Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Historical review on Metagenomics by one of its pioneers

Norman Pace, one of the pioneers of metagenomics is offering us an historical review of his own contribution to the field,  here.

A few citations from the master:
Only in recent decades has the microbial world been recognized as a driver of global biology, deeply intertwined with the health and functions not only of ourselves but of the biosphere at large.

Despite this, he acknowledges that we still poorly undestand the microbial world, and conclude that
The Golden Age of microbiology is still ahead of us


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Nitrogen fixing Planctomycetes uncovered

In a TARA metagenomes reconstruction exercise,
Delmont et al., Nature Microbio 2018 report the discovery of nitrogen fixing in Planctomycetes. This is the first report of such diazotrophes in this exciting phylum.

In addition, they report that the proportion of genes of unknown function was 27.6% (±2.63%) for the proteobacterial HBDs and 49.3% (±0.5%) as compared to for the 27.6% (±2.63%) for the proteobacterial, highlight the fact that we still poorly understand the functioning of these bacteria.

Also, the set of nitrogen fixation genes were very divergent, suggesting that they were not the result of a lateral gene transfer from more classical diazotrphes.

Looking forward to more discovery in this field.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Decision making to be a sustainable scientist

Excellent advices to be a sustainable scientist The “want to–need to” matrix is excellent advice:
Say yes only to the things you both need and want to do, and say no if you either do not need or do not want to do something
If you are like most of us looking for time optimization, this is the way to go.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Tom Rapaport just reported that Organelle shape can be generated by a surprisingly small set of proteins in Powers et al., Nature 2017. It is well known that the eukaryotic endomembrane system is composed of various compartments with very specific function and shape. The development of such a complex system during evolution is expected to be complex and requiring many molecular players. This new report demonstrate that just a few component can induce a tubular network from proteoliposomes. The use of GTP hydrolysis inhibitor demonstrate that maintenance of this network requires continuous membrane fusion. Conclusions from the authors:
Our results show that organelle shape can be generated by a surprisingly small set of proteins and represents an energy-dependent steady state between formation and disassembly.
Thus, it appears that evolutionarily speaking, the development of an endomembrane system might require fewer players than previously expected.  

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Keynote speakers, please try harder

Excellent comment prompting for a better preparation keynote speakers, but also speakers in general, in Nature by Judy Ford.
Best part is probably the following:

Speakers, it is likely that my registration fees have contributed to your travel, so I expect you to demonstrate that you have given a lot of thought to your talk and prepared each slide carefully rather than simply recycling it. I have come to listen to you, the expert, so I expect to enjoy a well-organized, possibly brilliant, presentation, in which creative visuals amplify your words and enhance my understanding.

But anyway, those are comments that we could all take into account.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Biologists should specialize, not hybridize

Why computational biologists should specialize in their dry skills and not learn other 'stuff', like wet biology, is excellently explained in this column by Assaf Zritsky in this issue of Nature.
As I use to say, computers are just tools like any other ones, such as microscopes or mass spectrometers. You don't ask your favorite microscope specialist to be also an expert in cloning or cell culture. Same thing with computers, we should collaborate not work in isolation.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Randomly distribution grants?

Randomly determining which grants are funded and which ones are not. This looks like a terrible idea, isn't it?
Well, may be not that bad, as suggested by J. Sills in this recent insight in Science. Indeed, currents systems have their limitations and randomly assigning money to the not so bad, but also not so good grants, the middle 60% might not be such a bad idee. Similar ideas have also been proposed to fix our 'democratic' system by example by D. van Reybrouck in his book 'Against the elections'. Why not the same in science?