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Genetics & Molecular Biology

Category archives for Genetics & Molecular Biology

It’s well understood in science education that students are more engaged when they work on problems that matter.  Right now, Zika virus matters.  Zika is a very scary problem that matters a great deal to anyone who might want to start a family and greatly concerns my students. I teach a bioinformatics course where students use…

“By night all cats are gray”  – Miguel Cervantes in Don Quixote   I’ve always liked Siamese cats.   Students do, too.  “Why Siamese cats wear masks” is always a favorite story in genetics class.  So, when I opened my January copy of The Science Teacher, I was thrilled to see an article on Siamese cat…

We’ve been fans of the Molecule of the Month series by David Goodsell, for many years. Not only is Dr. Goodsell a talented artist but he writes very clear descriptions of the ways molecules like proteins, RNA, and DNA work together and function inside a cell. To learn about proteins and their activities, I like…

A few weeks back, we published a review about the development and role of the human reference genome. A key point of the reference genome is that it is not a single sequence. Instead it is an assembly of consensus sequences that are designed to deal with variation in the human population and uncertainty in…

A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard. While we cannot “see” DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22…

What Happens at the End?

Organisms with linear chromosomes have to solve the problem that DNA replication makes them shorter. This is due to the fact that DNA polymerase can only add bases to the terminal 3′-OH of a DNA chain. The DNA replication initiation complex uses RNA primers to provide the initial 3′-OH and to initiate “lagging” strand synthesis.…

$1000 Genomes for $2000

Getting an accurate genome sequence requires that you collect the data at least twice argue Robasky, Lewis, and Church in their recent opinion piece in Nat. Rev. Genetics [1]. The DNA sequencing world kicked off 2014 with an audacious start. Andrew Pollack ran an article in the New York Times implying that 100,000 genomes will…

For the past few days I’ve been avidly following Daniel MacArthur’s tweets from the Personal Genome Conference at Cold Spring Harbor(@dgmacarthur #cshlpg). The Personal Genomics tweets aren’t just interesting because of the science, they’re interesting because MacArthur and others have started to take on the conventional dogma in genetic ethics. For years, there has been…

This morning I attended a “bloggers-only” conference call with Dr. Eric Green and the folks from the NIH Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to hear about NHGRI’s new strategic plan. The new plan represents a shift away from viewing the genome through a lens marked “for research use only” and towards the goal of making…

One of my hobbies lately has been to get either RNA seq or microarray data from GEO and do quick analyses. Not only is this fun, I can find good examples to use for teaching biology. One of these fun examples comes from some Arabidopsis data. In this experiment, some poor little seedlings were taken…