News in January 2012
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Books & Articles

How to Reliably Test for GMOs
Žel, J., Milavec, M., Morisset, D., Plan, D., Van den Eede, G., Gruden, K
2012, 2012, X, 100 p. 21 illus., 19 in color Series:
Springer Briefs in Food, Health, and Nutrition

This Brief provides the current state-of-the-art on all key topics involved in GMO testing and is a source of detailed practical information for laboratories. Special focus is given to qualitative and quantitative real-time PCR analysis relevant to all areas where detection and identification rely on nucleic acid-based methods. The following topics, important for testing laboratories, are also discussed: organization of the laboratory, focusing on aspects of the quality system and methods for testing, validation and verification of methods, and measurement uncertainty. The Brief also discusses the new challenges of GMOs and novel modified organisms, using new technologies, and the possible solutions for GMO detection, including bioinformatics tools. Finally, legislation on GMOs and sources of information on GMOs are provided, which are relevant not only to testing laboratories, but to anyone interested in GMOs.

Barking up the wrong tree?
By André Faaij

Better land management could take the heat out of debate about the impact of biofuel on food production. When it adopted the renewable energy directive in 2008 the European Union attention has focused on ‘indirect land-use change' (ILUC), when biofuel production displaces food crops, which then need to be grown elsewhere. Complex economic models have now been developed to capture the wide-ranging impact of global trade in biofuel on the availability of agricultural land worldwide. And yet, despite sustained efforts, large shortcomings and uncertainties persist in the models, particularly relating to the underlying data that the models use.

Studies for a report on renewable energy published this year by the UN's International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), for which I served as convening lead author, have demonstrated that substantial amounts of biomass – potentially up to one-third of future global energy demand – could be supplied by more effective farming and livestock management, by residues, and by using fallow, abandoned, marginal or degraded land. Good agricultural practices could substantially reduce the footprint of food production, even if, as projected, the world's population climbs to nine billion in 2050.

André Faaij is a convening lead author for the UN's International Panel for Climate Change and a professor of energy system analysis at Utrecht University's Copernicus Institute.

The EU should help farmers turn agricultural residues into a profitable resource.
By Kĺre Riis Nielsen

Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has long suffered from two chronic problems: financial and environmental sustainability.

Firstly, European agriculture is under-utilised. Farmers could earn more from their land by turning agricultural residues (principally wheat and rye straw, maize stover and sugar beet leaves) into a profitable resource.

In Europe today there are 1.22 billion tonnes of agricultural residues available that could be sustainably harvested without altering land-use patterns. These residues could be turned into a new set of bio-products, ranging from transport fuels to chemicals and plastics. According to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study published in April, even if only 17.5% of these residues were used in bio-refineries, the benefits would be very tangible: giving new revenues to farmers, creating jobs and reducing our carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels. For example, the study suggests that French farmers could make an additional €222 per hectare of land if their farm residues were put to good use. Polish farmers could generate up to 40% of their income per hectare from harvesting, loading and transporting wheat straw to a bio-refinery.

But more importantly, by diversifying revenue streams, farmers would no longer be solely dependent on the agricultural markets and, consequently, not as exposed to the price volatility that has for years been the main reason for the direct-payments system in CAP.

There are serious blockages preventing the EU from unlocking the value of this residue resource. There is a real lack of financial incentives, the necessary rural infrastructure is either missing or too old, and there are no clear policy guidelines for farmers on how much agricultural residues can be safely removed from the field. Some specific steps could be taken to resolve this.

RNAi & miRNA, Epigenetics and qPCR Europe 2011
8 - 9 September, Munich, Germany
Conference recordings. Price € 199 Each
Advances in Metabolic Profiling & Mass Spec Europe 2011
15-16 November 2011, Dublin, Ireland


Synthetic Biology in Europe
Barcelona (ES) Feb 6-8, 2012

The meeting will focus on European research targeted to industrial needs. The emphasis will be on microbial and plant synthetic biology. The first meeting will emphasise experimental approaches to use synthetic biology to solve industrial problems: a future meeting might focus more on theoretical, modelling approaches to solve problems.

Contact: European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB),

Crossroads in Biology – 4th International Symposium
Köln, Feb. 9-10, 2012

Student-organised meeting from the Graduate School for Biological Sciences, the International Graduate School in Development Health and Disease, the International Max Planck Research School and the CECAD Graduate School of the University of Cologne; that aims to bring together students from diverse backgrounds with leading scientists from around the world to provide a forum for multidisciplinary discussions. To facilitate such interactions, excellent speakers in the fields of “Cell Signaling and Repair”, “Evolution and Genetic Inheritance”, “Neurobiology in Health and Disease”, and “Functional Diversity of RNA” will be invited. In addition to lectures, small discussion groups offer students and speakers a possibility to talk about science in an informal setting. Students will showcase their own research by giving talks or presenting their work during the poster session. The meeting is a free-of-charge event open to all.

Contact: Universität Köln,

1st Biotechnology World Congress
Dubai (UAE) Feb. 14-15, 2012

The conference will cover the translational nature of biotechnological research, with emphasis on both the basic science as well as its applications in industry and academia. Presentations will include latest researches, business development, strategic alliances, partnering trends, product opportunities, growth business models and strategies, licensing and pharmaceutical biotechnology (e.g. vaccines, CNS, cancer, antibodies), medical biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, bioprocess engineering, protein engineering, plant and environmental technologies, transgenic plant and crops, bioremediation, and microbial diversity research.

Contact: Eureka Science Ltd., Phone: +971-6-5575783;

5th International Congress on Bio-based Plastics and Composites
Cologne (GER), March 14-15, 2012

The year 2011 has experienced acceleration regarding the raw material shift in the chemical and plastics industry. Clear political requirements towards a bio-based economy have become a world-wide phenomenon which includes bio-based plastics and composites along with bio-based additives and green chemistry. In over 20 lectures and an exhibition we will introduce the latest developments of main players from Italy and Scandinavia as well as Germany, North America and Asia. The theme covers the whole area of bio-materials, additives and industrial biotechnology. Additionally agents from assemblies along with political representatives will present the new proposed political frameworks.

Contact: Dominik Vogt, nova-Institut GmbH;

BIO-Europe Spring®
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, March 19–21, 2012

BIO-Europe Spring® is the springtime counterpart to EBD Group's flagship conference, BIO-Europe®, and continues the tradition of providing life science companies with high caliber partnering opportunities. The event enables delegates to identify, meet and network with companies across the life science value chain.

Environmental Microbiology & Biotechnology Conference 2012
Bologna (I), April 10-12, 2012
Contact: European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB);
The Student Scientific Conference on Biotechnology & Biomedicine
Brno, Czech Republic, April 12 – 13.

This years sessions are devoted to the progress in basic and applied research in the area of BIOTECHNOLOGY:
– Genetically Modified Microorganisms
– Genetic Modifications in Plants
– Genetic Modifications in Animals and Medicine
– Pharmacogenomics
– Bioengineering

Conference will be enriched by public lectures and panel discussion called “Biotechnology: Myths and legends”.

More at

Genomics Research 2012
(Boston 19-20 April)

Aims to provide a technical programme that encompasses all of the cutting edge topics within Genomics Research, with a particular focus on its application in the development of therapeutics and diagnostics.
Network with over 400 of your peers and 50 exhibiting companies to create partnerships and collaborations to advance your research. It will encompass our successful RNAi & miRNA, Advances in qPCR, Epigenetics, Next Gen Sequencing conference streams as well as and Genomic Biomarkers. This year's event will be held in Boston.

Registered delegates will have access to all five meetings ensuring a very cost-effective trip.

1st World Genetics & Genomics Online Conference
17 - 19 May 2012, Online

Target Meeting is organizing 100+ symposiums and 10+ conferences in 2012, which are free and without travel. All presentations and discussions are in real time. No specialized equipment, software, or IT background are required.

Systems Biology Europe conference and exhibition
16 – 17 October, Madrid

The four conference tracks at this event include Cancer Proteomics, Informatics, Exosomes/Markers in Biological Fluids and Metabolic Profiling & Lipidomics. Registered delegates will have access to all four meetings ensuring a very cost-effective trip.

We are currently accepting oral abstract submissions for the conference. Go to our website to submit an abstract now and be a part of this fantastic event!

Submission Deadline - 12th April 2012

Europe - EU

European Research Area for the environment

In 2009 the European Commission (DG Research) launched a study aiming at taking stock of the ERA progress in the field of the environment. The study developed a framework of objectives and indicators to understand and measure the progress in each of the six ERA dimensions:

1. Well-coordinated research programmes and priorities
2. An adequate flow of competent researchers
3. Excellent research institutions
4. World-class research infrastructures
5. Effective knowledge sharing
6. A wide opening of the European Research Area to the world

ERA Conference – Brussels January 30
What is the purpose of the ERA Conference on 30 January 2012?

In the European Council conclusions of 4 February 2011, the Heads of State and Government called on the EU to rapidly address remaining obstacles to complete the European Research Area by 2014. In response, the Commission intends to propose a European Research Area (ERA) Framework in 2012.

From 13 September until 30 November 2011, the European Commission ran a public consultation on the ERA Framework which has collected the views of a broad range of research stakeholders on the main bottlenecks to creating a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation. These views need to be taken into account in preparing the Commission's ERA Framework proposal.

In the recent conference the responses to public consultation and their implications will be presented and discussed. The event will provide a platform for prominent stakeholders to testify and discuss further where they see major bottlenecks and help to mobilise a broad consensus and support for the way forward via the ERA Framework.

Commission study questions carbon dioxide benefits from EU biofuel

Biofuels from oil seed rape, soybeans and palm oil generates more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. Rape seed that covers recently 80% of biofuels fails to meet the EU 2020 target in reducing green house gases emission. Ethanol produced from sugar cane or wheat get better results. Should Commission change the legislation? The commission for energy tries to prevent it.

Biofuel side-effects
European Voice, 17, 2011,(28),

Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for energy, and Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, are poised to propose instead a cruder environmental standard, that all biofuel sold in the European Union will have to produce carbon-dioxide savings of 50% compared with fossil fuel. The current standard, contained in the EU's renewable-energy law, is a saving of at least 35%.

Environmentalists have been urging the Commission to introduce more sophisticated measurements of the greenhouse-gas savings from biofuel. They argue that the EU has to take into account the effects of indirect land-use change (ILUC) – such as biofuel crops displacing food crops onto previously uncultivated land that might, for instance, host environmentally valuable woodland.

A scientific committee of the European Environment Agency, an EU body charged with providing advice to the EU institutions, warned that to assume that using biomass as an energy source was carbon neutral was “a serious accounting error”. Using land for biomass meant that the land was not available to store carbon. “Legislation that encourages substitution of fossil fuels by bioenergy, irrespective of the biomass source, may even result in increased carbon emissions”, the committee warned.

Faced with escalating doubts about the environmental benefits of biofuel, the Commission agreed in 2008 to examine the ILUC effects and to produce a report in 2010 on what action might be needed. The promised impact assessment – much delayed – is expected next month.

But the commissioners have now agreed to postpone action until 2014, the last year of the mandate of the current Commission. Only then will they make their proposals to attach specific CO2 values to each type of biofuel – deferring any impact from new measures until 2016 at the earliest.

The crop-specific proposals are being delayed even though a note of the commissioners' discussion of the issue in July said: “The introduction of feedstock-specific factors would seem to be the most effective solution to address ILUC.”

Raffaello Garofolo, the secretary-general of the European Biodiesel Board, said that an increase in the standard for carbon savings from biofuel “would put the whole production chain under stress.” Legislation based on uncertain scientific evidence could “kill the European biodiesel industry”, to the benefit of biodiesel produced outside the EU from palm oil, he warned.

Less biofuel in EU

This year the production of biofuel for diesel will be 15% lower. Germany will produce 2.7 Mt in comparison with 2.9 Mt last year. The reason are ILUC = indirect land-use change. They represent extra energy consumption and green-house gases evolution when food crops have to be plated in not optimal areas. The target use of 24 Mt in 2020 will be covered by import from Argentina and Indonesia.

Field trials – new announcements

Following announcements of field trials (the release in the environment) has been published:

Germany and Sweden- the deliberate release of glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet (H7-1) that expresses the CP4 EPSPS protein, derived from Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4. Main purpose of the releases is the acquisition and evaluation of agronomic properties and phenotypic characteristics during the vegetation period as well as the yield performance, processing quality and composition of the genetically modified beets.

Belgie VIB (Vlaams Interuniversitair Instituut voor Biotechnologie - The genetically modified maize has an altered growth characteristic resulting from the introduction of a Ga20Oxidase-1 gene stemming from Arabidopsis thaliana. As a result the plants become significantly longer without producing significantly more biomass.

Four GM soy bean variety in the pipeline

New process for approval was tested. When the qualified majority is not reached in the Council for Food chain the Committee for appeal will decide. First four soy bean varieties were treated: MON87701, 40-3-2 (Monsanto), 356043 (Pioneer) and A5547-127 (Bayer CropScience) and the decision was not reached in the Committee. Therefore the European Commission will decide.


Attitudes of European farmers towards GM crop adoption
Francisco J. Areal, Laura Riesgo and Emilio Rodrı´guez-Cerezo (JRC, Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), Edificio Expo, Seville, University of Reading, Reading, UK, University, Seville
Plant Biotechnology Journal (2011) 9, pp. 945–957

This article analyses European Union (EU) farmers’ attitudes towards adoption of genetically modified crops by identifying and classifying groups of farmers. Cluster analysis provided two groups of farmers allowing us to classify farmers into potential adopters or rejecters of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant (GMHT) crops. Results showed that economic issues such as the guarantee of a higher income and the reduction of weed control costs are the most encouraging reasons for potential adopters and rejecters of GMHT crops. This article also examines how putting in place measures to ensure coexistence between GM and non-GM crops may influence farmers’ attitudes towards GMHT crop adoption. Results show that the implementation of a coexistence policy would have a negative impact on farmers’ attitudes on adoption and consequently may hamper GMHT adoption in the EU.

A survey was conducted to 647 farmers in 6 European countries: Czech Republic, Germany, UK, France, Hungary and Spain. These countries are representative of oil seed rape (OSR) and maize production in the EU-27. Thus, in 2007, together the Czech Republic, Germany and the UK accounted for 45% and 40% of the total OSR production area in the EU-27, respectively, while France, Hungary and Spain accounted for 46% and 37% of the total maize production and area allocated to maize in the EU-27.

A total of 439 farmers were interviewed face-to-face in the Czech Republic, Germany and the UK on their attitudes towards adopting GMHT OSR, whereas 208 farmers were interviewed, also face-to-face, in France, Hungary and Spain on their attitudes towards adopting GMHT maize during March and July 2007. Within all countries, prior stratification was undertaken.

Encouraging adoption of GMHT:

  1. It guarantees the reduction in losses caused by weed growth
  2. I practise direct sowing and it facilitates this process
  3. It guarantees greater yields during harvest
  4. It guarantees a higher income
  5. It reduces weed control costs
  6. My regular distributor recommended it
  7. It guarantees a higher quality of harvest
  8. The environmental impact on my farm is reduced because it involves a cut down in herbicides
  9. It seems to involve less risk
  10. It makes me feel as though I were at the forefront of biotechnological progress
  11. All of the farmers in my area are using it
  12. The technician ⁄ s that I have consulted have recommended it
  13. It facilitates my work being a technology that makes cultivation easier Dissuading adoption of GMHT
  14. I do not have a huge weed problem in my land
  15. The seeds are much more expensive than the conventional seeds
  16. I do not think there would be an improvement in yield
  17. I do not believe in these new products
  18. I do not think there would be an improvement in financial returns
  19. I prefer not to change the type of crop. I do not really like change
  20. I have been advised not to use this type of maize ⁄ rape
  21. I think it would be difficult to market the grain
  22. I have more faith in the use of herbicides to avoid weed infestation than in this type of crop
  23. It is not well received by society in general
  24. It is a complicated technology to use (one has to conform to coexistence or buffer zone regulations
New Brno-based life sciences centre opens up for business
05.12.11 Brno

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has officially inaugurated the first of six European Technology Institutes slated to be launched in the Czech Republic with help from European FEDER funds. Although construction of the €200m Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) will not be complete until 2014, the life sciences research centre – made up of ten facilities – has already begun operations. Following a workshop with EMBL researchers, CEITEC deputy director Ondrej Hradil announced in mid-November that the center has already been approached with several proposals for cooperation in the fields of bioinformatics, innovative sequencing techniques and development of new methods of advanced optical microscopy. Up to now, the Czech Republic has not been an EMBL member country, but CEITEC would support negotiations on its membership. Earlier in November, CEITEC ordered four ultra-high field AVANCETM NMR systems from Bruker, which will make it the premier biological NMR research facility in Central and Eastern Europe. “High-field NMR spectroscopy will be combined with other progressive high-resolution methods of structural analysis here such as single-crystal X-ray diffraction, high-end cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, and an atomic force microscopy for understanding of the vital cellular processes,” said Vladimir Sklenar, the Structural Biology Programme Coordinator at CEITEC.

Field trials and tribulations—making sense of the regulations for experimental field trials of transgenic crops in Europe
Gómez-Galera, S., et al. Plant Biotechnology Journal (2012), pp. 1–13

The European Union (EU) is renowned, or perhaps notorious, for having the broadest and most stringent regulations governing such field trials in the world. This reflects its nominal adherence to the precautionary approach, which assumes all transgenic crops carry an inherent risk. Therefore, field trials in the EU need to demonstrate that the risk associated with deploying a transgenic crop has been reduced to the level where it is regarded as acceptable within the narrowly defined limits of the regulations developed and enforced (albeit inconsistently) by national and regional governments, that is, that there is no greater risk than growing an equivalent conventional crop. The involvement of national and regional competent authorities in the decision-making process can add multiple layers of bureaucracy to an already-intricate process. In this review, we use country-based case studies to show how the EU, national and regional regulations are implemented, and we propose strategies that could increase the efficiency of regulation without burdening developers with further unnecessary bureaucracy.

Germany – antibiotics in chickens

During the control in Nordrhein-Westfalen about 96% of chicken were treated by antibiotics. Strong critic was delivered to the agrarian minister Johannes Remmel. Bundesminister Eigner will adopt strong measures against the misuse of antibiotics.

BASF to concentrate plant biotechnology activities on main markets in North and South America
Ludwigshafen, Germany

January 16, 2012 – BASF announced today that it is concentrating its plant biotechnology activities on the main markets in North and South America. The company will adjust the portfolio and site footprint of its subsidiary BASF Plant Science to reflect this change. The headquarters of BASF Plant Science will be moved from Limburgerhof, Germany, to Raleigh, North Carolina. Research and development activities will be concentrated mainly in Raleigh, Ghent, Belgium and Berlin, Germany.

“We are convinced that plant biotechnology is a key technology for the 21st century. However, there is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians. Therefore, it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market,” said Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF, responsible for plant biotechnology. “We will therefore concentrate on the attractive markets for plant biotechnology in North and South America and the growth markets in Asia.”

BASF Plant Science will halt the development and commercialization of all products that are targeted solely for cultivation in the European markets. These include genetically modified starch potatoes (Amflora, Amadea and Modena), a potato resistant to the disease late blight called Fortuna as well as a late blight resistant starch potato and a wheat variety resistant to fungal disease. To maintain all options for the potato products, BASF Plant Science will continue the regulatory approval processes for the products already started.

The company’s research facilities at metanomics in Berlin and CropDesign in Ghent will be strengthened. “Although the conditions for cultivation of genetically modified crops in Europe are unfavorable, there are world-class research institutes and universities in both Berlin and Ghent,” explained Dr. Peter Eckes, President of BASF Plant Science.

BASF Plant Science’s product pipeline will continue its strong focus on the yield and stress projects in which crops are developed with higher yields and improved resistance to stress conditions like drought. This includes the collaboration with Monsanto for corn, soy, cotton, canola and wheat. At the end of 2011, the first product from this partnership, drought-tolerant corn, was approved for cultivation in the United States. Cultivance® soybeans, developed together with Embrapa, were approved for cultivation in Brazil at the end of 2009, and the approval process for key export markets is ongoing.

One out of five fields produces alternative energy

In Germany crops for alternative energy cover 2.2 millions ha. 900 000 ha represent oil seed rape and 800 000 ha maize for biogas. Other crops are tested for this purpose.

Out of 43,97 mil.t of cereals 3,16% were used for bioethanol production.

Germany: Photovoltaic should be strongly reduced

The coordinator for the energy of the German CDU/CSU Thomas Bareiß said that this form of renewable energy uses about 38% of subsidiaries (8 billion euro) for alternative energy sources but contributes only about 3% of power. The increase of 7500 MW in 2011 is far from useful volume.

Austria – GMO-free fed chickens

The REWE International AG will accept only chickens that are certified as fed by GMO-free feed. Such chicken will be sold in Billa, Penny and other chains.

Finns investigate how climate change is affecting nature

An EU-funded team of researchers in Finland is studying how climate change impacts nature and the various spheres that depend on it, namely agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism. The study is funded under the VACCIA ('Vulnerability assessment of ecosystem services for climate change impacts and adaptation') project, which is supported by the EU LIFE+ programme. The results of the study will help decision-makers, industry and the general public, and give Finland the support it needs to adapt to a changing climate.

Nearly 100 experts from the Finnish Environment Institute, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and the Universities of Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Oulu are contributing to this study. They predict the climate in Finland will warm more during the winter season instead of the summer season.

European energy from fish and tea bags?

In Europe at least 20 percent of our food ends up as waste. While new zero-food waste policies are on their way, researchers are imagining ways to turn current food-waste mountains into future green energy.
Fishes are filleted, frozen and packed, bound for European and Asian market.

Some 80 tons of fish-waste is left behind, turned into fish oil.

"We have fish oil, and I'm adding methanol mixed with an alkaline catalyst. After heating, stirring and mixing, we obtain biodiesel. So in our pilot plant, there we have the fish oil. We pump that fish oil into the reactor, where it is heated and stirred. Then we take methanol and mix it with the catalyst. And later we add the resulting mix to the fish oil. The final product is repeatedly cleaned with water; the resulting biodiesel is separated and stocked," says Teija Palmén, a chemist at Sybimar Oy. At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce up to 13 tons of biodiesel per day.

"We looked at the waste characterisations by actually hand sorting the waste, to look at the variety of different wastes that people throw away. We discovered that here around the plant's region 50 percent of the wastes that households throw away are vegetable and fresh fruit peelings. And about 12 percent of that waste is uneaten fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the most surprising results is that in the region around here 10 percent of the waste that come to our plant here are teabags," said Becky Arnold, a soil scientist for BiogenGreenfinch.


Spider Silk and Transgenic Silkworm Breakthroughs

Spider silk fusion fiber was achieved by university scientists within the University of Wyoming and the University of Notre Dame, who are working cooperatively with Kraig Biocraft Laboratories.

These composite fibers were, on average, tougher than the parental silkworm silk fibers and as tough as native dragline spider silk fibers. These results demonstrate that silkworms can be engineered to manufacture composite silk fibers containing stably integrated spider silk protein sequences, which significantly improve the overall mechanical properties of the parental silkworm silk fibers. Published in PNAS.

News in Science

Improving photosynthesis

Scientists in the UK and USA have (28 March) been awarded funding totalling Ł6.11M/$10.3M to improve the process of photosynthesis. The funding has been awarded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in a pioneering undertaking for the best minds from the USA and UK to join forces to explore this important research.

Three of the research projects will focus on improving a reaction driven by an enzyme called RuBisCO, which is a widely recognized bottleneck in the photosynthesis pathway.

By attempting to transfer parts from algae and bacteria into plants, the researchers hope to make the environment in the plants' cells around RuBisCO richer in carbon dioxide which will allow photosynthesis to produce sugars more efficiently.

The fourth project aims to harness the excess light energy that reaches photosynthetic organisms but cannot be used due to bottlenecks in natural photosynthesis. This project aims to transfer high energy electrons from a cyanobacterial cell where there is excess that would otherwise be turned to heat to an adjacent cell which will be engineered to produce food or fuel products.

Carbon dioxide nanotrap

A team of innovative researchers from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom believe that a one 1m2 unit of land containing these tiny tubes could adsorb the same amount of carbon that 10 average-sized trees can. The researchers hope that in the future, larger versions of the units, developed as part of a project titled NANOTUBES FOR CARBON CAPTURE, could be placed beside motorways to make better use of unused land and help reduce our collective carbon footprint.

'The tube material will be specially designed at the nanoscale to be highly porous, in order to adsorb as much carbon dioxide as possible. Each individual tube will be around 1 micrometre long and just 1 nanometre in diameter. They are to be made of pure carbon with some additional chemical groups that will attract and trap the carbon dioxide. Once saturated with carbon, the 'used' tubes will be regenerated by a rapid heat pulse generated from a renewable energy source such as a solar cell, and the carbon dioxide will be concentrated and stored in small canisters. The researchers suggest that these canisters could then be exchanged periodically for fresh ones as part of a regular collection round.

Cloning and Characterization of ATP Synthase CF1 a Gene from Sweet Potato

ATP synthase CF1 α subunit protein is a key enzyme for energy metabolism in plant kingdom, and plays an important role in multiple cell processes. In this study, the complete atpA gene (accession no. JN247444) was cloned from sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L. Lam) by reverse transcriptasepolymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). This atpA gene contains an open reading frame (ORF) of 1524 bp coding for a peptide of 507 amino acids with a molecular mass of 55.36 kD.

Sequence analysis showed that atpA gene from sweet potato has high homology with the other plant chloroplast atpA. The transcript levels of the atpA gene in young leaves, mature leaves, stems and tuberous roots were examined by the digital gene expression profiling (DGE), and then confirmed by semi-quantitative RTPCR. The results demonstrate that the highest transcription of atpA gene was found in young leaves, but it was relatively lower in other three tissues. In addition, the atpA gene was successfully expressed in Escherichia coli.

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