Peter Dearden

Associate Professor Peter Dearden leads Southern Genes. He is the director of Genetics Otago. Peter was trained at Victoria University, PhD at Imperial College, University of London. He then worked in the Wellcome (now Gurdon) institute and the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge; the Zoology department, University of Western Ontario; and returned to New Zealand and the University of Otago in 2002. Peter is a researcher in the Laboratory for Evolution and Development, and Otago site leader for the National Research Centre for Growth and Development. Peter's research is centered in Evolution and Development, Epigenetics and Developmental plasticity. Peter is on Twitter @peterkdearden

The collapse of both bees and scientific independence. - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 21, 2010

Assoc Prof Peter K. Dearden To humans, the most important insect on earth is the honeybee. Honeybees provide honey, wax, venom and royal jelly for human consumption, but through pollination, are also vital to food production. It is often quoted- but difficult to source- that the USDA sates that bees are required for 1/3 of the food we eat. We do know that 75% of crops require animal pollination and 35% of the value of crops depends on pollination. Bees in New … Read More

This Week in Science History: 18-10-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 18, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development Queen of the Flies – Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is born 20 Oct 1942 Expression of the Engrailed protein (one of the genes identified by Nüsslein-Volhard) in an aphid embryo. The protein is labeled with a purple dye and can be seen in cells that make up the nervous system and in stripes indicating the location of the segments. Image: Megan Leask German developmental geneticist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Edward Lewis) for research into the mechanisms of early embryonic development. She co-authored with Eric Wieschaus the Nature paper “Mutations Affecting Segment Number and Polarity in Drosophila,” (1980), which revolutionised the field of developmental genetics. In a systematic search … Read More

This Week in Science History: 11-10-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 14, 2010

Tamsin Jones, Laboratory for Evolution and Development Theodor Heinrich Boveri — Born 12 October 1862, died 15 October 1915 Theodor Boveri Boveri, a German biologist, was one of the first scientists to show that chromosomes are the units of inheritance. He discovered in his work on sea urchins that all chromosomes needed to be present for embryonic development to take place. He also discovered the centrosome, a small structure that is needed for cell division. Boveri also proposed that cancerous tumours were the result of a single cell getting its chromosomes scrambled and dividing uncontrollably. He was later proven correct by Thomas Hunt Morgan in 1915. J. Craig Venter — Born 14 October 1946 Craig Venter (Image: PLoS Biology) Recently in the news for … Read More

Breaking flies - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 08, 2010

SM Morgan I am at the point in my PhD studies where I am ordering pre-made mutant lines of flies from the US to test out some of the results I found early in my research. It is amazing that we can do this — and for so remarkably little expense. There are vast warehouses in the States and elsewhere that hold rows upon rows and shelves galore of different fly mutant lines — populations of flies carrying a mutation in a single gene. This makes things easy for us in that we can completely skip the mutant generation steps of the experiment and simply order online the mutants we require. This is all well and good — but I am very much a ‘learn by doing’ type of person and my undergraduate studies appear further away every day. Read More

So you’re missing 10 genes, no big deal! - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 06, 2010

Mary Gray, PhD student, Clinical Genetics Research Group As part of my PhD from time to time I have the opportunity to screen small cohorts of patients for medium to small scale genetic changes (called copy number variations), in the hopes of finding something new that may explain the patient’s disease and tell us something about what the involved gene or genes do. I have just finished screening a group of patients for new copy number variations and haven’t managed to find anything novel this time, but I thought I’d delve into the world of the copy number variation or CNV and why it’s interesting (and kinda weird). Not too long ago it was thought that most of the variation between people genetically was due to very small scale changes to DNA where a single DNA letter (base) is different … Read More

This Week in Science History: 4-10-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 05, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD Student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development It’s Nobel week! Michael Smith – died 4th of Oct 2000 (born 26 Apr 1932) British-born Canadian biochemist who won (with Kary B. Mullis, inventor of PCR) the 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his development of a technique called oligonucleotide-based site-directed mutagenesis. This technique enabled researchers to introduce specific mutations into genes and, thus, to the proteins that they encode. The prize recognized his groundbreaking work in reprogramming segments of DNA, the building blocks of life. His work launched a new era in genetics research. Prion discovery leads to Nobel Prize for Stanley Prusiner Tonsil biopsy in variant CJD. Prion Protein immunostaining (Image: Sbrandner, Wikimedia Commons) In 1997 on the 6th of October, American biology professor Stanley … Read More

October Science Horror-scopes - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 01, 2010

By Doc. Chaos I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. None of your cloning will work this month. (next month you will randomly check your stocks and find them contaminated — problem solved!) . . You will discover a new type of fungus growing in your cultures. No Nobel Prize for you — but your glassware will be the prettiest colour for 3 washes. (Your tubes were the blue labelled ones right?) . . . Your relationships will get better. The ones in your lab, I mean. Your love life is probably screwed. . . . You will die in a … Read More

“Why do you have all these weird toys?” - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 28, 2010

SM Morgan, Lab for Evolution & Development. The student write-up room (post grad/student office) for our lab is decorated with lovely pieces of random detritus collected from various conferences and meetings across the world. I don’t usually notice it — but we do have quite a range of…well, crap. This week, an innocent wee lass asked us why we had all of these ’weird toys’. And ‘weird toys’ is possibly the best reference to all of it. Conferences are like Comic-Con for scientists — massive gatherings of like-minded people, talking about their work, their passion — and being ensnared by advertising for scientific products. You might not even think of it — but there is fierce competition in the test-tube market. Like all good geek-gatherings, give-aways are a must. There’s the classic stress ball gimmick — because … Read More

This week in Science History: 27-9-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 27, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD Student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development George Harrison Shull – Died 28 Sep 1954 (born 15 Apr 1874) American botanist and geneticist known as the father of hybrid corn (maize). A leader in developing the multiple allele concept of genes, Shull’s work with maize led him to develop the first hybrid corn, ancestor of today’s sweet corn. Shull’s approach was to study the effects of inbreeding and subsequent cross-fertilization in corn. In 1909, he published A Pure Line Method of Corn Breeding in which he outlined the basics of breeding hybrid corn. As a result of his research corn yields per acre were increased 25 to 50 percent. Louis Pasteur – Died 28 Sep 1895 (born 27 Dec 1822) Louis Pasteur French chemist who became a … Read More

The Career Session, Part III - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 23, 2010

The Career Session, Part III. — SM Morgan Guest speakers: Julia Horsfield and Peter Dearden. — Thus follows the final round up of all the wisdom and advice given at the ‘career path’ Genetics Otago postgrad monthly colloquium. Last time we left at the most current point of Peter Dearden’s career path, and a discussion of academic job applications. An important question was asked of Peter — whilst in Canada (and stuck in a horrific postdoc position), did you want to quit science? The answer was yes, every month, but he had no idea of what else to do. Science is hard — to further illustrate the point, he talked of a paper which has been rejected for the 5th time — a career in science is composed of extreme highs and lows: an average of one rejection letter … Read More