Babies in costumes.

We’re all wearing the same genes

Kaleo the Dinosaur, Dalton the Turtle, Adam the Pumpkin, Alexander the Lion. Image by Nathan LeClair via Flickr. One major “ick factor” of genetic engineering is taking genes from one species and adding them to another species. While it sounds strange, we are all wearing the same genes. It’s not something to be afraid of – in fact, as we learn more it becomes more and more amazing. Look at the genome of any organism on the planet and you’ll find at least some genes in common with other organisms. The root of this idea is evolution itself. People, dinosaurs, turtles, pumpkins, and lions – we’re all related!

Evolution of Fruit Shape in Tomato

Someday you’ll be able to use CAD software to draw up what you want a plant to look like and the software (containing detailed growth models) will tell you what genetic constructs you need to bring it into the world… But for now we barely understand how natural morphological variation is controlled. So I was excited to see this paper out of the van der Knaap and Francis labs. In it, they review some of the known levers by which tomato plants control fruit shape and investigate their historical appearance.

God is ok with evolution, really.

There’s been a bit of controversy lately at Iowa State on the subject of “intellectual suppression” of intelligent design. Some pent-up drama from Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez’s tenure denial is still around, and Expelled brought the beast back to life. Of course, having Dr. Hector Avalos here helps to keep things interesting. The first ISU Daily article in this round, “Avalos: ‘Expelled’ wrong on Holocaust” has accrued almost as many comments and letters to the editor as the articles about Gay Pride week. The whole subject is frustrating, because I don’t think there is a controversy. No one should dictate what religious beliefs a person can or can not have. In this country, separation of church and state is a necessity (due to the many faiths or absence of faith present). Therefore, religion can not be taught in state funded schools. Period. If people want to study things other than approved