Archive for November, 2021


Source: SyFy – 27 November 2021

A recent study carried out by Rajeev Varshney from the Center of Excellence in Genomics and Systems Biology at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and colleagues looked at the genome of chickpeas in hopes of finding a way to build a better food crop. Their findings were published in the journal Nature.

They didn’t just look at one kind of chickpea. Instead, the work analyzed more than 3,366 varieties of the plant — 3,171 cultivated species and 195 wild species — in order to get a full picture of genetic diversity. They created a pan-genome which describes genetic diversity across cultivated species and their wild source plants.

“It was a long journey from inception in 2014,” Varshney told SYFY WIRE. “This was the first effort of its kind across any crop. It took about three years for us to generate all of the data and then three to four years for data analysis and interpretation.”

The work, though daunting, resulted in the identification of 29,870 total genes, including 1,582 which had not been reported before. This analysis identified beneficial genes as well as detrimental mutations which result in less successful plants and lower crop yields.

That data was then delivered to the University of Queensland where it was analyzed by an artificial intelligence called FastStack, which is specialized for designing new varieties of plants and crops with an eye toward optimal output.


Source: 6PR – 23 November 2021

Invasive species such as feral cats, fire ants, rabbits and exotic plants are causing significant damage to local wildlife.

Dr Andy Shepherd, Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO, says it’s a huge issue for Australia.

The solution that CSIRO are focusing on is a genetically modified feral cat.

“We recognise there’s a huge amount of effort, particularly in WA, going on to manage cat numbers using effective bating systems, but it’s not a long term solution,” Dr Shepherd said.

“So we’re really focusing here at CSIRO is long term solutions, and what we’re trying to come up with is a genetically modified cat, that when it mates with other cats the offspring will only be male…