Month: May 2024

In 2024, 19 academicians of CAS are centenarians and honored on a special website The Chinese Academy of Sciences has launched a “Scientific Life·100 Years” promotion campaign . In 2024, a total of 19 academicians of the CAS will celebrate their 100th birthday. They have devoted their lifelong efforts and made outstanding contributions to the innovative development and self-reliance of China in their respective professional fields. Representatives of some of the centenary academicians’ families, assistants, students and their work units attended the launching ceremony. Since the event was held for the first time in 2017, the scientific achievements and demeanor of 173 academicians have been systematically displayed through online and offline publicity activities. A “Scientific Life · Centennial” website ( was launched on May 28. It captures the aphorisms, scientific stories, video materials, etc. of each academician’s centennial birthday, and presents their life stories, scientific research contributions and scientific spirit from multiple angles and in a three-dimensional manner.

CAS publishes report on global consumption-based carbon emissions Consumption-based carbon emissions were generally higher than production-based carbon emissions for major developed countries between 1990 and 2019, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Wednesday. By comparing the difference between consumption- and production-based carbon emissions, major developed countries transferred 1.47 billion tons of carbon emissions to other countries and regions through international trade in 2019 alone, according to the Research Report on Consumption-based Carbon Emissions (2024). However, major developing countries bore 3.39 billion tons of embodied carbon emissions in the same year. “International trade has had a great impact on carbon emissions of developing countries. The export of carbon-intensive products to developed countries boosted their economic growth and employment, but it also led to production-based carbon emissions generally higher than those on the consumption side,” said Wei Wei, one of the leading researchers conducting the report and vice-president of the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute, CAS. China’s consumption-based carbon emissions were always lower than those at the production side between 1990 and 2019, according to the report, and the gap calculated by the two methods increased from 700 million tons in 1990 to 1.8 billion tons in 2019. The embodied carbon intensity of export trade from China was reduced by 83.3 percent due to factors, including industrial upgrades and technological innovation. It means that the country has been providing more green and low-carbon products to the world, according to the report. The research team said that production-based carbon emissions take the territory of production activities as the boundary, which fails to fully reflect the interconnection of economic activities, and ignores the embodied carbon emissions transferred by the trade of goods and services. Instead, consumption-based carbon emissions can take the greenhouse gas emissions of different regions or industries throughout the entire process into consideration, they said. Experts called for the use of consumption-based carbon emissions into the global carbon emissions accounting to help make allocating responsibility for reducing emissions just and fair.

Successful xenotransplantation of a genetically modified pig liver into a human patient A genetically modified pig liver was successfully implanted into a living human patient with severe liver cancer. The operation was conducted on May 17 by a team led by Professor Sun Beicheng from Hefei Hospital, in collaboration with a team led by Professor Wei Hongjiang from Yunnan Agricultural University. The 71-year-old patient with liver cancer is said not to have  experienced acute or hyperacute rejection within the seven days following the operation, nor did he experience a disorder in his coagulation system. The patient is able to move around freely at present, and his liver function and many other health indicators have returned to normal. In April, Chinese researchers successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig liver into a brain-dead patient at Xijing Hospital of the Air Force Medical University in Xi’an, transplanting a pig liver into a brain-dead human for the first time in the field of medicine.

An in-situ formed antibacterial hydrogel with collagenase-responsive activity prevents MRSA-induced osteomyelitis In recent years, the bio-nanomaterials research and development team of the CAS Institute of Physics and Chemistry, has cooperated with many hospitals to design and prepare a variety of antibacterial peptides and related functional materials to address clinical problems caused by microbial infections, and have used them in animals with various infectious diseases. In this context, antibacterial peptides with excellent antibacterial properties against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were designed in view of the problems of osteomyelitis, and embedded into an antibacterial hydrogel formed in situ. The hydrogel is composed of four-arm polyethylene glycol maleimide (4-Arm-PEG-Mal), an N-terminal maleimidated antimicrobial peptide, and a collagenase-cleavable peptide containing sulfhydryl groups at both ends through chemical bonds. Due to the rapid bonding between maleimide and sulfhydryl groups, AMP/VPM/PEG hydrogels can be rapidly formed in situ under physiological conditions. In addition, overexpressed collagenase at bacterial infection sites can enzymatically hydrolyze hydrogels to achieve on-demand delivery of antimicrobial peptides, thereby enhancing the activity of antimicrobial peptides against MRSA in infectious environments. In an in vivo rat osteomyelitis model, hydrogel was formed in situ in the bone marrow cavity by simply injecting 4-Arm-PEG-Mal solution and peptide solution into the bone marrow cavity with a 26 G needle. CT results demonstrated that AMP/VPM/PEG hydrogels prevented MRSA-induced osteomyelitis. The above results provided a minimally invasive method for on-demand intramedullary delivery of antimicrobial peptides and are expected to provide a feasible strategy for clinical prevention of osteomyelitis.

A genomic compendium of human gut fungi A Chinese-French team has published a genomic compendium of cultivated human gut fungi that characterizes the gut mycobiome and its relevance to common diseases. The human digestive system is composed of a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses. At present, there have been many studies on the community structure and biological functions of human intestinal bacteria. As an important part of the intestinal microecology, the intestinal fungal community affects various physiological and pathological processes of the host. This study used culture group technology to culture 12,453 fungal strains from fecal samples of 135 healthy Chinese people and performed whole-genome sequencing. 760 intestinal fungal genomes (covering 48 families and 206 species) were obtained, 69 of which were identified for the first time. The study conducted functional gene analysis and targeted metabolomics determination on 206 species of fungi, and elaborated on the characteristics of intestinal fungi in terms of gene functions and metabolites. Furthermore, the study analyzed 11,000 human fecal metagenomic data and revealed the structural characteristics of intestinal fungal communities in Chinese and non-Chinese populations. The study analyzed the characteristics of the intestinal fungi group of 28 diseases, identified disease-related intestinal fungal signature signals, and focused on the intestinal fungal characteristics of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The characteristics of the target strains were verified in various mouse colitis models. Biological functions, some active substances and molecular mechanisms.

A digital catalogue of TCM Materia medica supports training and therapy A Chinese medicine infrastructure model “Digital Smart Materia Medica” was jointly developed by Tian Shili Pharmaceutical Group and Huawei Cloud. With 38 billion parameters, the “Digital Smart Materia Medica” has been pre-trained with a huge amount of Chinese medicine text data, combined with a vector database to enhance search, and fine-tuned with multiple scenes of Chinese medicine research and development. Researchers can be supported in uncovering and summarizing the underpinnings of TCM theory. The “Digital Smart Materia Medica” has three application modes, “Smart Q&A,” “Interactive Computing,” and “Report Generation,” and can realize two major goals: “tailoring prescriptions to diseases” and “treating people based on prescriptions.” As to Mr. Yan Kaijiao, Chairman of Tian Shili Pharmaceutical Group, “emerging technologies continue to emerge and develop rapidly, digital smartness has become the new driving force to promote the development of modern Chinese medicine. By utilizing the tool of the foundation model, we can realize the digital smartization of multiple aspects of TCM, such as the combination and compounding of TCM and the material foundation”.

Brassica with 66% oil content: Shaanxi breeding research center陝西省で10日,認証を得ている%E3%80%82 A breeding team from the Shaanxi Hybrid Brassicas Research Center announced that they have successfully bred an oilseed rape genetic resource with 66% oil content. The data has already been certified by the Xi’an Oil Food and Feed Quality Supervision and Inspection Center of the State Food Bureau, making it the cruciferous genetic resource with the highest oil content currently known. This achievement is considered a new development for the breeding of oilseed rape genetic resources with high oil content. The center’s breeding team started with oilseed rape with an oil content of around 40%, and then adopted a variety of technological means, including selection, to concentrate genes with high oil content. After years of research, they finally bred an oilseed rape genetic resource with a high oil content of 66%.

Starch from CO2/methanol – a case report

This is a machine translation of the original article 中国科学报】凭“空”造淀粉,他们如何把梦想变为现实? 2024-05-22 来源: 中国科学报 刘如楠 [China Science News] Create starch out of thin air. How do they turn their dreams into reality? 2024-05-22 Source: China Science Journal Liu Runan Starting from Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology), walk 4,000 meters southeast and you will come to a place full of “magic”. This is an engineering test platform, with various instruments placed compactly and the test equipment rumbling. Soon after, the methanol synthesized from carbon dioxide in the fermentation tank will react with specific biocatalysts – enzymes one by one, and eventually turn into tubes of snow-white starch. Synthetic starch sample. On September 24, 2021, Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Studies achieved a major breakthrough in the de novo synthesis of carbon dioxide to starch for the first time in the world. The relevant results were published online in “Science”. At the end of 2022, it took another key step from the laboratory to the production line, building a ton-level pilot device and currently testing it. First “from 0 to 1”, and then “from 1 to 10”, Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Engineering is unswervingly determined and making steady and long-term progress in solving the food problems faced by human development. 1 Is it possible to create starch from “empty space”? As an important type of polymer carbohydrate, starch is the core product of agricultural civilization, providing humans with the calories needed for survival. For more than 10,000 years, agricultural cultivation was the only way to produce starch. However, plant photosynthesis has low energy efficiency and long growth cycle, which may cause food security issues. To this end, scientists have explored methods such as hybrid breeding, modular breeding, and molecular breeding, and have also established artificial photosynthetic systems. “None of this breaks away from the carbon sequestration model of plants. No matter how fast you run, you still rely on your feet. Can you break out of this model and directly build a ‘car’ to put food production on the fast track?” One day in 2014, while on the high-speed train from Beijing back to Tianjin, Ma Yanhe, founding director of Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Biotechnology and chief scientist of the carbon dioxide synthetic starch project, thought this way. As a scientific research institution dedicated to the development of industrial organisms, Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Biotechnology has always pursued an important goal – to cultivate organisms in industrial workshops and use them to produce agricultural substances, that is, to achieve “agricultural industrialization.” At a discussion held by the Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Student Affairs, Ma Yanhe continued to think wildly: “We simply imitate plants, synthesize a cell, and let it use carbon dioxide in the air to synthesize the required substances. That is the real ‘out of thin air’ Make whatever you want’! After careful discussion, everyone agreed that it was too difficult to synthesize cells, but it might be possible to use carbon dioxide to synthesize starch outside the cells. Ma Yanhe said that the world today is facing a series of major challenges such as climate change, food security, energy resource shortages, and ecological environment pollution, and scientific and technological workers have important responsibilities on their shoulders. The conversion and utilization of carbon dioxide and the industrial synthesis of grain starch are one of the major scientific and technological issues facing challenges. In January 2015, Cai Tao, an associate researcher at the Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Biotechnology, who was visiting and exchanging at the University of Minnesota in the United States, received a call from Ma Yanhe: “The institute is planning a project to create starch out of thin air.” “Made out of thin air? Is this possible?” Cai Tao was surprised and excited. At that time, he had joined Tianjin Institute of Technology for more than two years. With the idea of “doing application-oriented basic research”, he switched from traditional biology to synthetic biology research, and went on a study tour in May 2014. Cai Tao deeply feels that this project is of great significance, but he has been wondering how to do it and whether it can be completed. Preliminary research results are not optimistic. Even renowned experts in the field shook their heads when they heard about the idea. “Plant photosynthesis has existed for more than a billion years, and the system mechanism has not been fully understood yet. Can you synthesize it from scratch?” Everyone’s doubts are justified. This is something that has never been done by anyone. After searching through all the literature at home and abroad, I can’t find any clues about the synthesis path and research methods. “But think about it, why can’t we do what plants can do?” Ma Yanhe said. At that time, the Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Biotechnology had already produced a batch of effective components of medicinal and economic plants such as ginseng, Gastrodia elata, and Rhodiola rosea. Heterologous cell synthesis has designed new biosynthetic routes for sugar, meat, oil, protein, etc., and has accumulated a lot in transforming traditional farming models.   Cai Tao (left) discusses with technical staff. Innovate the organizational model and institutionalize scientific research On January 1, 2016, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ key deployment project “Artificial Biological Conversion of Carbon Dioxide” was officially launched. This project is led by the Tianjin Institute of Engineering and Student Affairs. It aims to convert carbon dioxide into complex organic matter through the efficient use of chemical energy, light energy, electrical energy and other energy forms. It also allocates part of the funds for the early exploration of “carbon dioxide synthesis of starch” . Unlike many scientific research organization models that rely on the responsibility system of the project leader, the carbon dioxide synthetic starch project was launched in an institutional manner from the beginning, adopting a three-dimensional scientific research organization model of “overall research department-characteristic research group-platform laboratory”. The General Research

A new thrust to prepare feed SCP from Pichia grown on coal-derived methanol Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, led by Wu Xin, recently announced a commercially viable approach to biosynthesize protein that can be used in making animal feed. Research on synthesizing cellular protein from methanol began in the 1980s, but due to high costs, methanol-synthesized protein products could not compete with soy protein and have not been produced on a large scale. The yeast strain Pichia pastoris, used in this process, grows by using methanol. Wu’s team collected over 20,000 yeast samples from vineyards, forests and marshlands across China. From those samples, they identified strains capable of efficiently using various sugars and alcohols as carbon sources. And by knocking out specific genes in a wild Pichia pastoris strain, they engineered a yeast with significantly enhanced methanol tolerance and metabolic efficiency. This engineering raised the conversion rate of methanol to protein to 92 percent, making this protein production method attractive economically. The protein content in the microorganisms ranges from 40 to 85 percent, significantly higher than in natural plants. These organisms also contain a complete amino acid profile, vitamins, inorganic salts, fats and carbohydrates, allowing them to partially replace fishmeal, soybeans, meat and skimmed milk powder in various applications. China currently imports around 100 million metric tons of soybeans annually, mostly from Brazil and the United States. Despite a national drive to ramp up domestic production in recent years due to vulnerable global supply chains, the country currently produces just around one-fifth of its needs. In a major move to bolster domestic production, the Chinese government last year expanded the commercial use of genetic modification technologies to staple food crops including soybeans. Such technologies have long been restricted to cotton and papaya in the nation.

A tri-band electrochromic smart window for energy savings in buildings A team of researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Silicate Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Professor Ronggui Yang of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, developed a new electrochromic structure from the perspective of optimizing light-heat exchange in all wavelength bands (visible light, near-infrared, and mid- and far-infrared). This can be used for thermal management of windows to maximize the use of solar radiation in visible and near-infrared light and radiative cooling in mid-infrared light. Energy-saving glass must achieve a dynamic response in its own energy exchange capability based on dynamic changes in environmental temperature and solar radiation. The material must switch between multiple optical states within a wide wavelength band. According to outdoor experiments conducted by the research team in Shanghai and Sanya, Hainan Province, the windows with the new electrochromic structure can be cooled continuously throughout the day on a typical sunny day, up to 14°C cooler than conventional commercial low-E windows. The new electrochromic component launched by the research team undergoes three morphological changes due to phase transitions in thin films of vanadium dioxide and tungsten oxide. By applying different voltages to the structure from the outside, lithium cations diffuse into the monoclinic vanadium dioxide and tungsten oxide layers, respectively, causing two phase transitions. The three optical states of the electrochromic structure can be maintained for more than four hours. The team further found that in different temperatures and climates, the emissivity requirements of the inside and outside of energy-efficient windows are often different. In a building’s year-round thermal management, the outdoor environment and window surface temperatures exceed those of the interior during the summer months. To reduce cooling energy consumption, it is necessary to reduce heat gain and radiant heat entering the interior from outdoors through windows. In winter, radiant heat from the interior to the window must be reduced to prevent heat loss, and low emissivity must be set on the inside of the window as well. The team further optimized the emissivity of the outer and inner electrodes of the electrochromic structure to minimize the exchange of radiant heat between outdoors and indoors.

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