Scientists unveil a new Tree of Life


Bacteria dominate newly drawn tree of life
Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Waterloo in Canada studied more than 3,000 species and pieced together bits of DNA to update the tree of life. The tree is dominated by bacteria, while all the eukaryotes are represented on a slender twig. The work is published in the journal Nature Microbiology.” The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (4/11)

APRIL 11, 2016

“A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2016, on page D2 of the New York edition with the headline: The Tiniest Beings Writ Large.A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2016, on page D2 of the New York edition with the headline: The Tiniest Beings Writ Large.”

From FBR SmartBrief <> Wed., April 13, 2016

GenBank has reached 200 billion base pairs from > 350,000 spp.

“Almost the number of stars in the Milky Way.” Through this stellar comparison, the National Institutes of Health proudly announced in 2005 that the content of their computerized collection of DNA sequences called GenBank had reached 50 billion bases or units of DNA. Today, it contains far more, over 200 billion bases from over 350,000 different species, making it one of the largest scientific database in the world.

Here is the announcement of the availability of the Nirenberg papers: “GenBank & The Early Years of “Big Data”

“Deciphering the Genetic Code: A 50 Year Anniversary” January, 2015

Marshall Nirenberg in the lab in early 1960’s, when he completed the first summary document of the genetic code — how triplets (DNA sequences) direct amino acids to form proteins.  Pictures of the group and more about the papers are here:

A young man in a lab coat and plastic gloves holds up a glass tube in a laboratory.

Virtual Cell Animation Collection

This website is hosted by North Dakota State University, the Molecular & Cellular Biology Learning Center:

There are 6 videos on molecular processes, 9 on cellular processes and 9 on cellular energy conversions.   There is also an overview video.  Sponsors include the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Dept. of Education.

Source:  Choice, Sept. 2015, p. 34, listing of “Outstanding Academic Websites of 2014”

Institute of Biodiversity Genomics, Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Jumps Into Biodiversity Genomics With New Institute

“On the heels of two vast analyses of the genomes of both birds and insects, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has announced that it will launch a virtual biodiversity genomics institute to accelerate efforts to capture and catalog all the DNA from Earth’s flora and fauna. Science, 12/12”


From: Total E-Clips <>

To read more:

GeneEd: Genetics, Education, Discovery


“The GeneEd website was created by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a helpful resource for the teaching and learning of genetics. On the site, visitors can find labs and experiments, fact sheets, and teacher resources on topics including DNA forensics, genetic conditions, evolution, and biostatistics. First-time visitors will want to start their journey by looking over the Topics tab at the top of the page. There are 40 different thematic areas here consisting of articles, video clips, webcasts, and links to additional quality resources vetted by the GeneEd web team. The Labs & Experiments section includes virtual labs that explore the genetics of different organisms as well as links to resources provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Young people may also wish to take a look at the Careers in Genetics section as it features interviews with scientists that will inspire and delight.”

Source:  The Scout Report — Volume 19, Number 32 (HTML) Univ. Wisconsin

DNA Interactive — A “Best of the Web” selection in

The reviewer describes DNA Interactive:  “Beautiful site design, fun and engaging material”.  It is a “4-star” site, dedicated to DNA’s discovery and study, from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory — and it’s free.

Source:   Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Nov. 15, 2012, p. 50

It can also be found on the web at:

GEN’s “back page” also offers reviews “Best of the Apps”, too.

DNA — Secrets of the Sequence

Secrets of the Sequence

“If you are looking to get in on the ground floor of the DNA sequencing that occurs in a high-tech laboratory, this video series is a fine place to start. Produced with help from a variety of sponsors, such as the National Academies and Pfizer, this site from Virginia Commonwealth University brings together 50 of the best videos from the public television series “Secrets of the Sequence” to “assist teachers in the application of genetic research across the biology curriculum.” Each of the videos is 8-10 minutes long, and they are divided into topical areas that include anatomy, bioethics, and DNA. Visitors can download each video, or just stream them directly from the site. Finally, the site also includes a number of helpful educational worksheets and guides for teachers.”

Source:  The Scout Report, Univ. of Wisconsin, Oct. 28, 2011 

Database of Genomic Structural Variation (dbVar)


From NIH News: “The National Institutes of Health today announces the launch of a new resource, called the Database of Genomic Structural Variation, or dbVar, to help scientists understand how differences in DNA contribute to human health and disease.”.

Thanks to Tara Calishain and her newsletter, ResearchBuzz, October 4, 2010