Posts tagged: genetics

Knowledge sharing: key to improving dog health

golden retriever

To mark today’s launch of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, we asked the Kennel Club’s Health Information Manager, Aimée Llewellyn, to tell us more about the journal’s background and its potential impact on the wellbeing of dogs:

The Kennel Club had been working to improve their educational resources for many years. In late 2011, it was agreed to investigate developing or potentially linking with a canine-focused scientific journal to make the newly emerging genetic research more accessible to the general public and dog breeders, as well as a more centralized resource for the veterinary community.

The problem was there wasn’t a journal already in place that focused purely, or even mainly, on dog health. So we looked into the …

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Santa Fe loves mobile DNA

Santa Fe village

The field of mobile DNA is currently a very exciting area of genetics and genomics research. It was once assumed that transposable elements were useless DNA sequences that incorporated into host genomes, forming ‘junk DNA’. In recent years, however, the significance of these genetic elements has been increasingly realized, with studies regularly being published hinting at the function of transposable elements in the host genome.

It seems that some of these suspected functions are damaging to the host, and others may even be beneficial; either way, the contribution of mobile elements to genome evolution is now a hugely interesting area, providing new insights into the evolutionary ‘arms race’ between organisms.


On March 9-14th, BioMed Central attended the Keystone meeting Mobile …

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The curious bridge between canine and human science

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Repetitive licking can be a symptom of canine compulsive disorder. Image by Flickr user Jimmy van Hoorn.

What have dogs ever done for us?

Humans and dogs have a long history of co-existence and companionship, and our four-legged friends can have a profound impact on our wellbeing in a number of ways.

The company of dogs has long been thought to reduce anxiety and improve health outcomes, to the extent that Florence Nightingale recommended small pets as “an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases especially” (as Professor James Serpell reports).

Animal-human therapeutic interactions are now an established component of modern medical treatment: the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has had a dedicated team of therapy dogs for cancer patients since 2007. Alongside this, guide and hearing dogs have been able to provide essential support

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From plant genetics to publishing, over 30 years in science

Sheila McCormick

This is a guest post by Sheila McCormick, an editor for BMC Plant Biology. To mark International Women’s Day, she takes a look back over her career in plant genetics and publishing.

When I started college at Illinois State University,  I thought I might become a high school biology teacher. But as the semesters went on I started to consider going to graduate school. The professor who taught Genetics, Dr. Herman Brockman, was an inspiration – I basically fell in love with Genetics and decided to do a PhD.

I first started graduate school at Univ. Texas-Austin, intending to work on fruit fly genetics. As an undergraduate I had read a paper in the journal Genetics about the …

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A shock of change felt down the generations

BioMed Central CC-BY

Analysis of 19th century harvest records from an isolated Swedish community reveals that female grandchildren have an increased risk of death from heart disease if their paternal grandmother experienced a drastic change in food availability in their childhood.

Staying stress free, keeping fit, eating well – these are all things we’re advised to do to keep our hearts healthy. But have you ever thought about whether what your parents and grandparents did could be affecting you too? New research has suggested that the diet experiences of even your grandparents could have an effect on your own health.

Food shortage and famine are clearly not good for you. Associations between higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke among adults who suffered famine …

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Airport hazard management with the help of DNA sequencing


Wildlife collisions with aircraft pose a significant threat to public safety, having directly caused 221 fatalities since 1988. The “Miracle on the Hudson“, where a plane crash-landed into the Hudson river in 2009, was indeed caused by a collision with a flock of geese. In addition, wildlife collisions cost the airline industry over one billion US Dollars every year through damages.

New research published in Investigative Genetics by a group of scientists from Murdoch University (Australia) demonstrates a new way to address this issue, using an unexpected tool – next-generation sequencing. By analysing the DNA from the stomach contents of birds found in Perth Airport the study identified exactly what species the birds had been eating, …

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Expert insights into epigenetic interactions and processes

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To mark the BioMed Central conference Epigenetics & Chromatin: Interactions and processes that took place in Boston earlier this year, the open access journal Epigenetics & Chromatin has published a series of review articles that focus on addressing some of the biggest questions in epigenetics today.


The final review of the series, by Anton Wutz (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), has been published today, discussing how haploid genomes illustrate epigenetic constraints and gene dosage effects in mammals. In this review the authors, who have significantly advanced our understanding of haploidy in mammals, provide an insightful summary of systems available to study haploid genomes.


Other reviews in the series include a description of the role of the …

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DNA fingerprinting series: a tribute to Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys

Alec Jeffreys

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys invented the technique of DNA fingerprinting in 1984, a technique that changed forensic science forever. To mark his retirement in 2012 from the University of Leicester, Investigative Genetics has published a series of articles today that discuss DNA fingerprinting, the impact it’s had in divergent fields, and the man himself.


The series launch articles include an introductory editorial by the Editors-in-Chief Manfred Kayser, Antti Sajantila and Bruce Budowle; an personal opinion piece by Mark Jobling on the DNA fingerprinting story; and two reviews outlining the past, present and future of DNA fingerprinting in

forensics (by Lutz Roewer) and in anthropological genetics (by Michael Crawford …

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Fire ants – queens, clones, and burning bites



The 5th of November is upon us, the day Guy Fawkes decided to blow up Parliament (and failed). With bonfires and fireworks lighting up throughout the UK, we thought we’d highlight some fiery research. Don’t worry, we won’t be discussing the adverse health risks of fumes or  the danger of wildfires. Instead we’ll be looking at the fire ant in all its blazing glory.

The fire ant is just a name for ants of the Solenopsis genus. You may also know them as the ‘red ant’. There are about 285 species of fire ant worldwide.

Flame fatales

The ladies are, like most female ants, born into royalty as a queen. As a virgin, the …

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Canine Genetics and Epidemiology is now accepting submissions

Jessica Keating / DPOTY 2013 / KCPL (c)

Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (CGE) is a new peer-reviewed open access journal, published by BioMed Central with the support and backing of the Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs.

CGE is now accepting manuscript submissions via the journal’s homepage. The journal will consider genetic, genomic and epidemiological research in both domestic and wild canids, relating to breed and species diversity as well as canine evolution. It will not publish articles describing research generated through experimental procedures that inflict pain and suffering to animals.

The journal’s aim is to disseminate research not only between scientists, but also to inform veterinarians, dog breeders and owners. …

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