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nancydbrown.comWhat to Pack for 2 Weeks in FranceThis is a guest post by Susan Guillory of The Unexplorer. I've become quite a minimalist when it comes to packing for a trip. Don't get me wrong: I like having clothing options as much as the next gal, but after spending three weeks in Italy and hiking the Dolomiti mountains1
cyclingweekly.comTech of the week: new Garmins, gravel kit from Mavic and aero adviceThree new products from Garmin, four new Mavic wheelsets and custom bikes The new Garmin Edge 130 is a small format cycling computer retailing at £169.99, but still comes with navigation, while the Edge 520 Plus also gives turn-by-turn navigation and comes with Garmin Maps pre-loaded. Finally, there’s the Varia rearview radar, which alerts riders to approaching vehicles and comes with a high intensity rear light. You might want to pair your Garmin to Quarq’s new Tyrewiz. This sits on your tyre’s valve and gives you real time pressure info for your tyres, so you can tell instantly if you’ve got a flat. With Mavic saying that the popularity of gravel riding is increasing, it’s launched a complete set of four wide, tubeless gravel wheels, including a 650B variant, along with three gravel tyre options. It’s also got new lightweight shoes and clothing for gravel with a more relaxed look to go with it. Condor had a new limited edition Classico steel track bike on display at the Bespoked Bike Show, while at the Tour of the Alps last week, we had a look at the spec and colour scheme of Miguel Angel Lopez’s custom painted, cosmic themed Argon 18 Gallium Pro. We’ve also visited French bespoke framebuilder Caminade, which specialises in titanium and steel frames and has some rather nice gravel numbers. Advice on aero and more For kids who are keen to start riding, we’ve had the launch of new children’s bike brand Black Mountain. Its unique design allows the bike to be made larger and convert from a balance bike to a belt drive as your child grows, so a couple of bikes will get them from ages three to eight. If you’re looking for a new Scott bike and spot a too-good-to-be-true deal on-line, it probably is. Scott has warned customers to be on the look-out for fake on-line stores. Also this week, we’ve given you eight reasons why riding on your own is better than riding in a group. Although you might want a mate on a motorbike along with you: the boss of Quick-Step Floors claimed that the breakaway in the Amstel Gold race was helped to stay away by drafting the accompanying petrol-powered posse. If you don’t have a motorcycle to hand, we’ve also given you four tips to reduce drag and we’ve found out that an aero bike is faster than a lightweight machine on hilly terrain as well as on the flat. Plus we’ve demystified gears, shifting and drivetrain jargon and asked if the compact chainset has had its day. We’ve also had deals on wheels this week, as well as our usual Sunday Trading round-up.
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pnas.orgCharacterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesteraseSynthetic polymers are ubiquitous in the modern world but pose a global environmental problem. While plastics such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) are highly versatile, their resistance to natural degradation presents a serious, growing risk to fauna and flora, particularly in marine environments. Here, we have characterized the 3D structure of a newly discovered enzyme that can digest highly crystalline PET, the primary material used in the manufacture of single-use plastic beverage bottles, in some clothing, and in carpets. We engineer this enzyme for improved PET degradation capacity and further demonstrate that it can also degrade an important PET replacement, polyethylene-2,5-furandicarboxylate, providing new opportunities for biobased plastics recycling. Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is one of the most abundantly produced synthetic polymers and is accumulating in the environment at a staggering rate as discarded packaging and textiles. The properties that make PET so useful also endow it with an alarming resistance to biodegradation, likely lasting centuries in the environment. Our collective reliance on PET and other plastics means that this buildup will continue unless solutions are found. Recently, a newly discovered bacterium, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, was shown to exhibit the rare ability to grow on PET as a major carbon and energy source. Central to its PET biodegradation capability is a secreted PETase (PET-digesting enzyme). Here, we present a 0.92 Å resolution X-ray crystal structure of PETase, which reveals features common to both cutinases and lipases. PETase retains the ancestral α/β-hydrolase fold but exhibits a more open active-site cleft than homologous cutinases. By narrowing the binding cleft via mutation of two active-site residues to conserved amino acids in cutinases, we surprisingly observe improved PET degradation, suggesting that PETase is not fully optimized for crystalline PET degradation, despite presumably evolving in a PET-rich environment. Additionally, we show that PETase degrades another semiaromatic polyester, polyethylene-2,5-furandicarboxylate (PEF), which is an emerging, bioderived PET replacement with improved barrier properties. In contrast, PETase does not degrade aliphatic polyesters, suggesting that it is generally an aromatic polyesterase. These findings suggest that additional protein engineering to increase PETase performance is realistic and highlight the need for further developments of structure/activity relationships for biodegradation of synthetic polyesters.