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Ants, Bacteria, and Fungi. Oh, My

Emory University, Joint Genome Institute, and University of Wisconsin scientists plan to sequence 17 genomes — a variety of ants, bacteria, and fungi — with the goal of discovering new ways of making biofuels. In the rainforest there is a symbiotic relationship among ants, bacteria, and fungi. Leaf cutter ants bring pieces of leaves back to their nests, where fungi break the leaves down. The ants then use the sugar for food and carry the remaining parts of the leaves back outside where bacteria continue to work on breaking down the leaves. This process, says the Discovery News article, gets the most energy out of the leaves as possible. "Locked inside the community genome could be clues that could eventually lead scientists to new enzymes or techniques that could enable humans to produce biofuels more efficiently," the article says.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.