Mendel's Garden #13

In this month's edition of Mendel's Garden we present to you the latest from the home office in Brno: Mendel's Premium Fish Flakes.


Guaranteed to invigorate your favorite genetic model organism, these flakes will work wonders.

Here are some testimonials:

Coturnix is wowed about how his massive aquarium has benefited from Mendel's fish flakes. With the latest genomic sequencing techniques that are discussed in a recent issue of PLoS - Biology, he can now analyze the genetic diversity in every corner of his huge aquarium. Coturnix points out how different DNA sampling procedures could tell us so much more about the ecology of aquatic micro-organisms and could lead insights into circadian behaviors and other interesting phenomena.

Carl Zimmer takes these fish flakes to compensate for the ever shrinking gene count within the human genome (we're down to about 18,300 genes).

Larry Moran contemplates the history of the predicted gene count and concludes that humans have a misplaced sense of superiority. After all, it's not clear why humans would need to make so many more proteins then zebra fish or a fruit fly. Dr. Moran concludes that if only humans would eat their fish flakes, we would all be a lot happier.

Jennifer Forman Orth points out an interesting study describing how various canarygrass varieties that were introduced into the US from various parts of Europe have increased their genetic and phenotypic diversity in their new environment. In Europe each local has a few varieties of canarygrass, while in the New World all the immigrants just mixed. And that was before they started the Mendel's Fish Flakes diet!

RPM has been feeding his fish Mendel's flakes in an attempt to shrink their genome. Here is the idea: the flakes will give his fish a metabolic boost, but to be able to cope with this change, the fish will need to have smaller red blood cells with a higher surface to volume ratio and thus capable of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide faster. How to get smaller cells? Shrink the genome. You see researchers have noticed that smaller genomes go hand in hand with smaller nuclei and smaller cells. So by boosting the metabolic rate and thus imposing a selection presure for smaler red blood cells, you can shrink the genome. Now don't worry, the fish won't be loosing valuable genes, just the extra non-coding parts of the genome that don't do much. RPM has noted that this reduction in genome size is thought to have occurred in the ancestors of birds due to their entry into the warm blooded fraternity. So how small can you shrink your genome with Mendel's flakes? I have no clue, but in response to a question, RPM analyzes the size of genomes from various vertebrate groups. Will this work for your dog? No silly, mammalian red blood cells, unlike their avian counterparts, are enucleated and thus don't need to shrink their genome to get higher surface area/volume ratios.

Mendel's fish flakes may even cure dyslexic fish, to read up on Michel Van de Gaer's thoughts on dyslexia, visit his website.

Sunil, emboldened by results from the Kenyon lab, used Mendel's flakes to improve the longevity of his fish. You see the Kenyon lab demonstrated that the famed calorific restriction that promotes longevity, depends on the organism's ability to smell the food, well at least in worms. So if you can't smell your food your body reacts as if you never ate it. (Mendel's flakes are odor free and spiked with resveratrol.)

Talking about longevity and a calory restricted diet, Cynthia Kenyon and other researchers discussed the latest finbdings in longevity research on a recent episode of Charlie Rose's show, co-hosted by Paul Nurse (video below the fold):

[HT: M. Frieman]

Finally Sir Paul himself came to Harvard Medical School to talk about how to model the effects of Mendel's fish flakes. How do gene products coordinate their activities? Why does Mendel's fish flakes make fishies so happy? Systems biology, the study how biological systems emerge from meshworks of molecular interactions, is an emerging discipline within the biological sciences. I asked Paul a question regarding the feasibility of this approach. Click here for more details.

Finally what are the proxmal and ultimate results of a diet of Mendel's fish flakes? Paul Descelles has some interesting thoughts about this dichotomy.

So that's it. The next eddition of Mendel's Garden will be hosted by EpigeneticNews.

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Nice post. Kenyon is hot!

I have to say that your description of RPM's entries made my head spin. I get it, but that's a long serries of steps. Why not shrink your cells by affecting the Reb/TOR pathway?

By Acme Scientist (not verified) on 03 Apr 2007 #permalink


I've noticed that you categorized my site as an aprils fool joke, that's a bit harsh don't you think so.

I'm just trying to express what I experience by reducing my peripheral view and my search for answers. I found some answers and I've put them along side of some (crazy) Ideas that came to mind. If you find this to be a joke I can completely understand as some of them are a bit funny to myself, this is also the reason for me to make the site with all these ideas so people can react and I can adjust my site and/or delete what doesn't match with reality.

I also understand in a way that you put my link in this section as there is a whole industry around dyslexia that promotes all kinds of different remedies, but I want to point out that I haven't got the intention to say "this is the cure" as you are suggesting.

At the end of the day I want to thank you for promoting my site although it isn't in the most preferable way ^_^