Genetics and Microbiology

Bacteria of the Flies: Tracing the Spread of Disease-Controlling Wolbachia

March 09, 2018
In a study appearing in Current Biology, Michael Turelli, distinguished professor of genetics in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, and his colleagues traced the spread of closely related Wolbachia across Drosophila fly species. They found that while the flies evolutionarily diverged tens of millions of years ago, their Wolbachia bacteria diverged only tens of thousands of years ago.

New Machine Learning Algorithm Finds Patterns in RNA Structures

March 01, 2018
Software inspired by speech recognition technology could help scientists understand the secret language inside cells. A machine learning algorithm called patteRNA, designed by UC Davis researchers, rapidly mines ribonucleic acid, commonly called RNA, for specific structures, providing a new method to establish links between structure, function and disease.

Guardians of the Genome

February 26, 2018
For many, breast cancer is more than just a disease – it’s personal. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. But through new discoveries at the genetic level, the personal nature of cancer will eventually be what helps to beat it.

Hydra and the Quest to Understand Immortality

January 04, 2018
The Hydra, a small freshwater invertebrate, is an advantageous model organism for regenerative biologists. Named after the serpent from Greek mythology that grew two new heads for each one cut off, this tiny, jellyfish-like creature holds within its genomic code the key to biological immortality.

Long-Lived: Remembering Melvin Green, A UC Davis Genetics Pioneer

December 11, 2017
Melvin M. Green, distinguished professor emeritus of molecular and cellular biology, was a geneticist and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Green co-founded the historic UC Davis Genetics Department (now part of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology). He passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, at the age of 101.

Connecting the Molecular Dots of Heart Disease

November 06, 2017
Associate Professor Aldrin Gomes, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis, studies the underpinnings of heart disease, focusing on the machinery within heart cells responsible for producing the heartbeat. Along with colleagues in the Gomes Lab, he’s searching for molecular clues that will help medical professionals better manage heart disease.

Zebrafish Reproductive Development May Hold Insights into Ovarian Cancer

October 23, 2017
With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, Associate Professor Bruce Draper, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is studying zebrafish (Danio rerio) to learn about the genetics of sexual reproduction in vertebrates. Draper’s research, published in PLOS Genetics with postdoc and Dena Leerberg, ’17 Ph.D., may advance discoveries into the origins of ovarian cancer.

Knotty Problems: Mariel Vazquez Shares How E. Coli Reconnects Tangled DNA 

October 11, 2017
If you’ve ever tried to untangle a pair of earbuds, you’ll understand how loops and cords can get twisted up. DNA can get tangled in the same way, and in some cases, has to be cut and reconnected to resolve the knots. Now a team of mathematicians, biologists and computer scientists has unraveled how E. coli bacteria can unlink tangled DNA by a local reconnection process. The math behind the research, recently published in Scientific Reports, could have implications far beyond biology.

“Smart” Immune Cells: Emerging Cancer Therapy Research at UC Davis Receives a Boost with NIH Award

October 05, 2017
Assistant Professor Sean Collins, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, has received a $1.5 million award from the National Institutes of Health to advance the development of “smart” immune cells for therapies to treat cancer and other diseases. The five-year NIH Director’s New Innovator Award aims to provide new insight into how to engineer immune cells to control their recruitment and response to tumors.

Mice Provide Insight Into Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders

June 26, 2017
Taking advantage of advances in genetic technologies, researchers led by Alex Nord, assistant professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior with the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, are gaining a better understanding of the role played by a specific gene involved in autism. The collaborative work appears June 26 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.