Amino acids, RNA ... and toads in Australia

25 Mar 2011

Two papers with a bearing on biology and evolution. One can be found at www.physorg.com/print220106627.html where a Mexican biochemist has decyphered part of the 'code of life' - within a large RNA protein enzyme responsible for expressing genetic code for the amino acid glutamin. The second paper is at www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-speedy-toads-advance-theory-evolution.htm and published in PNAS by threee biologists in Australia. For 150 years biologists have thought evolutionary change is caused by just two factors - survival and reproduction. However, at leading edge evolution it is who is at the front of evolutionary change that benefits the most - stragglers get left behind. This is particularly pertinent to invasive species - or pests. Repeated breeding between front dispersing animals in a new territory can cause genes to rapidly disperse at the frontier zone. They have dubbed the process 'spatial sorting' and their target study was the cane toad - a poisonous tropical species of frog that has caused problems as it has advanced through the sugar cane region of Queensland.