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Move Over, Redwoods. We're Growing Biofuel Trees Here

Here's an article from today's New York Times reporting on scientific efforts to use bioengineering methods to alter the properties of wood, making it easier in the long run to use trees to make biofuels. The process, developed by a team led by Vincent Chiang at North Carolina State University, uses mechanisms such as inserting a reverse copy of a gene to limit the tree's formation of a compound called lignin.

Environmentalists are worried about the overall effect of this tinkering on trees, but GTO is left wondering, why the focus on trees as a source of biofuels? They're awfully heavy, take a long time to grow, and have to be harder to harvest than something like switchgrass, making it that much more expensive to turn them into a source of energy. We're hardly experts, but it seems strange.

 

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.