News

Microbiologists get grant to study biofilms guarding foodborne pathogen Listeria

Microbiologists in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have received a $605,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study how microbial biofilms protect Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes the deadly foodborne illness listeriosis.

First European farmers' heights did not meet expectations

A combined study of genetics and skeletal remains shows that the switch from primarily hunting, gathering and foraging to farming about 12,000 years ago in Europe may have had negative health effects as indicated by shorter than expected heights in the earliest farmers, according to an international team of researchers.

Are egg cells in aging primates protected from mutations?

A new study shows that mutation frequencies in mitochondrial DNA are lower, and increase less with age, in the precursors of egg cells than in the cells of other tissues in a primate.

How grasses like wheat can grow in the cold

A new, large-scale analysis of the relationships among members of the largest subfamily of grasses, which includes wheat and barley, reveals gene-duplication events that contributed to the adaptation of the plants to cooler temperatures.

A new molecular family tree of grasses

The evolutionary relationships among grasses — including important crop plants like wheat, rice, corn, and sugarcane — have been clarified in a new molecular study of the grass family tree. Having a clear picture of the relationships among the grasses can help understanding of how important crop traits like seed size or disease resistance evolves and eventually could inform manipulation of these traits to increase crop yields.

Penn State biologist Michael Axtell named distinguished professor

Michael Axtell, professor of biology at Penn State, has been selected to receive the title of distinguished professor of biology in recognition of his exceptional record of teaching, research, and service to the University community.

Penn State biochemist Manuel Llinás named distinguished professor

Manuel Llinás, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of chemistry at Penn State, has been selected to receive the title of distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in recognition of his exceptional record of teaching, research, and service to the University community.

Omicron genetics and early transmission patterns are characterized in new study

The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 diverged from previous SARS-CoV-2 variants as a result of adaptive evolution, in which beneficial mutations are passed on to future generations through natural selection, rather than through recombination between previous variants, according to a large international team of researchers. The study, which published recently in Nature, is the first to describe the genomic profile of Omicron and explore the origins of the variant.

Penn State biologists explore the secrets of the warbler genome

Looking through binoculars at the trees in their backyards during the pandemic, many brand-new birders may have been surprised by the diversity of visitors stopping by — finches, jays and warblers in an astounding array of yellows, blues and reds.

Okafor receives 2021 National Science Foundation CAREER Award

C. Denise Okafor, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been honored with a Faculty Early Career Development award from the U.S. National Science Foundation. The award is the NSF’s most prestigious honor in support of early-career faculty members who have the potential to serve as academic role models.