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Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory, animal studies suggest.
Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.
A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their “grandchildren”.
Experts said the results were important for phobia and anxiety research.
The animals were trained to fear a smell similar to cherry blossom.
The team at the Emory University School of Medicine, in the US, then looked at what was happening inside the sperm.
They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice’s sperm.
Both the mice’s offspring, and their offspring, were “extremely sensitive” to cherry blossom and would avoid the scent, despite never having experiencing it in their lives.
Changes in brain structure were also found.
"The experiences of a parent, even before conceiving, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations," the report concluded.
See on bbc.co.uk
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says. The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said. However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start. The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes. “I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” Mr Bezos told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme. “We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.” (via BBC News - Amazon testing drones for deliveries)
Three short stories by JD Salinger, which the reclusive author did not want published, have been leaked online.
The Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls, Paula and Birthday had previously only been available to read at two American university libraries. The first title, in particular, is of particular importance, as it inspired elements of The Catcher In The Rye. A scanned copy of the stories was uploaded to a file-sharing website this week, and rapidly spread online. The collection, titled Three Stories, features a plain black cover, and also contains a letter from Salinger to his publisher Little, Brown and Company, discussing proof copies of his works. David Ulin, a book critic with the Los Angeles Times, said that at least two of the stories in the collection were “the real deal”. “I’ve never read The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” he wrote. “It’s part of a collection of Salinger material at the Princeton University Library and available only to scholars who are supervised as they read. “I have read the other two stories, however, at the University of Texas’ Ransom Center, and the versions of them in Three Stories are the real deal.” “The Ransom Center is relatively free with its manuscripts; visitors can even have photocopies made, although they are prohibited from circulating the work.
Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators working to create “protocells” – primitive synthetic cells consisting of a nucleic acid strand encased within a membrane-bound compartment – have accomplished an important step towards their goal. In the November 28 issue of Science, the investigators describe a solution to what could have been a critical problem – the potential incompatibility between a chemical requirement of RNA copying and the stability of the protocell membrane. “For the first time, we’ve been able to do nonenzymatic RNA copying inside fatty acid vesicles,” says Jack Szostak, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. “We’ve found a solution to a longstanding problem in the origin of cellular life: RNA copying chemistry requires the presence of the magnesium ion Mg2 , but high Mg2 levels can break down the simple, fatty acid membranes that probably surrounded the first living cells.” (via Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells)