Just like last time, you can see fruit fly DNA (chromosomes) in blue. In green is a protein that sticks to DNA. On most of the chromosomes it sticks in some places but not others, forming green lines on the blue. But on one chromosome, the male X chromosome (far right in the above picture), the protein coats the chromosome.
Sometimes science is super hard. I started working in my postdoctoral lab in June and it's taken me until now to get these pretty pictures. Ten weeks and four tries on the microscope and it wasn't until I'd run out of ideas that the procedure finally worked.
Today I turn in my Ph.D. dissertation. In honor of this, I've crafted a simple post about the difference between DNA, with which many are familiar, and RNA, which is a mystery to most.
In considering how to describe the differences between these two similar but fundamentally different molecules, I thought immediately of pasta.
There are so many different, widely available pasta shapes (and so many more that are difficult to find). They remind me of RNA molecules, which take on shapes best-suited to their cellular purposes.
I've been really impressed with my student, Kasia.
I had an idea for a project six months ago, but no time in which to do it. She got excited and ran with it.
Even though I've guided the scientific process, her motivation keeps us both going.
It's a pretty cool project: it involves flies with fluorescent green eyes crossed to flies with red eyes. The offspring are predicted to have green/red "mosaic" eyes.
She recently entered the Sigma Xi research competition and won first place in her division (Cell and Molecular Biology)!
My favorite comment by a judge:
"Excellent presentation, very clear while still detailed and really enjoyable to watch. The student demonstrates enthusiasm for her project and a robust understanding of the biology behind it. My only critique is that there isn't much in the way of results yet, and I want to know how it turns out! But of course, this is what she is working on now. I hope to see more on this project in the literature in the future."
I hope so, too!
Go see Kasia's awesome videos at:
And while you're there ask her some hard questions. I know she can answer them!
< I found this crazy plant in a mail-order catalogue at my Grandfather's apartment. Aside from my burning desire to own such a plant, I had to wonder how such a thing is even biologically possible.
As it turns out it is not-- instead it is "two plants... that look alike and grow together in the same space." But our reaction to the tomato-potato is so much less violent than our reactions to GMOs.
I've noticed recently that the dialogue about GMO technology has been shifting. There are still a LOT of skeptical people... and I agree: to question is good!
But to those who are "anti-GMO," rather than just "skeptics," I ask you to consider the technology separately from those who use it.
What if you could eat your dinner and gain immunity to a possibly fatal virus at the same time?
That’s the idea behind edible plant vaccines. These vaccines are an alternative to the traditional injectable vaccines you’ve received from your doctor, which are difficult and expensive to ship, store, and administer, especially in tropical regions where diseases like dengue fever run rampant.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; it's open to everyone, regardless of religion or even nationality. And this year's Thanksgiving came with a question:
Why do onions get bitter when diced in a food processor?
Well, Smiths, I have your answer and I'm sharing your soup.
Science weighs in: The passion around organic food Recipe: Mac and cheese with organic fajita veggies
I am constantly amazed by the passion harnessed within a driven consumer. In a recent Facebook discussion, a friend asked me if there were "any studies [a]bout common sense," suggesting that, at least in this case, science was no match for her deep belief.
The subject matter was not what you'd expect-- not choice versus life, contentious stem cell research, or even genetic engineering.
No, this discussion centered on the nutritional value of organic food in comparison with non-organic. The debate was hot, and the consumers were having none of my scientific reasoning.
Drosophila fall in love so easily. A male (smaller and darker) needs but to sense a female, which he does through smell and taste receptors in his legs, and he's head over heels. He follows her, singing his love song by vibrating a wing parallel to his body.
If you listen carefully you can hear a series of clicks, although this soundtrack doesn't match up to the video, so listen carefully. By the end he sings his successful song and she, admitting he's cute, allows him to mate.
The whole process, with this particular couple, took about 8 minutes. I watched the whole thing, but you don't have to-- you will see the beginning when he begins his serenade and the end when he sings his successful courtship song and mating occurs. This chamber is about the diameter of a quarter. Imagine how long courtship must take in the open air, when the female can evade the male with ease!