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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

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.