In case you hadn’t gathered from all of the posts about the Rothamsted wheat trials, I have a bit of a soft spot for wheat. Wheat isn’t just globally important (as one of the Big Three staples, providing around 20% of our calories and a decent amount of protein for a cereal), it’s also really interesting. It has three genomes, making it incredibly genetically diverse, and therefore able to grow in a really wide variety of climates. That also means that it can undergo some nifty genetic changes: if one copy of a gene starts to evolve in a potentially-cool-but-potentially-hazardous way, there’s usually another ‘back up’ copy, allowing more divergent evolution than in a diploid like rice.
Map of wheat production (average percentage of land used for its production times average yield in each grid cell) across the world compiled by the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment with data from: Monfreda, C., N. Ramankutty, and J.A. Foley. 2008. Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22: GB1022
Back when I was blogging regularly, and when I was writing more about science news and less about the woes of being a PhD student I did a few round ups of interesting things I had read that week which I didn’t have the time to write an entire blog post of. Given how much stuff I’ve managed to stray across this week (mainly because I seem to be back on Twitter, after a long hiatus) I thought it was time for another one. Continue reading
Posted in Round Up, Science
Tagged biology, elephant, feminism, In the news, misogyny, open access, other blogs, public outreach, science, weekly round up, women in science
One of the things that I find really frustrating about academia (and a significant part of why I enjoy teaching so much) is how narrow your focus has to become. I have lots of biological interests: I find stress biology incredibly interesting. I am fascinated by epidemiology. I did an internship looking at sexual systems in plants. As a scientific researcher though, most of that gets shut down. If there isn’t a viable possibility for collaboration then you may as well forget it. Time spent reading about neurology or viral resistance is apparently time wasted for me.
Thankfully, I have a blog, and today – having given blood this morning – I am in no shape for lab work. If I were sensible I would be reading or writing or being otherwise productive. But, using the excuse that I would probably accidentally delete my entire Methods section (give me some credit, I faceplanted the floor of the donation room twice) I am reading about other interesting science.
Having not touched them since … June maybe? Perhaps even May … I’m back to doing Western Blots, a technique that I wasn’t amazingly confident with to begin with. I did a dry run with samples that didn’t matter on Friday, knowing that Iw as likely to make tonnes of little mistakes all over the show, forgetting things that once seemed too intuitive to write down. What I need, I thought to myself, is an Idiot’s Guide.
There’s something that bothers me about Idiots’ Guides: They never tell you where something will go wrong. Or what will happen if it does. So here I present the Baking Biologist’s guide to Western blotting: The things that can go wrong, why they will go wrong, and whether to carry on or just scrap the whole thing.
A little while ago, I wrote a tiny bit about the 1000 genomes project, in which scientists hoped to sequenced the genomes of 1000 individuals and use them as a basis of comparison to pin down the genetic variation contributing to disease. About a week ago, the consortium published their findings, and somehow I missed it: shock horror. Continue reading
Posted in Biology, Genetics, Science
Tagged 1000 genomes project, alleles, cancer, disease, DNA, genetic variation, genetics, human genome project, indels, sequencing, SNPs