Genetics

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Category archives for Genetics

Incredible Animal Adaptations

Greg Laden reports that scientists have sequenced the genome of the Tammar Wallaby, which boasts “the longest period of embryonic diapause of any known mammal, highly synchronized seasonal breeding and an unusual system of lactation.” The new research “provides a hitherto lacking understanding of marsupial gene evolution and hopes to have identified marsupial-specific genetic elements.”…

Refusing to Yield

To judge by its name, cancer may seem like a monolithic disease. But a recent study which sequenced the genomes of seven prostate cancers reveals just how staggeringly complex the disease can be. The sequencing revealed not only DNA mutations, but rampant rearrangements of the chromosomes themselves. As ERV explains, “we arent talking a mutation…

Endless Frontiers of Science

Science is knowledge, and knowledge can inspire certainty. But certainty, as much a fruit of science, can be its enemy. Whatever wonders may meet the eye, there has always been more to the world. On Oscillator, Christina Agapakis explores the frontiers of synthetic biology, where researchers hope to manufacture “altered proteins or entirely different biological…

African and Human Diversity

On Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong reports that two new human genomes have been sequenced: that of South African leader Desmond Tutu, and that of !Gubi, a tribal hunter-gatherer. Along with !Gubi, researchers examined the genes of three other Bushmen, and the diversity they observed was “astounding.” Ed writes that there is more genetic…

Chromosomes, X and Y

On Neurotopia, Scicurious offers a refresher course on mitosis. This vital process occurs every time a cell divides, as centrosomes pull apart replicated chromosomes with microtubules. Normal cell mechanics limit this “molecular tug of war” to about 50 iterations, meaning we can’t keep splitting chromosomes forever. But we can use meiosis make some babies. On…

Racists often cite IQ as a genetically determined trait, attempting to justify and promote their supremacist attitudes. Even if IQ tests do not favor specific cultural or educational standards, is intelligence coded in our genes, or related to the color of our skin? Greg Laden answers an emphatic “no,” explaining that although intelligence may be…

A Fistful of Seeds

On Casaubon’s Book, Sharon Astyk raises her hackles at the sight of Monsanto, a company which over the last century has churned out artificial sweeteners, sulfuric acid, myriad plastics, herbicides such as DDT, the pernicious defoliant Agent Orange, bovine growth hormone, PCBs, and other chemical wonders. Since their first genetic modification of a plant cell…

The Buzz: Happy Birthday, Origin!

Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was published 150 years ago today, and it continues to inform, illuminate, and stir up controversy. Of course, some tortoises live longer than that, but Darwin’s lasting legacy seems assured. On Gene Expression, Razib Khan tackles a study on the Fore, a cannibalistic people who ate their dead up until…

The Buzz: The Great Debate

The pitched battle between evolutionary theory and Intelligent Design has become one of the signature conflicts of the decade. On Pharyngula, PZ Myers picks up the pieces after his debate with Jerry Bergman on whether ID should be taught in schools. Unambiguously he writes, “creationists are not the heralds of a coming paradigm shift; they…

Forget fashion; when it comes to expressing yourself, it’s your genes that wear you! On Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong discusses the explosive evolution of AEM genes in humans and elephants—two long-lived, social animals with “very, very large brains.” Big brains need more juice to function, and AEM genes, which govern how mitochondria metabolize…