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Sex, Genes & Evolution



I'm a molecular evolutionary biologist and a Biology Professor at The University of Iowa. My research is on the evolution of genes, particularly those involved in the most important process in all life: SEX!



Updated: 2017-11-17T00:34:42.761-06:00

 



The Lure of the Obscure? Guest Post by Frank Stahl

2012-06-05T14:18:29.161-05:00

Image from Hochwagen LabThis proposal was shouted out as “…one of the most important papers on the control of meiotic crossing over…” (Hawley 2006). Since then, “homeostasis” has been offered as the explanation for a variety of observations that demonstrate a degree of independence of crossover frequency (and sometimes crossover interference) from the frequency of double-strand breaks. As in the original yeast work, none of these papers questions whether “homeostasis” has anything to recommend it as an explanation because none has addressed the mundane possibility that crossover constancy reflects merely the normal operation of the system, rather than a reaction to a perceived aberration. Without trying to explore the universe of alternate explanations for “homeostasis” in this Blog, we offer just one simple one, based on the view that the crossover/noncrossover “decision” is made “early”, either before or at the onset of the period of double-strand-breaks (Storlazzi et al. 1996): In this none-too-original model, the first double-strand break to occur on a chromosome is immediately assigned to the pathway that leads to crossing over, accounting for both the “obligate crossover” (Jones and Franklin 2006) and the preservation of crossing over. Additional double-strand-breaks are directed to become crossovers when they meet the conditions imposed by crossover interference. [It appears notable that Drosophila, which clearly lacks an “obligate crossover”, has also shown no evidence of “homeostasis” (Stahl 2008).]This blogger would like to be informed of any “homeostasis” data for which such a nonhomeostatic explanation fails.  LITERATURE  CITEDChen, S. Y., T. Tsubouchi, B. Rockmill, J. S. Sandler, D. R. Richards et al., 2008  Global analysis of the meiotic crossover landscape. Dev. Cell 15: 401–415.Hawley, R. S., 2006  "This is one of the most important papers on the control of meiotic crossing over..." Evaluation of: [Martini  et al., 2006  Crossover homeostasis in yeast meiosis. Cell 126: 285-295; doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.05.044]. Faculty of 1000, 14 Aug 2006. F1000.com/1033723#eval387934Henderson, K. A., and S. Keeney, 2004  Tying synaptonemal complex initiation to the formation and programmed repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 4519–4524.Jones, G. H., and F. C. Franklin, 2006 Meiotic crossing-over: obligation and interference. Cell 126: 246–248.Martini, E., R. L. Diaz, N. Hunter and S. Keeney, 2006  Crossover homeostasis in yeast meiosis. Cell 126: 285-295.Martini, E., V. Borde, M. Legendre, S. Audic, B. Regnault et al., 2011  Genome-wide analysis of heteroduplex DNA in mismatch repair-deficient yeast cells reveals novel properties of meiotic recombination pathways. PLoS Genet. 7: e1002305.Mehrotra, S. and K. S. McKim, 2006  Temporal analysis of meiotic DNA double-strand break formation and repair in Drosophila females. PLoS Genetics 2: 1883-1897.Stahl, F. W., 2008  Countdown with Mehrotra and McKim. Online comment on Mehrotra and McKim (2006) 2(11): e200 doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020200.Storlazzi, A., L. Xu, A. Schwacha and N. Kleckner, 1996 Synaptonemal complex (SC) component Zip1 plays a role in meiotic recombination independent of SC polymerization along the chromosomes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93: 9043–9048.Franklin W. StahlMolecular Biology1229 Univ. of OregonEugene, OR  97403-1229 [...]



My blog is back from the dead (sort of)

2012-06-05T13:42:50.366-05:00

Greetings from New London, New Hampshire, where I am attending the Meiosis Gordon Research Conference this week. As such, it seems timely and appropriate to host a guest post on my (very dusty!) blog from Frank Stahl (pictured left). Frank contacted me recently to guest-post a short piece he wrote on crossover homeostasis. Enjoy!
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Funny advert placement

2010-01-26T17:46:52.658-06:00

(image) I'm sorry to my more serious readers, but I just could not resist when I saw this. The ad placement next to a story about our work on sexual versus asexual reproduction is priceless. The full story appears here on the UPI site. The paper is here on the Molecular Biology and Evolution site.(image)



People, Content & Technology @ ScienceOnline2010

2010-01-19T09:40:42.873-06:00

I am a very frequent attendee and eager participant at scientific conferences: I have logged ~100 in my ~20 years in science. To me, meetings are easily one of the top five things that make being a scientist so much fun. Exchanging ideas (new & old), meeting people (new & old friends), showing off your work (usually new, but sometimes, old), having a good time (which never gets old!)....these reasons are all part of the experience. But sometimes meetings just get you fired up about something(s) and you leave with a fire lit under you. This was one of those for me. And although I knew that I would enjoy myself at Science Online 2010 (aka #scio10) and meet at least some of the criteria above, I was not prepared to leave with my rear side roasting with so many ideas and so much inspiration.The jazz I got from #scio10 comes from three intertwined categories:People. Meeting and interacting with people is my favorite conference activity. It's especially great when I first meet someone in person whose work I have followed. This is true for science meetings, but it worked on a wholly different scale for me at #scio10: of the 200+ attendees, I had previously met no more than 10 in person. However, I knew at least 50 more from their online work—mostly science bloggers. Come to think of it, that's probably alot like what happens at a graduate student's first scientific meeting, and I am reveling in that re-found sense of discovering a community that fits. And then there are the people that I met for the first time who I knew nothing about in advance. There are always new people to meet, especially when attending conferences for the first time. But I was stunned by the fraction of people I met who fell in the category of "why did I not know you before?". I can just hope that some of those folks had the same reaction to meeting me!The intersection of people and content was probably the most amazing thing about this meeting. I have never seen such a meritocracy. Sure, science is based on merit, but there is a real ladder to climb and sometimes a glass ceiling to break. The participants at this meeting ranged from a 9th-grader who writes science computer games to internationally known science journalists (and a HUGE range in between). Many (probably most) of the presenters were self-made experts in newly emerging areas, some in the process of earning PhDs etc., and some that don't need to play in the academic world. Even in the currently-difficult times for both science and journalism (and many other things), there was a clear sense of "Yes we can!" that permeated #scio10 .Content. The meeting couldn't have started out on a more content-relevant note for me: the first session I attended was "From Blog to Book: Using Blogs and Social Networks to Develop Your Professional Writing"As I am now digging into my sabbatical book project, this session jolted me to attention. The advice of Tom Levenson, Brian Switek and Rebecca Skloot was just what I needed. I must decide very soon whether to pursue the academic publisher route or to try the trade route taken by authors of most successful popular science books. Next on my schedule was "Rebooting Science Journalism in the Age of the Web" in which a panel discussed the sometimes uneasy ecosystem of blogs and more traditional media outlets. The somewhat controversial press-release site, Futurity, created some heat (and maybe some light), but the memorable lesson by Carl Zimmer about his reporting on the twisted biology of duck penises generated the most virulent meme of the whole meeting. In the third morning slot I joined the "Scientific Visualization" session in which Tara Richardson (@science_goddess) regaled us with the latest cool tools and facilitated some interesting discussion on this under-appreciated (and thus, under-developed) aspect of science communication.On Saturday afternoon, I attended the helpful session "Scientists! What can your librarian do for you?"which reminded me that I can almost c[...]



Nasonia genomes published

2010-01-15T14:45:47.084-06:00

(image) I thought that I would devote my 2010 inaugural post to a report of three Nasonia genomes that appears in todays' Science. The genome paper is accompanied by a really interesting News Focus that appears in the same issue of Science.

A small group in my lab (Andrew Schurko, Danielle Mazur and me) contributed some analyses of the meiotic genes in the Nasonia vitripennis genome. Unfortunately, due to space considerations, our work fell on the cutting room floor for the Science paper. However, we do have a complete report of our findings that is in press at Insect Molecular Biology.

UPDATE: The Nasonia genome special issue of Insect Molecular Biology is now available online. Our paper, "Inventory and phylogenomic distribution of meiotic genes in Nasonia vitripennis and among diverse arthropods" is here.

(photo is copyright John H. Werren, 1980)
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New and tasty header

2009-11-16T13:03:01.901-06:00

(image) Ever since moving to my new blog home, here at Field of Science, I have been looking for some appropriate and interesting image(s) for my header. Not being much a visual artist myself, I spent some time last week perusing various open source image galleries for inspiration and free graphics. Given the various keywords that you might imagine, I quickly gave up on that strategy hoping that the internet big brothers weren't watching too closely...

But as luck would have it, my colleague Maurine Neiman (who also works on the evolution of sex) suggested the image that now graces my header. Thanks, Maurine!

Cellular Mitosis (krispy kreme), (2005) is the work of the artist and photographer, Kevin Van Aelst. Kevin describes his work:

"My color photographs consist of common artifacts and scenes from everyday life, which have been rearranged, assembled, and constructed into various forms, patterns, and illustrations. The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life—the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existence. While the depictions of information--such as an EKG, fingerprint, map or anatomical model--are unconventional, the truth and accuracy to the illustrations are just as valid as more traditional depictions. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas."
Some of you might recall Kevin's work above called Chromosomes (2005). I remembered seeing this clever piece which recently made its way around the scientific blogs. So after visiting Kevin's website and enjoying all of the interesting work, I decided to write him to seek permission for using the mitosis image for my header—which he granted right away (thanks, Kevin!). Although I suggested that he do a similar series for meiosis (which is much more interesting than mitosis!), he told me that he is currently not able to work on such a project. I assume that means that he is doing very well with many other projects; the evidence from his website is consistent with that interpretation.(image)



Mary Roach orates on orgasms

2009-11-10T18:13:18.930-06:00

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff, Spook, and most recently—and very relevant to me—Bonk . She gave a very entertaining TED talk on "Ten things you didn't know about orgasm". It's both funny and informative. I read Bonk last summer (?) and while I enjoyed much of it, I also had some mixed feelings. Perhaps I'll put together a review sometime. In the meantime, enjoy... Thanks to Pleiotropy for the lead. [...]



SG&E has joined Field of Science (FoS)

2009-11-09T21:43:26.068-06:00

(image) Just when I thought that I would leisurely make my way back into blogging...

Over the weekend I got an invitation from Edward, the editor and proprietor of Field of Science, to join his stable of blogs. I was already a follower of Steven Salzberg's blog Genomics, Evolution and Pseudoscience which had recently moved to FoS. So I shot Steven an email to seek his advice, and on his hearty recommendation, I joined with little hesitation.

Now after little more than a day, I'm here with a brand spankin' new look and feel to my blog. I hope that you will enjoy it. Thanks, Edward!
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On sabbatical at NESCent!

2009-11-07T13:54:09.581-06:00

(image) After many months of blogging hiatus, I am planning to get back in the groove over the next few months. Starting this week, I am a sabbatical scholar at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina. I'll be here through July, 2010. My major project will be to write a semi-popular book on the origin and evolution of sex. This will also be a great opportunity for me to recharge my batteries and to tie up some loose ends that have been accumulating.

I plan to use this blog venue to sketch some ideas that might end up in my book, so I hope that I'll be able to re-gain (or perhaps newly gain) your attention and comments! Stay tuned...

P.S. I'm twittering @johnlogsdon
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GBE: Genome Biology and Evolution

2009-05-05T18:38:00.908-05:00

(image) Just a short note to promote the fact that the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) has launched a new journal, Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE). The founding Editor is Takashi Gojobori and the Editor-in-chief is William (Bill) Martin, who was the previous Editor of the main SMBE journal, Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE).

According to the GBE website:
"Genome Biology and Evolution publishes evolutionary advances at the forefront of genomics. Papers considered for publication report novel findings in the field of evolutionary biology that concern natural genome diversity, population genomics, the structure, function, organisation and expression of genomes, comparative genomics, proteomics, and environmental genomic interactions. Major evolutionary insights from the fields of computational biology, structural biology, developmental biology, and cell biology are also considered, as are theoretical advances in the field of genome evolution."

It is an on-line only, Open Access journal published for SMBE by Oxford Journals (who also publish MBE). See here for more information. Congratulations and good luck to Bill, Takashi and the Editorial Board! I had better read the instructions to authors and then get busy preparing my first submission (of what will likely be many).

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Nature's 15 Evolutionary Gems

2009-01-04T15:37:46.006-06:00

(image) This week's issue of Nature (1 Jan 2009) includes a 17-page article by Nature editors Gee, Howlett & Campbell entitled "15 Evolutionary Gems". It's a tidy summary of key articles published in Nature in the past decade that each provide clear evidence for evolution. The summary article (and apparently all of the primary articles) are "free to download and disseminate, and each is accompanied by a brief editorial introduction to its context and significance". The article is featured in Nature's special website Darwin 200.

The summary article starts...
"Most biologists take for granted the idea that all life evolved by natural selection over billions of years. They get on with researching and teaching in disciplines that rest squarely on that foundation, secure in the knowledge that natural selection is a fact, in the same way that the Earth orbits the Sun is a fact.

Given that the concepts and realities of Darwinian evolution are still challenged, albeit rarely by biologists, a succinct briefing on why evolution by natural selection is an empirically validated principle is useful for people to have to hand. We offer here 15 examples published by Nature over the past decade or so to illustrate the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking. We are happy to offer this resource freely and encourage its free dissemination."
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Obama: Science and Facts are Valued

2008-12-16T09:43:08.338-06:00

(image) I don't know much about Steven Chu yet, but I am pleased that Barack Obama has selected a real scientist for his cabinet.

I heard the following quote from Obama twice on my home from work yesterday and again this morning:
"His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science, we will make decisions based on the facts..."
I cheered out loud! The full text of Obama's announcement can be found here. (Photo from Change.gov)(image)



SMBE 2009 - Call for Symposia

2008-12-14T20:20:29.051-06:00

(image) Earlier this week, I posted a formal announcement on EvolDir that the organizers of SMBE 2009 are now accepting proposals for contributed scientific symposia. The proposals are due on January 12, 2009. See the meeting webpage (http://smbe2009.org) for more details.

I hope to get back to blogging soon!(image)



I voted for Obama this morning

2008-11-04T09:42:38.204-06:00

(image) I like to vote on Election Day, and I sucessfully resisted the considerable urge for Early Voting this year. Since I was anticipating a wait at the polls, I got up a bit early this morning. I arrived with my 11-year old son, Evan, at the polling place for Coralville 6 (Wickham Elementary, his school) at ~7:40am. Evan went over to the Kid's Voting booth and voted while I initially got in the wrong line (no coffee yet)... After waiting in line for a few minutes, I realized that I needed to sign-in. So I did that and returned to the line to pick up my ballot. The line was ~20 people long and was moving briskly. There were ~15 voting carrels on one side of the gymnasium (the same gym that was jam-packed with Democrats on Caucus night).

The ballot was a two-sided legal-sized document with bubbles to fill in. As it turns out, I could have just bubbled-in the Democratic strait ticket. But it was a lot more fun to fill in the bubbles separately for Obama/Biden, Harkin, Loebsack and few others. I showed Evan my vote for Obama and he approved. We then together fed the ballot into the reader and each picked up "I VOTED" pins. All together it took about 15 minutes.

I am looking forward to a new start for this country!(image)



Dodos: Free in Iowa City!

2008-09-21T20:55:23.476-05:00

(image) Tomorrow (Monday, Sept. 22) in Iowa City I will be co-hosting a free public screening of "A Flock of Dodos" in Biology Building East (BBE) 101 at 7:00pm. This event is part of Scienceblogs 10^6 comment festival, via our two Iowa City-based ScienceBlog-ers, Tara Smith (Aetiology) and Evil Monkey (Neurotopia). It is also associated with the Evolution undergraduate course (Biology, 002:131) that I teach with Bryant McAllister (can you say "extra credit"?)

According to Wikipedia:
"The film attempts to determine who the real "dodos" are in a constantly evolving world: the scientists who are failing to promote evolution as a scientifically accepted fact, the intelligent design advocates, or the American public who get fooled by the "salesmanship" of evolution critics. While Randy Olson ultimately sides with the scientists who accept evolution, he gives equal air time to both sides of the argument..."
Thanks to the filmaker Randy Olson for allowing us to screen this film for the public! I'm looking forward to it, since I have not seen it yet.(image)



Publishing by Press Release: PNAS Lags Again

2008-09-01T17:29:03.067-05:00

Here we go again... I got an email message on Tuesday (August 26th) from the NSF announcing the publication of an apparently interesting and provocative new paper by Song et al. The message linked to a press-release from NSF (dated August 25th) entitled "DNA Barcodes: Are They Always Accurate?"According to the NSF Press Release: "DNA barcoding is a movement to catalog all life on earth by a simple standardized genetic tag, similar to stores labeling products with unique barcodes. The effort promises foolproof food inspection, improved border security and better defenses against disease-causing insects, among many other applications.But the approach as currently practiced churns out some results as inaccurately as a supermarket checker scanning an apple and ringing it up as an orange, according to a new Brigham Young University (BYU) study.The results are published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)." After repeatedly checking the PNAS Early Edition website all last week, I see that paper in question was finally released on Friday (August 29). It's even fully Open Access! Hojun Song, Jennifer E. Buhay, Michael F. Whiting and Keith A. Crandall "Many species in one: DNA barcoding overestimates the number of species when nuclear mitochondrial pseudogenes are coamplified" PNAS published August 29, 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0803076105This is really frustrating. All of that effort spent to publicize the paper and people can't even get their hands on it. If you are a journalist, do you wait until the paper appears before writing your story? Probably not, in many (most?) cases. That means writing your story without the paper at hand. By the time the paper comes out (in this case, four days later), it's probably no longer news.Last fall, Larry Moran wrote a post on Sandwalk entitled "Mythical PNAS Papers" about this problem. I really wish that PNAS would listen to him...By the way, I think that the paper deserves the PR!Photo Credit: Biodiversity Institute of Ontario [...]



Dawkins' Genius of Darwin

2008-08-24T19:56:04.896-05:00

(image) I just discovered that there is a new three-part series, The Genius of Charles Darwin, that was broadcast on UK Channel 4. I tried to buy the episodes on iTunes, but they are only available in the UK. Luckily they are all posted on YouTube.

Below is the first part (of five) of the first episode, available on YouTube.

You can read more about the episodes and find more links at RichardDawkins.net.

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Sexy paper just out in PLoS ONE

2008-08-07T17:28:59.682-05:00

My lab has taken its initial journey on the PLoS ONE train.Yesterday, our paper entitled "An Expanded Inventory of Conserved Meiotic Genes Provides Evidence for Sex in Trichomonas vaginalis" was published in PLoS ONE. It's a updated and detailed report on the ongoing work in my lab to generate and curate an "inventory" of genes involved in meiosis that are present across major eukaryotic lineages. This paper focuses on the protist, Trichomonas vaginalis, an organism not known to have a sexual phase in its life cycle.Here is the Abstract:Meiosis is a defining feature of eukaryotes but its phylogenetic distribution has not been broadly determined, especially among eukaryotic microorganisms (i.e. protists)—which represent the majority of eukaryotic ‘supergroups’. We surveyed genomes of animals, fungi, plants and protists for meiotic genes, focusing on the evolutionarily divergent parasitic protist Trichomonas vaginalis. We identified homologs of 29 components of the meiotic recombination machinery, as well as the synaptonemal and meiotic sister chromatid cohesion complexes. T. vaginalis has orthologs of 27 of 29 meiotic genes, including eight of nine genes that encode meiosis-specific proteins in model organisms. Although meiosis has not been observed in T. vaginalis, our findings suggest it is either currently sexual or a recent asexual, consistent with observed, albeit unusual, sexual cycles in their distant parabasalid relatives, the hypermastigotes. T. vaginalis may use meiotic gene homologs to mediate homologous recombination and genetic exchange. Overall, this expanded inventory of meiotic genes forms a useful “meiosis detection toolkit”. Our analyses indicate that these meiotic genes arose, or were already present, early in eukaryotic evolution; thus, the eukaryotic cenancestor contained most or all components of this set and was likely capable of performing meiotic recombination using near-universal meiotic machinery. Here are my impressions of publishing in PLoS ONE (so far)...PROS:It was fast. Submission to acceptance was less than a month. It took us longer to revise the final copy than to gain initial acceptance.The PLoS editorial staff were very accommodating and helpful throughout the process. In particular, they quickly transferred our manuscript between other PLoS journals (where it was initially rejected). The review process was great. In this case, only one reviewer was contacted. S/he liked the paper, and gave some suggestions for improvement that were left up to us to incorporate. We heeded some, but not all of the advice given.It was (fairly) inexpensive. The "page charges" ($1125) were ~40% less than those levied for a similar non-OA journal that we have published in recently. CONS:There was no opportunity given for making corrections to proofs. I have already identified an issue with one of the tables that would have been corrected in proof had there been an opportunity. There are always a few things that the author can notice that the copy editors (however talented they are) might miss. Why not add the author as a final checker?The Journal Management System (for e-submission and tracking) is a bit too complicated for my taste. It takes quite a while (1+ hour) to get all of the information pasted into the form. I may just need to get to used to this level of front-end effort. However, as noted above, the journal staff helped me by moving all of the manuscript info from one journal to another. If not, it would have been painful to repeat.As of this posting, our paper has not yet appeared in the listing of papers published yesterday. I [...]



Coitus Interruptus in Iowa

2008-07-28T13:52:10.958-05:00

(image) May 31 to June 3, 2009!

These are the dates for Evolution of Sex & Recombination: In Theory & In Practice.

Based on overwhelmingly positive responses from the previously scheduled speakers and registrants, we have decided to reschedule the meeting for next year. We are hopeful to have significantly drier weather in 2009.

The reborn Sex & Recombination meeting will immediately precede SMBE 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution that will also be held in Iowa City June 3-7, 2009. Both events are being hosted by the Roy J. Carver Center for Comparative Genomics with financial support coming from a number of sponsors.

I'll be posting here and on EvolDir as futher details become available.

Image shows the Iowa River as it runs through the University of Iowa on June 18th. Thanks to Monica.(image)



Future Sex in Iowa??

2008-06-17T11:59:03.625-05:00

(image) Things have settled down a bit here in Iowa City. Although a significant portion of the campus has been hit hard by the flooding, my Department, lab and home have all been spared. We are "suspending non-essential activities" on campus this week, which means that my Department and lab are shut down for the rest of the week. Thanks to everyone for their concerns and kind wishes in this difficult time.

The organizing committee has not been able to meet to discuss the possibility of re-scheduling the Sex & Recombination meeting for a future date. I'll be querying the registrants in the coming weeks for their thoughts. I am also strongly considering attending the Evolution 2008 meeting in Minneapolis next week (as I had originally planned). If so, I'll be looking forward to hearing peoples' thoughts on this matter in person.

Again, thanks to everyone for their patience in this difficult time.(image)



No Sex in Iowa

2008-06-13T08:39:11.240-05:00

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Contrary to yesterday's post, the Sex & Recombination meeting has now been cancelled. The flooding is bad and is getting worse in Iowa City. This turn of events is very disappointing, but necessary. 

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(Wet) Sex in Iowa

2008-06-11T16:52:09.506-05:00

(image) For those of you who might be wondering, the Evolution of Sex & Recombination meeting is continuing as scheduled (Monday 16 June to Thursday 19 June). Although parts of Iowa City are being hit rather hard with floods, the meeting venue and most of the accommodations are still in good shape. Updates will soon be available on the meeting website.

Photo by atoomsen.
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Green Porno

2008-05-06T21:11:32.881-05:00

(image) I can't believe that I missed this, but thanks to a colleague, I can now share....

In a series of short films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Isabella Rossellini plays the part of various invertebrates in various acts of sexual reproduction. You can now see them all online at the Sundance Channel website.

According to the press release:
"Green Porno is a series of very short films conceived, written, directed by and featuring Isabella Rossellini about the sex life of bugs, insects and various creatures. The films are a comical, but insightful study of the curious ways certain bugs “make love”.

Each film is executed in a very simple childlike manner. They are a playful mixture of real world and cartoon. Each episode begins with Isabella speaking to the camera “If I were a…(firefly, spider, dragonfly etc.). She then transforms into the male of the species explaining in a simple yet direct dialogue the actual act of species specific fornication. The costumes, colorful sets and backdrops as well as the female insects (all simple paper cut-outs and sculptures) contribute to the playfulness of the films. The contrast of this “naïf” expression and filthy sex practices adds to the comicality of Green Porno. This child-like manner allows us to describe things that could possibly come across as offensive to some."
My favorite is one of two non-arthropod shorts: the Snail (pictured above).

Here is a short piece I found on You Tube:

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The vignettes remind me of the Dr. Tatiana televison series that was apparently too bold for US sentiments (but that I have been lucky to see!).

It looks like it's hitting the blogs now (Wired), so I had better get this posted. Enjoy!(image)



Sex in Iowa

2008-05-04T17:43:18.250-05:00

I'm sorry that I have been such an infrequent blogger for the past few months, but life has been busier than normal.

One of the things keeping me away is that I have been organizing a meeting, "Evolution of Sex & Recombination: In Theory & In Practice" to be held in Iowa City June 16-19.

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We now have a final speaker schedule together and it looks to be a very exciting meeting! Registration is still open for poster-presenters and attendees.(image)



Dark Matter

2008-07-29T16:39:44.703-05:00

(image) A follow-up on a blog post from last year...

According to The First Post:

"The release of a new Meryl Streep movie about a campus killing spree, which was postponed last year after the shooting of 32 people at Virginia Tech, will not be delayed again – despite the recent spate of campus killings, including the gunning down of five students in a classroom at Northern Illinois University on St Valentine’s Day. Dark Matter is based on the true story of Gang Lu, a Chinese graduate student at the University of Iowa who shot and killed five people and paralysed another before killing himself in 1991. In real life, Lu's rage was fueled by his belief that he should have received honours for his doctoral dissertation that were instead awarded to a fellow student."
Here is a link to movie's website. (There is now a trailer that you can watch: Updated 7/29/08)

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