Tit Bits


Engineered fungus to fight malaria






Scientists have genetically engineered a fungus to be a potent, specific and eco-friendly tool against malaria. Transgenic fungal approach is a very flexible one that allows design and delivery of gene products targeted to almost any disease-carrying arthropod. Researchers from the University of Westminster, London, created their transgenic anti-malarial fungus by starting with Metarhizium anisopliae. They inserted anisopliae, a fungus that naturally attacks mosquitoes, into genes for a human antibody or a scorpion toxin. Both the antibody and the toxin specifically target the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The team then compared three groups of mosquitoes all heavily infected with the malaria parasite. In the first group were mosquitoes sprayed with the transgenic fungus, in the second were those sprayed with an unaltered or natural strain of the fungus, and in the third group were mosquitoes not sprayed with any fungus. The research team found that compared to the other treatments, spraying mosquitoes with the transgenic fungus significantly reduced parasite development. Even in the 25 per cent of mosquitoes that still had parasites after being sprayed with the transgenic fungi, parasite numbers were reduced by over 95 per cent compared to the mosquitoes sprayed with the wild-type fungus.


Source: The Hindu, March 03, 2011.






Ancient algae: a path to new energy sources




Oil oozing from the green alga



Scientists previously established that oil and coal have their roots in the organisms that lived on the planet over 500 million years ago. Botryococcus braunii, Race B, is an ancient, colony-forming unique green alga contributed to these natural resources. It has attracted interest because it accumulates large amounts of high-value, petrochemical replacement oils. The oil oozing from the algal colony is evident in this picture. It has been the target of studies from the large chemical and petrochemical industries.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com







ENVIS CENTRE Newsletter Vol.9, Issues 2&3, Apr & Jul 2011
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