Round up of the week

So much this week, gentle readers! And even you, the cream of the elite of the cutting edge of the top 1% (that’s enough superlatives-ed) are going to have to be a bit picky. So we’ve thrown them under different filter headings to aid you in your busy lives.

Crime and Forensic Science It was always the non sequitur in Forensic Science that DNA techniques could do anything except pull apart identical twins. Now at last that may be changing. Nature posts a Guardian story on small but significant variations in the genomes even of identical twins. We are sure that some enterprising forensic scientists are already working on this!

Scientists have quantified the small genetic differences between monozygotic twins. Researchers analysed the DNA of 381 identical twin pairs (and 2 triplets) and found thousands of mutations that appeared in one twin and not the other. Twins differed on average by 5.2 early developmental mutations, which occurred after the initial formation of the zygote. Some siblings differed by dozens of mutations, and some did not differ at all. “The implication is that we have to be very careful when we are using twins as a model” for teasing apart the influences of nature and nurture, says geneticist Jan Dumanski.The Guardian | 4 min read
Reference: Nature Genetics paper

Our old friend Mr Covid Big one here is: will the new variants of Sars-CoV-2 prove immune to our new vaccines. Nature looks at the current state of play :

Researchers are racing to determine why SARS-CoV-2 variants identified in Britain and South Africa spread so quickly and whether they’ll compromise vaccines. The first laboratory results are trickling in, and many more are expected in coming days. Researchers are probing the viral variants and their constituent mutations in cell and animal models of SARS-CoV-2, and testing them against antibodies elicited by vaccines and natural infections. A preprint study (that has not yet been peer reviewed) published today found that a mutation shared by both variants did not alter the activity of antibodies produced by people who received the Pfizer–BioNtech vaccine.Nature | 7 min read
Reference: bioRxiv preprint

Environment All those pesky waste plastics are slowly killing us and every living thing on the planet. It’s like the whole place is a rubbish tip to be honest. Maybe plastic destroying enzymes in microorganisms could be the answer. Here’s Monit Khanna in the Times of India

Scientists Create Enzyme That Can Destroy Plastic Within Days, Not Years (indiatimes.com)

we thank Mr Gary Herbert of Buckinghamshire for this story

If we’re going to save this planet, change must come at local levels. Here’s the Cambridge Independent on how the residents of Swaffham are weaning themselves off of oil and into renewable energy systems. Is your community this far-sighted?

Cambridgeshire village renewable energy project wins £2m funding (cambridgeindependent.co.uk)

we thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire for this story

That’s more than enough for one week! See you Monday.

#renewables #DNA #forensicscience# identicaltwins #plastics #pollution #enzyme #swaffham

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