Monday, March 8, 2010

Non-inherited antibiotic resistance, jumping viruses and more, in my Picks of the Week from RB

Another week has gone by and some very interesting molbio blog posts have been aggregated to Every week [see my opening post on the matter], I'll select some blog posts I consider particularly interesting in the field of molecular biology [see here to get a sense of the criteria that will be used], briefly describe them and list them here for you to check out.

Note that I'm only taking into consideration the molbio-related blog posts aggregated under "Biology".

Congratulations to everyone who got their post selected.

1) As I’ve stated before, the different steps in gene expression are stochastic biochemical events and this randomness can lead to substantial cell-to-cell variability in RNA and protein levels and have phenotypic consequences even within a clonal population of cells. Tim Sampson over at "The Times Microbial” brings us the second part of his 2-part series on “Noisy and Bistable Gene Expression” now commenting on the observation of “non inherited antibiotic resistance”.

2) Just how tough is to survive on Mars? Greg Fish at Weird Things discusses a recent article in which the Martian environment was simulated to perform experiments with different bacterial strains and concludes that:

Mars is not necessarily the most hostile place to life as we know it, but only when we’re talking about its unexplored underground world.

3) In some (few) cases, viruses are able to cross the species barrier effectively and cause disease. In fact, “this is one of the ways that ‘emerging infections’ get started”. Ian York at Mystery Rays from Outer Space comments on a paper suggesting several recent host shifts among members of the genus Ranavirus, major viral pathogens of cold-blooded vertebrates.

Frogs: A Chorus of Colors (Image source)

4) Last week, I selected a post by Lucas Brouwers in which he discussed an interesting paper reporting the use of protein transport machines in mitochondria as a model system to study how sophisticated molecular machines can evolve from simpler components [See Molecular machines and memorable African genomes in my Picks of the Week from RB]. As a sort of sister post to that one, LabRat now discusses the evolution of the import mechanism in chloroplasts.

From the post:
The only thing that seems clear is that like the mitochondrial import system, this was clearly pulled together from bits of old machinery lying around.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for more MolBio Research Highlights!

ResearchBlogging.orgSome of the articles discussed in this week's selected posts:

Balaban NQ, Merrin J, Chait R, Kowalik L, & Leibler S (2004). Bacterial persistence as a phenotypic switch. Science (New York, N.Y.), 305 (5690), 1622-5 PMID: 15308767

Jancovich, J., Bremont, M., Touchman, J., & Jacobs, B. (2009). Evidence for Multiple Recent Host Species Shifts among the Ranaviruses (Family Iridoviridae) Journal of Virology, 84 (6), 2636-2647 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01991-09

Gross J, & Bhattacharya D (2009). Revaluating the evolution of the Toc and Tic protein translocons. Trends in plant science, 14 (1), 13-20 PMID: 19042148

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