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MIT reels in RNA surprise with microbial ocean catch
Date:5/13/2009

synthesize sugar from carbon dioxide then the sRNAs are the internal switches that turn on and off the factories' production line. Their discovery in the ocean samples opens the way to learning even more detailed information in the lab: the researchers can now conduct lab experiments to look at the effects of environmental perturbation on microbial communities. These new sRNAs also expand our general knowledge of the nature and diversity of these recently recognized regulatory switches.

"Being able to track the dynamics of small RNA expression in situ provides insight into how microbes respond to environmental changes such as nutrient concentration and physical properties like light and pressure," said Shi. "A very interesting question to follow up in the lab is how much fitness advantage a small RNA confers to microbes. Can the microbes with a specific small RNA perform better in competing for nutrients in a tough situation, for instance? The discovery of naturally occurring small RNAs is a first step towards addressing such questions."


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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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