22 April 2012

Comparative Genetics or Why Science Is Cool

This could become a much longer post, if I go hunting for some references and think about it, but since I'm on a train you can have the abbreviated version.

Bacteria and stuff are known to be able to do very little for a long time. Think of them as road workers/Ministry of Works etc (as an aside, I saw 9 of them the other day, two were working, the other 7 were doing valuable work holding up shovels and their obviously exhusted bodies). But even for bacteria new research concerning melting Antartic glaciers is pushing it.
Read the summary here.

One of my biggest annoyances when doing comparative DNA work between tuatara populations was the inability to use ancient DNA sequences to see how island isolation had affected the populations. Admittedly using turtle/croc DNA was an OK substitute in some cases, but it didn't give much info on recent (1-2million year) evolution of the species.
Potentially the DNA from these glaciers will allow just that. How F'ing cool is that?!

It's not exactly the same as what I wanted to do, as bacteria evolve much quicker - they can tolerate sequence change better - and have much shorter lifetimes, and so more generations in which to evolve change.

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