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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Microbes in human body swap genes, even across tissue boundaries

Bacteria in the human body are sharing genes with one another at a higher rate than is typically seen in nature, and some of those genes appear to be traveling – independent of their microbial hosts – from one part of the body to another, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

Illinois study provides whole-system view of plant cold stress

When temperatures drop, plants can’t bundle up. Stuck outside, exposed, plants instead undergo a series of biochemical changes that protect cells from damage. Scientists have described these changes and identified some of the genes controlling them, but it’s not clear how all the processes work together. Lacking this global view, plant breeders have struggled to engineer cold-tolerant crops.

Viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life

A new study finds that viruses share some genes exclusively with cells that are not their hosts. The study, reported in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, adds to the evidence that viruses swap genes with a variety of cellular organisms and are agents of diversity, researchers say.

The study looked at protein structures in viruses and across all superkingdoms, or domains, of life: from the single-celled microbes known as bacteria and archaea, to eukaryotes, a group that includes animals, plants, fungi and all other living things.

Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive

A new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today, the researchers say.

The new findings appear in the journal Science Advances.

IGB Faculty Members Granted Access to Top Supercomputer

IGB Faculty Members Granted Access to Top Supercomputer

Four researchers at the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) have been granted access to the Blue Waters supercomputer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, capable of sustained performance at 1 petaflop, the measure of computer processing speed that is equal to a thousand trillion floating-point operations per second.

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