Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat

three researchers at the University of California, Davis — Bruce German, Carlito Lebrilla and David Mills. They and colleagues have found that a particular strain of bacterium, a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum, possesses a special suite of genes that enable it to thrive on the indigestible component of milk.

This subspecies is commonly found in the feces of breast-fed infants. It coats the lining of the infant’s intestine, protecting it from noxious bacteria.

Infants presumably acquire the special strain of bifido from their mothers, but strangely, it has not yet been detected in adults. “We’re all wondering where it hides out,” Dr. Mills said.

via Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat – NYTimes.com.

via Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat – NYTimes.com.

Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9,000 Years – NYTimes.com

Dr. Beadle returned to the issue and sought ways to gather more evidence. As a great geneticist, he knew that one way to examine the parentage of two individuals was to cross them and then to cross their offspring and see how often the parental forms appeared. He crossed maize and teosinte, then crossed the hybrids, and grew 50,000 plants. He obtained plants that resembled teosinte and maize at a frequency that indicated that just four or five genes controlled the major differences between the two plants.

via Remarkable Creatures – Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9,000 Years – NYTimes.com.

Invasion of the Superweeds – Room for Debate Blog

What should farmers do about these superweeds? What does the problem mean for agriculture in the U.S.? Will it temper American agriculture’s enthusiasm for genetically modified crops that are engineered to survive spraying with Roundup?

  • Michael Pollan, author, “Food Rules”
  • Stephen Powles, plant biologist and grain farmer
  • Blake Hurst, farmer
  • Anna Lappé, Small Planet Institute
  • Micheal D.K. Owen, professor of agronomy

via Invasion of the Superweeds – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com.

U.S. Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds – NYTimes.com

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

The first resistant species to pose a serious threat to agriculture was spotted in a Delaware soybean field in 2000. Since then, the problem has spread, with 10 resistant species in at least 22 states infesting millions of acres, predominantly soybeans, cotton and corn.

The superweeds could temper American agriculture’s enthusiasm for some genetically modified crops. Soybeans, corn and cotton that are engineered to survive spraying with Roundup have become standard in American fields. However, if Roundup doesn’t kill the weeds, farmers have little incentive to spend the extra money for the

via U.S. Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds – NYTimes.com.

In Darwin Family, Evidence of Inbreeding’s Ill Effects

The degree of inbreeding among Darwin’s children, while not excessive, was enough to increase the risk of recessive diseases — ones that occur if a harmful version of a gene is inherited from both parents. Three of his 10 children died before age 10 — 2 of bacterial diseases. Childhood mortality from bacterial infections is associated with inbreeding

via In Darwin Family, Evidence of Inbreeding’s Ill Effects – NYTimes.com.

New Finding Puts Origins of Dogs in Middle East

Wayne was surprised to find that all the herding dogs grouped together, as did all the sight hounds and the scent hounds, making a perfect match between dogs’ various functions and the branches on the genetic tree. “I thought there would be many ways to build a herding dog and that they’d come from all over the tree, but there are not,” Dr. Wayne said

via New Finding Puts Origins of Dogs in Middle East – NYTimes.com.