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Retrospective, December 2013

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We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our featured blog posts published since June 2013.

Evolution

Microbial ‘Starstuff’. Associate blogger Gemma Reguera tells us how the remnants of a dying star become transmuted into microbial stuff, including cellular structures such as magnetosomes. One universe it is.

Who Would Have Thought? Biggest Flower, Biggest Gene Thief. The world’s largest flowers, about 1 meter across, are chock-full of genes acquired by lateral transfer. The plants that make these flowers are parasites of other plants, which may have something to do with this wholesale theft.

Parallel ERV-Mediated Evolution of Blue Egg Color in Chickens. We reprint here a delightful blog piece by Robert Gifford on how the blue color of eggs of the native chickens in Chile is due to an endogenous retrovirus. Moreover, a separate ERV insertion accounts for the blue egg color in Asian chickens. Many other avian genes are also affected by ERVs.

Fine Reading: Exploring the Microbial Dark Matter. Merry discusses the huge blank regions in our canvas depicting the microbial world. How much is left to explore!

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