Scientists observe nanosize microtubules 'treadmilling' across plant cells

A study in the journal Science is offering new insights into a long-standing mystery about plant growth. The scientists who conducted the experiment say their results could open new avenues of research for developing more effective herbicides and pharmaceuticals. Plant biologists from Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution of Washington report their new findings in the April 24 online edition of Science Express. The researchers are the first to witness the birth and growth of individual “microtubules” ? nanosize tubes of protein that form inside living plant cells.

Gene silencing technique gets patent

An important discovery in modern molecular biology is that double-stranded RNA can quash the activity of specific genes in plants, animals, and fungi. In 1997, Dr. Andrew Fire of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Dr. Craig Mello of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and their team found that by specially designing RNA with two strands they could silence targeted genes. Their discovery, called RNA interference (RNAi) was recently patented (US Patent 6,506,559 B1), and it has been widely licensed in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.