Southern Genes

Meeting your heroes.

Peter Dearden Mar 12, 2014

They* say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet one of mine, Professor Lord Robert Winston, as he came to visit Genetics Otago for the day. Prof. Winston, as well as being a pioneer in science communication, is also a key figure in genetics, being part of the team that invented the technique … Read More

Why you should care about plasticity.

Peter Dearden Feb 26, 2014

Peter K. Dearden In my last post I mentioned I was interested in how you get changes in the shape of an animal without a change in genetics. This process is, of course, important for animals like bees, but it is also important in our own biology. In recent years evidence has been building that suggests that our early life … Read More

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Why I study Bees.

Peter Dearden Jan 13, 2014

Peter K. Dearden I was recently asked why I work on honeybees, especially given my growing intolerance to bee stings. There are lots of easy answers to this questions, including how cool they are, how important they are, how remarkable their biology is etc etc, but when it comes down to it, there is a real answer. So just to … Read More

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Working out what makes us human.

Peter Dearden Dec 20, 2013

Peter K. Dearden. One key question in biology is what makes us different as a species. Humans have a remarkable set of adaptations that distinguish us from even our closest living relatives. We walk upright, we have larger brains, we use language, and we are consummate tool-makers and users. From the point of view of an alien, perhaps, these differences … Read More

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AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics

Peter Dearden Nov 26, 2013

Peter K. Dearden The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer. You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around here. Genetics Otago  … Read More

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Finding future treatments for Cancer

Peter Dearden Sep 25, 2013

Dr Elizabeth Duncan Cancer.  It is a small word, but one that has a big meaning for a lot of people.  Most of us know someone who has had cancer, or are cancer survivors. As a geneticist I can sometimes have a dispassionate view of the world around me, but last night as Jessica Wapner read an excerpt from her … Read More

Fork Futures

Peter Dearden Aug 06, 2013

Peter K. Dearden It is hard to avoid the news that last night, a beef burger grown in the lab was consumed by a number of people. The idea was that meat, grown in dishes in the lab, could replace meat grown in animals; last night was a demonstration of the principle. The beef burger in question was grown from … Read More

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Lethal doses and Bees

Peter Dearden Jul 30, 2013

Peter K. Dearden More bad news for bees this week. Honeybees around the world are struggling in the face of disease and insecticide threats. In New Zealand we have Varroa mite, that increases costs for beekeepers, destroys unmanaged beehives and vectors viruses, making them more virulent. Overseas, Colony Collapse Disorder and pesticide-threats are adding to the woes Varroa brings, meaning … Read More

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Is there a penis on your CV?

Peter Dearden Oct 05, 2012

By SM Morgan It’s always tricky raising a polarising issue, and occasionally especially so in an on-line forum with the potential for excessive trolling, but I (and evidently a lot of others worldwide) think it is definitely something on which needs to have an open discourse established, and I would hate for our wee country to miss out on the opportunity for … Read More

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