Archive for June, 2007

Genome transplantation in bacteria

The folks at the Craig Venter Institute, having patented the technology for creating a synthetic organism, now have at least part of the process working: they report that they can take an entire bacterial genome from one organism and pop it into another, essentially “re-booting” the cell as a new species. The next step, obviously, […]

Structural variation in humans

Nature Genetics has a free supplement on structural variation, with an emphasis on its role in human disease. Nothing too exciting– structural variation is simply a type of polymorphism, albeit with some interesting issues regarding detection, but if you’re looking for some background and discussion of future directions, it might be of interest. Labels: Genetics

Geneographic project in PLOS

The Genographic Project Public Participation Mitochondrial DNA Database. This is Spencer Wells’ baby. Only mtDNA, and focused more on the methods though they didn’t find Neandertal lineages. Labels: Population genetics

Genome-wide association study for breast cancer susceptibility

Another genome-wide association study: Breast cancer exhibits familial aggregation, consistent with variation in genetic susceptibility to the disease. Known susceptibility genes account for less than 25% of the familial risk of breast cancer, and the residual genetic variance is likely to be due to variants conferring more moderate risks. To identify further susceptibility alleles, we […]

Reanalysing gene expression differences between populations

Early this year, I commented on a paper showing large differences in gene expression between Europeans and Asians. A letter to the editor in this week’s Nature Genetics points out a major flaw in part of their analyses. Expression arrays are tricky tools– they don’t provide a measure of absolute mRNA levels, but rather an […]

Coeliac disease – gluten intolerance

A comment below about gluten intolerance (which is associated with problems digesting products with wheat) made me curious. In much of Eurasia this would be a serious problem since wheat is the staff of life. Hard numbers are difficult to come by. This is as good as anything else I’ve seen: Celiac disease affects as […]

The promise of ES cells

There is a rather salty piece of correspondence in the new Nature Neuroscience from one Maureen Condic regarding Nature’s editorial position on the likelihood of development of ES cell-based therapies anytime soon. Apparently, Condic has a skeptical take on the issue and Nature had some disparaging words. The issues of immune rejection, tumor formation and […]

Sexual dimorphism with no costs takes some time

Macho stags have macho sons but daughters are little dears: The findings show for the first time in animals that some genes are designed to benefit just one gender and can handicap the other sex. It was found that the female offspring of the biggest and strongest stags were less successful at breeding and had […]

Even a caveman could eat it

The original human (‘Old Stone Age’) diet is good for people with diabetes: In a clinical study in Sweden, the research group has now compared 14 patients who were advised to consume an ‘ancient’ (Paleolithic, ‘Old stone Age’) diet for three months with 15 patients who were recommended to follow a Mediterranean-like prudent diet with […]

Against the Ultracalvinists

Reguar GNXP reader Mencius has an interesting post titled The ultracalvinist hypothesis: in perspective. Mencius is one of those rare bloggers who focuses on occasional essays where he develops his own ideas as opposed to a barrage of links and responses to the thoughts of others. Here’s his introduction: The “ultracalvinist hypothesis” is the proposition […]

MAOA, alcoholism & abuse

Gene Variant Increases Risk For Alcoholism Following Childhood Abuse. We’ve been following this story for years in various forms. Here’s the article in Molecular Psychiatry (a Nature journal). From the abstract: The MAOA-LPR low activity allele was associated with alcoholism…particularly antisocial alcoholism…only among sexually abused subjects. Sexually abused women who were homozygous for the low […]

The American Scene – part II

The American Scene has just premiered as a new group blog with a fresh look & feel. Daniel Larison is a contributor. Now, keeping in mind that many of you use spiffy RSS readers with AJAX functionality which entails a non-trivial client side computational overhead be careful if you’re on an older machine. Larison has […]

New York Times on evolution

Well, turns out that The New York Times has a whole bundle of articles on evolution up right now (see the links below for some). Carl Zimmer tipped me off to this feature (he did the bug article below). Labels: Evolution

Gould, part deux?

The New York Times has a piece, Darwin Still Rules, but Some Biologists Dream of a Paradigm Shift, which alludes to rumblings under the foundations of the Modern Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. The standard allusions to evo-devo are in there, but this stuff struck me as kind of bizarre: Transitions between species documented by the fossil record […]

Nick Wade on recent evolution human

Humans Have Spread Globally, and Evolved Locally: No one yet knows to what extent natural selection for local conditions may have forced the populations on each continent down different evolutionary tracks. But those tracks could turn out to be somewhat parallel. At least some of the evolutionary changes now emerging have clearly been convergent, meaning […]

Brains are plastic! Brain are hard-wired!

When talking about the genetics of intelligence, it’s inevitable that some people feel a sense of moral outrage and grasp at any argument they can find to soothe it. Case in point: [W]hile many behavioral traits have a heritable component, it’s not anything like what the naive extremists among the cognitive science crowd think. There […]

Treat the stranger as you would be treated

Spontaneous Altruism by Chimpanzees and Young Children: Debates about altruism are often based on the assumption that it is either unique to humans or else the human version differs from that of other animals in important ways. Thus, only humans are supposed to act on behalf of others, even toward genetically unrelated individuals, without personal […]

Writing and how we think

There have long been scholars who try to show that writing systems have been important players in world history (e.g., the Chinese system vs. the alphabetic ones). Chris of Mixing Memory reports some interesting data which suggests that these sort of conjectures need not just be hypotheses, at least on the first order level of […]

Martin Nowak interview (translated)

Martin Nowak, whose new book Evolutionary Dynamics is a must-read, recently gave an interview (PDF) for the Italian magazine Panorama. Unfortunately, it is only in Italian, so to put my break time to good use, I’ve translated it below. I’m fairly certain that everything is correct, but any errors are due only to me. See […]

Sperm competition and pornography

Recently Razib posted on a review of sperm competition (PDF), part of which claims: Kilgallon & Simmons [(2005)] documented that men produce a higher percentage of motile sperm in their ejaculates after viewing sexually explicit images of two men and one woman (sperm competition images) than after viewing sexually explicit images of three women. Motile […]

a