Tag Archives: biology

Who asks questions at conferences? It depends on the gender of the speaker

While attending conferences this summer, I learned a lot about biology, but I also learned something about biologists. Presentations at these conferences follow a consistent format, with the researcher presenting PowerPoint slides describing their newest findings and the research’s significance. The speaker customarily concludes by acknowledging collaborators and funding sources, and a polite round of

Highlights from the Breakthrough Prize Symposium

Last week, as previously advertised, UC Berkeley hosted the Breakthrough Prize symposium, showcasing the research of winners present and previous of the award.  If you missed the symposium, all of the lectures are available on youtube. Symposium Highlights by Daniel Freeman Having not yet mastered the ability to place myself in superposition across the three

Bdelloid Rotifers: Sex,Take 2

Isaac Newton, one of the most famous physicists to have ever existed, lived to be 84 years old and did so under a celibate promise. Imagine a lifetime without sex. Now imagine tens of millions of years without sex: meet the Bdelloid rotifers (Fig 1). These tiny, female-only metazoans (0.5 mm in length) are well-known for their asexuality and resilience toward desiccation and ionizing radiation. And while other animals like komodo dragons, stick-insects (Timema stick-insects have reproduced asexually for over 1 million generations!), and some sharks can asexually reproduce in response to the lack of viable males (in most cases), it’s incredibly rare to see an animal that reproduces asexually exclusively. Bdelloid (pronounced del●loi●d) rotifers are an “evolutionary scandal“, completely challenging the sexual reproduction dogma—that is, introducing genetic variation to allow species to adapt to their dynamic environments in addition to mitigating genetic degradation for the benefit of the population.

Not having sex isn’t what necessarily makes rotifers scandalous (bacteria don’t have sex and look at how well they’re doing), it’s that they’re complex multicellular organisms who have speciated to a degree similar to that of sexually reproducing organisms and who have done so asexually.