Showing posts with the label DNA

Why viruses are not in our good books?

For all their amazing abilities of being able to survive outside their host, replicate in large numbers and still not be called 'living', viruses have failed to get some positive reviews for themselves. This is likely to be because the term virus is associated with some of the most scariest diseases in human history. Influenza, AIDS, SARS and the recent spread of Ebola, all have their roots in the term 'virus'. Yet, today, we will not dwell on how bad viruses are or the havoc they can cause. This post is more about how intelligent can viruses be!  Microplitis infecting its host worm. Source: Although most viruses are associated with harmful diseases that are caused as a result of infection, there is also a large family of viruses who have a friendly association with their hosts. Called Polydnaviruses , these viruses have long been known to exist, mutually, with their hosts, the parasitoid wasps (which rely on smaller insects su

Cell: “I’m not ruled by my genes”

One often comes across the phrase “It’s in my genes” in our day-to-day life. Less than a century after their discovery, the words 'DNA' and 'genes' are commonly used by all and are also a common topic of speculation in the academic as well as the non-academic world. Some scientists believe that "the living body/cell is just a mere vehicle produced and used by the genome to carry on information ahead in time generation after generation”. Readers with a biology background are aware of the “Central Dogma of Molecular Biology”; for others let me just brief it. It proposes that DNA in genes produces RNA which in turn produces proteins that give a phenotype to  an individual. It also states that the transfer of information is unidirectional  (DNA to cell ) and not the other way round. This is considered to be the basis of molecular biology. I would like to discuss a few implications of crediting DNA /genes with life in a cell.   Is Inheritance a property of just the DNA?

Eating - from casual to compulsive

What scientists call "Overweight" changes with our knowledge of human health (Photo credit: Wikipedia) In a world where we are battling addiction of some sort or the other, food is another item that has made the list. With the rising number of obese people around, scientists are looking for answer to questions that come up with eating , and one question that has made it to the fore is; when does the habit of eating move from being casual to compulsive.  To answer this question scientists had to dig deeper and look at the relationship that food has with not only our body, but also with our brain. What they found was nothing short of astonishing. Eating, it seems, is not very different from addiction to drugs. Our brain has opioid receptors that are receptive to opiates (substances such as heroin, morphine etc.) These molecules play an important role in motivation, emotional attachment, satisfaction etc. Our body produces similar proteins as well, which are know