Molecular Biology

Pharyngula

Category archives for Molecular Biology

ENCODE has its defenders!

You know I was really pissed off at the crap ENCODE was promoting, that the genome was at least 80% functional and that there was no such thing as junk DNA. And there have been a number of better qualified scientists (like W. Ford Doolittle and Dan Graur and many others) who have stood up…

I’m shocked. Just totally surprised. And it was unanimous — the Supreme Court determined that human genes cannot be patented. This is excellent news. Why is it a good decision? Because medical DNA analysis was turning into a patchwork of competing landgrabs. Sequencing technology is coming along so nicely that more and more diagnostic tools…

There’s another paper out debunking the ENCODE consortium’s absurd interpretation of their data. ENCODE, you may recall, published a rather controversial paper in which they claimed to have found that 80% of the human genome was ‘functional’ — for an extraordinarily loose definition of function — and further revealed that several of the project leaders…

ENCODE gets a public reaming

I rarely laugh out loud when reading science papers, but sometimes one comes along that triggers the response automatically. Although, in this case, it wasn’t so much a belly laugh as an evil chortle, and an occasional grim snicker. Dan Graur and his colleagues have written a rebuttal to the claims of the ENCODE research…

Give that fish a hand!

I have a bit of a peeve with a common analogy for the human genome: that it is the blueprint of the body, and that we can find a mapping of genes to details of our morphological organization. It’s annoying because even respectable institutions, like the National Human Genome Research Institute, use it as a…

Aaargh! Physicists! Again!

A while back, two physicists, Paul Davies and Charles Lineweaver, announced their explanation for cancer with a novel theory, which is theirs, that cancers are atavisms recapitulating in a Haeckelian reverse double backflip their premetazoan ancestry. They seemed very proud of their idea. I was aghast, as you might guess. They even claimed that human…

The CephSeq Consortium has a strategy

I approve this plan. A number of researchers have gotten together and worked out a grand strategy for sequencing the genomes of a collection of cephalopods. This involves surveying the phylogeny of cephalopods and trying to pick species to sample that adequately cover the diversity of the group, while also selecting model species that have…

The ENCODE delusion

I can take it no more. I wanted to dig deeper into the good stuff done by the ENCODE consortium, and have been working my way through some of the papers (not an easy thing, either: I have a very high workload this term), but then I saw this declaration from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.…

The NY Times is touting a computer simulation of Mycoplasma genitalium, the proud possesor of the simplest known genome. It’s a rather weird article because of the combination of hype, peculiar emphases, and cluelessness about what a simulation entails, and it bugged me. It is not a complete simulation — I don’t even know what…

Vertebrates are modified segmented worms; that is, their body plan is made up of sequentially repeated units, most apparent in skeletal structures like the vertebrae. Arthropods are also modified segmented worms. Look at a larval fly, for instance, and you can see they are made up of rings stacked together. So here’s a simple and…