The first genome sequence of Chinese Plum provides a clue

A Chinese research team led by Beijing Forestry University, BGI, Beijing Lin Fu Ke Yuan Flowers Co. Ltd and other institutes has completed a combined study of the first genomic sequence of Prunus mume known as mei. This research was extremely important for the deeper understanding of the Rosaceae evolution and in providing an invaluable resource for the improvement of fruit trees. This latest study was published online in the December 27 in Nature Communication.

The P.mume is domesticated in China for over 3000 years ago and it belongs to the Rosaceae, which is the third most economically important plant family in temperate regions that is characterized by high nutrition, medical value and is tolerant to low temperatures during winter season. This tree is has been placed in high esteem by the artists, writers in their literature by extolling its beauty of its flowers and the blossom is considered to be symbol of Chinese nationalist spirits. With the availability of the P.mume genome, scientists and researchers opine that a new door had been opened for better decoding the mysteries of this fascinating tree.

The artificial grafting of this tree makes the P.genome so diverse that it is quite difficult to assemble their genomes. During the research process, the scientists has sequenced the genome of P.mume – a wild species from Tibet by using a robust approach through integrating with next generation sequencing or NGS and a whole genome mapping or WGM technologies. The scientists then constructed a high-density genetic map by applying the restriction site associated DNA (RAD) marker strategy that further improved the quality of genetic reference. The final efforts of this assimilation resulted in the yielding of the ~237 Mb P.mume reference genome.

Link exists between domestic violence and mental health disorders

A new research carried on by a team of researchers from King’s College – London Institute of Psychiatry and UniversityDomestic Violence of Bristol revealed that people or adults with mental disorders are more likely to have experienced domestic violence than the general population. The findings suggest that the physicians should be aware of the link and must ensure that the patients with mental health problems are kept safe from domestic violence and be treated for their mental health effects of such abuse.

The findings are the result of the study that was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is published in PLoSONE journal in their 26December issue. The research is based on the reviewed data from 41 studies carried on worldwide. The study states that compared to women without any mental health problems, women with depressive disorders were around two and half times (with prevalence estimated at 45.8%) are more likely to have experienced or suffered domestic violence during their adult lifetime. Women with anxiety disorders were more than three and half times (with a prevalence estimate of 27.6%) and women with post-traumatic stress disorder or PSTD were around seven times (prevalence estimate of 61.0%) more likely to have been abused.

Women with other disorders that include obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, eating disorders, common mental health problems, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were also at an increased risk of domestic violence compared to women without mental health problems. For men there was a similar pattern as men with all types of mental disorders were also at an increased risk of domestic violence. Nevertheless, the research showed that prevalence estimates were much lower than for women, indicating that it is less common for men to be the victims of the repeated severe domestic violence.

Cancer risk for men rises from one to two

The risk of cancer especially among men in United Kingdom is going to increase to 50 out of 100 or about half of the men have the risk of developing cancer during his lifetime by 2027. The Cancer Research UK released these figures on Wednesday that shows that in the next fifteen years about half of the men in the United Kingdom will be diagnosed with cancer at some point of their lives during their lifetime compared with 44 out of 100 in 2010. During the year 2010, around 164,000 were diagnosed with the disease of cancer and this figure is likely to increase to about 194,000 in the next 15 years.

The researchers consisting of a team from the Wolfson Institute of Prevention Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London reached their predictions or figures by looking at the past cancer incidences and mortality rates and projected data for the United Kingdom. The researchers also predicted that there will more than 194,000 women diagnosed with cancer in 2027 compared with 160,000 in 2010 that would mean that a women’s chance of developing cancer during her lifetime would be in the range of 44 in 100  up from 40 in 100. The cancers that are set to increase the most are related to bowel, prostrate and skin cancer. Age is the biggest risk factor in developing cancer as living longer means a high risk of developing cancer and in the United Kingdom like in any other developed nation more people are reaching an age where they are more likely to develop cancer.

Experts opine that prostate cancer remains a huge challenge as cases related with prostate cancer are growing and there is no exact or reliable way to determine or identify those prostate cancer cases that are life threatening. In the United Kingdom, over the last forty years the incidences of prostate cancer has increased three fold and about three quarters of the cases are diagnosed in men who are over 65 years old. The challenge for specialists is getting men to turn up for cancer screening even when a good test for it exists and men tend to at a greater risk of developing bowel cancer than women, even though relatively fewer men than women go for screening for this type of cancer.

Discovery of earliest known dinosaur

The scientists had made an amazing discovery of earliest known dinosaur that may have walked on the earth. This dinosaur named as Nyasasaurus parringtoni is more than ten million years old than previously discovered dinosaurs. It is believed to have walked upright on two legs and feed on small insects and plants. The  researchers found the fossil specimen of this dinosaur that has been in the London’s Natural History Museum’s collection for decades that has now been identified as most likely belongs to the dinosaur that lived about 245 million years ago about 10-15 millions earlier than any previously discovered fossils.

The creature is about the size of a Labrador dog and slight of build with a five-foot long tail and most likely walked upright on two legs. The rib cage of this dinosaur consisted of only few ribs and arm bones to go on and therefore, scientists are not sure about the eating habits of this dinosaur. The name of this dinosaur had been named after Southern Africa’s Lake Nyasa, which at present is known as Lake Malawi, and the Cambridge University’s Rex Parrington – well-known and most distinguished vertebrate paleontologists and comparative anatomists of his generation – who collected this specimen at a site near the lake in the 1930’s

The researchers at the Natural History Museum had gradually examined these fossilized bones that were collected during Cambridge University expedition to Tanzania over these decades. Noted paleontologist Alan Charig of the National History Museum was examining these fossils. The fossil of this dinosaur was studied in the 1950’s but no concrete evidence or conclusion emerged and therefore nothing was published about this fossil. The researchers believe that Nyasasaurus probably stood upright and was a meter tall at the hip and about 2-3 meters long from head to tail and weighed about 20-60 kg.

Human stool transplant shows the way for treating colon germ

The human stool or feces have now become an antidote for the patients who are hit hard by the bacterium Clostridium difficile also called the C. diff bacterium. Even though, the illness from C. diff commonly affects older adults in hospitals or long-term care facilities. It is estimated that about three million Americans are infected annually with this bacterium. Most people have no symptoms but about 500,000 or more than half of them aged 65 or older develop abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and inflamed colons due to this bacterium.

As many as thirty thousand Americans die each year from the C. diff bacterium usually after recurrences of infection. The infection is due to the result of taking antibiotics that wipe out the friendly bacteria in the colon that usually keeps the C. diff bacterium under control or at bay. Once established the C. diff bacterium can produce toxins that attack the lining of the intestine and toxins destroy healthy cells, produce inflammatory cells and decaying cellular debris inside the colon.

Various treatment procedures involve usage or taking of drugs and vaccines manufactured by drug manufacturers such as Merck & Co and Sanofi. However, the growing numbers of gastroenterologists are excited and placing their bets on the human stool or fecal transplants. The human stool transplant in an experimental setting has consistently cured about 85 to 90 percent of patients who have multiple episodes of C. diff.


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