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I’ve been much delayed, since I am starting to work seriously on my dissertation. This sucks up an amazing amount of brainpower. Initially I was planning on delaying this post another day, but have now been fortified with a BLT (heavy on the bacon) and am ready to tackle the topic. It is one that interests me because it combines two fascinating topics, malaria and sex ratios.
Just a quick round-up of some links. On the same day I wrote about Gerobatrachus hottoni PZ Myers at Pharyngula also posted regarding the transitional amphibian, including a beautiful photograph of the fossil. I also logged in a few days ago to find to my surprise that my recent post on the non-necessity for mice of some genes that are required in humans was included in the Gene Genie blog carnival. This blog carnival covers human genetics, usually focusing on the field of medicine. Medicine is another interest of mine (I skim New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet weekly), but since this blog is focusing on evolutionary biology I haven’t covered medicine much here, and it hadn’t occurred to me that post would meet inclusion in Gene Genie! You can read the current Gene Genie at Highlight Health. I also read the medicine-themed blogs Denialism and Respectful Insolence, so check those out if medicine interests you.
I checked in on Nature earlier, since a new issue comes out tomorrow, and find that there’s an article combining two favorite topics of mine—malaria and sex ratios. I can only read the abstract from home, so I hope the suspense doesn’t keep me up too late. I anticipate that paper will show up on my blog shortly.
I HAVE ALREADY mentioned one type of selfish genetic element. These are mobile elements that can move about and reproduce within the genome, and include the transposon and retrotransposons. A second similar type of selfish genetic element are the homing endonucleases. These come in two forms, as introns which are spliced out of RNA and then translated into protein instead of being discarded, or as inteins that splice out of the protein once it has been synthesized. In both cases the homing endonuclease then during meiosis attacks the allele that does not contain the homing endonuclease intron or intein and triggers DNA repair that duplicates the homing endonuclease’s sequence. Since mobile elements and homing endonucleases either attack at a wide variety of sites or duplicate onto both of a pair of chromosomes, they are passed on according to Mendelian inheritance patterns. But there are other selfish genetic elements that are passed on preferentially, and a new paper in Genetica focuses on the effects of these selfish elements upon fertility in carrier males.