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Archive for September 8, 2014

Genes Smash! An Oxytricha trifallax story

hulk smash

In DNA mutation is often a bad thing. It’s sort of like building a car, there are far more wrong ways to one together than there are right ways. Still, mutation happens often which brings with it good (and more often bad) things. Usually mutation is spontaneous, it has no real rhyme or reason (in a broad sense) and while it brings things like cancers, it also can bring amazingly beneficial traits too. Maybe this is why a pond-dwelling, single-celled organism called Oxytricha trifallax is so keen on mixing things up. By that I mean it has the remarkable ability to break its own DNA into nearly a quarter-million pieces and rapidly reassemble those pieces when it’s time to mate.