You are unique – Does your gene editing treatment need to be too?

Many diseases are caused by genetic mutations. Small mutations can cause certain cancers, some cases of blindness, influence heart disease, and many other pathologies. A new and powerful technology called CRISPR-Cas9 aims to correct for these genetic mutations by cutting out a piece of malfunctioning DNA, and replacing it with a piece of genetic material that functions correctly. Biologists first discovered CRISPR-Cas9 in bacteria. Through careful … Continue reading You are unique – Does your gene editing treatment need to be too?

Colonies 1 and 2

No one likes to be in crowded spaces, so when colonies reach a critical cell density, cells within the colony begin to lyse, dramatically changing the architecture of the colony. The colony on the left is a wild-type colony, while the colony on the right is a genetic mutant that exhibits an autolytic phenotype, that is the bacterium’s own enzymes “eat up” its cells. The … Continue reading Colonies 1 and 2

Arctic Apples: A fresh new take on genetic engineering

by Allison Baker figures by Lillian Horin The Arctic apple is the juiciest newcomer to produce aisles. It has the special ability to resist browning after being cut (Figure 1), which protects its flavor and nutritional value. Browning also contributes to food waste by causing unappealing bruising on perfectly edible apples. Food waste, especially for fruits and vegetables, is a major problem worldwide; nearly half … Continue reading Arctic Apples: A fresh new take on genetic engineering

Colonies on a Plate

A single bacterial cell is invisible to the naked eye. As that single cell grows and divides into new cells, however, it forms a visible pile of bacteria. In microbiology, we call this pile of bacteria a colony. A colony’s appearance can indicate a lot about the bacterial cells within, such as how they utilize nutrients, if they carry genetic mutations, and how the bacterial … Continue reading Colonies on a Plate

Can we locate bacteria by listening to them?

An ultrasound is probably most popularly recognized as a doctor’s tool to peer into the womb and take a look at a growing fetus during a woman’s pregnancy. But what if sound could be used to take a look at even smaller things – like the microorganisms in your gut? Mikhail Shapiro’s research group at the California Institute of Technology has been able to track … Continue reading Can we locate bacteria by listening to them?

Viruses, not all are bad for you

When you think of viruses, the yearly flu or even the Ebola or Swine flu outbreaks may come to mind. However, not all viruses cause disease – some even provide cures! Adeno-associated virus (AAV) can infect humans, but is not known to cause disease. In other words, this virus is good at getting its genetic information (genes) into human cells. What if its genes were … Continue reading Viruses, not all are bad for you