Field of Science

Blogging Ban (exam ahead...)

I've been placed by someone on a blogging ban until Thu evening. Thus, I must blog it. Delicious ironing is delicious. But just fyi, there'll be a 2 day posting blackout. Tragic, I know. To help soothe the traumatising shock, a random piece of weird research before I 'take off':

Dominance, Politics, and Physiology: Voters' Testosterone Changes on the Night of the 2008 United States Presidential Election
(PLoS ONE 2009; open access)

Oh, speaking of which, yay Open Access Week!

Ummm...and here's a random amoeba of sorts:

Ok, I'm outta here. Feel free to drop off hints about how to learn and understand information cram for a biochem midterm. That's 50% of your final grade, and 100% memorisation. Of medical material. In a supposively 'general' biol course. Stuffed full of "[blank] kinase kinase" (via MolBio Res. Highlights). I'm so excited!

[random literature foray]
I was about to type "why the fuck should I ever care about the urea cycle if I don't ever intend to work on animals!?". Then I did a quick google search. HOLY SHIT plants do the urea cycle too, although more of it seems to happen in the mitochondrion. Diatoms have the complete thing, even though they don't really need to export nitrogen waste (this implying it has other metabolic functions). And holy crap, Plasmodium seems to perhaps be capable of it too. Apparently, Trypanosomes seem to lack it in complete form, as well as Tetrahymena(although it has the components). Among bacteria, Helicobacter(epsilon-proteobacteria) does urea, as do actinomycetes and a planctomycete relative; they seem to use it for carbonic acid synthesis.

It seems the process is actually universal to life; however, this doesn't rule out a transfer of the pathway to eukaryotes from the alpha-proteobacterium-derived mitochondrion. While mapping out a [very hypothetical] metabolic map of the proto-mitochondrion based on comparisons with alpha-proteobacterial genes, these guys found an absense of the urea cycle, implying it may have been derived from the host eukaryote or something else; however, the evidence doesn't seem to be too overwhelming. Perhaps when a host-->mitochondrial transport system evolved, some eukaryotic versions could have 'ousted' the bacterial ones, somehow. Or maybe the mitochondrial system outcompeted the native eukaryotic system, or the eukaryotic version simply degraded first, or partially degraded first (parts of the pathway still happen in the cytosol in many eukaryotes, it seems).
[/random literature foray]

Anyway, I should probably get back to mindless cramming. No one really gives you marks for randomly prowling the literature around midnight, even if it does make the subject much more exciting and memorable. In the process of briefly and very shallowly digging around here, I sort of figured out the pathway (because I had to), learned random cool shit about the diversity of this pathway and bits and pieces about its evolution (diversity and evolution are two things that all biologists should get aroused by, no?), and made myself a mini-index of potentially useful references in the preceding paragraphs. And made this seem relevant for myself, even for a little while - which stimulates the memory and allows for a modicum of comprehension of the material!

You know, the modern university hasn't gone very far from its monastic origins... we still must sit there in rudimentary conditions (poverty and hunger) memorising sacred scriptures and recanting verses in a foreign (and still latinate!) language...

Meanwhile, this needs to be resolved by you guys. I await in suspense. Feel free to ask questions, etc.


  1. I totally and utterly feel your pain! Exams last year were a nightmare, so much stuff to fit into my head, and most of it about eukaryotes :( Didn't seem to matter to anyone that I could actually *work* in a lab, or did well in a lab, or did awesomly well on my project, or even that I really like my area of science. All down to how much random crap I could scribble down in three hours.

    And yes, I am bitter. Thank goodness this year my project counts for more and I actually have a chance of getting a decent mark.



  2. Thank you! ^_^

    I'm quite bitter about it too (some readers can probably testify...)

    Try becoming obsessed with one of the most marginalised areas of biology, while the program itself focuses on training pre-meds. And for dessert, having a side interest in language/cultural evolution...

    A non-medical interest in prokaryotes is also quite marginalised, here anyway.

    I mean, I'm memorising the insulin pathway right now... yay IRS! Yay PIP3! W00t!


    Because a future supervisor will suddenly walk by and threaten to fire me unless I can instantly recall what RAF does, on the spot. Yup. /rant

    Ok...must...leave...the internet...

  3. Reaction to exam:


    More about it later... I have an epic EPIC rant in store...

    PS: Fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds fuck pre-meds...


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