Archive for the ‘evolution’ category: Page 8

May 21, 2020

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution, genetics, Ray Kurzweil

I always enjoy the perspective of David Wood, and in this session of the London Futurists there is a panel discussion about genetic engineering in the future.

Our DNA is becoming as readable, writable, and hackable as our information technology. The resulting genetic revolution is poised to transform our healthcare, our choices for the characteristics of the next generation, and our evolution as a species. The future could bring breathtaking advances in human well-being, but it could also descend into a dangerous genetic arms race.

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May 18, 2020

CRISPRdisco: An Automated Pipeline for the Discovery and Analysis of CRISPR-Cas Systems

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, food

Circa 2018

CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems of bacteria and archaea have catapulted into the scientific spotlight as genome editing tools. To aid researchers in the field, we have developed an automated pipeline, named CRISPRdisco (CRISPR discovery), to identify CRISPR repeats and cas genes in genome assemblies, determine type and subtype, and describe system completeness. All six major types and 23 currently recognized subtypes and novel putative V-U types are detected. Here, we use the pipeline to identify and classify putative CRISPR-Cas systems in 2,777 complete genomes from the NCBI RefSeq database. This allows comparison to previous publications and investigation of the occurrence and size of CRISPR-Cas systems. Software available at provides reproducible, standardized, accessible, transparent, and high-throughput analysis methods available to all researchers in and beyond the CRISPR-Cas research community. This tool opens new avenues to enable classification within a complex nomenclature and provides analytical methods in a field that has evolved rapidly.

CRISPR-Cas* bacterial and archaeal immune systems remain of high interest across many domains of the life sciences, including food science, molecular biology, prokaryotic evolution, and as a technology from pharma to next-generation crops.1–4 The unifying interest in CRISPR is the tremendous wealth of applications this technology affords. While application and tool development using a handful of characterized CRISPR-Cas systems has exploded, the annotation and discovery of systems remains an ongoing challenge for microbiologists and bioinformaticians to solve. The ability to identify CRISPR-Cas systems can benefit the greater scientific community, from microbiologists attempting to learn about adaptive immunity in prokaryotes, to molecular biologists interested in harnessing the nucleic acid-targeting functions of various Cas proteins.

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May 18, 2020

Rapid Evolution Changes Species in Real Time

Posted by in categories: biological, evolution, singularity

:3 circa 2015 this guppy could lead to rapid biological singularity.

Some species are evolving far more quickly than Darwin ever imagined.

May 16, 2020

A ‘frozen electric-field’ approach to simulate repetitively pulsed nanosecond plasma discharges and ignition of hydrogen–air mixtures

Posted by in categories: chemistry, energy, evolution

High-fidelity modelling of nanosecond repetitively pulsed discharges (NRPDs) is burdened by the multiple time and length scales and large chemistry mechanisms involved, which prohibit detailed analyses and parametric studies. In the present work, we propose a ‘frozen electric-field’ modelling approach to expedite the NRPD simulations without adverse effects on the solution accuracy. First, a burst of nanosecond voltage pulses is simulated self-consistently until the discharge reaches a stationary state. The calculated spatial distributions and temporal evolution of the electric field, electron density and electron energy during the last pulse are then stored in a library and the electrical characteristics of subsequent pulses are frozen at these values. This strategy allows the timestep for numerical integration to be increased by four orders of magnitude (from 10−13 to 10−9 s), thereby significantly improving the computational efficiency of the process. Reduced calculations of a burst of 50 discharge pulses show good agreement with the predictions from a complete plasma model (electrical characteristics calculated during each pulse). The error in species densities is less than 20% at the centre of the discharge volume and about 30% near the boundaries. The deviations in temperature, however, are much lower, at 5% in the entire domain. The model predictions are in excellent agreement with measured ignition delay times and temperatures in H2–air mixtures subject to dielectric barrier NRPD over a pressure range of 54–144 Torr with equivalence ratios of 0.7–1.2. The OH density increases with pressure and triggers low-temperature fuel oxidation, which leads to rapid temperature rise and ignition. The ignition delay decreases by a factor of 2, with an increase in pressure from 54 to 144 Torr. In contrast, an increase in the H2–air equivalence ratio from 0.7 to 1.2 marginally decreases the ignition delay by about 20%. This behaviour is attributed to the insensitivity of OH production rates to the variation in the equivalence ratio.

May 4, 2020

How gene flow between species influences the evolution of Darwin’s finches

Posted by in category: evolution

Despite the traditional view that species do not exchange genes by hybridisation, recent studies show that gene flow between closely related species is more common than previously thought. A team of scientists from Uppsala University and Princeton University now reports how gene flow between two species of Darwin’s finches has affected their beak morphology. The study is published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos Islands are an example of a rapid adaptive radiation in which 18 species have evolved from a common ancestral species within a period of 1–2 million years. Some of these species have only been separated for a few hundred thousand years or less.

Rosemary and Peter Grant of Princeton University, co-authors of the new study, studied populations of Darwin’s finches on the small island of Daphne Major for 40 consecutive years and observed occasional hybridisation between two distinct species, the common cactus finch and the medium ground finch. The cactus finch is slightly larger than the medium ground finch, has a more pointed beak and is specialised to feed on cactus. The medium ground finch has a blunter beak and is specialised to feed on seeds.

Apr 26, 2020

Algorithm Developed to Predict the Evolution of Genetic Mutations

Posted by in categories: evolution, genetics, information science

Quantitative biologists David McCandlish and Juannan Zhou at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have developed an algorithm with predictive power, giving scientists the ability to see how specific genetic mutations can combine to make critical proteins change over the course of a species’ evolution.

Described in Nature Communications, the algorithm called “minimum epistasis interpolation” results in a visualization of how a protein could evolve to either become highly effective or not effective at all. They compared the functionality of thousands of versions of the protein, finding patterns in how mutations cause the protein to evolve from one functional form to another.

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Apr 25, 2020

Robert Carroll, Who Studied Amphibian Evolution, Dies

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution

The McGill University paleontologist, who died from COVID-19, was known for using multidisciplinary methods to explore the origins of amphibians, birds, and mammals.

Apr 24, 2020

Highly quaternized polystyrene ionomers for high performance anion exchange membrane water electrolysers

Posted by in categories: evolution, futurism

Water spliting got cheaper.

Alkaline anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolysers to produce hydrogen from water are still at an early stage of development, and their performance is far lower than that of systems based on proton exchange membranes. Here, we report an ammonium-enriched anion exchange ionomer that improves the performance of an AEM electrolyser to levels approaching that of state-of-the-art proton exchange membrane electrolysers. Using rotating-disk electrode experiments, we show that a high pH (13) in the electrode binder is the critical factor for improving the activity of the hydrogen- and oxygen-evolution reactions in AEM electrolysers. Based on this observation, we prepared and tested several quaternized polystyrene electrode binders in an AEM electrolyser. Using the binder with the highest ionic concentration and a NiFe oxygen evolution catalyst, we demonstrated performance of 2.7 A cm−2 at 1.8 V without a corrosive circulating alkaline solution. The limited durability of the AEM electrolyser remains a challenge to be addressed in the future.

Apr 23, 2020


Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, evolution, life extension

Dinorah Delphin has unveiled another magnificent issue of the Immortalists Magazine. She has clearly focused her contributing authors on the world pandemic, with impressive results.

One of the outstanding articles is from our pal, the Chairman of the USTP, Gennady Stolyarov. Gennady levels an eviscerating attack on the American health care system.

I can see that Gennady has a visceral reaction to mass death. There is passionate, broiling anger in the lines of his article. He seems to be mounting a crusade, and I’m going to confess that I’m considering arming myself for battle.


Apr 22, 2020

The evolution of the ear canal in an ancient crocodile relative

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution

An international team of researchers has found that an ancient crocodile relative underwent body transitions as it evolved from a land to a sea creature before its ears changed to suit an underwater environment. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their in-depth study of thalattosuchia skulls and what they found.

Thalattosuchia was an ancient crocodile species that lived in the world’s oceans over 150 million years ago. But before that, they were land-dwelling. Prior research has shown that they took to water in a much slower fashion than other creatures like whales, existing as semi-aquatic creatures for many years before becoming full-fledged sea creatures. Study of their fossilized remains has shown their front legs evolving to become fins, and their back legs evolving into a fluked tail. Their bodies grew slimmer and sleeker to so they could glide smoothly through the water. And once they became sea creatures, their changed to suit the new environment. One such organ was the inner ear. And it was this organ that was the focus of this new work.

To learn more about the evolution of thalattosuchia’s , the researchers conducted CAT scans on over a dozen skull fossils. They focused most specifically on the inner ear structures used to maintain balance and equilibrium in land creatures.

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