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Abstract Transposable elements have been shaping the genome throughout evolution, contributing to the creation of new genes and sophisticated regulatory network systems. Today, most of genomes (animals and plants) allow the expression and accommodate transposition of a few transposon families. The potential genetic impact of this small fraction of mobile elements should not be underestimated. Although new insertions that happen in germ cells are likely to be passed to the next generation, mobilization in pluripotent embryonic stem cells or in somatic cells may contribute to the differences observed in genetic makeup and epigenetic gene regulation during development at the cellular level. The fact that these elements are still active, generating innovative ways to alter gene expression and genomic structure, suggests that the cellular genome is not static or deterministic but rather dynamic.
I imagine convergent evolution would lead aliens to have certain familiar traits, like eyes (of a kind), some type of limbs, digits, tentacles or tendrils to manipulate their environment, a respiratory system and correlating orifice/s and digestive system and correlating orifice/s. But we may in all possibility discover a sentient, technologically advanced alien race that has more in common with octopi than us or maybe intelligent squash vines or fungi or a shape shifting bacterial super colony with a collective consciousness. 8/15/12 1:02pm <p style="text-align:right;color:#A8A8A8"></p>
Increasingly, evidence shows that our children and even grandchildren can inherit non-genetic elements — stuff that’s not our DNA, but rather changes in the way our DNA can be expressed. And as it turns out, feast or famine can affect the fatness of future generations. I have a simple Biology 101 question: How are biological traits passed down from one generation to the next? Pretty easy, right? If you said “genetics” then you’re only half right.
Fifty-nine years after James Watson and Francis Crick deduced the double-helix structure of DNA, a scientist has captured the first direct photograph of the twisted ladder that props up life. Enzo Di Fabrizio, a physics professor at Magna Graecia University in Catanzaro, Italy, snapped the picture using an electron microscope. Previously, scientists had only seen DNA's structure indirectly. The double-corkscrew form was first discovered using a technique called X-ray crystallography, in which a material's shape is reconstructed based on how X-rays bounce after they collide with it. But Di Fabrizio and his colleagues developed a plan to bring DNA out of hiding. They built a nanoscopic landscape of extremely water-repellant silicon pillars.
July 19, 2012 A mammoth effort has produced a complete computational model of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium , opening the door for biological computer-aided design. By Max McClure The Covert Lab incorporated more than 1,900 experimentally observed parameters into their model of the tiny parasite Mycoplasma genitalium. (Illustration: Erik Jacobsen / Covert Lab)
"BIRD brain" is usually an insult, but that may have to change. A light-activated compass at the back of some birds' eyes may preserve electrons in delicate quantum states for longer than the best artificial systems. Migrating birds navigate by sensing Earth's magnetic field, but the exact mechanisms at work are unclear. Pigeons are thought to rely on bits of magnetite in their beaks. Others, like the European robin (pictured), may rely on light-triggered chemical changes that depend on the bird's orientation relative to Earth's magnetic field. A process called the radical pair (RP) mechanism is believed to be behind the latter method.
Robins can literally see magnetic fields, but only if their vision is sharp | Not Exactly Rocket ScienceSome birds can sense the Earth’s magnetic field and orientate themselves with the ease of a compass needle. This ability is a massive boon for migrating birds, keeping frequent flyers on the straight and narrow. But this incredible sense is closely tied to a more mundane one – vision.
Imagine a welfare mother denied custody of her children because her DNA points to her not being their mom. Or another mother who cannot get a kidney transplant from her son because they do not share enough DNA. Strange stories like these are becoming increasingly common in this new age of DNA testing. In both cases, the moms really were the moms. They each are just made up of two different sets of cells with different DNA—they are chimeras.