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From the College of Natural Sciences
Bacteria Show Capacity for Rapid, Beneficial Mutations

Bacteria Show Capacity for Rapid, Beneficial Mutations

Scientists studying how microbes evolve have long assumed that nearly all new genetic mutations get passed down at a predictable pace and usually without either helping or hurting the microbe in adapting to its environment. In a new study published in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers studying tens of thousands of generations of E. coli bacteria report that most new genetic mutations that were passed down were actually beneficial and occurred at much more variable rates than previously thought.

Cross-respiration Between Oral Bacteria Leads to Worse Infections

Cross-respiration Between Oral Bacteria Leads to Worse Infections

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere have determined that two bacterial species commonly found in the human mouth and in abscesses, cooperate to make the pathogenic bacterium, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, more infectious. Key to the cooperation is that the harmless partner provides the pathogen with an oxygen-rich environment that helps it flourish.

Fix for 3-Billion-Year-Old Genetic Error Could Dramatically Improve Genetic Sequencing

Fix for 3-Billion-Year-Old Genetic Error Could Dramatically Improve Genetic Sequencing

Visual representation of laboratory manipulation RNA in water droplets; Jared Ellefson

For 3 billion years, one of the major carriers of information needed for life, RNA, has had a glitch that creates errors when making copies of genetic information. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a fix that allows RNA to accurately proofread for the first time.

Making Virus Sensors Cheap and Simple: New Method Detects Single Viruses

Making Virus Sensors Cheap and Simple: New Method Detects Single Viruses

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new method to rapidly detect a single virus in urine, as reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rare Evolutionary Event Detected in University of Texas Lab

Rare Evolutionary Event Detected in University of Texas Lab

It took nearly a half trillion tries before researchers at The University of Texas at Austin witnessed a rare event and perhaps solved an evolutionary puzzle about how introns – noncoding sequences of DNA located within genes – multiply in a genome.

Mutation in Gene Leads to Variety of Poorly Understood Birth Defects

Mutation in Gene Leads to Variety of Poorly Understood Birth Defects

Scientists have identified genetic mutations that appear to be a key culprit behind a suite of birth defects called ciliopathies, which affect an estimated 1 in 1,000 births. In a paper published online this week in Nature Genetics, a team of researchers led by The University of Texas at Austin's John Wallingford reveals that these mutations prevent certain proteins from working together to smooth the way for cells to communicate with one another.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Life-Changing Hepatitis C Drugs

Unlocking the Mysteries of Life-Changing Hepatitis C Drugs

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have for the first time revealed how a group of drugs that are being developed to treat hepatitis C works. Pharmaceutical companies might be able to apply these new insights to future drugs designed to address a deadly disease.

See 22 Ways UT Researchers Apply DNA, Genomics to Understanding Life

See 22 Ways UT Researchers Apply DNA, Genomics to Understanding Life

In honor of National DNA Day, we take a look at the myriad ways that researchers in the College of Natural Sciences use deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and genomic information to fight disease, improve agriculture and illuminate the wonders of the natural world.

Drug Engineered at UT Austin to Treat Anthrax Gains FDA Approval

Drug Engineered at UT Austin to Treat Anthrax Gains FDA Approval

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin successfully culminated years of work when a drug they engineered for the treatment and prevention of inhalational anthrax — the anthrax antitoxin obiltoxaximab — received approval March 21 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Podcast: Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria

Podcast: Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria

To study diseases, biologists often make models, for example, a rat with a disorder similar to Alzheimer's. With a good model, they can tinker with different variables and see if anything halts the disease, without the ethical limits of experimenting on actual humans. But scientists studying an especially nasty bacterium that tends to invade and breed out of control in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) kept hitting dead ends in their search for a good model.

Scientists Study How DNA Repairs Itself Through Single Molecule Imaging

Scientists Study How DNA Repairs Itself Through Single Molecule Imaging

​A group of scientists from UT Austin's Finkelstein Laboratory, headed by assistant professor in Molecular Biosciences Ilya Finkelstein, have imaged proteins which repair DNA and gained new insights into how the body regulates DNA repair. The research, which uses novel single-molecule imaging techniques partially developed by Finkelstein, could lead to a better understanding of how cancerous cells repair their DNA.

Bacteria Take "RNA Mug Shots" of Threatening Viruses

Bacteria Take "RNA Mug Shots" of Threatening Viruses

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Stanford University School of Medicine and two other institutions have discovered that bacteria have a system that can recognize and disrupt dangerous viruses using a newly identified mechanism involving ribonucleic acid (RNA). It is similar to the CRISPR/Cas system that captures foreign DNA. The discovery might lead to better ways to thwart viruses that kill agricultural crops and interfere with the production of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.

Award from Cancer Agency Supports Bringing Researcher to UT Austin

Award from Cancer Agency Supports Bringing Researcher to UT Austin

A $6 million award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) will underwrite The University of Texas at Austin's hiring of a leading cancer researcher from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to serve as chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences.

Scientists Find Leukemia’s Surroundings Key to its Growth

Scientists Find Leukemia’s Surroundings Key to its Growth

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a type of cancer found primarily in children can grow only when signaled to do so by other nearby cells that are noncancerous.

Scientist to Chair Molecular Biosciences Department

Scientist to Chair Molecular Biosciences Department

A new chair has been selected for the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Dan Leahy, a structural biologist and Professor of Biophysics & Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will assume the role in January.