“We make bacteria do amazing things.”
Researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Pasteur Institute in France are creating biological factories within cells to make and detect molecules for a wide range of uses in health, environmental monitoring and industry.
Synthetic biology—the application of engineering principles to build new biological parts, circuits and devices—has been used to build tumour-killing bacteria, for example, and has great potential for green chemistry that uses fermentation rather than petrochemicals.
Continue reading Creating living cell factories
Australian and French researchers are teaming up to use photonics—the quantum technology of light—to build better environmental sensors and high-speed data transmitters, and enable sharper MRI scans.
Continue reading Making light work
Changing how communities think about water in Oceania
Water is a fundamental necessity of life, and managing water—who uses it and how—is a key challenge in developing countries.
Decisions about how to use scarce freshwater for drinking, agriculture, industry, and the environment can lead to conflict. In Oceania, this is often complicated by questions of who should make the decisions—governments, landholders, industry or others.
Continue reading Water for life
A perfect view of the Milky Way
On a series of calm, cool mornings in April 2017, 70 French scientists (from the French space science agency CNES, CNRS IRAP, and the Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse) launched three enormous balloons into the sky above the heart of Australia.
CNES was using the Alice Springs Balloon Launching Centre (ASBLS) to send three precision scientific instruments up to altitudes of 30–40 kilometres to make observations that are impossible from the ground.
Continue reading Balloons over the Red Centre
For a long time, doctors and patients have dreamed of precision oncology, a process that allows specific, effective treatments for individual tumours.
In the past, the complex nature of tumours has made this impossible.
“Within a tumour, there are many different cell populations, each doing different things and behaving in different ways. Most cells will be killed by chemotherapy, but some are not,” says Associate Professor Frederic Hollande of The University of Melbourne.
Continue reading The hunt for shapeshifting cancer cells
The first accurate 3D map of our galaxy reveals its true shape: warped and twisted.
Astronomers from Macquarie University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have used 1339 ‘standard’ stars to map the real shape of our home galaxy in a paper published in Nature Astronomy today.
They found the Milky Way’s disc of stars becomes increasingly ‘warped’ and twisted the further away the stars are from the galaxy’s centre.
Continue reading The Milky Way is warped
Cane toads are picking up some shady habits, according to a new study co-authored by a Macquarie University researcher.
Toads in Western Australia have been spotted awake and active during the day in deeply shaded habitats, despite the species usually being nocturnal in Australia and other parts of the world.
However nearby cane toad populations at more exposed sites remained only active at night.
Continue reading Cane toads: what they do in the shadows
Males have to make less of an effort to mate with promiscuous female fruit flies, making the quality and quantity of their semen all the more important in the competition to fertilise the females’ eggs.
This also leads to male flies repeatedly mating with the same female, according to a paper published last week in Nature Communications, by researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia, who looked into the eyes of thousands of fruit flies.
Continue reading Promiscuous females and their role in evolution
Researchers have identified over 5,700 new proteins in rice and are calling for a global effort to find the remaining missing proteins, in a new study co-authored by Macquarie University.
The international team of scientists from Australia, Iran and Japan say there’s an estimated 35,000 proteins encoded by the rice genome, and yet we still don’t have experimental evidence for 82 per cent of them.
This is important because rice is the major food source for more than half the world’s population, and in order for it to grow in warmer climates and with less water we will need to better understand rice at the molecular level. Continue reading The quest for the missing proteins in rice
A Macquarie PhD student believes he’s come up with a way to turn coffee waste into biodegradable plastic coffee cups.
He’s developed a method to turn coffee grounds into lactic acid, which can then be used to produce biodegradable plastics, and is now refining the process as he finishes his PhD. Continue reading Turning coffee waste into coffee cups