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Genetics & Molecular Biology

Category archives for Genetics & Molecular Biology

It’s pretty common these days to pick up an issue of Science or Nature and see people ranting about GenBank (1). Many of the rants are triggered, at least in part, by a wide-spread misunderstanding of what GenBank is and how it works. Perhaps this can be solved through education, but I don’t think that’s…

Right or wrong, the word “dopamine” always conjures up images in my head of rats pushing levers over and over again, working desperately hard to send shots of dopamine into their tiny little rodent brains.

In a recent post, I wrote about an article that I read in Science magazine on the genetics of learning. One of things about the article that surprised me quite a bit was a mistake the authors made in placing the polymorphism in the wrong gene. I wrote about that yesterday. The other thing that…

In its simplest sense, we imagine that learning occurs through a series of positive and negative rewards. Some actions lead to pleasure, others to pain, and it seems reasonable to expect that people will repeat the actions with pleasurable results and avoid those that ended in pain. Yet, we all know people who aren’t deterred…

Have you ever wondered what kinds of viruses can be found in human waste? Mya Breitbart and team have been sequencing nucleic acids from fecal samples in order to find out. You might expect that we’d find viruses that infect humans or viruses that infect the bacteria in our gut. I wouldn’t have expected to…

I’m in Berkeley right now at the annual Bio-Link Summer Fellows forum. We’re getting to hear talks from people in the biotech industry, listen to enthusiastic instructors describe their biotech programs and ideas, and try out new educational materials. Yesterday, two speakers (Damon Tighe and Jason Baumohl) from the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek,…

I got my copy of “A short guide to the human genome” by Stewart Scherer today from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (2008, ISBN 978-087969791-4). Usually, I would wait until after I’ve read a book to write a review, but this book doesn’t require that kind of study. As soon I skimmed through it and…

RFLP is an acronym that stands for “Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism.” That’s quite a mouthful and once you’ve said this phrase a few times, you realize why we use the initials instead. I know a Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism sounds like something that must be impossibly complicated to understand, but if we take the name…

Dave Robinson and Joann Lau from Bellarmine College in Kentucky are going to be describing their student project in a free webinar next Friday, May 16th. Their students clone GAPDH (Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase) genes from new plants, assemble the DNA sequences, and submit them to the NCBI. Here’s an example. Plus, since GAPDH is a…

In the class that I’m teaching, we found that several PCR products, amplified from the 16S ribosomal RNA genes from bacterial isolates, contain a mixed base in one or more positions. We picked samples where the mixed bases were located in high quality regions of the sequence (Q >40), and determined that the mixed bases…