Research & Discovery

New Technology Solves Mystery of Respiration in Tetrahymena

Tetrahymena, a tiny single celled-organism, turns out to be hiding a surprising secret: it’s doing respiration – using oxygen to generate cellular energy – differently from other organisms such as plants, animals or yeasts. The discovery, published March 31 in Science, highlights the power of new techniques in structural biology and reveals gaps in our knowledge of a major branch of the tree of life.

Unlocked Enzyme Structure Shows How Strigolactone Hormone Controls Plant Growth

As sessile organisms, plants have to continually adapt their growth and architecture to the ever-changing environment. To do so, plants have evolved distinct molecular mechanisms to sense and respond to the environment and integrate the signals from outside with endogenous developmental programs.

New research from Nitzan Shabek’s laboratory at the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, published in Nature Plants, unravels the underlying mechanism of protein targeting and destruction in a specific plant hormone signaling pathway.

Tenuous Tethers: Study Provides Live View into Interchromosomal Dynamics During Meiosis

In the choreography of meiosis—the process responsible for sex cell division in all eukaryotic life—the pairing of homologous chromosomes (homologs) is essential. Errors in this process can lead to an incorrect number of chromosomes in sex cells, which can result in birth defects and miscarriages. Despite being studied for more than 100 years, mysteries about the process still abound.

From the Dean: At the Close of Black History Month

As Black History Month draws to a close, we celebrate and reflect on the many outstanding achievements and contributions Black Americans have made to our state, our nation and to the world at large.

“Throughout UC’s history, Black alumni, faculty and students have been integral to our excellence, making pioneering advances in science, medicine, the humanities, the law and other fields,” said Michael Drake, president of the University of California.

Sequencing Puts Carnivore Chromosomes in Context

Studies comparing animal genomes generally focus on the DNA sequence itself. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis shows how the three-dimensional scaffolding of chromosomes is related across several species of carnivores, offering a new approach of “comparative scaffotyping” that could be used to identify related genes across species and place them in context. The work, published the week of Feb.

Plant Smoke Detectors Evolve as Hormone Sensors

Wildfires are devastating, but they can also bring new life by clearing existing vegetation and allowing new plants to spring up. Many plants in fire-prone areas actually require exposure to fire for seeds to germinate. In the past decade, scientists have discovered an ancient receptor protein that can detect molecules called karrikins in smoke from burnt plant material. The “smoke detector” protein, called KAI2, initiates molecular signals that speed up germination of seeds.

Earth BioGenome Project Begins Genome Sequencing in Earnest

A global effort to map the genomes of all plants, animals, fungi and other eukaryotic life on Earth is entering a new phase as it moves from pilot projects to full-scale production sequencing. This new phase of The Earth BioGenome Project, or EBP, is marked with a collection of papers published this week (Jan. 17) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describing the project’s goals, achievements to date and next steps.  

Breeding Plants With Genes From 1 Parent

Scientists are a step closer to breeding plants with genes from only one parent. New research led by plant biologists at the University of California, Davis, published Nov. 19 in Science Advances, shows the underlying mechanism behind eliminating half the genome and could make for easier and more rapid breeding of crop plants with desirable traits such as disease resistance.

Study Highlights Molecular Targets Integral to Breast Cancer Treatment

It’s estimated that over 281,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. And about one in seven women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

For those with breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) mutations, the risk of developing breast cancer is much higher. Between 45 and 69 percent of those with this genetic mutation will develop breast cancer by 70 to 80 years of age. 

Researcher Studying the Microbiome and Chemical Communication of Cats Named a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow

There are myriad ways to view the world. Some people view it through the lens of art, others through the lens of anthropology or psychology. But Connie Rojas views the world through the lens of biology.

“Everything around you—the tree outside, how tall it is, the bark—everything makes sense  when viewed through the lens of biology,” said Rojas, who was selected to join UC Davis this year as a 2021-2022 Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow. “That type of thinking was very intuitive for me growing up.”