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Milk to the rescue for diabetics? Illinois project creates first insulin-producing cow

An unassuming brown bovine from the south of Brazil has made history as the first transgenic cow capable of producing human insulin in her milk.

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Addressing societal concerns of genetic determinism of human behavior

It has long been known that there is a complex interplay between genetic factors and environmental influences in shaping behavior. Recently it has been found that genes governing behavior in the brain operate within flexible and contextually responsive regulatory networks. However, conventional genome-wide association studies (GWAS) often overlook this complexity, particularly in humans where controlling environmental variables poses challenges.

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Illinois-led project to sequence 400 soybean genomes, improve future crops

URBANA, Ill. — As a source of protein and biodiesel for cleaner renewable energy, soybean is an important crop worldwide. But is it performing to its full potential?

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Illinois study reveals genetic secrets of America's favorite snack

URBANA, Ill. – In its simplest form, popcorn is pretty uncomplicated. Most supermarket varieties offer the choice of two kernel colors, yellow or white, and two kernel shapes, pointed or pearl. When popped, the flake typically expands into one of two shapes: mushroom or butterfly. But there’s more to popcorn than meets the eye. New research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign reveals a wealth of untapped diversity lurking in popcorn’s genetic code.

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Deer protected from deadly disease by newly discovered genetic differences

URBANA, Ill. – It was the height of summer 2022 when the calls started coming in. Scores of dead deer suddenly littered rural properties and park preserves, alarming the public and inconveniencing landowners. According to officials at the Urbana Park District, it was Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), a midge-borne viral illness that pops up in white-tailed deer populations around the state every few years.

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How genetic diversity could avoid threat of deadly disease in endangered deer

URBANA, Ill. – Chronic wasting disease, the prion disease affecting white-tailed deer and other cervids, is spreading. With documented cases in 29 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, three Scandinavian countries, and South Korea, free-ranging and captive cervids are under threat. Efforts to conserve endangered deer against this backdrop are understandably fraught.

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What keeps plant roots growing toward gravity? Study identifies four genes

URBANA, Ill. – What happens belowground in a corn field is easy to overlook, but corn root architecture can play an important role in water and nutrient acquisition, affecting drought tolerance, water use efficiency, and sustainability. If breeders could encourage corn roots to grow down at a steeper angle, the crop could potentially access important resources deeper in the soil.

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Illinois project takes on quantitative disease resistance in corn

URBANA, Ill. – Like the virus that causes COVID-19, pathogens that attack crops change constantly to evade host immunity, or disease resistance in plant parlance. Sometimes, a single gene makes the difference between a resistant crop and one that’s susceptible. In those cases, the gene typically blocks the pathogen for a while, until the microbe makes a change. 

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Illinois researchers find exotic sources of resistance to tar spot in corn

URBANA, Ill. – When tar spot – a fungal disease of corn capable of causing significant yield loss – popped out of nowhere in 2015, Midwestern corn growers were left scrambling to manage the outbreak with few effective tools. The industry has since made some progress toward management with fungicides, but many researchers agree resistance is the path forward for living with tar spot.

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