Evolution

i-6d3784373c1ae06545f859a0aec5dcd9-dnai.gifIf we asked any biologist to pick the five most important techniques in biology, that list would certainly include PCR. 

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. It's used everywhere. We use it to amplify DNA for cloning, we use it for diagnostic tests, ... Read more

i-8295f915da92d0ca11a67cd144057d90-rhodies.jpgThe first research assignment for our Alaska NSF Chautauqua course has been posted. Your task is to find a wound-inducible plant gene, learn something about it, and post a description in the comment section. We've already had one excellent answer, but I know there are at least 54 wound- ... Read more
An introduction to our Alaskan NSF Chautauqua course and a pre-course assignment. I don't know how well this will work, but I thought it might be interesting this year to experiment with blogging about our course and sharing some of our experiences with the rest of the world. Here's your chance readers, if you'd like to do some of the assignments, you are very welcome to follow along and give it a try.

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I'm not likely to get all the assignments or course info posted on-line, but since we have some constraints with photocopying, we also ... Read more

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A few months ago, I wrote about a contest, sponsored by the Alliance for Science, in celebration of Darwin Day. High school students were asked to write an essay on the topic: "Why would you want your doctor to have studied evolution?" The winners have been announced and you can read their essays. Congratulations winners, teachers, and all participants! Read more

Yes, yes, I know Darwin Day was Februrary 12th. Nevertheless, the Alliance for Science is sponsoring an essay contest in Darwin's honor and, if you're a high school student you can still celebrate by writing an essay.

And if you're a high school teacher, and your student wins, you win $$ for buying lab supplies. 

Okay, I suppose it's only us geeky bloggers who consider writing an essay to be a kind of celebration.

If the sheer joy of celebrating Darwin Day by writing an essay, doesn't pique your interest, there are prizes. ... Read more

Evolution! Wow! A jolt of electricity went down my spine. I feel like Harry Potter saying "Voldemort." Apparently, in biomedical journals, drug resistance and other phenomena can "emerge," "arise," or "spread." It can "appear", "develop", "become common", or "be acquired." As long as you don't say it "evolves." A group of researchers, at the University of Virginia, discovered that authors who were studying evolution and publishing in biomedical journals were reluctant to use the word (1). They ... Read more
Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor (dubbed the Tripoli six) may be executed soon by the Libyan government for the crime of deliberately infecting over 400 children with HIV. If they did infect the children, this would be a horrendous crime. If they did not infect the children, it's the Libyan government that will be killing innocent people. The clock is ticking. Some of you might be wondering (I know I was): How exactly is molecular sequence data being used to solve the crime? Why are scientists and science bloggers claiming that the ... Read more

Razib inspired me to share some of the story behind why white people are considered derivatives.

No red herrings, here! Lamason et. al. found a single gene that controls human skin color while studying pigmentation in zebra fish (1). These zebra fish had an unusual golden color that turned out to be an important clue. Lamason and collaborators found that the golden zebra fish lost their normal color because of a mutation in the slc24a5 gene. When the zebra fish have the mutant form, they produce fewer melanosomes.

A short language lesson Fewer ... Read more

If we compare sections 1, 2, and 3, we see that section 2 matches very well in a number of different samples, and that there are differences between the sequences in sections 1 and 3. i-bed5846063bbebc59fa0a4516d917562-small_mito_mut.gif We also learn something about the ... Read more
Like biology, all bioinformatics is based on the idea that living things shared a common ancestor. I have posted, and will post other articles that test that notion, but for the moment, we're going to use that idea as a starting point in today's quest. If we agree that we have a common ancestor, then we can use that idea as a basis to ask some interesting questions about our genomes. For, example, we know that genomes change over time - we've looked at single nucleotide changes here and ... Read more

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