One of the most remarkable things about our brains is how organized they are. Sensory information from our eyes, mouth, skin, nose and ears goes to different locations in the brain. For example, visual signals are processed first in the very back of the brain, whereas sensations of touch and pain activate the middle region … Continue reading Smart phone use changes the brain
Eggs get ready for fertilization by producing and storing all the proteins necessary for early embryo development. After fertilization, there are a series of rapid cell divisions without growth, producing a lot of small cells (here's a video). At some point during this process, the embryo switches over from using the proteins from mom, to … Continue reading What big nuclei you have!
Remember when Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996? That was the first cloned mammal and everyone freaked out thinking we would be cloning all our pets and even humans within a few years. Well, nearly 20 years have passed since then and reproductive cloning is still a very difficult and inefficient procedure. Most cloning … Continue reading Improving reproductive cloning
A new semester has begun and I have no extra time to update this blog, so just a short entry today. This paper was just too cool to pass up. It was published earlier this year in Nature Neuroscience by Dias and Ressler. They conducted a series of experiments which showed that learned fear can … Continue reading Transgenerational inheritance of fear
Three months ago, if I had seen this article about the ctenophore genome, I would have moved right passed it without a second look. What is a ctenophore and why would I care about the sequence of its DNA? But then I taught Bio 2 this spring and learned about animal diversity and the evolutionary … Continue reading Ctenophores come before
Female mammals have two copies of the X chromosome while males have only one copy (because they have a Y chromosome instead). Chromosomes contain genes and genes are the instructions for making proteins, so if females have twice as many copies of each gene on the X chromosome, will they make twice as much protein? … Continue reading The mosaic female brain
While preparing a class about synthetic biology, I came across this older paper that actually shows a practical application for synthetic biology. Kemmer et al. describe a new technique for artificial insemination of cows in the Journal of Controlled Release (in 2011). I’m not condoning these practices in cows; that is a debate for another … Continue reading Release the sperm!