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Latest Antonis Rokas Stories

Untangling The Branches Of The Tree Of Life
2013-05-15 10:33:57

Vanderbilt University These days, phylogeneticists — experts who painstakingly map the complex branches of the tree of life — suffer from an embarrassment of riches. The genomics revolution has given them mountains of DNA data that they can sift through to reconstruct the evolutionary history that connects all living beings. But the unprecedented quantity has also caused a serious problem: The trees produced by a number of well-supported studies have come to contradictory...

2011-02-07 13:43:39

Since the days of Darwin, the "tree of life" has been the preeminent metaphor for the process of evolution, reflecting the gradual branching and changing of individual species. The discovery that a large cluster of genes appears to have jumped directly from one species of fungus to another, however, significantly strengthens the argument that a different metaphor, such as a mosaic, may be more appropriate. "The fungi are telling us something important about evolution "¦ something we...

2010-02-17 14:07:53

The unexpected discovery of a new type of genetic variation suggests that natural selection "“ the force that drives evolution "“ is both more powerful and more complex than scientists have thought. "We have discovered that natural selection can act not only on whole organisms and individual genes, but also on gene networks," says Antonis Rokas, assistant professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University and senior author of the paper reporting the discovery that was...

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2005-12-23 00:35:00

MADISON -- The animal kingdom's family tree is beginning to look a little bushy. Two decades ago, with the advent of methods to look at the family relationships of different organisms by analyzing DNA, scientists envisioned it would only be a matter of time before the various family trees for plants, animals, fungi and their kin would be resolved with genetic precision. And while molecular methods have had enormous success in ordering some branches in the tree of life -- mammals, for...


Word of the Day
attercop
  • A spider.
  • Figuratively, a peevish, testy, ill-natured person.
'Attercop' comes from the Old English 'atorcoppe,' where 'atter' means 'poison, venom' and‎ 'cop' means 'spider.' 'Coppa' is a derivative of 'cop,' top, summit, round head, or 'copp,' cup, vessel, which refers to 'the supposed venomous properties of spiders,' says the OED. 'Copp' is still found in the word 'cobweb.'
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