We have all heard of the Indus Valley Civilisation.It is well known for its granaries, drainage systems and systematically planned cities like Harappa and Mohenjodaro. However, not much is known about its rise and fall; although there are various theories. In a pair of new studies published in the journals Science and Cell, a consortium of international researchers, including those from India, have tried to decipher the origins of present-day Central and South Asian people. They have used recent advances in genetics to extract and analyse genetic material (DNA) from the remains of several ancient populations, including people from the Indus Valley Civilisation.
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Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai and University of Leeds, UK study the role of the genes that control our immune response and how they play a crucial role in countering the spread of H1N1 influenza.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, find relationship between the number of copies of a particular set of genes and the size of the amoeba viruses that help these viruses to gain easy entry into their host.
A new study by scientists at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi have identified the potential role of two genes--ARID1A and KAT2B in the development of obesity.
Microbes live with us and among us. They occupy portions of our body and help us perform many daily bodily functions. Scientists call these microbes that live in our body the Human microbiome. In their latest research, scientists from the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, study the salivary microbiome in Indians.
‘Riboswitches’ like the name suggests are like on and off switches for genes. These are present in all living things, from the smallest bacteria to the largest trees. Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata have sequences the genomes of 2785 bacteria to understand their function and origin.
Sex determination in animals is an interesting topic. While the X and Y chromosomes decide the sex of an unborn baby in humans and most other mammals, external factors like temperature and humidity decide it for the crocodiles and turtles. But what decides the sex of a young zebrafish? Research now shows that a combination of internal and external factors play a role in determining sex in zebrafish. Understanding the process in depth can throw light on some of the intricate workings of nature, say the researchers.
The human body harbours around 100 trillion microbes (bacteria, virus and others). While some harm us, others help us in different ways. A new study has now analysed the microbes present in our blood and has found that from an evolutionary perspective, they are related to each other, and strangely, even related to humans. This discovery has implications in drug discovery and designing therapies against harmful microbial infections.
When Charles Darwin put forth his theory of natural selection, he argued that all species of life evolved by adapting to their environments to survive. Most of such adaptations are evident in those life forms living in their natural habitat. But what about those that are locked up in laboratories and used as ‘model organisms’ in experiments to understand biological systems? How are their natural habitats and what kind of adaptations have they developed to survive in these habitats? A series of studies by scientists have now thrown some light on these questions in the life of zebrafish, a commonly used fish in laboratories.