evolgen

Archives for December, 2006

As Lynn Margulis elegantly explained, some eukaryotic organelles — such as mitochondria and chloroplasts — are the product of an ancient endosymbiosis event. Free living prokaryotes were absorbed by primitive eukaryotes and, over many generations, become entangled in an obligate host-symbiont interaction. There are other examples of such interactions between eukaryotes and intracellular symbionts, such…

Another Neat Article in PLoS ONE

Molecular markers are becoming more and more popular for species identification — a practice known as DNA barcoding. Researchers sequence a region of the genome from an organism of interest and search that sequence against a DNA database using BLAST. Such an analysis is contingent on a comprehensive database containing sequences from representatives of many…

Science Reporters Lament the Advent of PLoS ONE

The editors at Scientific American are taking note that the review process at PLoS ONE differs from that of traditional journals: With the burden of proof off of the reviewers, we in the science press will have to be more vigilant than ever. We can’t rush to put stories out until we’ve focus-grouped findings with…

The One Sentence Challenge

Via the error prone cosmologists I learned about this challenge: Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that “Everything is made of atoms”. What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area, whether it’s entrepreneurship,…

Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch are two of the leaders in the movement to keep the science in science classrooms in American public schools. Both Scott and Branch hold administrative position at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and they’ve displayed great commitment to maintaining the scientific integrity of American primary and secondary education.…

On the Genetics of Virgin Birth

There’s an interesting discussion going on at Pharyngula regarding virgin birth in Bethlehem Komodo dragons. Two captive females in Europe recently gave birth to clutches of eggs despite no to minimal contact with males. The progeny are all homozygous at the each of the seven loci surveyed, with alleles matching those of the mothers. The…

Not-so Silent Sites

As we all know, the genetic code is redundant. Within protein coding regions, substitutions at silent sites do not affect the amino acid sequence of the encoded protein. Because of this property, these synonymous substitutions (so-called because they result in the same amino acid) are often used to estimate the neutral rate of evolution —…

Scientific Publishing in Web 2.0

The Public Library of Science (PLoS), an open access, web-based publisher, has launched its newest venture, PLoS ONE. PLoS ONE aims to bring scientific publishing into the Web 2.0 era, with a simple interface for commenting on published research articles. This feature is not unique to PLoS ONE, as the Nature blogs and BioMed Central…

Seven Simple Letters

It’s evolgen. E-V-O-L-G-E-N. Think “evil jen“. One thing our blog is not is “evolvgen”. Notice the extra “v”. We do, and we don’t like it. You may like calendars with nekkid people or studying some insignificant primate. But, whatever you fancy, whatever floats your boat, whatever tickles your noodly appendage, please leave off the second…

The 6% Solution to Human-Chimpanzee Divergence

This past summer, Matt Hahn presented a talk at the Society for Molecular Biology Evolution meeting and Evolution 2006 entitled “The 17% Solution: Gene Family Divergence Between Human And Chimpanzee”. The basic premise was that, even though humans and chimps are ~99% identical at the DNA sequence level, they differ substantially in copy number variants.…