Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Science: Aug 7, 2009

In today's Science, a special section explores industrial chemistry, and where the field is headed. In one perspective by Merck's Ian Davies and Christopher Welch, they explore the place of high-throughput biology in process chemistry, and how it pertains to drug candidate screening and large-scale production. "Increasing collaboration with academia will also become more important for accessing technical solutions and providing the next generation of innovative problem solvers," they write. In another, Paul Willems from the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley wonders if high-throughput experimentation will finally make biofuel production efficient.

Jerry Coyne reviews scientist-bloggers Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's new book, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future. The book talks about how scientific illiteracy is dangerous to our general welfare and argues that "American ignorance of science stems from the vociferous atheism of some prominent science popularizers and scientists' insufficient interest in and preparation for outreach activities."

In a study led by Cornell's Edward Buckler, scientists found that a "simple additive model accurately predicts flowering time for maize." Looking at 5,000 recombinant inbred lines of maize and nearly a million plants across eight different environments, they found that flowering time was possibly dependent on many QTLs with small effect, rather than on one single large-effect quantitative trait loci. A perspective offers more insight. A related study examines the effect of recombination frequency on the fitness of inbred strains.

Finally, a group of researchers led by senior author Qinghua Liu at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center made some headway into what's behind the RNAi machinery. Creating an "RNAi reconstitution system" in recombinant Drosophila, they were able to show that C3PO (component 3 promoter of RISC) is an RNAi regulator. C3PO is a complex of Translin and Trax and effectively promotes RISC activation by removing siRNA passenger strand cleavage products, they say.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.