Welcome to this week’s Sunday Science, with self-reproducing crayfish, breakthroughs in developmental biology, the quantum internet, and cleaning.
A big story that’s just hit the mainstream news: scientists have managed to grow sheep embryos containing human cells: 1/10,000 of the sheep embryo’s cells were human, after 28 days of development. This offers the potential of radically improving transplants, and builds on the group’s previous success with pig embryos, but with tenfold efficiency.
An invasive crayfish spreading through Madagascar is a recent hybrid species that reproduces through parthenogenesis – as in, without mating, with the unfertilised egg developing into an adult by itself.
Researchers have found a way to artificially treat wood,compressing it in a way that substantially increases its strength and stiffness and offers more engineering possibilities for this sustainable (when managed) material.
The axolotl genome has been sequenced (open access: technical). The Mexican salamander, as it is also known, is an important model in developmental biology, with scientists keen to understand how it can regenerate it’s limbs. Already the genome has thrown up a lot of information and a few surprises: it lacks a key gene, Pax3, that is essential in other vertebrates.
Still on the subject of developmental biology: scientists are attempting to create a “human developmental cell atlas” – mapping the development of humans from embryos at a single cell level (open access, bit technical). This is in conjunction with the Human Cell Atlas, here, and made possible by modern molecular methods that allow us to minutely examine which genes are active in which cells.
A nice piece on the future of the (potential) quantum internet, long theorised by both science fiction authors and scientists.
And finally: women who do lots of cleaning at home have a greater risk of decline in lung function. Men don’t, apparently, so clearly they should be doing all the cleaning!
Part of an experiment to investigate diamond-based systems as quantum-internet nodes at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Credit: Marcel Wogram for Nature