Temporary Field Technician Wanted for Vegetation Study in North Carolina

Agency: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, Otto, NC
Job Category: Field technician
Salary: TBD
Start Date: May 30th
Last Date to Apply: March 15th


A full-time temporary field technician is needed to assist with vegetation data collection at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, NC. The position is ~40 hours per week (hours may vary by week) starting approximately May 30th and continuing into late July. No overtime. Exact start date negotiable. Specific hours may change by week. Work will be conducted in forested mountain slopes. Duties include assisting with experimental setup, data collection, and lots of plant identification.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree in biology or related natural sciences discipline. Experience in vegetation inventory and plant identification is required. Applicants should have a strong interest, coursework, and/or experience working in botany, ecology, or related field. Technician must be able to provide their own transportation to the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory by the start date. Housing will be provided. Experience working in eastern forests or using scientific equipment - GPS unit, compass, PAR meter, soil probes, standard vegetation field guides and keys, etc. are essential.  

Candidates must be in good physical shape with the ability to stand or walk for long periods of time (up to 10 hours per day) over uneven terrain in all weather conditions. Must have the ability to lift and carry up to 30 pounds while standing or walking. Moderate risks walking in rough terrain. Other risks include, but are not limited to, snake or insect bites or stings, exposure to sun, and exposure to extreme or adverse weather conditions including heat, cold, high humidity, and rain.

Send a cover letter, CV or resume, and a list of 3 references (phone numbers and email addresses) to candeia2@illinois.edu.

Contact Person:
Matt Candeias

Why Did Hunter-gatherer Group in Europe Unexpectedly Disappear After the Last Ice Age?

A recent study has shown that a group of hunter-gatherers had survived the last Ice Age while living in the modern location of Europe, only to unexpectedly disappear about 14,500 years ago. Their mitochondrial DNA coincides with indigenous peoples in Asia and the Americas, but was wiped out in Europe. What happened to make this group of hunter-gatherers disappear from the region of Europe 14,500 years ago? How is it that they survived the chilling Ice Age only to fail to survive the subsequent warming?

Read More…


How research on bacterial immune systems led to CRISPR

CRISPR is a DNA editing tool that is currently revolutionizing the scientific world. CRISPR gives scientists and laboratories the ability to cut out malfunctioning DNA and replace it with functioning DNA. To do this, scientists must first program a specific RNA molecule and attach it to the protein Cas-9. When introduced to cells, this RNA/Cas-9 hybrid will seek out the malfunctioning DNA and cut it out, like a pair of molecular scissors. Scientists can then either insert the correct DNA, or the body can repair the cut itself.

CRISPR started as a basic research project in Dr. Jennifer Doudna’s lab at UC Berkeley. She was studying how bacterial immune systems fight off invading viral DNA. Through this research Dr. Doudna and her team, collaborating with Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, turned that knowledge into what we now know as CRISPR, the world’s most powerful DNA editing tool.

2010 NSF grant to Dr. Dounda: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=0950971&HistoricalAwards=false

For more information about CRISPR and the Innovative Genomics Initiative, visit: https://innovativegenomics.org/

By: National Science Foundation.

Treacher Collins syndrome

It is a condition that affects the development of bones and other tissues of the face. The signs and symptoms of this disorder vary greatly, ranging from almost unnoticeable to severe. Most affected individuals have underdeveloped facial bones, particularly the cheek bones, and a very small jaw and chin (micrognathia). Some people with this condition are also born with an opening in the roof of the mouth called a cleft palate. In severe cases, underdevelopment of the facial bones may restrict an affected infant’s airway, causing potentially life-threatening respiratory problems.
People with Treacher Collins syndrome often have eyes that slant downward, sparse eyelashes, and a notch in the lower eyelids called an eyelid coloboma. Some affected individuals have additional eye abnormalities that can lead to vision loss. This condition is also characterized by absent, small, or unusually formed ears. Hearing loss occurs in about half of all affected individuals; hearing loss is caused by defects of the three small bones in the middle ear, which transmit sound, or by underdevelopment of the ear canal. People with Treacher Collins syndrome usually have normal intelligence.

#treachercollinssyndrome #genetics #mutation #child #pediatrics #usmle #university #usmlestep1 #usmlestep2 #doctor #doctordconline #nhs #nurse #doctor #doctordconline #nursing #hospital #hospitallife #patient #pathology #amc #plab #medstudent #medlife @doctordconline

Closing the Door on HIV Entry

Our cells unknowingly allow entry of viruses on a regular basis. The most dangerous viruses take advantage of our own receptors to sneak into our cell’s cytoplasm in order to wreak their havoc. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is no exception. Slithering into our CD4 t-cells’ genomes, HIV releases its genetic information. Eventually, HIV leads to fatal autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). New technologies like antiviral treatment have helped in prolonging the onset of AIDS and allowing for inflicted individuals to live longer lives. However, the current treatments are extremely expensive, and ultimately lead to drug resistance and toxicity.

CRISPR/Cas-9 technology has been adapted by a group of researchers to surgically remove the CXCR4 gene in an attempt to effectively prevent HIV infection. The target gene codes for the CXCR4 receptor; infamous as a co-receptor that allows the entry of HIV into our cells. Scientists have successfully removed the CXCR4 gene in human and rhesus monkey CD4 t-cells. As a result, HIV was unable to infiltrate the cells.

However, scientists were concerned about off-target effects of removing the receptor. CXCR4 is important in progenitor cell migration, and differentiation of thymus tissue. In previous studies, the same scientists determined that a mutated CXCR4 gene can be used to replace the original gene. Individuals who’s CXCR4 gene contains a mutation of the P191A allele are immune to HIV invasion. The researchers propose that by inducing this mutation in another copy of the gene, it can be used to maintain cell functions but also prevent HIV infection. They would simply swap the modified gene with the excised gene during the CRISPR editing process.

Society has been looking for a cure for HIV and AIDS for many years. While this is not a useful treatment to rely on after the virus has already integrated itself into our t-cells, it shows promise as a preventative measure. CRISPR is quickly demonstrating a fantastic versatility when it comes to what kinds of genetic disease it is able to treat and prevent - whether the genetic issue is heritable, caused by a virus, or obtained through mutation during our lifetime.

Yours in science

Link to the article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4612538/
Photo: http://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/how-infects-body

  • geneticist:sequences every nucleotide in my dna
  • geneticist:what the fuck

These awesome cats all share the same genetic mutation that give them their beguiling multi-colored irises. It’s called Heterochromia, specifically sectoral heterochromia, which causes part of one or both irises to be a different color from the rest. While 30-40% of cats born with heterochromia may suffer from deafness in one ear, the condition does not affect their vision. However we wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they have hypnotic powers.

Photos by raoeang, myhightide, Ruby T., asdjbf4, and Kurt Rimkus respectively.

[via Bored Panda and Wikipedia]

Don't freak out, but scientists think octopuses 'might be aliens' after DNA study
Not to send you into a meltdown or anything but octopuses are basically ‘aliens’ – according to scientists.

Researchers have found a new map of the octopus genetic code that is so strange that it could be actually be an “alien”.

The first whole cephalopod genome sequence shows a striking level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes identified – more than in a human…

Ötzi Has No Living Female Relatives

Ötzi the Iceman has no living female relatives, as his maternal genetic branch is now extinct, says a new research into the genetic history of the 5,300-year-old mummy.

According to the study, the Iceman’s maternal line appears to have originated and died out in the eastern Italian Alps. On the other hand, his paternal lineage is still observed in Europe, and new male relatives, alive and well, may be possibly added to the list of the mummy’s descendants.

The announcement comes a week after researchers published the results of a genetic analysis which established the Copper Age man was infected with Helicobacter pylori, the pathogen that gives people gastritis and stomach ulcers. Read more.

Biologists Induce Flatworms to Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species

Biologists at Tufts University have succeeded in inducing one species of flatworm to grow heads and brains characteristic of another species of flatworm without altering genomic sequence. The work reveals physiological circuits as a new kind of epigenetics - information existing outside of genomic sequence - that determines large-scale anatomy.  

The finding that head shape is not hard-wired by the genome but can be overridden by manipulating electrical synapses in the body suggests that differences in species could be determined in part by the activity of bioelectrical networks. The discovery could help improve understanding of birth defects and regeneration by revealing a new pathway for controlling complex pattern formation. It has long been known that neural networks exploit bioelectric synapses to store and re-write information in the brain.

The findings are detailed in the cover story of the November 2015 edition of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, appearing online Nov. 24.

Tufts biologists induced one species of flatworm – G. dorotocephala, top left – to grow heads and brains characteristic of other species of flatworm, top row, without altering genomic sequence. Examples of the outcomes can be seen in the bottom row of the imageCenter for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts University.


Inside the Bizarre Genome of the World’s Toughest Animal

Tardigrades are sponges for foreign genes. Does that explain why they are famously indestructible?

by Ed Yong

The toughest animals in the world aren’t bulky elephants, or cold-tolerant penguins, or even the famously durable cockroach. Instead, the champions of durability are endearing microscopic creatures called tardigrades, or water bears.

They live everywhere, from the tallest mountains to the deepest oceans, and from hot springs to Antarctic ice. They can even tolerate New York. They cope with these inhospitable environments by transforming into a nigh-indestructible state. Their adorable shuffling gaits cease. Their eight legs curl inwards. Their rotund bodies shrivel up, expelling almost all of their water and becoming a dried barrel called a “tun.” Their metabolism dwindles to near-nothingness—they are practically dead. And in skirting the edge of death, they become incredibly hard to kill.

In the tun state, tardigrades don’t need food or water. They can shrug off temperatures close to absolute zero and as high as 151 degrees Celsius. They can withstand the intense pressures of the deep ocean, doses of radiation that would kill other animals, and baths of toxic solvents. And they are, to date, the only animals that have been exposed to the naked vacuum of space and lived to tell the tale—or, at least, lay viable eggs. (Their only weakness, as a researcher once told me, is “vulnerability to mechanical damage;” in other words, you can squish ‘em.)…

(read more: The Atlantic)

images: Boothby at al, Bob Goldstein and Vicky Madden, UNC Chapel Hill, Willow Gabriel and Bob Goldstein, http://tardigrades.bio.unc.edu/


How a single gene can influence your emotional reactions

Serotonin is one of the major neurotransmitters (i.e. chemicals) in the brain. It’s very connected to our emotions and so it’s not a coincidence that a lot of the drugs that are used to treat depression and anxiety act on the serotonin system in the brain. This is clearly a very important chemical for determining the nature of our emotional lives.

The serotonin transporter gene is involved with the regulation of serotonin in the brain. People are born with variations of this gene. The long variation (or “allele”) clears serotonin out of the neural synapse more efficiently. The short variation is less efficient, which lets the serotonin hang around a little bit longer in the synapse.

The short variation was originally considered a risk gene because it was associated with depression and anxiety — but it’s now being thought of as a sensitivity gene.

Do you have the emotional sensitivity gene?

Scientists are using gene editing to repair a mutation that causes blindness
By Peter Dockrill

Scientists in the US have used gene editing to repair a genetic mutation in cells that causes retinitis pigmentosa, one of the leading causes of blindness in young people around the world.

Researchers employed the CRISPR technique to repair the affected cells, with the procedure representing the first time that scientists have replaced a defective gene associated with a sensory disease in stem cells that were derived from a patient’s own tissue.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, details how the researchers took a sample of skin from a patient with retinitis pigmentosa. This inherited condition causes the retina to degrade and can lead to complete blindness within a decade.

Continue Reading.


A genetic breakthrough could help treat schizophrenia 

Experts have long struggled to pinpoint schizophrenia biological roots — until now. After a widespread genetic analysis of 65,000 people, researchers from the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital found an increased risk of schizophrenia among people with a particular variant of a gene called “complement component 4,” or C4. C4 plays a role in a biological process called “synaptic pruning.”

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