Biology (Macroscopic )

Part I. The back story from the genome record Together, these five posts describe the discovery of a novel paramyxovirus in the Aedes aegyptii genome and a new method for finding interesting anomalies in GenBank. I. The back story from the genome record II. What do the mumps proteins do? And how do we find out? III. Serendipity strikes when we Blink. IV. ... Read more
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to respond to a specific thing. Most of the vaccines we use are designed to prime the immune system so that it's ready to fight off some kind of disease, like whooping cough, polio, or influenza. Some vaccines can have more specialized functions, like stimulating the body to attack cancer cells, kill rogue autoimmune cells, or prevent pregnancy. We'll look at what they do in later posts, for now, let's look at the kinds of things that can be used as vaccines.
Every year people adopt pet dogs, cats, birds, and other creatures and take them to their local veterinarians for all the usual vaccinations and exams. The usual vaccinations protect your pets from diseases like rabies, distemper, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, and Feline Leukemia. But it's not just pets that get protected by vaccines. Agricultural creatures: fish, chickens, sheep, cows, pigs, and horses receive vaccines and increasingly, wild animals are getting vaccinated, too. ... Read more
write your Senators and Representatives about saving the Endangered Species Act. But, first read what Mike Dunford has to say. Mike describes the changes that the Bush administration has proposed in great detail and consequences for wild animals. Greg Laden has posted on this, ... Read more
It was a -1 tide on Sunday and great entertainment for people and birds.
We got there about lunch time.
What are you learning in school? xkcd has the inside track on the really important stuff.
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Yesterday morning I was sitting at conference table, downing coffee to keep my eyes open, when I heard someone say that it's springtime now and the snakes are waking up. Well, those kinds of statements at the breakfast table do have a way of getting my attention. I turned sideways and realized the words were coming from a high school science teacher, that I know, from Arizona. "Snakes hibernate?" "Sure," she said, "and people who move here in the winter time are pretty surprised when a snake wakes up and crawls out from under their porch." A few ... Read more
This morning I had a banana genome, an orange genome, two chicken genomes (haploid, of course), and some fried pig genome, on the side. Later today, I will consume genomes from different kinds of green plants and perhaps even a cow or fish genome. I probably drank a bit of coffee DNA too, but didn't consume a complete coffee genome since my grinder isn't that powerful and much of the DNA would be trapped inside the ground up beans. Of course, microbes have genomes, too. But I do my best to cook those first. So, what is a genome? Is it a chromosome? Is it one of those DNA ... Read more
Conflicts between predators like cougars and coyotes and human companions like pets and small children are becoming more common as people move into areas that used to be wildlife habitat. The Seattle Times has a great story this morning about biologists in Washington who are studying cougars to learn if cougars and people can coexist. The biologists think most of the trouble might be caused by teenage male cougars who move in to the territory when the older, smarter males get killed. There's also a ... Read more
Your canopy is disappearing, you're likely to freeze. NASA's Earth Observatory reports that over 1,110 acres of forest were illegally logged, during the past four years, in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in central Mexico. Monarch butterflies travel here from all over the United States and Canada. Images from the Ikonos satellite tell us though, that future migrating butterflies are likely have problems in this reserve. The top image is from 2004, the bottom image shows what things are ... Read more

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