Hello again

Already two years have passed since I posted an entry last time.

I think I might resume this … but I am not sure that I can write many things…

Now I am in Vancouver to attend the annual meeting of Canadian Society of Zoologists (CSZ). Actually, I am on my way back to Japan, though…

At least once a year, I attend international or foreign meetings. I guess that would be good to me.  Here I am attaching the photos I took at the conference venue, UBC – University of British Coloumbia. It was a beautiful campus.



Yesterday I did some of my own experiments by myself. Already more than one year has passed since the last experiment.

These days, most of my work was going together with my desk and PC. Desk works exhaust me very much, but the experimental works require relatively active movements between my office and labs. Although this also makes me tired, it was a sort of exercise, I think. Better fatigue…

In addition, the combination of scientific thinking and experimental procedure is actually a very intriguing process, in my opinion. So, I eager to be involved in experimental works as far as I can.

The Plausibility of Life

This is a book I am recently immersed in.

The Plausibility of Life

The Plausibility of Life

The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma
by Marc W. Kirschner, John C. Gerhart

This book focuses on the evolution of organismal traits. As the subtitle represents, the authors try to resolve the evolutionary processes which neo-Darwinian theory cannot explain solely by itself. They raise a theory termed “the theory of facilitated variation”, which incorporates ideas of plasticity and robustness. And they insist that the phenotypic evolution is not a random process, because organisms can accommodate new situations using pre-existing biological systems. They called the ability to accommodate various situations as “somatic adaptability”, by which organisms can adapt unpredicted (and predicted) circumstances even without genetic changes.

I also would like to mention that plasticity of organisms are important for the evolutionary potential, i.e. evolvability, so that this book is really, very fascinating to me.

Following is the cover message of this book.

Offering daring new ideas about evolution, two highly respected biologists here tackle the central, unresolved question in the field – how have living organisms on Earth developed with such astounding variety and complexity? Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart draw on cutting-edge biological and biomedical research to provide an original solution to this longstanding puzzle.

And here is an editorial review.

From Publishers Weekly
We all know Darwin’s theory of evolution—natural selection favors some adaptations over others. But where do new adaptations come from? This problem baffled Darwin and is the main point of attack for opponents of evolution. Kirschner and Gerhart, professor at Harvard and UC-Berkeley, respectively, present their solution to the problem and take a few timely shots at the advocates of intelligent design. The key to understanding the development of complex structures, they say, is seeing that body parts as seemingly different as eyes and elbows are formed from the same basic molecular mechanisms. Thus, the authors propose, the metabolic building blocks of life functions can be rearranged and linked in novel ways with less chance of fatal variations than random mutation of DNA would allow. One piece of evidence they offer is the frequency of periods of “deep conservation” following evolutionary anatomical changes, where conventional theory would argue for continuous mutation and change. Though this seems like an elegantly simple solution, the underlying molecular biology is quite complicated. As for proponents of intelligent design, the authors say their theory turns some of their arguments on their head, converting “some of their favorite claims”—such as “irreducible complexity”—into arguments for evolution. (Oct. 19) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 


Already September

No updates during August, and already September now!

During this summer time, I’ve been terribly busy with many things including works, trips, private things, and so forth.

These days, I’ve been engaged in the annotation jobs for the pea aphid genome, because I have to give a talk on the conference call today. This will be my first experience to present a talk through phone. So, I’m becoming a bit nervous.

I am not a genomicist nor a bioinformatist, so works on genomic information are bit stressful jobs. However, through those jobs, I learnt lots of things, e.g. how to use internet tools for analyzing sequence data.

After finishing today’s talk, I will still be busy. I have to finish some manuscripts (at least two) within a couple of days. The deadline is now coming.

Anyway, I decide that I will start my own experiments again from this fall…

The Besieged Fortress

I wanted to watch the movie below, but all of the road shows were over around here…

Pea Aphid Genome Annotation Workshop

I’m now at Princeton, attending Pea Aphid Genome Annotation Workshop I.

Actually I am neither a genomicist nor a bioinformatist. However, I’ve been engaged in aphid studies for many years using some molecular techniques, so that I am a bit interested in a genomics.

I am not good at dealing large amount of information like genomic informations, but I think these genomics studies largely help us to understand the complicated biology of many organisms.

To use genome information in a smart manner, the annotation of genes seems to be important.


On the day before yesterday, at the campus, I found a brown aphid that did not move at all. That was so-called a “mommy” of aphid. It is a dead aphid that is parasitized and killed by a parasitoid wasp. At the time when an aphid becomes a mommy, the inside wasp has pupated. The host species of this picture is Acyrthosiphon pisum, the most famous aphid species.

This picture shows a mommy, from which the parasite has already emerged. The parasite species may be Aphidus sp. (maybe…)


I’m having a photo of the moment when the wasp just lay an egg into an aphid. This photo was taken last year in UK, so that the host and parasite species should be different from above.


After the Evolution meeting, I dropped in a laboratory in Wisconsin, where my colleague just moved this spring.

While Minneapolis in Minnesota was also nice place, Wisconsin-Madison is also a very beautiful place. The university campus as well as residential areas located near Lake Mendota.

We walked along the lake shore, where there are walk ways. The place was very beautiful with many trees and animals. In returen, we had lots of mosquitos there. They seem pretty large in comparison with mosquitos we often see in Japan. Furthermore, we met some gaggles of Canadian geese there too. Those included many youngs, and adults protected them by menacing us with honking.

 Because the university campus is just on the shore, sports like yachting or wind surfing are popular among students. Probably there are a number of clubs or schools for those lake leisures.

I just stayed there for only two nights, but felt the nice atmosphere of the town. I want to visit this town again in the near future.

Evo2008 was over

Last night, Evolution 2008 at the U of Minnesota was over.

This was actually my second time to attend this meeting. Last one was the last year’s meeting at Christchurch in NZ. At the time, I presented a poster.

This time, I registered my talk at the session of “behavior and social evolutoin.”  Last morning, I managed to finish my talk. So, exhausted…

I talked on one of my molecular studies on soldeir-specific proteins, which are related to social communications in a termite. The topic was a bit maniac, so that I was afraid about whether the audience would be interested in my talk.

Fortunately, relatively many people came, and I took two questions on the functions of the focal proteins. My talk was scheduled in the early morning, and after that, I was too tired to concentrate on other talks.

my talk

In the afternoon, with my colleague, took a walk in the campus and went to the university shop to buy some souvenirs.

At night, the banquet was held at a beautiful venue in the campus. There were several hundreds of people having dinner together. We enjoyed a number of parformances there.

Evolution2008 Banquet

Next meeting, Evolution2009, will be held in Idaho. I wish I could attend the meeting again next year.

Evolution 2008

I’m attending the Evolution 2008 annual meeting, which is being held in University of Minnesota.


This is my first time to come to Minneapolice except that I’ve spent several hours at the airport. Here, I can have a nice weather. The campus of this university was really good. Nice buildings and greens. I like the big river running through the campus, too.

Univ Minnesota

Today is the third day of the meeting, and my talk will be scheduled tommorow. I think I need to prepare a bit more…

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