Genetics & Molecular Biology

How should we talk about biological networks or systems? Roger Brent and Jehoshua Bruck stated the problem like this:
Instead of using someone else's urine in random drug testing, perhaps criminals can step it up a notch on the scientific ladder and use someone else's genome.

Can your genes ever absolve you of responsibility for a particular act?

New Scientist features a story that asks that very question, regarding the case of a man whose sentence was reduced because he had "gene variants linked to aggression."
Scientists have successfully differentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESC) into major cell types of lung epithelial tissue, a technique which could provide an alternative to lung transplants for patients with lung injury due to chronic pulmonary disease and inherited genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
The development of molecular techniques for genetic analysis has led to a great augmentation in our knowledge of crop genetics and our understanding of the structure and behavior of various crop genomes. These molecular techniques, in particular the applications of molecular markers, have been used to scrutinize DNA sequence variation(s) in and among the crop species and create new sources of genetic variation by introducing new and favorable traits from landraces and related crop species.
Are accident rates higher for people with a particular gene variant?    Bad drivers may, in part,  have their genes to blame, suggests a new study by UC Irvine neuroscientists.

People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it – and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.
Biofortified, a group blog by graduate students and professors on plant genetics and genetic engineering, is in the lead for a $1500 grant from Ahoka Changemakers. Apparently, the grant will be decided by the relatively worthless metric of internet popularity, which they have made very difficult with an awkward interface. I, however, highly recommend that you go vote for Biofortified (contains step by step voting instructions, which are needed) for three reasons:
Nepotism has a bad connotation in the workplace or French politics but being surrounded by relatives does lead to better group dynamics and more cooperation in some animals, and certainly spiders, according to a new study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

In a new study, the researchers found that Stegodyphus tentoriicola spiders are far more efficient at foraging for food and cooperate better when they’re related to each other and, as with humans and other animals, relatedness may favor the evolution of less selfish behavior, more collaboration and better group dynamics.
"Speciation is one of the most fascinating, unsolved problems in biology," says Harmit Malik, Ph.D., an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Basic Sciences Division.   The first appearance of new beings on Earth - the mystery of mysteries - is a great puzzle for scientists and philosophers alike.
Lightweight drinkers rejoice, it may be nature that keeps you from pounding shots like Indiana Jones squeeze Marion in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found a genetic 'switch' in fruit flies that plays an important role in making flies more tolerant to alcohol.  If you're reading this site, you will not that doesn't automatically translate to humans but a counterpart human gene contributes to a shift from metabolizing alcohol to the formation of fat in heavy drinkers. This shift can lead to fatty liver syndrome – a precursor to cirrhosis.
The human heart, a tireless organ that beats within our chests continuously for decades, continues to amaze me, in spite of my having studied it for several years now.  My continued amazement stems not from the fact that this muscle functions for so long, and for the most part without us being aware of it (although this is indeed phenomenal), but from the rich variety of behavior that it exhibits across multiple scales.