Category Archives: Genetics

Researchers Pinpoint Protein at Heart of ALS Communication Breakdown

MRI of ALS patient. Image courtesy Frank Gaillard.

No cure exists for Lou Gehrig’s disease, a fatal neuromuscular illness affecting tens of thousands of Americans. But scientists may have found how a key protein helps drive its degenerative progress.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
UA, Barrow Researchers Explain ALS Key Protein Breakdown

The Prickly Business of Cactus Classification

Photo by J. Wallner, NPS.

Researchers have found a genetic pattern in the saguaro and its cousins that could explain why many cactus species resist simple classification.

Plants like the cactus are tricky. Distant relatives can look like twins or evolve similar traits, thanks to phenomena like parallel and convergent evolution, both of which entail species evolving the same traits independently of one another.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Saguaro Genome Shows Why Many Cactus Species Are Hard To Classify

A Peek Into the Mind of Man’s Best Friend

Humans have long fixated on which mental traits distinguish us from other animals. Now, University of Arizona researchers are asking what our canine companions can tell us about ourselves.

In this feature, I take you behind the scenes of this laboratory and introduce you to some of its remarkable minds, both two- and four-legged.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Arizona Scientists Study Dog Minds To Better Understand Our Own

Bark Scorpion Arose from Rare Genetic Event

Arizona bark scorpion glowing under ultraviolet light. Photo by Bryce Alexander.

More than 450 million years ago, the entire genetic instruction book of spiders’ and scorpions’ common ancestor doubled, according to a genomic comparison of the common house spider and the Arizona bark scorpion.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Rare Whole Genome Duplication Gave Rise To Arizona Bark Scorpion

Tobacco Leaves Could Provide Cheap, Scalable Way to Make Zika Vaccine

Tobacco leaves drying. Photo by MRaccine.

Tobacco might have finally found the image upgrade it’s been looking for, as scientists hope to use the plant to produce a safe and cheap Zika vaccine.

If successful in humans, the plant-based approach could provide an effective solution for countries affected by the disease.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Scientists Use Tobacco Plant As Cheap, Scalable Zika Vaccine Factory