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How Amphibious Plants Rewired a Gas Exchange Pathway to Survive in Water

How Amphibious Plants Rewired a Gas Exchange Pathway to Survive in Water

Just as humans cannot breathe underwater, the tiny pores of plants can't exchange air underwater.

When grown on land, the amphibious plant Rorippa aquatica produces pores called stomata (left); but grown in water, it does not. Credit: Shuka Ikematsu.
McLellan Wins Major Awards from Welch Foundation, National Academy

McLellan Wins Major Awards from Welch Foundation, National Academy

Jason McLellan, a structural biologist at The University of Texas at Austin, is being honored today with the announcement of two highly prestigious awards—the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award in Molecular Biology and the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research from the Welch Foundation.

How a CRISPR Protein Might Yield New Tests for Many Viruses

How a CRISPR Protein Might Yield New Tests for Many Viruses

In this illustration based on cryo-electron microscope images, a Cas12a2 protein unzips a DNA double helix, allowing it to cut the single strands of DNA (blue and green). Credit: Jack Bravo/University of Texas at Austin

In a first for the genetic toolset known as CRISPR, a recently discovered protein has been found to act as a kind of multipurpose self-destruct system for bacteria, capable of degrading single-stranded RNA, single-stranded DNA and double-stranded DNA. With its abilities to target so many types of genetic material, the discovery holds potential for the development of new inexpensive and highly sensitive at-home diagnostic tests for a wide range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, influenza, Ebola and Zika, according to the authors of a new study in the journal Nature.

Visualizing Science 2022: Illuminating the Intrinsic Beauty in Academic Research

Visualizing Science 2022: Illuminating the Intrinsic Beauty in Academic Research

This past spring, the College of Natural Sciences invited our University of Texas at Austin faculty, staff and students to send in the top images from their research for our Visualizing Science competition. The images they produced nourish both the mind and the soul, offering not only food for thought but a feast for the eyes as well.

New Research Advances Fight Against Human Metapneumovirus

New Research Advances Fight Against Human Metapneumovirus

Human metapneumovirus (hMPV), a virus that infects the upper and lower respiratory systems—leading to bronchitis and pneumonia in some patients—could soon meet its medical match. A scientific team in Texas, in collaboration with biotech companies, has made recent breakthroughs in understanding the virus, and their efforts could lead to everything from the first-ever vaccines against hMPV to new, highly effective therapeutics.

Potential New Drug Target Could Boost Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

Potential New Drug Target Could Boost Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a large family of reverse transcriptases (RTs)—enzymes that are found in all organisms and have been extensively studied for more than 50 years—have the previously unsuspected ability to repair DNA damage. The discovery makes them a potential new drug target that might be exploited to block cancer cells from developing resistance to radiation and chemotherapy drugs. The findings were published today in the journal Cell.

Enzymes in a large family called group II intron-like RTs have 3D structures that are remarkably similar, which suggests they share the ability to help repair double-strand DNA breaks. This image is a superposition of two of these enzymes: G2L4 and GsI-IIC RT. Their shared (or conserved) structures are in alternating green and gray. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.
New Era at UT Austin Begins for Famous Long-Term Evolution Experiment

New Era at UT Austin Begins for Famous Long-Term Evolution Experiment

Jeff Barrick, director of the Long-Term Evolution Experiment, examines a dish of E.coli bacteria from the LTEE. Credit: Nolan Zunk/University of Texas at Austin.
The Long-Term Evolution Experiment began back when a dozen eggs cost 65 cents, the film Rain Man topped the box office and George Michael's song "Faith" ruled the pop charts. The bacteria central to this long-running experiment—descendants of E. coli that were plucked from the wild and have spent some 75,000 generations in captivity—now live on the University of Texas at Austin campus.
Bringing Developmental Biology to South Texas

Bringing Developmental Biology to South Texas

Over the last two decades, John Wallingford has taught developmental biology short courses to students at two of the country's most highly prestigious and competitive biological research institutions: the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. But not all biology students have access to these transformative experiences.

Students in the Baffin Bay Developmental Biology short course in Kingsville, TX in August 2022. Photo credit: Miranda Smith.
Scientists Hijack Bacteria To Ease Drug Manufacturing

Scientists Hijack Bacteria To Ease Drug Manufacturing

For more affordable, sustainable drug options than we have today, the medication we take to treat high blood pressure, pain or memory loss may one day come from engineered bacteria, cultured in a vat like yogurt. And thanks to a new bacterial tool developed by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin, the process of improving drug manufacturing in bacterial cells may be coming sooner than we thought.

Jason McLellan Named Finalist for Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

Jason McLellan Named Finalist for Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

University of Texas at Austin molecular biosciences professor Jason McLellan was selected as a finalist for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.