Amino acids, RNA ... and toads in Australia

25 Mar 2011

Two papers with a bearing on biology and evolution. One can be found at 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 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.