on the way to UConn

I am on the way to University of Connecticut for invited seminar. I am going to talk about chromodomains in plant retrotransposons and how we can use these tiny sequences in out attempts to figure out evolutionary history of plant genomes.

Plant chromodomains

I was working in this area for a few years now and have published  four papers :} Two pet-projects are on there way, but now I am very slow since my primary projects have nothing to do with neither plants or retrotransposons. Oh, well… I will come back to you guys [waiving to the mosses and ferns] one day! I will…

Workshop: the DNA Reactions and DNA/Chromosome Dynamics

I am going to go to the DNA Reactions and DNA/Chromosome Dynamics Workshop tomorrow (Woods Hole, MA). Whole Labor Day weekend was spent for poster preparation. I am more or less satisfied by the result. However, on Tuesday I have had two variants: (i) in color; (ii) in red-black-grey colors. Whole group voted for colorful variant, but my heart (brain, liver and kidney) with the second one.

I think red-black-grey variant was aesthetically superior.

Anyway, colorful poster is printed and folded. Ready to go!

(i) colorful variant

(ii) red-black-grey variant


Terrarium with three mushrooms

This is very temporary terrarium. It has three small mushrooms. I do not think they will live long, maybe other couple days. I plan to put something different as substitution, more permanent :]

Terrarium – 3 Small Mushrooms :]

The Flora Universalis: Proof-Prints Study

Some of the scans from possible proof-prints of The Flora Universalis to support my point that they are indeed pre-pocessed botanical prints ‘in work’. I wish I could see the finals, but because the work is very rare I could not find any of my prints as final version.

Ficinia contexta whole [almost] print with drawings and legends. [The size of the prints is not standard, they are larger than A4 and Letter – that is why the bottom is cut off]

Hand writing with pencil and small additional drawings appear on quite a few of the prints. Another example:

Fragment from Fuirena coerulescens print. The picture drawn with pencil and hand colored plus hand writing are very remarkable on this piece.

Many of the prints are only partially colored which most probably indicates color study.

Passiflora print only half colored – probably color study.

Mission accomplished

The good news! One of my papers was accepted for publication in Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is one of the best journals publishing evolutionary biology research. To be honest, this paper suck too much blood from me that I do not want even celebrate the positive final of the [never-ending] struggle.

The paper entitled: Vertical evolution and horizontal transfer of CR1 non- LTR retrotransposons and Tc1/mariner DNA transposons in Lepidoptera species.

In a few words, there are two forms of inheritance  – vertical, from parents to children, and horizontal – between non-related organisms.  The vertical inheritance is somewhat familiar to everybody, we all have features we got either from paternal or maternal lineages. The most obvious could be the color of hair and eyes, inherited disorders, etc. The horizontal inheritance is very common among bacteria. For example, the resistance to the certain antibiotics can be acquired from non-related bacterial cells or even from different bacterial species co-existing in habitat. The horizontal inheritance among bacteria is possible thanks to the existence of the special circular DNA ‘chromosomes’ [called mobile elements; mobile  plasmids; etc.] which can travel from one cell to another. These mobile plasmids carry special genes which make bacteria-recipient resistant to the particular antibiotic. BTW, these features are very widely utilized in modern molecular biology, [bio]medical engineering, and biotechnology. The horizontal inheritance was unknown for eukaryotes (non-bacterial species, including human) till about 25 years ago. However only in post-genomic era of biology, when we gain the access to the enormous amount of genetic information, we were able to detect numerous cases of horizontal transfer of genes between various eukaryotic  species/groups.

In my research I tried to address one of the key problems in ‘horizontal inheritance among eukaryotes’ – possible mechanisms involved in the process. The  major problem is that we and other eukaryotes do not have any special highly-tuned systems for horizontal transfer of genes, which means – all reported cases of horizontal transfer were spontaneous and, most probably, did not utilize any universal ‘schemes’. One of the possible mechanisms could involve package of the random DNA into virus particle and subsequent transfer between species. In this paper we explore a little bit more complicated potential pathway for the horizontal transfer between butterflies from the genus Maculinea and moths from the genus Bombyx.

I think my next post will be about Large Blue Maculinea butterflies…

Maculinea arion or Large Blue butterfly completely extinct in the UK in 1979. After 25-year effort to restore this amazing butterfly in UK, researches finally announced triumph in 2009. Meticulous research showed that the extinction was caused by a subtle change in habitat that disrupted the unusual life cycle of this spectacular butterfly. Previously, the extinction had been attributed to the work of overzealous collectors.