Moving forward

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

Nature's imagination seems endless, and so is Man's. For as long as humans have existed, they have twisted Nature to meet their own needs. Wood has been used to keep them warm. Whale oil has been used to make light. Water has been harnessed to make electricity. And when the era of bio-engineering developed, it was not long before scientists found ways to tinker with an organism's genome for the benefits of mankind. Nowadays, the realm of medication depends heavily on biotechnology. And so, undoubtedly, will novel biofuels. With fossil fuels slowly trickling away, it is becoming paramount to find alternative sources of fuel. And ethanol, though not a new idea, is one. Ethanol is synthesized quite naturally by microorganisms - usually as a waste product - and is the result of the degradation of sugars, by an enzyme known as inulinase, and their subsequent fermentation.

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Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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Tales From A Small World

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Tales From A Small World is a collection of the first hundred articles which originally appeared on this site. Published in September 2009, the book is enriched by poems from the Dublin poet, Pat Ingoldsby. Learn more and order your copy online.

Journey Into A Tiny World

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« Globin and Poietin set out to save Lily's life. But time is running short and they can't find the marrow... Here is the tale of their courage, fun and laughter on a journey that takes them deep into the tiniest of worlds.» For children. Learn more and order your copy online.

Snapshot : Otopetrin

For many, December - or the end of it - tends to be a time of year when keeping your balance becomes an ordeal. The cause: a seasonal numbing of the senses due to an exaggerated consumption of alcohol. Alcohol, however, is not the only substance which can play tricks on our sense of balance. An altered architecture of our inner ear can too. The intricate machinery that we carry around in our inner ear not only helps us to perceive sound but is also responsible for our sense of movement. Those who suffer from sea-sickness know all too well what this means.

A little bit of praise!

“I recently stumbled upon your columns. Let me congratulate you on achieving the near impossible, for your articles have enabled me to successfully marry IT with the Life Sciences and better explain the concepts of bioinformatics to those who are not in the know of the field.

Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.

I would highly recommend your articles as a necessary reading in undergrad classes to get students inspired about the various avenues of research.”

— Rohan Chaubal, Senior Researcher in Genomics, July 2011

Thank you to Kaitlin Beckett whose work we reproduce on our site!