You want it darker

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

We are highly adaptable. We have been for the past few million years, and continue to be so on a daily basis. Whichever way you look at it, the art of adaptation really is just a way of preserving your integrity - physical or psychological - and coping the best way possible with the environment you are evolving in. Throughout the animal world and over the aeons, the capacity to adapt has always been Nature's answer to predators and hostile physical, geographical or climatic conditions. In short, adaptation is the best way to survive and Charles Darwin was the first to explain animal diversity in this way in his Origin of Species. Ever since, the study of fossils or more recently genomes is a constant support to Darwin's theory of what was then coined 'natural selection'. But it all remained very theoretical; it is difficult to observe animal adaptation within a man's lifetime when it occurs over thousands or even hundreds of years. However, there is a moth in Great Britain, known as the Peppered Moth which, over a relatively short period of time, adapted to the effects of pollution resulting from the Industrial Revolution by changing the colour of its body and wings. The protein involved in this change was recently discovered and named 'the cortex protein'.

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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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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 Mara Haseltine whose work we reproduce on our site!