna hunter-gatherers china agriculture archaeology genes genomics southeast-asia rice adna siberia paleoanthropology human-migration east-asia hunter-gatherer start-of-agriculture paleogenomics

How to reverse global wildlife declines by 2050

Wildlife populations have plummeted by 68% since 1970. But we have a plan to turn things around.

Piero Visconti, Research Scholar, Ecosystem Services and Management Programme, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) • conversation
Sept. 14, 2020 ~6 min

Tags: conservation biodiversity agriculture wildlife ecosystem-services ecosystems biodiversity-loss sixth-mass-extinction food-systems

The fourth agricultural revolution is coming – but who will really benefit?

AI, robots and other technologies could transform farming – for worse as well as for better.

Charlotte-Anne Chivers, Research Assistant, Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire • conversation
Sept. 14, 2020 ~8 min

Tags: artificial-intelligence agriculture robots farming

Plants might be able to tell us about the location of dead bodies, helping families find missing people

Researchers are figuring out how plants respond to the presence of human cadavers. The findings could prove important for discovering the locations of murder victims or mass graves.

Neal Stewart, Professor of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee • conversation
Sept. 3, 2020 ~7 min

Tags:  evolution  innovation  agriculture  plants  microbes  adaptation  genetically-modified-organisms  forensics  genetically-modified-plants  decomposition

Plants might be able to tell us about the location of dead people, helping families find missing people

Researchers are figuring out how plants respond to the presence of human cadavers. The findings could prove important for discovering the locations of murder victims or mass graves.

Neal Stewart, Professor of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee • conversation
Sept. 3, 2020 ~7 min

Tags:  evolution  innovation  agriculture  plants  microbes  adaptation  genetically-modified-organisms  forensics  genetically-modified-plants  decomposition

When plants and their microbes are not in sync, the results can be disastrous

Just as humans can suffer from an imbalance of microbes in their gut, plants can suffer a similar syndrome in their leaves. This finding opens up new possibilities for improving food security.

Sheng-Yang He, University Distinguished Professor, HHMI Investigator, Michigan State University • conversation
Aug. 28, 2020 ~8 min

Tags:  agriculture  plants  microbiome  ecosystem  crops  microbiota  arabidopsis

Amazon fires trap farmers into poverty – and into setting more fires

Fires that burn the forest burn crops and pastures alike. But farmers in the eastern Amazon are left with few good options.

Rachael Garrett, Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich • conversation
Aug. 17, 2020 ~7 min

Tags: climate-change agriculture brazil farming amazon-fires wildfires forest-fires fire-risk

An argument for gene drive technology to genetically control populations of insects like mosquitoes and locusts

Gene drive guarantees that a trait will be passed to the next generation. But should society use this tool to control insect populations?

Brian Lovett, Postdoctoral Researcher in Mycology, West Virginia University • conversation
July 14, 2020 ~10 min

Tags:  health  environment  insects  agriculture  ecology  malaria  zika  entomology  bugs  pest-control  mosquitoes  dengue  gene-drive

An argument for gene drive technology to genetically control insects like mosquitoes and locusts

Gene drive guarantees that a trait will be passed to the next generation. But should society use this tool to control insect populations?

Brian Lovett, Postdoctoral Researcher in Mycology, West Virginia University • conversation
July 14, 2020 ~10 min

Tags:  health  environment  insects  agriculture  ecology  malaria  zika  entomology  bugs  pest-control  mosquitoes  dengue  gene-drive

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