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ARTICLE

The body’s first line of defence

Your body has a two-line defence system against pathogens (germs) that make you sick. Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites and fungi. The first line of defence (or outside ...

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ARTICLE

The phosphorus cycle

Phosphorus is a chemical element found on Earth in numerous compound forms, such as the phosphate ion (PO43-), located in water, soil and sediments. The quantities of phosphorus in soil are ...

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ARTICLE

Bacterial DNA – the role of plasmids

Like other organisms, bacteria use double-stranded DNA as their genetic material. However, bacteria organise their DNA differently to more complex organisms. Bacterial DNA – a circular chromosome ...

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ARTICLE

The body’s second line of defence

If the pathogens are able to get past the first line of defence, for example, through a cut in your skin, and an infection develops, the second line of defence becomes active. Through a sequence ...

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ARTICLE

Bacteria – good, bad and ugly

Bacteria range from the essential and useful, to the harmful. Essential bacteria Without the key functions of some bacteria, life on earth would be very different: Some bacteria degrade organic ...

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ARTICLE

Bacterial transformation

Bacteria are commonly used as host cells for making copies of DNA in the lab because they are easy to grow in large numbers. Their cellular machinery naturally carries out DNA replication and ...

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ARTICLE

E. coli – the biotech bacterium

The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli for short) is crucial in modern biotechnology. Scientists use it to store DNA sequences from other organisms, to produce proteins and to test protein ...

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ARTICLE

Large intestine function

Recent research has revealed that the large intestine and its resident bacterial population have key roles to play in determining our health and wellbeing. It is much more than just a waste ...

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ARTICLE

How to add foreign DNA to bacteria

Using modern laboratory techniques, it is relatively easy to add pieces of foreign DNA to bacteria. To do this, scientists first package their DNA of interest within a circular DNA molecule (a ...

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ARTICLE

Microorganisms – friend or foe?

We can’t see them. We can’t hear them or feel them, but they are with us. There are 10 trillion (10 x 1,000,000,000,000 or a million million) cells in the average body. For every cell, we have 10 ...

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ARTICLE

Bioindicators

A bioindicator is a living organism that gives us an idea of the health of an ecosystem. Some organisms are very sensitive to pollution in their environment, so if pollutants are present, the ...

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ARTICLE

What is silage?

Silage is preserved pasture. Making silage is an important way for farmers to feed cows and sheep during times when pasture isn't good, such as the dry season. Find out how silage is made below ...

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ARTICLE

Creating different cheese characteristics

Cheese comes in numerous varieties of different styles, textures and flavours, but it’s all made from the same basic ingredient – milk. So what are the differences and how are they created ...

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ARTICLE

Proteins – what they are and how they’re made

Proteins are the key working molecules and building blocks in all cells. They are produced in a similar two-step process in all organisms – DNA is first transcribed into RNA, then RNA is ...

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ARTICLE

The science of cheese

Cheesemaking is the controlled process of removing water from milk. This process concentrates the milk’s protein, fat and other nutrients and increases its shelf life. Cheesemaking is one of the ...

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ARTICLE

Soil formation

New Zealand has a wide variety of landscapes. A day’s sightseeing journey might include volcanic plateaus, rolling hills, river basins and coastal lands. It is easy to notice how the scenery ...

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ARTICLE

Producing foreign proteins in bacteria

Bacteria can produce foreign proteins from introduced genes, using their own gene expression machinery. Producing proteins in bacteria has greatly simplified the study of how proteins work. It ...

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Virus strains

A virus is a very simple thing – a coat of protein wrapped around some genetic code (DNA or RNA). It’s not a cell and it’s not living. Hijacking a host cell A virus needs a host cell to be able ...

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ACTIVITY

Spreading diseases

In this activity, students model how a virus spreads through a group. By the end of this activity, students should be able to: explain how viruses are spread practise behaviours that limit the ...

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ARTICLE

Bacteria in biotech – introduction

Find out how and why we use bacteria to improve our lives, and discover how the DNA revolution has led to new uses for bacteria. Making use of bacteria: then and now For millennia, we humans have ...

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ACTIVITY

Introduction to cells

In this activity, students are introduced to cells. They learn that we are made up of cells. Students also learn how to use a microscope to observe onion cells. By the end of this activity ...

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