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Ancient Microbes Folded their DNA Similarly to Modern Life Forms

Ancient Microbes Folded their DNA Similarly to Modern Life Forms

Archaea wrap their DNA (yellow) around proteins called histones (blue). The wrapped structure bears an uncanny resemblance to the eukaryotic nucleosome, a bundle of eight histone proteins with DNA spooled around it. But unlike eukaryotes, archaea wind their DNA around just one histone protein, and form a long, twisting structure called a superhelix. Credit: Francesca Mattiroli

As life evolved on Earth, from simple one-celled microbes to complex plants, animals and humans, their DNA grew. And that created a problem: how do you pack more and more DNA into roughly the same-sized cellular compartment? Life's solution: fold it up into a ball. Reporting in the August 10 edition of the journal Science, researchers have discovered that microbes called archaea started folding their DNA in a way very similar to that of modern plants and animals, long before complex life evolved.

Inaugural Symposium Encourages Up and Coming Researchers

Inaugural Symposium Encourages Up and Coming Researchers

The College of Natural Sciences will be hosting the inaugural Symposium for Undergraduate Research Exploration (SURE in CNS) this fall to bring bright upper-division undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to The University of Texas at Austin to share their research and explore options to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences.

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.

Zhang Named Professor of the Year

Zhang Named Professor of the Year

Students have selected Jessie Zhang, an associate professor of molecular biosciences, as The University of Texas at Austin's Professor of the Year. 

International Synthetic Biology Team to Create an Ancient Cell

International Synthetic Biology Team to Create an Ancient Cell

With funding from the highly competitive Human Frontier Science Program, an international team including The University of Texas at Austin's Andrew Ellington plans to unravel billions of years of evolution to create an ancient version of a cell. 

Universities are Critical Drivers of Innovation

Universities are Critical Drivers of Innovation

Have you ever wondered how your data is protected when you shop online, who engineered the antibodies that will treat victims of any future anthrax attacks, or whether the Deepwater Horizon spill affects the fish you eat?

Fight Cancer, She Must

Fight Cancer, She Must

Robed in tie-dye lab coat, graduate student Norah Ashoura meticulously guides her pipette while explaining what Star Wars has to do with the innovative research into cancer treatments coming from the George Georgiou lab group.

Image and video credits: Christian Benavides
Genetic Signatures Reveal Environment Where Bacteria Evolved

Genetic Signatures Reveal Environment Where Bacteria Evolved

Just as the fossil record reveals clues about the conditions in which prehistoric animals and plants once lived, newly discovered genetic signatures in bacterial evolution may one day allow hospitals, doctors and scientists to know more about the environment where a bacterial infection originated.

Hybrid Antibody Takes Down HIV

Hybrid Antibody Takes Down HIV

George Georgiou, a professor of engineering and molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and his colleagues have developed a hybrid antibody that neutralized 99 percent of HIV-1 strains tested. The antibody is based on so-called "broadly-neutralizing antibodies," a group of antibodies from HIV-infected patients that are able to take down an array of rapidly mutating HIV-1 viruses.