Friday, November 12, 2010

Okazaki fragments

Sorry I've been remiss in posting for a while. I've been busy with my new job, teaching biology. This post isn't about fungi or Alabama, but about what I perceive to be an injustice of sorts. The textbook I'm using makes a big deal about highlighting scientists and their famous experiments; Mendel, Darwin, Watson and Crick (and Rosalind Franklin, of course), Hershey and Chase, Meselson and Stahl, but they just mentioned Okazaki fragments, and glossed over the fact that they were named for the scientist (sic) who discovered them. Okazaki fragments are the short, punctuated stretches of DNA that are produced on the lagging strand when the molecule is being copied.

My curiosity piqued by this oversight, I decided to find out who Okazaki is or was. As it turns out, Okazaki is and was. The eponymous fragments were discovered by a husband and wife team, Reiji and Tsuneko Okazaki, in 1968. Reiji died from leukemia in 1975. He was a native of Hiroshima, and survived the immediate effects of the bombing that ended the Second World War. Tsuneko, as far as my research can tell, survives still, and is a prominent figure in the promotion of science in Japan.

They were able to discover the key to the mystery of the lagging strand by using a chased pulse technique, feeding E. coli irradiated nucleotides followed by non-irradiated nucleotides.

Sorry for using this space as a bully pulpit to vent my impotent rage and righteous indignation, but at least you know I still have plenty to say.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Alabama fungus news!

Probably my favorite Alabama brewery, Good People Brewing Company, has announced they are brewing a batch of IPA using a different type of yeast, Brettanomyces. This yeast (which I admit I'd never heard of before) is a bit different from good ol' Saccharomyces cerevisiae, in that it has been frequently construed as a contaminant, but is used in some instances for brewing as it produced different sensory compounds. We'll see how it turns out!