Biotechwiz

News,Views & Insights on Biotechnology

Browsing Posts published in October, 2009

During one of my Expeditions on the internet, in search of some food for thought, I came across an article in the National Geographic on Mucilage.

AmoebaSounds strange, doesn’t it? That this unsavoury substance should take up the haloed space in a magazine such as NatGeo intrigued me. My curiosity did not disappoint me and I am sure those of you who share this trait with me will not be either. So, here goes. The article I was referring to deals with a rise in Marine Mucilage in the Adriatic Sea. This is an extension of the Mediterranean Sea, and it separates the Italian and Balkan peninsulas. Now, what is this Marine Mucilage? Like all problems this one too, starts out small. In the oceans and seas across the world, tiny aggregates of colloidal matter are known to form and have been given the rather poetic appellation of “Marine Snow”. These aggregates are mostly detritus that coalesce to form snowy particles and then settle down in a column of water.

Marine Mucilage in the Adriatic Sea

Marine Mucilage in the Adriatic Sea

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This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to three scientists who were instrumental in solving one of the enigmas of DNA replication, namely the problem of Replication of the entire Chromosome and prevention of degradation. The Nobel committee at Karolinska Institutet decided to jointly award the 2009 Nobel prize to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak for their Discovery of “how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase1

Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn
Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn

Now, what are these Telomeres? They are nothing but the special cap like structures at the ends of our tightly packed chromosomes. Elizabeth B. And Jack S. Discovered that special sequences in these telomeres prevented the degradation of chromosomes while they were being replicated. It followed very logically then, that if there are telomeres then there must be definitely some enzyme responsible for their synthesis. Working on this premise, Elizabeth B. and Carol G went to identify the unique enzyme, Telomerase.

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