Friday, September 12, 2014

The Friday Five

Highlighting some of the coolest science news we’ve seen lately.

1. The coffee plant (Coffea canephora) genome has finally been sequenced! Interestingly, the study revealed that the enzymes synthesizing caffeine evidently arose independently from others found in tea and cacao. The question that remains:  how many cups of coffee were required to get the data? Learn more, including why some plants make caffeine, in Carl Zimmer’s article. It took millions of years for plants to evolve the ability to manufacture caffeine, so it is no wonder we freak out when there’s no coffee:

2. Scientists were able to correct the genetic aberration in mice that causes muscular dystrophy using a new type of genome editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9. In the future, this strategy may be used to correct disease-causing mutations in the muscle tissue of humans. Learn more about CRISPR/Cas9 in the video below.

3. More big medical breakthroughs: one of the most promising medications for melanoma was fast-tracked by the FDA last week.

4. This doesn’t happen every day! Check out this live volcanic eruption and sonic boom of Mount Tarvurvur located in Papua New Guinea.

5. In a previous Friday Five, we highlighted a study on how to make the perfect pizza. So how about a little perfect dessert to go with that perfect pizza? Read on to discover the science behind the best chocolate chip cookie for you.

We recently wrote about species having names inspired by celebrities. Now we have a new one to add to the list. “A swamp-dwelling, plant-munching creature that lived 19 million years ago in Africa has been named after Rolling Stones lead singer Sir Mick Jagger, because of its big, sensitive lips and snout. The name of the animal, Jaggermeryx naida, translates to 'Jagger's water nymph.'”

Science quote of the week:
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” –Isaac Asimov

Contributed by:  Bill Sullivan
Follow Bill on Twitter: @wjsullivan

Denoeud, F., Carretero-Paulet, L., Dereeper, A., Droc, G., Guyot, R., Pietrella, M., Zheng, C., Alberti, A., Anthony, F., Aprea, G., Aury, J., Bento, P., Bernard, M., Bocs, S., Campa, C., Cenci, A., Combes, M., Crouzillat, D., Da Silva, C., Daddiego, L., De Bellis, F., Dussert, S., Garsmeur, O., Gayraud, T., Guignon, V., Jahn, K., Jamilloux, V., Joet, T., Labadie, K., Lan, T., Leclercq, J., Lepelley, M., Leroy, T., Li, L., Librado, P., Lopez, L., Munoz, A., Noel, B., Pallavicini, A., Perrotta, G., Poncet, V., Pot, D., Priyono, ., Rigoreau, M., Rouard, M., Rozas, J., Tranchant-Dubreuil, C., VanBuren, R., Zhang, Q., Andrade, A., Argout, X., Bertrand, B., de Kochko, A., Graziosi, G., Henry, R., Jayarama, ., Ming, R., Nagai, C., Rounsley, S., Sankoff, D., Giuliano, G., Albert, V., Wincker, P., & Lashermes, P. (2014). The coffee genome provides insight into the convergent evolution of caffeine biosynthesis Science, 345 (6201), 1181-1184 DOI: 10.1126/science.1255274

Long, C., McAnally, J., Shelton, J., Mireault, A., Bassel-Duby, R., & Olson, E. (2014). Prevention of muscular dystrophy in mice by CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing of germline DNA Science, 345 (6201), 1184-1188 DOI: 10.1126/science.1254445

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