Why bacteria are smarter than we think they are

By Megan De Ste Croix, University of Leicester

Just like humans bacteria can catch a virus, however, when you’re just a single cell catching a virus can be pretty fatal. Because of this, bacteria have developed some effective systems to protect themselves. These systems, known as restriction-modification (RM) systems, come in a variety of shapes and sizes but it has always been thought their primary function is a defensive one against invading viruses and other invading DNA.

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Epigenetic tags for personalized diagnoses

By Sarah Kearns, University of Michigan, USA

There’s more to our genetics than what’s within our DNA code. Though the code itself is the basis for life, on its surface there are chemical alterations that change how it’s expressed. Because DNA’s structure is that of a helix, modifications either make it coil up or unwind where the unwound form allows for transcription. Epigenetics is the concept of chemical marks on DNA, or associated proteins that control gene activity, that act independently of the genetic code itself.

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