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University of Iowa News Release

 

Feb. 5, 2007

Talk On 'Sexy Science' To Be Held Feb. 8

"Sexy science: the evolutionary biology of sexual reproduction" will be the topic of discussion at a free, public talk from 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, on the Mezzanine Floor of the Cottage Bakery and Café, 14 S. Linn St. The talk will be given by John M. Logsdon Jr., assistant professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Biological Sciences and the Roy J. Carver Center for Comparative Genomics.

Logsdon's current research includes studying the evolution of sex and meiosis. His work represents an important milestone in understanding sexual reproduction by providing the first comprehensive analysis of the evolution of genes needed for sex in eukaryotes: cells having nuclei, including plants, animals, fungi and protozoa.

In a previous study, Logsdon and his colleagues investigated a single-celled parasite (Giardia intestinalis, an organism that causes diarrhea in animals and humans) thought to represent one of the most ancient branches on the eukaryotic tree of life. Although Giardia had long been thought to reproduce asexually, the organism was found to have five genes used in meiosis (the sexual process that halves an organism's chromosomes to make gametes, such as sperm and eggs). These results suggest that Giardia is capable of sex and that the earliest such cells diverged after this process arose.

The central goal of one current research project is to study the evolution of meiotic genes essential for sex in fungi -- the closest relatives to animals on the tree of life. This work follows from studies of several fungal species that are model systems for studies of the mechanisms of meiosis and sex from which detailed knowledge of the genes required and their mechanisms of action are now known.

The talk will be the first to be presented by Café Scientifique of Iowa City during the spring 2007 semester. Sessions are held on the second Thursday of the month from September to May. Café Scientifique of Iowa City is a meeting forum where the public is invited to explore and debate the latest ideas in science, mathematics, medicine and technology. The Web site for Café Scientifique is located at: http://www.physics.uiowa.edu/cafe/

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu