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BEYOND CROP BIOTECH: GENE STUDY SPARKS POTENTIAL BIOTECH APPLICATIONS

Date : 14 November 2012

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia reported a gene identification breakthrough which has potential antibiotic, anti-cancer, or other industrial applications through biotechnology.

CSIRO team together with scientists from Karolinska Institute in Sweden were able to isolate and replicate three genes that combine to produce a fatty acid called dihydromatricaria acid, or DHMA that are only found in soldier bees which they secrete to protect themselves from predators and infections. DHMA have been known to have anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties.

Through the study, the differences of the genes were discovered as well as how the soldier beetles evolved to produce the defensive compound. The study also debunked the previous belief that DHMA was derived by the beetles from their diet.