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From the College of Natural Sciences
UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

Oleander aphid. Credit: Alex Wild

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are investigating an innovative new way to protect crops from pathogens, thanks to a four-year cooperative agreement worth up to $5 million awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Insect Allies Program.

New Technique Enables Safer Gene-Editing Therapy Using CRISPR

New Technique Enables Safer Gene-Editing Therapy Using CRISPR

A CRISPR protein targets specific sections of DNA and cuts them. Scientists have turned this natural defense mechanism in bacteria into a tool for gene editing. Illustration: Jenna Luecke and David Steadman/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin took an important step toward safer gene-editing cures for life-threatening disorders, from cancer to HIV to Huntington's disease, by developing a technique that can spot editing mistakes a popular tool known as CRISPR makes to an individual's genome. The research appears today in the journal Cell.

First Step Taken Toward Epigenetically Modified Cotton

First Step Taken Toward Epigenetically Modified Cotton

A partly harvested cotton field. This photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photo credit: Kimberly Vardeman.

With prices down and weather patterns unpredictable, these are tough times for America's cotton farmers, but new research led by Z. Jeffrey Chen at The University of Texas at Austin might offer a break for the industry. He and a team have taken the first step toward a new way of breeding heartier, more productive cotton through a process called epigenetic modification.

New Coral Research Exposes Genomic Underpinnings of Adaptation

New Coral Research Exposes Genomic Underpinnings of Adaptation

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have observed for the first time that separate populations of the same species — in this case, coral — can diverge in their capacity to regulate genes when adapting to their local environment. The research, published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution, reveals a new way for populations to adapt that may help predict how they will fare under climate change.

New Faculty, New Technology to Strengthen Disease Research at UT Austin

New Faculty, New Technology to Strengthen Disease Research at UT Austin

A $2 million recruitment grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has paved the way for The University of Texas at Austin to welcome a scientist experienced in cutting-edge molecular biology technologies that are used to study disease and DNA repair.

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.

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.

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.

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.