Tag Archives: molecular genetics

Study Shows How One Insect Got Its Wings

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists have delved deeper into the evolutionary history of the fruit fly than ever before to reveal the genetic activity that led to the development of wings – a key to the insect’s ability to survive.

The wings themselves are common research models for this and other species’ appendages. But until now, scientists did not know how the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, first sprouted tiny buds that became flat wings. (more…)

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University of Toronto Study Demonstrates Impact of Adversity on Early Life Development

Study part of growing body of knowledge surrounding gene-environment interplay

TORONTO, ON – It is time to put the nature versus nurture debate to rest and embrace growing evidence that it is the interaction between biology and environment in early life that influences human development, according to a series of studies recently published in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“Biologists used to think that our differences are pre-programmed in our genes, while psychologists argued that babies are born with a blank slate and their experience writes on it to shape them into the adults they become. Instead, the important question to be asking is, ‘How is our experience in early life getting embedded in our biology?’” says University of Toronto behavioural geneticist Marla Sokolowski. She is co-editor of the PNAS special edition titled “Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergarteners” along with professors Tom Boyce (University of British Columbia) and Gene Robinson (University of Illinois). (more…)

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Immune Systems of ‘Bubble Babies’ Restored by Gene Therapy, UCLA Researchers Find

UCLA stem cell researchers have found that a gene therapy regimen can safely restore immune systems to children with so-called “bubble boy” disease, a life-threatening condition that if left untreated can be fatal within one to two years.

In the 11-year study, researchers were able to test two therapy regimens for 10 children with ADA-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which has come to be known as “bubble boy” disease because some of its victims have been forced to live in sterile environments. (more…)

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Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria Aids or Kills, Depending on Chance

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Living in the guts of worms are seemingly innocuous bacteria that contribute to their survival. With a flip of a switch, however, these same bacteria transform from harmless microbes into deadly insecticides.

In the current issue of Science, Michigan State University researchers led a study that revealed how a bacteria flips a DNA switch to go from an upstanding community member in the gut microbiome to deadly killer in insect blood.

Todd Ciche, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, has seen variants like this emerge sometimes by chance resulting in drastically different properties, such as being lethal to the host or existing in a state of mutual harmony. Even though human guts are more complex and these interactions are harder to detect, the revelation certainly offers new insight that could lead to medical breakthroughs, he said. (more…)

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Chromosome Painting: Discovering beauty in DNA

Everyone has a genetic story.

For artist Geraldine Ondrizek, an art professor at Portland’s Reed College, her story begins with the tragic loss of her child to a condition caused by a genetic anomaly. It’s a story that starts with her efforts to piece together her family’s genetic history and that has brought her, in the years since, to a beautiful intersection of science and art that today defines the very essence of her work.

Since 2001, Ondrizek has worked with geneticists and biologists to gather images of human cellular tissue and genetic tests relating to disease, ethnic identity, and the depiction of genetically inherited conditions. (more…)

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UCLA Biologists Reveal Potential ‘Fatal Flaw’ In Iconic Sexual Selection Study

A classic study from more than 60 years ago suggesting that males are more promiscuous and females more choosy in selecting mates may, in fact, be wrong, say life scientists who are the first to repeat the historic experiment using the same methods as the original.

In 1948, English geneticist Angus John Bateman published a study showing that male fruit flies gain an evolutionary advantage from having multiple mates, while their female counterparts do not. Bateman’s conclusions have informed and influenced an entire sub-field of evolutionary biology for decades.

“Bateman’s 1948 study is the most-cited experimental paper in sexual selection today because of its conclusions about how the number of mates influences fitness in males and females,” said Patricia Adair Gowaty, a distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA. “Yet despite its important status, the experiment has never been repeated with the methods that Bateman himself originally used, until now. (more…)

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Circadian Rhythms Spark Plants’ Ability to Survive Freezing Weather

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Just as monarch butterflies depend on circadian cues to begin their annual migration, so do plants to survive freezing temperatures.

All living things – humans, animals, plants, microbes – are influenced by circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Michael Thomashow, University Distinguished Professor of molecular genetics, along with MSU colleagues Malia Dong and Eva Farré, has identified that the circadian clock provides key input required for plants to attain maximum freezing tolerance. (more…)

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