Week in Review: May 2–6

Directing chromosome recombination with CRISPR; breast milk and the newborn microbiome; growing “unculturable” gut bacteria; one reason why some plants live so long; Zika updates

May 6, 2016
Tracy Vence


CRISPR image reprinted with permission from M.J. Sadhu et al., Science, 6 May 2016 (10.1126/science.aaf5124)

  • Researchers develop a technique to direct chromosome recombination with CRISPR/Cas9, allowing high-resolution genetic mapping of phenotypic traits in yeast.

  • Infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachia greatly reduces the insects’ abilities to transmit the virus.

  • Contrary to the popular thought that many species are “unculturable,” the majority of bacteria known to populate the human gut can be grown in the lab, scientists show.

  • Maternal antibodies engender a receptive gut environment for beneficial bacteria in newborn mice.

  • Certain plant stem cells rarely divide, a study shows, possibly fending off an accumulation of potentially harmful genetic mutations in some species.

Other news in life science:

A new culture system allows researchers to track the development of human embryos in vitro for nearly two weeks. 
 
Scientists visualize nuclear pore complexes for the first time, using high-speed atomic force microscopy.
 
Two studies demonstrate the first direct, chemical reprogramming of mouse and human skin cells into heart muscle and neural cells.
 
A new analysis of microbial data estimates that the world is home to 1 trillion species—of which only 0.001 percent have been discovered.
 
Studies in Research Integrity and Peer Review analyze ethics and quality in both science and publishing.
 
She will also be an executive producer on the HBO Films project, which is based on a 2010 book about the life of Henrietta Lacks.