Category Archives: genetics

Matthew reviews three books on gene editing

Here’s a nice tweet: My NYRB review of Doudna's CRISPR book (and others) now online. — Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 1, 2017 New York Review of Books pieces aren’t often free, so it’s nice that this one, which has Matthew reviewing three books on biotechnology and genetics (list below), is available gratis at the […]

My WaPo review of a new book on gene editing

I’ve reviewed the new book by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg, A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and The Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution; my piece is online at today’s Washington Post and will be on the first page of the “Outlook” section in the Sunday paper. The review is free to access, and is called “New […]

Biology question of the day

Here it is: Can kittens be identical twins? Now cat litters are usually bigger than two, but that doesn’t mean that identical twins or even triplets (which result from the splitting of a single fertilized egg) can’t occur. The only way to test this, of course, is not similarity in appearance–as with Jerry Coyne the […]

A new book on CRISPR, gene editing, and their ethical implications

Word on the street is that the book shown below, by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg, is very good (it’s out on June 13; click on screenshot to go to Amazon link). You may have heard of Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneers in using the new CRISPR technique to genetically edit cells—”genome editing”; […]

Terrible science reporting at the Guardian: woolly mammoth “on verge of resurrection”? I doubt it, and Matthew corrects it

George Church, a well known geneticist at Harvard, is renowned for his contributions to methods of sequencing DNA as well as of “bioengineering” DNA by changing it using the CRISPR technique, which he helped develop. CRISPR gives us the ability to precisely edit DNA, inserting individual nucleotides, bits of genes, or whole genes and groups of […]

Directional asymmetry: how does it develop and how did it evolve? Part 3. Artificial selection for handedness

In the first part of this series, I discussed examples of asymmetry—both directional asymmetry (right-versus left-handedness) and  anti-symmetry (differences between sides, but in a random direction)—and raised the problem of how directional asymmetry, like the enlarged left tusk of the male narwhal or the higher left ear of the barn owl, could evolve. In other words, […]

Alfred Sturtevant: a hero of genetics

Alfred Henry Sturtevant (1891-1970), one of the first Drosophila geneticists, is also one of my personal scientific heroes. As an undergraduate at Columbia, and a member of Thomas Hunt Morgan’s famed “fly room”, Sturtevant did a remarkable piece of research, showing that genes on chromosomes are not only arrayed in a linear order, but that, by […]

Merry Xmas from Oswald Avery – but what if he had died early?

by Matthew Cobb Here’s a picture of Oswald Avery (1877-1955), at an Xmas party in his Rockefeller Institute lab, in 1940. Avery – you may not have heard of him – was the man who discovered that genes are made of DNA, in a paper published in January 1944. Avery was proposed for the Nobel […]

Another journalist falls for the modern-evolutionary-theory-is-woefully-incomplete scam: says human agriculture is an epigenetic “adaptation”

Yet another journalist seems to have fallen for the epigenetics mavens: those revisionists who think that a form of Lamarckian inheritance can be important in evolution. These people claim that the environment itself directly changes the DNA, not by altering the sequences of bases, but by somehow placing methyl groups on some of the DNA […]

Glass gem corn

Speaking of hybridization, my friend Nicole L’Or Reggia sent me some ears she grew of what’s called “glass gem corn,” which are gorgeous. I had no idea this stuff existed, though of course I’d seen less variegated “Indian corn” that appears around Halloween. Here are 12 ears: all of them are small: up to about […]