James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

January 12, 2011

PAG is Almost Here!

Filed under: Uncategorized — James @ 3:04 pm

If you’re going to be at PAG too and find yourself bored during the poster presentation sessions on Monday, I’m be standing next to P230 “Fractionation Of A Tetraploidy Preceding The Diversification Of The Grasses.” (Please forgive the two “estimated”‘s in the first sentence of the abstract.)

Sometimes people on the internet have a hard time believing that yes, I do study plants, but no, it has absolutely no direct connection to genetic engineering one way or the other. Hopefully this abstract makes it abundantly clear that my research is exactly that. Fascinating but without direct commercial implications. The main bearing my research has on genetic engineering is that, using comparative genomics, I have the chance to see for myself the really crazy stuff that “natural” plants have been doing to their own genomes for millions of years.

After starring at enough dying corpses of genes and weird frankenstein amalgamations of exons from multiple old genes (annotation errors? real biological innovation?) it’s even harder to understand the mindset that a single introduced gene will likely to throw the entire system out of whack (and do so without condemning the plant to that great waste bin of all failed evolutionary innovation: inability to thrive and reproduce.)

Anyway, talk about tangents! The point is: if you’re not going to PAG, I hope you have a great weekend, if you are, hope to see you there.


  1. Lets meet up, we can nerd out over each others poster. Let me know.

    Comment by Greg — January 12, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  2. I saw this and thought of you. Money quote:

    Some of the lists of mind control techniques are both amusing and horrifying when viewed in the context of academia and grad students:

    Peer Group Pressure – Suppressing doubt and resistance to new ideas by exploiting the need to belong.
    Confusing Doctrine – Encouraging blind acceptance through complex lectures on an incomprehensible doctrine.
    Verbal Abuse, Sleep Deprivation and fatigue – Creating disorientation and vulnerability by prolonging mental and physical activity and withholding adequate rest and sleep.
    Dress Codes – Removing individuality by demanding conformity to the group dress code.
    Financial Committment – Achieving increased dependence on the group
    Controlled Approval – Maintaining vulnerability and confusion by alternately rewarding and punishing similar actions.

    Yep. That lab coat you have to wear doesn’t seem so innocent now, does it?

    Comment by mr_subjunctive — February 9, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

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