Let the experiment begin. We're experimenting with HIV in this series. And yes, you can try this at home! If you want to see where we've been and get an idea where we're going, here are the links. Part I. Meet HIV and learn how we're going to use it look at evolution. An introduction to the experiment and a link to a short flash movie on HIV. Part II. Instructions for doing the experiment. Part III. Look at the ... Read more
The past few Fridays, we've been comparing human mitochondrial DNA with the mitochondrial DNA of different apes. We started doing this here, where you can find directions for getting started. And, we've found some interesting things. In this installment, we found that humans have practically an entire mitochondrial genome stuck in chromosome 17. ... Read more
When can a really bad virus be used to do something good? i-a6550bc9f8fd2b4ba98054d13cd679e5-hiv_photo.jpg When we can use it to learn. The human immunodeficiency virus, cause of AIDS, scourge of countries, and recent focus of ScienceBlogs; like humans, evolves. As one ... Read more
During these past couple of weeks, we've been comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences from humans and great apes, in order to see how similar the sequences are. Last week, I got distracted by finding a copy of a human mitochondrial genome, that somehow got out of a mitochondria, and got stuck right inside of chromosome 17! The existence of this extra mitochondrial sequence probably complicates some genetic analyses. One of my readers also asked an interesting question about whether apes have ... Read more
Bio::Blogs#2 is been out for a few days but it's certainly not out of interesting ideas and things to read. There is some interesting stuff about Brisbane. Queensland looks like a lovely place and much different than my mental images of Australia. Sorry, but when I picture Australia, I get a strange image of a cross between Babe, old Mad Max movies, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. This is an image kind of like Eastern Washington, although I don't think Mel Gibson and the wild riders of ... Read more
One of the commenters on a previous post, pointed out that proteases have pretty diverse structures, even though they also share a common function. What else could I do? I had to take a look. I found structures for chymotrypsin (from a cow) and subtilisin (from a soil bacteria, Bacillus lentus) and used Cn3D to see how they compare (below the fold). Both enzymes are proteases - that is they cut the peptide bonds in proteins that hold amino acids together. Many of you use ... Read more
Last week, we decided to compare a human mitochondrial DNA sequence with the mitochondrial sequences of our cousins, the apes, and find out how similar these sequences really are. The answer is: really, really, similar. And you can see that, in the BLAST graph, below the fold. A quick glance shows that the ape with the most similar mitochondrial sequence is Pan paniscus, the pigmy chimpanzee. Next, is Pan troglodytes, the chimp that we see in movies, and last we have Gorilla ... Read more
It seems kind of funny to be thinking of anti-freeze at the moment, with heat waves blanketing the U.S., but all this hot weather makes me miss winter. And so I decided it was time to re-post this from the original DigitalBio. Winter is coming soon, my bike ride to work was pretty chilly, and it seems like a good time to be thinking about antifreeze. Antifreeze proteins, that is. Antifreeze proteins help keep pudgy yellow meal worms from turning into frozen wormsicles and artic flounder from becoming frozen flat fish.

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We've had a good time in the past few last weeks, identifying unknown sequences and learning our way around a GenBank nucleotide record. To some people, it seems that this is all there is to doing digital biology. They would, of course, be wrong. We can do much, much more than identifying DNA sequences and obtaining crucial information, like who left their DNA behind on that little blue dress. Today, we're going to a deeper question about who we are and who are our relatives. Drumroll, okay, here it comes: How similar are DNA sequences between humans and apes? ... Read more
i-88f6464d4c019e769897ee428c21834a-Picture 5.0.jpgA few years ago, the General Biology students at the Johns Hopkins University began to interrogate the unseen world. During this semester-long project, they study the ecosystems of the Homewood campus, and engage in novel research by exploring the microbial ecosystems in different sections of the campus. Biology lab students gather environmental samples from different campus ... Read more

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