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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tree Genome may save future forests:Genome of the poplar tree decoded





According to an article which was published in the  Sunday, November 29,2009 edition of the "Edmonton Journal" newspaper, and written by Allison Cross of the Canwest News Service,

"New research that decodes the genome of the poplar tree could help researchers make decisions about breeding and conserving future trees that will be better able to contend with environmental threats in Canada,such as droughts,scientists say."

According to the website: http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Genome,:
A genome can be defined as


"(1) The complete set of genes in an organism." or
(2) The total genetic content in one set of chromosomes."
"The  gene is the basic unit of heredity  in a living organism. All living things depend on genes. Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism's cells  and pass genetic traits to offspring.The notion of a gene  is evolving with the science of genetics, which began when Gregor Mendel noticed that biological variations are inherited from parent organisms as specific, discrete traits. The biological entity responsible for defining traits was termed a gene, but the biological basis for inheritance remained unknown until DNA was identified as the genetic material in the 1940s. All organisms have many genes corresponding to many different biological traits, some of which are immediately visible, such as eye color or number of limbs, and some of which are not, such as blood type or increased risk for specific diseases, or the thousands of basic biochemical processes that comprise life."

"In cells, a gene is a portion of DNA that contains both "coding" sequences that determine what the gene does, and "non-coding" sequences that determine when the gene is active (expressed). When a gene is active, the coding and non-coding sequences are copied in a process called transcription, producing an RNA copy of the gene's information. This piece of RNA can then direct the synthesis of proteins via the genetic code. In other cases, the RNA is used directly, for example as part of the ribosome." (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene)

Returning to the article written by Allison Cross,

"It is hoped the findings will give researchers and scientists the tools to identify trees with genetic characteristics
that offer safeguards against drought,climate change and the mountain pine beetle,said Malcolm Campbell, a plant
biologist and vice-president for research at the University of Toronto Scarborough."

"Research by Campbell's team, published in a recent issue of "The Plant Journal", details how poplar trees use
their 45,000 genes to respond to a drought."
"Each gene is like a line of code in a computer program," he said.
"Depending on which lines of code are used, the tree can create a different program to respond to environmental stimuli, like drought."
Campbell's research determined that, surprisingly, the poplar trees responded to drought differently at different times during the day.
"Previously, researchers referred to the drought response as though it were a single, simple program that ran all the time," he said. "The new research shows it's not that simple."
Drought is an increasing problem for forest trees and can sometimes increase a forest's susceptibility to insects, he said.
Campbell said researchers can take this knowledge of gene responses and develop diagnostic tools to help determine which trees will have the best chance of survival in a specific area.
If trees which can better withstand environmental threats are removed from one area for urban development, conservationists can plant them in another region to save them for use in the future, Campbell said.
"The tree is literally rooted in one place. It can't really outrun, either in terms of natural selection or physically, the pests and pathogens it may encounter in its lifetime."


Why did scientists chose to decode the genome of the popular tree first?

The answer is:

 "Populus was selected as the first tree genome to sequence for several reasons," stated  Jerry Tuskan of The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this laboratory is part of the United States Department of Energy)  "The genome is small, it is easy to clone, a lot of genetic information is available on this species, and a lot of scientists have studied it. The genome is a model perennial woody plant, is fast growing, and has several uses of interest to DOE and the forest industry."
source: http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/v37_3_04/article04.shtml
 

source of image:http://www.fortliard.com/climate.htm

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.