Molecular Biology

Pharyngula

Category archives for Molecular Biology

When last we left this subject, I had pointed out that the phenomenon of embryonic similarity within a phylum was real, and that the creationists were in a state of dishonest denial, arguing with archaic interpretations while trying to pretend the observations were false. I also explained that constraints on morphology during development were complex,…

Blaschko’s Lines

One of the subjects developmental biologists are interested in is the development of pattern. There are the obvious externally visible patterns — the stripes of a zebra, leopard spots, the ordered ranks of your teeth, etc., etc., etc. — and in fact, just about everything about most multicellular organisms is about pattern. Without it, you’d…

Excellent interview with Craig Venter

Spiegel has a wonderful interview with Venter. The more I hear from Venter, the more I like him; he’s very much a no-BS sort of fellow. He’s the guy who really drove the human genome project to completion, and he’s entirely open about explaining that its medical significance was grossly overstated. SPIEGEL: So the significance…

Most of you don’t understand evolution. I mean this in the most charitable way; there’s a common conceptual model of how evolution occurs that I find everywhere, and that I particularly find common among bright young students who are just getting enthusiastic about biology. Let me give you the Standard Story, the one that I…

Sometimes, I really hate fossils. I hate them with the passion of a spurned lover, one who is consumed with desire but knows that he will never, ever be satisfied. They drive me mad. Right now we’re at a point in our technology where we can take a small sample from a living organism and…

Bleh. MSNBC is running a terrible article that claims they have “proof” that chickens came before eggs. It’s just an awful mess, and one of the scientists is at least partly responsible. The scientists found that a protein found only in a chicken’s ovaries is necessary for the formation of the egg, according to the…

Nicholas Wade of the NY Times has written one of those stories that make biologists cringe — it just gets so much wrong. It’s a look back at the human genome project, and I was turned off at the first paragraph. The HGP was badly marketed from the very beginning in the sense that there…

I’ve gotten some email asking for a simplified executive summary of this paper, so here it is. A large study of almost a thousand autistic individuals for genetic variations that make them different from control individuals has found that Autism Spectrum Disorder has many different genetic causes: there isn’t one single gene responsible for ASD,…

The junk just grows

I keep telling people there’s junk in them thar genomes, and lots of it. ERV has a nice summary of some recent work in which a detailed comparison of the distribution of LINE retrotransposons (selfish DNA that does nothing but insert copies of itself into your DNA; they make up about 20% of your genome)…

I ain’t afraid of no Frankenstein

They’re discussing Venter’s nifty new toy on Edge, and I’ve tossed my own contribution into the mix. It’s a response to the doomsday fears I keep seeing expressed in response to the success of this project. I have to address one narrow point that is being discussed in the popular press and here on Edge:…