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An Evolutionary View of Tiger Conservation

PLoS Biology
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020453
  • Synopsis
  • Evolution
  • Genetics/Genomics/Gene Therapy
  • Cat
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine


PLBI0212_1999-2040.indd PLoS Biology | 1999 Research Digest Synopses of Research Articles In his seminal exploration of the properties of living organisms, What Is Life?, Erwin Schroedinger concluded that life depends in large part on storing and processing information. For genetic material to carry the diverse instructions required for living processes, he proposed, it must be stored in an aperiodic crystal. Just nine years later, it was clear that DNA is indeed an aperiodic crystal and that genetic information is conveyed through this irregular pattern. Much like computers, biological systems are programmed to follow a precise set of rules, or algorithms, to store information and solve problems. These biological algorithms direct all manner of biochemical processes to create complex patterns and structures by chemically modifying and assembling individual components. Of course, cells use biochemical circuits not electronic circuits. Single tubulin proteins, for example, follow precise rules of chemistry and physics to spontaneously self-assemble, or polymerize, into the microtubules essential for cell transport and motility. The proteins’ binding interactions effect rules that specify how the pieces fi t together to form the resulting structure. They also specify when and how tubulins assemble from a nucleation complex—a molecular algorithm governing the logic of polymerization. These complex structures self-assemble with remarkably few mistakes. Though considered quite simple, little is understood about the principles that govern programmable structural order underlying this type of spontaneous self-assembly. In crystals, the simplest example of spontaneous self-assembly, subunits of the whole are arranged in a repeating pattern that extends indefi nitely in all directions. If you know the position of one unit in the pattern, you can tell the exact position of every other unit. In a new study, Rothemund

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