Saturday, 18 October 2008

News Round

"No one has ever observed evolution in action" claim the creationists.  Scientists meanwhile spend their time trying to understand how it happens and trying to save lives as a result.
Hospital bacteria such as MRSA becoming resistant to disinfectants

Hospital bacteria which survive attacks by disinfectants and antiseptics are becoming ultra-resistant superbugs which cannot be killed, scientists have warned.

. . .

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Antibiotic resistance is a global public health issue and we all have a part to play in keeping our antibiotics effective.
"Bacteria will always try to find ways to survive by evolving and developing resistance to antibiotics so we must stay ahead of the game.

From the Telegraph.
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Mysterious Snippets Of DNA Withstand Eons Of Evolution

Small stretches of seemingly useless DNA harbor a big secret, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. There's one problem: We don't know what it is. Although individual laboratory animals appear to live happily when these genetic ciphers are deleted, these snippets have been highly conserved throughout evolution.

"The true function of these regions remains a mystery, but it's clear that the genome really does need and use them," said Gill Bejerano, PhD, assistant professor of developmental biology and of computer science. In fact, these so-called "ultraconserved" regions are about 300 times less likely than other regions of the genome to be lost during mammalian evolution, according to research from Bejerano and graduate student Cory McLean.

Although some of the ultraconserved regions, which were first identified by Bejerano in 2004, are involved in the regulation of the expression of neighboring genes, previous research has shown that mice missing each of four regions seem perfectly normal.

"It's very surprising that none of the four has any observable phenotype," said Bejerano. "In some ways it just doesn't make sense."

This lack of effect is usually taken as a strong argument against an important functional role for the missing segments of DNA - either because they don't do much or because other bits of DNA serve as understudies when the primary actors are missing. But in this most recent study, evolution roars over the squeak of the seemingly contented mice.

"When we tried to determine whether similar deletions occur in the wild," said Bejerano, "we found that this is almost never seen in nature."

From ScienceDaily.

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