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Biologists unlock 51.7 million year old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory

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Primula allionii. Wikimedia.
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December 6, 2016: A 51.7 million-year-old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory proposed more than 150 years ago has been unlocked by scientists. The genes responsible for the reproductive traits in the Primula flower have been recognized by researchers.

Darwin suggested that certain plant species having two distinct forms of flowers, with the male and female reproductive parts of different lengths evolved in a way to perform out-crossing by insect pollinators.

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Darwin’s pioneering insight into the importance of the forms of flower called ‘pins’ and ‘thrums’ conceived the term ‘heterostyly’ and succeeding research added up to formulate the modern genetic theory.

The particular part of the species’ genetic code which defined them was identified by scientists at University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK. It was the result of an event which occurred more than 51 million years ago.

According to PTI, Professor Philip Gilmartin from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences said, “To identify the genes which control the biology noted by Darwin is an exciting moment. Many studies have been done over the past decades to explore the genetic basis of this phenomenon but now we have pinpointed the supergene directly responsible, the S locus”.

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Congregations of closely linked genes inherited as a unit together and allow the control of complex microbiology are called supergenes. The researchers worked in association with Earlham Institute in the UK to plot the Primula’s genes and sequence its genome to find the gene cluster responsible for the different flower morphs.

Gilmartin tells, “Understanding of the genetics which underpin flower development and reproduction of a species broadens our knowledge about the entire system of pollination, which underpins biodiversity and food security”.

He also said that with challenges like climatic changes and its effects on plant life and their insect pollinators, it is imperative for us to understand the mechanisms for pollination and how the species react.

Amidst the search for the controlling gene responsible for heterostyly, the researchers dated the initial mutation to 51.7 million years ago.

On finding the S locus, the researchers realized that the gene was a close relative to another one identified six years ago which is responsible for controlling the petals’ identity on a Primula flower.

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At some point, the duplication of the gene occurred and the gene entered itself in the S locus and mutated to take control over the positioning of the anther in the flower. The Nature Plants journal published the study.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram with PTI inputs. Twitter:@Shivam_Thaker.

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google adds support for hashtags on Maps for Android devices. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?