Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More humor in science

As I mentioned before, I'm taking a plant biotech class, and we've been talking about making transgenic plants (genetically modified organisms, GMOs). Of course, this brings up a classic paper where RNAi (RNA interference) was discovered. Sometimes overexpressing a transgene in a plant can cause the plant to use the transgene against the same copy of the natural gene and eliminate both of them, effectively causing the opposite effect of what the researcher may have intended in the first place.

Of course, when discussing a sample scenario in trying to avoid this, I asked my professor a question about this and her response made me laugh:
Co-suppression occurs as a result of overexpression with the 35S promoter – it’s possible if you used a different promoter, the plant wouldn’t be so pissed off and turn off all gene production.
I had to laugh. How often do your professors talk about a plant getting "pissed off" by overexpressed genes?

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