18/01/2021 WORLD NEWS 22
No 1

UChicago Creates First Computational Model of Entire COVID-19 Virus

January 13, 2021
Figure: Running a full-scale model of an entire virus is computationally difficult, but a new framework created by University of Chicago scientists allows researchers to run a usefully simplified version to better understand how SARS-COV-2 works. Image Source: Yu et al., Biophysical Journal (2021)
Researchers at the University of Chicago led by Prof. Gregory Voth have created the first usable computational model of the entire virus responsible for COVID-19, and they are making this model widely available to help advance research during the pandemic.
Professor Voth and his team have used their previous research to find the most important characteristics of each individual component of the virus to make a comprehensive computational model that could run on a computer. Professor Voth and his students pioneered this technique.
The simplified framework helps address a key issue in health research. While viruses are simpler biological entities, computational modeling is still a major challenge. The model provides a framework into which scientists can integrate additional information about SARS-CoV-2 as new discoveries are made. The research team also hopes that the model will be useful for COVID-19 drug design as well as understanding mutations that may arise, such as the one recently detected in the U.K.
The model is available to the public on GitHub. For more details, read the article in UChicago News.
No 2

CRISPR Offers Glowing Solution to Male Chicks Culling Problem


An Israeli startup called eggXYt embarked on a groundbreaking project that uses gene editing to address the male chick culling problem in the poultry and egg industries.
According to Yehuda Elram, co-founder and CEO of eggXYt, billions of male chicks are slaughtered every year because male layers (the breed of chicken used for eggs) can't lay eggs and their meat is too scrawny. To address this concern, eggXYt uses CRISPR to add a genetic marker to male eggs to make them glow. When the eggs go through a scanner, the male eggs are immediately identified right after they are laid, and before they go through the 21-day incubation process. This is considered a breakthrough in the sex determination of eggs because other techniques are only viable when the eggs are several days into the incubation process.
"Our advantage is that at this point, our technology is the only 'day zero' sexing technology which is scientifically proven," said Elram.
Read more from eggXYt website and Food Navigator.
Science news
Large-scale genome sequencing reveals the driving forces of viruses in microalgal evolution
Cell Host and Microbes; Published:January 11, 2021   DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2020.12.005


Being integral primary producers in diverse ecosystems, microalgal genomes could be mined for ecological insights, but representative genome sequences are lacking for many phyla. We cultured and sequenced 107 microalgae species from 11 different phyla indigenous to varied geographies and climates. This collection was used to resolve genomic differences between saltwater and freshwater microalgae. Freshwater species showed domain-centric ontology enrichment for nuclear and nuclear membrane functions, while saltwater species were enriched in organellar and cellular membrane functions. Further, marine species contained significantly more viral families in their genomes (p = 8e–4). Sequences from Chlorovirus, Coccolithovirus, Pandoravirus, Marseillevirus, Tupanvirus, and other viruses were found integrated into the genomes of algal from marine environments. These viral-origin sequences were found to be expressed and code for a wide variety of functions. Together, this study comprehensively defines the expanse of protein-coding and viral elements in microalgal genomes and posits a unified adaptive strategy for algal halotolerance.
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