Sandhya Sekar

Stories from Sandhya Sekar

Monday, June 18th, 2012


A sweetener 100,000 times as sweet as sugar, carrying almost no calories.

Meet monellin, a super-sweet, low-calorie protein from the serendipity berry, a vine from the tropical forests of Africa. Like other proteins, monellin is made of amino acids, which are joined to form two chains, wound together like a braid. Monellin's special sweetness arises from a kink in the braid that somehow tingles the taste buds. But if any food that contains monellin is heated to over 50°C, the chains unravel, the kink disappears and the sweetness is gone.

Saturday, June 25th, 2011
As in many parts of the world, soil salinity is a chronic condition in cultivable lands across most of India. Water provided by irrigation is saltier than rain, and so increased dependence on irrigation, and inadequate drainage systems, are causing soil salt to build up to toxic levels. Plant scientists are trying to develop crop varieties and management strategies that lead to higher salt tolerance. Pannaga Krishnamurthy and M.K. Matthew, from NCBS and their international colleagues* recently developed an elegant and practical technique to induce salt tolerance in rice, reported in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

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