Molecular Biology

Pharyngula

Category archives for Molecular Biology

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…

A while back, I told you all about this small piece of the biochemistry of the fly eye — the pathways that make the brown and red pigments that color the eye. I left it with a question: if even my abbreviated summary revealed considerable complexity, how could this pathway evolve? Changing anything produces a…

I’ve been guilty of teaching bean-bag genetics this semester. Bean-bag genetics treats individuals as a bag of irrelevant shape containing a collection of alleles (the “beans”) that are sorted and disseminated by the rules of Mendel, and at its worst, assigns one trait to one allele; it’s highly unrealistic. In my defense, it was necessary…

Techniques to go with the tools

So you read that cool summary of how to build a molecular biology lab for $500. But wait, you don’t know what you’d do with the mobio toys! Here’s how to correct that: go to a workshop. THE MICHAEL SMITH LABS AND ADVANCED MOLECULAR BIOLOGY LAB PRESENTS OUR MOLECULAR BIOLOGY WORKSHOPS 2012 WINTER/SPRING Session. ONE…

Mad scientists, start drooling

The future is arriving fast. Here are the instructions for assembling a $500 home molecular biology laboratory — you can do it! And it’s getting cheaper all the time! The widespread and increasing availability of second-hand professional laboratory equipment or inexpensive new commercial surrogates means that it is now unchallenging to set up a fully…

My turn at Skepticon

Yeah, I gave a talk at Skepticon like several other rascals here at Freethoughtblogs. Now, even if you didn’t make the pilgrimage to Springfield, Missouri, you can watch it too. It’s a straight science talk with several swipes at creationism, so unfortunately, I don’t think it will make any ice cream salesmen cry. (Also on…

This is an article about cephalopods and eye evolution, but I have to confess at the beginning that the paper it describes isn’t all that interesting. I don’t want you to have excessive expectations! I wanted to say a few words about it, though, because it addresses a basic question I get all the time,…

How to examine the evolution of proteins

In my previous post, I described the misguided approach Gauger and Axe have taken to criticizing evolution, and one of the peculiarities of their criticism is that they cited another paper by a paper by Carroll, Ortlund, and Thornton which traced (successfully) the evolutionary history of a class of proteins. Big mistake. As I pointed…