September 15, 2006

Mendel's Garden #6: Straight Outta Compton Edition

Welcome all to Mendel's Garden #6: Straight Outta Compton Edition!

The Compton Science Center, Frostburg State University

For the unindoctrinated, Mendel's Garden is a traveling sample of genetics blogging from all over the 'sphere. This is edition will be short but especially sweet, so I thought I would take you all through the place where I spend much of my time: the Compton Science Center at Frostburg State University.

CSC is the entire reason I decided to attend FSU. It had just been built the year that I decided to transfer. It cost the state just under $27 million, and was worth every penny. I mean, just look at our pendulum:

Enough of my blathering. Strap on your safety goggles and snap your purple nitrile gloves; it’s time to get to the gene candy.

Let’s start in the most obvious of places: genetics lab.

Everyone knows that sex is always on a college student’s mind, especially we biology majors. RPM from evolgen indulges us with a lucid review of the varied sex determining chromosomes in the animal kingdom. It’s a run through the alphabet: XX/XY, ZZ/ZW and TSD.

Paul Decelles of The force that through... sends his students on an NCBI scavenger hunt! There are 51 amino acid in human insulin, so why were the records they pulled up showing 110 residues? His answer takes us on a journey through the data-rich realm of bioinformatics, unearthing evolutionary precursors, the role of cDNA and c-peptide's reduction of apoptosis in pancreatic islet cells.

Down the hall, Chris Patil of Ouroboros awaits us through the magnetically propped door of Cell Bio. His post “p16 vs p16: Preventing cancer, limiting self-renewal” addresses the evolutionary tradeoffs of cell renewal and the development of cancer. Are we truly damned if we do, and damned if we don’t?

After a conversation with a friend debating the sexual orientation of Lt. Commander Data runs long, it dawns on me: we’re late for Animal Phys!

Slink through the back door and grab a seat. PZ Myers of Pharyngula explores the supposed controversy of a recent article published in PLoS Biology providing support for the common ancestry of vertebrates and arthropods through a common set of dorso-ventral determining molecules. This is evo-devo at its finest, folks.

After reading What We Believe But Cannot Prove, a compendium of articles by the contributors over at Edge, Cow from Tethered Cow Ahead applies his knowledge of imagery through mathematical constructs to mutation, asserting five predictions of future scientific findings.

Reluctantly, I plod up to the front of the class, Powerpoint remote in hand, and present my recent post here at The Voltage Gate reviewing the recent molecular placement of the binturong (Arctictis binturong) and the rest of the Viverrids sharing a common ancestor with the extant African palm civet (once a part of Viverridae) based on genetic analyses.

Ah, Microbiology. There’s truly nothing more refreshing than the aroma of hot autoclaves and sexy cultured bacteria in the morning. Keep your Roccal close as we listen in on Coturnix from A Blog Around the Clock. There is evidence to support that endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are necessary for sheep to become pregnant, evidence that ultimately supports the role played by ERVs in the evolution of the placenta.

After meeting Jen from FSS! (Fighting for Science*; also the author of Studying Biology and Environmental Science) in the Compton greenhouse, she details new evidence for the effectiveness of biodiversity corridors in maintaining genetic diversity within plant populations.

That wraps up this Straight Outta Compton edition of Mendel's Garden. Thanks to the staff and faculty of CSC for ignoring the weird bearded guy snapping photos of room numbers, to Paul Decelles (The Force that Through...) and to all the contributors this time around. If you would like to host the next Mendel's Garden, contact Paul via his Blogcarnival page.

*Shameless plug: FFS! is has a roster of eight science bloggers in varied fields – biology, environmental science, meteorology, physics and astronomy - all sharing the passion for defending and explaining science. I have been blogging there as well for over a month now, and love the thoughtful environment it supports. Props to Eric Ingram for setting it up.


  1. Jeremy goes to the head of class! Great theme and set of articles. The next carnival in early October will be hosted by Chris over at Ouroboros

  2. Lots (seriously... lots) of good information here. Well done (and thanks for the props). :)

  3. Looks like a wonderful school! Great mix of posts this time. I guess I just missed the cut-off for submissions. Was trying to slip it under the wire on the 14th. Poo. I'll try to do it earlier next time.

  4. Loved the talk along trip through all these great links. RSS is in the bag and cant wait for the next trip to the garden :)

    Keep up the great stuff.