Exchange of genetic material that occurred when ancient giant viruses infected ancient eukaryotic cells could have caused the nucleus of the eukaryotic cell-its defining feature-to form. This is what Professor Masaharu Takemura of the Tokyo University of Science, Japan, suggests in his recent review in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. His novel evolutionary hypothesis opens doors to new discussions on the subject, bringing us one giant step closer to the truth.
Perhaps as far back as the history of research and philosophy goes, people have attempted to unearth how life on earth came to be. In the recent decades, with exponential advancement in the fields of genomics, molecular biology, and virology, several scientists on this quest have taken to looking into the evolutionary twists and turns that have resulted in eukaryotic cells, the type of cell that makes up most life forms today.
The most widely accepted theories that have emerged state that the eukaryotic cell is the evolutionary product of the intracellular evolution of proto-eukaryotic cells, which were the first complex cells, and symbiotic relationships between proto-eukaryotic cells and other unicellular and simpler organisms such as bacteria and archaea. But according to Professor Masaharu Takemura of the Tokyo University of Science, Japan, “These hypotheses account for and explain the driving force and evolutionary pressures. But they fail to portray the precise process underlying eukaryotic nucleus evolution.”
Prof Takemura cites this as his motivation behind his recent article published in Frontiers in Microbiology, where he looks into the recent theories that, in addition to his own body of research, have built up his current hypothesis on the subject.
In a way, Prof Takemura’s hypothesis has its roots in 2001 when, along with PJ Bell, he made the revolutionary proposal that large DNA viruses, like the poxvirus, had something to do with the rise of the eukaryotic cell nucleus. Prof Takemura further explains the reasons for his inquiry into the nucleus of the eukaryotic cell as such: “Although the structure, function, and various biological functions of the cell nucleus have been intensively investigated, the evolutionary origin of the cell nucleus, a milestone of eukaryotic evolution, remains unclear.”
The origin of the eukaryotic nucleus must indeed be a milestone in the development of the cell itself, considering that it is the defining factor that sets eukaryotic cells apart from the other broad category of cells-the prokaryotic cell. The eukaryotic cell is neatly compartmentalized into membrane-bound organelles that perform various functions. Among them, the nucleus houses the genetic material. The other organelles float in what is called the cytoplasm. Prokaryotic cells do not contain such compartmentalization. Bacteria and archaea are prokaryotic cells.
The 2001 hypothesis by Prof Takemura and PJ Bell is based on striking similarities between the eukaryotic cell nucleus and poxviruses: in particular, the property of keeping the genome separate in a compartment. Further similarities were uncovered after the discovery and characterization of a type of large DNA virus called “giant virus,” which can be up to 2.5 µm in diameter and contain DNA “encoding” information for the production of more than 400 proteins. Independent phylogenetic analyses suggested that genes had been transferred between these viruses and eukaryotic cells as they interacted at various points down the evolutionary road, in a process called “lateral gene transfer.”
Viruses are “packets” of DNA or RNA and cannot survive on their own. They must enter a “host” cell and use that cell’s machinery to replicate its genetic material, and therefore multiply. As evolution progressed, it appears, viral genetic material became integrated with host genetic material and the properties of both altered.
In 2019, Prof Takemura and his colleagues made another breakthrough discovery: the medusavirus. The medusavirus got its name because, like the mythical monster, it causes encystment in its host; that is, it gives its host cell a “hard” covering.
Via experiments involving the infection of an amoeba, Prof Takemura and his colleagues found that the medusavirus harbors a full set of histones, which resemble histones in eukaryotes. Histones are proteins that keep DNA strands curled up and packed into the cell nucleus. It also holds a DNA polymerase gene and major capsid protein gene very similar to those of the amoeba. Further, unlike other viruses, it does not construct its own enclosed “viral factory” in the cytoplasm of the cell within which to replicate its DNA and contains none of the genes required to carry out the replication process. Instead, it occupies the entirety of the host nucleus and uses the host nuclear machinery to replicate.
These features, Prof Takemura argues, indicate that the ancestral medusavirus and its corresponding host proto-eukaryotic cells were involved in lateral gene transfer; the virus acquired DNA synthesis (DNA polymerase) and condensation (histones) genes from its host and the host acquired structural protein (major capsid protein) genes from the virus. Based on additional research evidence, Prof Takemura extends this new hypothesis to several other giant viruses as well.
Thus, Prof Takemura connects the dots between his findings in 2019 and his original hypothesis in 2001, linking them through his and others’ work in the two decades that come in between. All of it taken together, it becomes clear how the medusavirus is prime evidence of the viral origin of the eukaryotic nucleus.
Source: Tokyo University of Science
Linux Foundation: Latest trends and most-needed skills for open source jobs
The Linux Foundation jobs report shares what recruiters are looking for and which technologies are in demand.
Open source is still the leading software development environment for SMBs and the enterprise despite the current economic downturn and pandemic, according to the latest jobs report from The Linux Foundation.
“2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, but it’s encouraging to see that open source continues to provide abundant opportunities,” said The Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin in a press release. “The Linux Foundation and our members will continue to work to provide technological advancements that benefit everyone while striving to make open source educational opportunities more accessible.”
SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Open source software is continuing to gain ground in the enterprise. A recent Red Hat survey revealed that 86% of IT leaders say the most innovative companies are using open source software. In that same survey, 77% of respondents said they plan to increase their use of open source software in the next 12 months.
This is the eighth year The Linux Foundation has produced the open source jobs report, and this is the first time the foundation worked with edX to produce it. The last report was completed in 2018. The 2020 Open Source Jobs Report found, “a shift of priorities for hiring organizations towards cloud-native technologies and increasing use of open source solutions despite the severe challenges currently facing businesses and IT pros.”
Desired skill sets
Linux, DevOps, cloud and security are the top skill sets wanted from potential employees. Among hiring managers, 74% say that Linux is the most in-demand skill they’re seeking in new hires.
According to the report, 69% of employers want employees with cloud and containers experience, up from 64% in 2018. And 65% of companies want to hire more DevOps talent, up from 59% in 2018. The report shows that 63% percent of hiring managers want employees who can architect solutions based on open source software. Security is also important with 48% of companies wanting this skill set in potential employees. Other desirable skills are knowledge of new tools, experience using open source development tools like Git, experience running projects already in production, and people who have previously worked on open source projects.
Most in-demand jobs
In 2018, 72% of companies were seeking to hire developers. In 2020, this has dropped to 59%. The most in-demand job is DevOps, with 65% of companies wanting to hire for this role, an increase from 59% in 2018. Engineers rank third, at 56%, and architects are at 41%. SysAdmins dropped to 35% in 2020, from 49% in 2018. The report theorizes this is because many SysAdmin roles evolved into DevOp ones.
Trends in hiring for open source jobs
Additional findings from the report:
- Among hiring managers, 81% said hiring open source talent is a priority for 2020, and they are more likely than ever to seek out pros with certifications.
- 56% of hiring managers plan to hire more open source professionals in the next six months compared to the last six months.
- 57% of hiring managers said hiring certified professionals is a priority, which is a significant increase from 47% in 2018.
- Finding sufficient talent with open source skills is difficult for 93% of hiring managers, up from 87% in 2018.
- Among employers, 57% say that training existing employees to gain necessary skills is the top tactic used in 2020.
- 70% of hiring managers say that employees have requested more open source training this year, compared to 64% in 2018.
- 60% of professionals surveyed would like for employers to cover the cost of certifications, up from 47% in 2018.
- 74% of hiring managers are willing to pay for certifications, up from 55% two years ago.
- 88% of employers say their company proactivity encourages diversity, up from 79% two years ago. Among employees, 70% feel their companies are making an effort to encourage diversity, an increase from 60% in 2018.
- 52% of companies surveyed say they activity recruit underrepresented individuals, an increase from 46% in 2018.
Why open source is so crucial
Adam Medros, edX president and co-CEO, said open source professionals are key to tech advancements around the world.
“We hope that the information in this report gives open source professionals a clear picture of the industry to inform their decisions around joining and creating teams, and informs organizations’ decisions around training and investing in their workers,” Medros said in a press release.
As with the last three Linux Foundation reports, the focus is on all aspects of open source software; the first four reports focused more specifically on Linux professionals.
edX and The Linux Foundation surveyed hiring managers and open source professionals from July 28 to Sept. 3, 2020. Hiring managers from corporations, SMBs, government organizations and staffing agencies were surveyed. More than 175 hiring managers responded. More than 900 open source professionals responded to a survey, with 74% indicating they’ve been working as an open source professional for three years or more.
Deep Unsupervised Drum Transcription | Technology Org
Deep learning-based models help to improve transcription systems. In this task, the score is estimated from the input audio. However, most of the current systems rely on supervised learning and require a large-scale annotated dataset.
A recent paper on arXiv.org suggests an unsupervised drum transcription system. It can test the estimation, measure the error, and correct itself, similarly to musicians learning to transcribe.
During the experiments, the system achieved strong performance compared to current supervised and unsupervised approaches. It can be generalized to different datasets while maintaining high performance if the distribution of tracks by style is warranted. Thus, it can be used for real-life drum transcription tasks. Also, the system could be extended to other instruments and combined with instrument recognition.
We introduce DrummerNet, a drum transcription system that is trained in an unsupervised manner. DrummerNet does not require any ground-truth transcription and, with the data-scalability of deep neural networks, learns from a large unlabeled dataset. In DrummerNet, the target drum signal is first passed to a (trainable) transcriber, then reconstructed in a (fixed) synthesizer according to the transcription estimate. By training the system to minimize the distance between the input and the output audio signals, the transcriber learns to transcribe without ground truth transcription. Our experiment shows that DrummerNet performs favorably compared to many other recent drum transcription systems, both supervised and unsupervised.
Apple Confirms MagSafe Charger Could Leave Impression on iPhone 12 Cases
Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging feature launched along with iPhone 12 series earlier this month is expected to have far-reaching benefits that the likes of Moto Mods could not deliver. MagSafe is touted to be a game-changer for accessory makers, and a colourful array of magnetic cases, wallets, and chargers are already in the market. Apple has naturally created a new support page to inform users about how to best use their new gadgets and its cool magnetic charger. And among its few caveats is that the charger can leave a circular impression on some iPhone 12 cases and accessories.
The fact that the charger can leave its impression on iPhone 12 accessories gets a fine print mention on the Apple support page. It is especially irksome because Apple had glorified MagSafe’s capability of charging the phones with their covers on. And although the support page says that the potential issue is only with leather cases, a user had also shared a picture on MacRumors claiming that the MagSafe charger had left its circular impressions on a silicon case in just one day of use. It’s just been three days since the iPhone 12 was made available.
Apple has also warned users against placing things such as credit cards, security badges, passport, etc., between their phones and the MagSafe charger. It says this could damage the magnetic strips and RFID chips on the cards. The page also says that the new snap-on chargers might get warm and that the software might limit charging to 80 percent in case of overheating.
In another particularly damaging news for the iPhone 12 series launched on October 14, a report published by TechSina cites a blogger to claim that some iPhone 12 units on display at a store in China had their paints peeled off. The report featured pictures by the blogger to support the claim. Although, the launch of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro had a rush of people at stores in China on Friday, October 23, and the report speculated frequent touches to be the reason for the phone’s terrible condition.
Separately, tipster Max Weinbach said his new iPhone 12 Pro’s glass back had cracked for no apparent reason, though he received a replacement from Apple. In a more recent tweet, he noted scratches seen on demo units at a T-Mobile store.
Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
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