Researchers publish cross-disciplinary biological study

first_imgIn a cross-disciplinary effort, Notre Dame biology and mathematics professors have published a study on stathmin, a key protein in the cytoskeleton, demonstrating the success of mathematical computer modeling and lab work in photographing of stathmin.Notre Dame associate professor of biochemistry Holly Goodson recently published the study in conjunction with professor of applied mathematics Mark Alber. “Mark Alber’s lab specializes in doing biological modeling and they had already approached us about the possibility of trying to put something together with this,” Goodson said. “We’ve actually been working on this for quite a long time. The models had to start very simply and we’ve built complexity over time.”In developing the mathematical model, Goodson said the goal was to create a system that was not overly complex. “The first thing we’re looking for is just general behavior,” she said. “Then you can add extra levels of details to make it more precise. One of the main things you can get out of something like this is to figure out what really matters.”Using computational models in a systems biology approach indirectly tests and observes conceptual models of the dynamic subcellular system, Goodson said. Although electron microscopes can capture images nanometers in size, such pictures are often incomplete, she said.“It’s like trying to understand a football game: if you’re trying to figure out football from a hundred random snapshots of the game, you would never see anything interesting,” Goodson said. “You would never see a touchdown, it would never happen. That’s kind of like electron microscopy: it’s hard to figure out what’s really going from these snapshots frozen in time.”Stathmin plays a crucial role in the destruction and uptake of microtubules, Goodson said, a dynamic, continuous process that is difficult to track. Her lab formulated conceptual ideas for the mechanism of this process, Goodman said, and obtained only limited evidence by traditional biochemical means.“It was frustrating because we couldn’t really figure out how to test if these ideas were correct,” Goodson said. “It goes back to the saying that you don’t really understand something until you can predict it quantitatively. “It’s too complicated a system to write down mathematical models — all we really know is how the individual pieces interact, but we don’t really know how that would give rise to specific predictions about the behavior of the system other than that ‘it grows’ or ‘it falls apart.’”Goodson said she studied computational biology as a rotation student working on modeling protein ­folding in the lab of Michael Levitt, one of the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.Goodson said she believes computational and inter­disciplinary approaches are the way of the future in biology, as shown by joint efforts of Notre Dame’s biochemistry and mathematics departments.“This is an example of why it’s important for people in a variety of sciences to be learning something about biology because there’s a lot of science that’s going to be done in the next 20 years or so at this interface between biology and the other sciences,” she said.Tags: Biological Modelinglast_img read more

Your Southern Garden

first_imgGet a sneak peek at a secret orchid garden and learn about container plants for shade on “Your Southern Garden” with Walter Reeves June 18 at noon and 6:30 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting. On a visit to Callaway Gardens, show host Reeves is blindfolded and led to a secret orchid garden. Horticulture expert Hank Bruno shares his beautiful terrestrial orchids, but not their location.While at Callaway Gardens, Reeves also visits with Sheila Kanotz to learn about designing containers with plants that have only texture and leaf color to create interest.Curly-leaf kale has lots of texture. Reeves talks about one of his favorite plants and how to use it in the landscape. If insects love your garden, don’t miss University of Florida entomologist Steven Arthurs’ identification of several common six-legged creatures. “Your Southern Garden,” produced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UF IFAS Extension, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast. The program is made possible by sponsorship from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Clemson Cooperative Extension.Watch “Your Southern Garden” on select public TV stations in Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. Check local listings for details.last_img read more