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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meaningful Contribution

During a quick break from reviewing biology for the MCAT, I found myself Google-ing bacteriophage images. And now I find myself (hopefully) making a meaningful contribution (unlike most of what I do here) to this blog by dedicating a post to these gnarly creatures.

Without further adieu, I introduce (or re-introduce) you to bacteriophage.

Because viruses cannot propagate their own genetic material, they have other cells do it for them. These specific parasites target bacteria cells and inject their genetic material in order to transcribe, translate and replicate themselves. They can either do so in more dormant fashion by inserting their genetic material into the bacteria's DNA (lysogenic), or through injecting genetic material that immediately induces synthesis of viral components (lytic) which eventually causes the cell to explode (lyse) and spill out bacteriophage babies everywhere.

It's all very disgusting and fascinating to think about.

Here's an artist's rendition of what the beginning of this cycle of impending doom may look like for this unfortunate prokaryote.

And here is a real image of impending doom for this bacteria.

It's almost tragic to think this thing will explode and release a myriad of spidery bacteria predators. But amazing as well.

Well, I'm back to Biology. Hope your skin is crawling like mine.


Unknown said...

I'll be in the corner weeping softly in the fetal position if you need me...

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