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Genome transferred between two bacteria via yeast August 23, 2009

Posted by rationalskeptic in Biology.
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yeast

(via. Scientific American) Microbes can be resistant to genetic engineering. There’s simply not enough DNA in some of them to permit significant alteration. But by building a bacterial genome inside yeast—a more complex and information-rich eukaryote that is one of mankind’s oldest genetic engineering projects—scientists have successfully created new, synthetic bacterial strains, according to a paper published today in Science.

Carole Lartigue and colleagues at the J. Craig Venter Institute have been seeking to build living cells from scratch. The ultimate goal is to produce man-made microbes to solve man-made problems, whether eating up carbon dioxide or making the fuels of the future.

Working with microbes Mycoplasma mycoides and Mycoplasma capricolum (goat pathogens with extremely small genetic blueprints), the scientists previously swapped one genome for the other. And colleagues at JCVI chemically synthesized the genome of Mycoplasma genitalium inside yeast.

Now Lartigue and colleagues report success in synthesizing, cloning and transplanting a M. mycoides genome into M. capricolum cells. The key? Yeast again.

By working inside the roomier (and better scientifically understood) confines of yeast, the researchers can more easily manipulate the synthetic genetic material. This enabled them to clone the Mycoplasma genome inside the yeast one and to build in protections for this synthetic genome from inherent mechanisms that protect cells from foreign DNA—akin to the human immune system rejecting a transplanted organ.

Once transplanted back from the yeast, specially tagged M. mycoides genomes began to appear in the subsequent cells divided from the host M. capricolum, proving they had been accepted by the host. This opens the door to broad tinkering with genomes in yeast by providing a method to get them back into host cells—one step closer to a fully synthetic life form.

Although, Anti-vaxxers are killing kids, it is fun to laugh at them too March 27, 2009

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An Ode To the Anti-vaccinationists

An Ode To the Anti-vaccinationists

Homo erectus had modern feet? February 27, 2009

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“Footprints uncovered in Kenya show that as early as 1.5 million years ago an ancestral species, almost certainly Homo erectus, had already evolved the feet and walking gait of modern humans.”

1.5 million year old footprint

1.5 million year old footprint

How to keep your neurons alive February 27, 2009

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saving-new-brain-cells_11 The adult brain generates thousands of new neurons (brain cells) every day. The primary portion of the brain where this occurs is the hippocampus, and this is where memory and learning predominantly take place.

 New developments is neurobiology have shown that you can do certain activities that will keep those new neurons alive and well.

Why Evolution Is True February 8, 2009

Posted by rationalskeptic in Biology.
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Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A.Coyne

Human, Australopithecus, and chimpanzee.

 

Jerry Coyne is a Biology professor at the University of Chicago. He has been a major voice in the evolution/creation (intelligent design) “debate.” His new book is called Why Evolution Is True, and I recommend it to everyone!

This is a great rendering of two of our common ancestors, and a perfect example of transitional fossils. Of course, the intelligent design folks will want transitional fossils for these transitional fossils, silly theists!

(The picture is a link to Coyne’s new blog)