All posts by Jenny Cade

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Viruses and the Global Metabolic Pathway

By Oyang Teng, Biological Sciences ’14

Microbes are the planetary engineers of the biogeochemical cycles that sustain all life on earth. At the molecular scale, the biological turnover of such key elements as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, iron and sulfur depends on the enzymatic transfer of electrons from reduced (electron-donating) to oxidized (electron-accepting) forms of these elements. On the global scale and over geological time, reduced substrates and oxidized products map to a vast, often circuitous flux between the interior depths of the mantle and the oceans, land, and atmosphere.

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Ode to Complementation

By Angelica Degnan, Genetics ’15

Oh complementation testing whatever do you do?
How does thee help me explain the mutants true?
Begin with two recessive strains
Cross, observe, unearth
the ones that are the same

What does this mean?
How do you explain the ones that function redundantly through?

Complementation, complementation alas I see the light
That alleles that are mutants a like, when united, cannot avoid their destined plight
But mutants in two different genes stand a fighting chance
They work independently, and can lend a helping hand
If one should fail, be lost forevermore another can step in a lead expression forth
Complementation testing, you are a godsend for sure
I can now see the wonders that you produce in scores!

This poem appears in the video “Complementation Test” by Angelica Degnan and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major Ngoc Pham.

Photography: DNA

By Riley Galton, Genetics ’14

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, encodes all of the instructions necessary for the beautiful figures and forms that can be found in the biological world. All plants, animals, and humans— subjects that are so familiar to the photographer—share the same underlying, four-letter genetic code. It is this simple molecular code that gives rise to the incredible diversity of living things, which in turn makes them so rewarding to photograph. My goal for this project was to investigate the form of the DNA itself—a form that is seldom seen, but always there. To do this, I isolated DNA from strawberries and photographed it using a macro lens.

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Arabidopsis – Model Organism

By John Tran,  Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’14

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the plant model organism?

Plants have many unique properties that make them especially important to all aspects of life. They provide oxygen, food, and energy, so you could imagine that there are many cellular and molecular processes that are involved in plants. For these reasons, we want to better understand plants using a model organism called Arabidopsis. Here, we talk about the properties of Arabidopsis and present an example of a genetic experiment, which could be used to improve the quality of apple trees.

Photo credit:  “Arabidopsis thaliana – Acker-Schmalwand”  by Nuuuuuuuuuuul is licensed by CC BY 2.0

Population Vector

By Jennifer Jahncke, Psychology ’14

Something we talk about a lot in neuroscience in terms of topics like visual perception and locomotion is population vectors. A population vector is the sum of each component vector. In this image, with the trees converging to a vanishing point, the population vector would be the vector in the center of the cluster (though not quite to scale; in reality it would have a larger magnitude).

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Mapping neurons through online gaming

By: Jenny Cade, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ‘15

One of the biggest challenges in neuroscience today is mapping the wiring of the nervous system. Looking at the spatial arrangement of neural networks can tell us a lot about how information is relayed, but accurate 3D mapping of neurons is an enormously challenging task, even with the aid of computer analysis. One group of researchers at MIT has harnessed the power of crowdsourcing to tackle this problem.

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The hunter-gatherer gut microbiome

By: Jenny Cade, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ‘15

In a paper published in Nature Communications on April 15, researchers profiled the gut microbiota of a group of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania known as the Hadza. They compared the results to those of people living in Italy, and found that the two groups have very different species composition. The Hadza don’t only have different kinds of gut microbes than Westerners, but a more diverse collection of microbes as well. The researchers say that this is most likely due to the dramatic difference between hunter-gatherer and Western diets.

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Grass-fed or grain-fed?

By Jenny Cade, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’15

Eating grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken is the eco-friendly thing to do–right? Maybe not, according to a recent paper published in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Science. The study proposes that intensifying livestock production by transitioning from pure grazing to mixed systems–where animals are fed high-energy food like grains–could reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions by 23% by 2030. Currently, livestock account for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, so such a reduction would be significant.

In contrast, a comment piece that appeared in Nature last month calls for increasing grazing to make livestock systems more sustainable. Of eight strategies that the authors outline to reduce the environmental and economic costs of raising livestock, “Feed animals less human food” is number one.

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Welcome to the Aggie Transcript

This website will soon be home to student-created articles and artwork relating to biology. In the coming days and months, we will publish short news updates, in-depth articles, and even works of art created by undergraduate students at UC Davis. The topics will cover all aspects of life science–from biochemistry to ecology, and from basic research to real-world applications. All UC Davis undergraduates, regardless of major, are welcome to submit pieces for publication.

Our aim is to give students a platform to share their passion and curiosity with a wider audience. As students, we have a unique perspective on science–we’re immersed, every day, in learning about the fundamentals of biology and how research is done. Since we’re actively engaged in integrating all this information, we can act as translators, explaining scientific concepts to non-scientists.

So welcome, readers! We hope you enjoy this website, and we look forward to reading your feedback. To our fellow UC Davis students: we hope you will consider submitting pieces for publication.