Thursday, April 30, 2009

A novel strain of kat-transgenic mice that make nothing

Magdalena Fonseca and Jesús Cansado
Instituto Federal del Trabajo, Puebla, Mexico

Chronic laziness is one of the major burdens at modern society, with harmful consequences for industry (absenteeism), academy (school failure), and home (dishing quarrels) environments. Here, we have studied the molecular basis of chronic laziness using castrated, well-fed domestic cats as a paradigm of passive organisms in the Animal Kingdom. Comparative genomics on domestic cats which had been suffered preventive castration, versus those from wildlife-relatives, including American puma and Iberian lynx, revealed the presence on domestic cats of an unique set of genes, arranged in tandem, which were named as kat (kinetic-absent tandem) genes. The number of kat genes fluctuated from a few of them to several dozens, depending on the animals, indicating frequent gene duplications and/or deletions during adaptation of the cats to their particular home niche. In addition, kat genes shared the feature of being highly repetitive and with an extremely boring nucleotide sequence. To assess the physiological function of the kat genes products, transgenic mice strains were engineered that integrated in their genomes several copies of kat genes. Sets of kat genes (kit-kats) were cloned in integrative vectors under the control of the rodent yawn promoter, and microinjected in mice embryos. No particular morphological or pathological phenotype was observed on the kat-transgenic mice, which gained weight steadily after birth and looked quite healthy, with the exception of an exacerbated mating unwillingness in the male transgenic animals, even when highly receptive non-transgenic females were around. In line with this apparent lack of sexual appetite, the kat-transgenic mice displayed a fancifully penetrant behavioural phenotype, which essentially consisted in the mice making nothing, all day and night long. These results demonstrate that kat genes are responsible for passive behaviour and inactivity in domestic cats. Our preliminary investigations reveal the presence of active kat-like genes in humans that watch TV serials on a regular basis. We propose the kat-transgenic mice here described as a suitable animal model to test new non-alcoholic drugs against human chronic laziness and acute boredom.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cloning of St. Theresa reveals relic fraud

S.S. Pious, K.Y. Pérez-Pérez, K. Eleison and K. Honradow
Istituto Nazionale Vaticano di Investigazione Sacra (INVIS), Vatican City

Cloning of human beings is considered unethical, immoral, unscrupulous and offensive to the fundamental nature of mankind, as well as an obnoxious crime among believers of major faiths, such as Islamists or Christians. Some exceptions to this rule may apply, however, such as the application of cloning techniques to relics of sacred features, key spiritual leaders or beloved entertainers like Walt Disney, aimed to re-create widely-respected, missed or holy people that would seriously contribute to enlightenment and revelation. As a pioneering approach in this direction, we took advantage of the outstanding conditions of conservation of the rather famous incorrupt arm of Saint Theresa (1515-1582), kept at the cathedral of Ronda (Spain), to extract intact adult stem cells from the cubitus bone marrow. Microsuction with an ultra-thin Popote™ device (Miracle Biotech, Inc.) allowed the recovery of enough living stem cells for in vitro expansion on AMEN (Ave Maria Enriched in Nutrients) medium prepared with holy water (Getsemaní, PA) and supplemented with 10% fetal holy lamb serum. Saint Theresa cells (STCs) proved pluripotent and astoundingly healthy. Considering that the specimen was over 400 years old, and that the graduate student who took the sample was reportedly drunk, we hypothesize that it was a miracle indeed. Seven times 7 unfertilized human eggs donated by healthy nuns were enucleated, and nuclei from STCs were microinjected into them with due respect. Successful viable clones were selected and either frozen following the same protocol as the standard for Crunchy Golden Fish Sticks or implanted into the uterus of volunteer prioresses of the Order of the Immaculate Conception. Seven of the prioresses were happily pregnant, two of them with twins. Surprisingly, standard obstetric ultrasonography executed around the third month of gestation revealed that all 9 embryos were male. We conclude that the incorrupt arm of St. Theresa, in spite of all the veneration that has generated through history, is not a truly reliable item. Caution should be taken in potential projects of the same nature, such as those that may consider sampling the Holy Shroud or Mao Zedong’s mummy. Our research, however, opens the debate on whether nuns, under certain special circumstances, should be morally permitted to undergo abortion.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A comparative study of the fertilizing properties of guano from different domestic animals

Francesc Bonàs and Josep C. Honrat
Fundació Caixa d’Estalvis, Badalona, Spain

Seabird and bat guano manures are excellent ecologic fertilizers because their high content in phosphorus, nitrates, and other inorganic salts. However, their suitability as home fertilizers is limited by their remote source, which is confined to distant oceanic islands and deep caves. Domestic animal species are good providers of guano-like excrements, not only in the countryside farming activities (cattle manure), but also at home (pet guano) and at the daily street-life of our towns (dog shit). However, comprehensive studies on the attributes as soil nutrient supplements of this dung are scarce. Here, we have compared the properties as plant fertilizers of guano and guano-like excrements from a wide variety of domestic organisms, from non-pedigree dogs to silkworms. Human defecations were included in the study as a comparison. Faeces were carefully picked in situ by voluntary donors and collecting fellows, and were classified according to their species of origin. To allow normalization of the data and to avoid odour interferences, an automated shit processing protocol was performed under aseptic conditions. Samples were compacted using a modified French press, followed by slow-drying and a final step of vigorous grinding with a shitty beater. Tests were performed using hot chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) as a model for growth of Solanaceae plants, which constitute a plant family of major agricultural importance at home gardens world-wide. A summary of our study is graphically shown below, and detailed information will be provided elsewhere:

Our results illustrate the potential utility of guano from domestic animals as a reliable, cheap and environmentally clean biological fertilizer. Among the samples tested, Goldfish guano displayed the less attractive features as a domestic fertilizer, due to its elevated water content and difficulties in its obtaining. Conversely, stray dog shit stood out for its high fertilizing power and availability, with a low-cost supply. A survey of the manure market reveals that dog shit can compete in price and quality with artificial, non-renewable chemical fertilizers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The first alien metagenome: shorter than expected

C. Vientre, E.T. Weirdo, J.J. Binks, A. Skywalker Jr. & N. Ibáñez-Serrador
Medinaceli Center for Astrobiology (MECA), Soria, Earth

Searching for life in planets other than Earth is a common pastime among Astrobiologists when they run short of Sudokus, as well as a major challenge for mankind. A major reason is that once that biodiversity in Earth will be devastated, a different source of biodiversity to screw up must be found somewhere else. Since travelling to other planets is not satisfactorily covered by low-cost airlines, a sensible idea is to capture extraterrestrial debris on the earth cortex and search within for biologic material. A piece of meteorite found serendipitously in a jar of garbanzo beans was treated with a blowtorch to eliminate contaminant earthly life beings from its surface, then it was sliced in an sterile environment with an ionic laser cut-and-fix tomograph and the core of the specimen isolated. Since PCR with universal primers failed to recover DNA from the piece (we suggest they should not be called universal any more), we used random short cosmic (RSC) oligonucleotides (Madoff Biotech., Inc). The amplicons were cloned in cosmid vectors and 66,667 clones were sequenced by high throughput technology and assembled into contigs by a team of skilled bioinformaticians using a Spectrum processor. Surprisingly, one only contig consisting of one only base was assembled after this effort, which read 5’-A-3’. We conclude that the extraterrestrial ecosystem consisted of one only alien being with a very limited genomic plasticity. The being was named Alien alpha, for it marks the beginning of Xenobiology. Taking into account that at least three A. alpha would have to cooperate to build up a codon, probably their ability to express their genetic information depends on strict alphabetic co-operation or, alternatively, is greatly restricted by illiteracy. In sum, unless some aspect of its biology is not clear to us yet, either this form of life is very simple, or its intelligence is so sublime that it is badly making fun of our current knowledge.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Towards a world-wide consensus for the nomenclature of eggs fried in oil

The Kellogg-Emerson International Consortium for Egg Systematics

When carefully dropped in hot oil, fresh fowl eggs spread their white around the sturdier yolk. The white, formerly colourless and viscose, readily coagulates into a solid white matter due to denaturing albumins. If the egg is removed from the heating source at this stage, the yolk remains orange-yellow and liquid, due to its high content in lipids, allowing a wide range of further manipulations, such as bread-dipping, vampire-biting, or vacuum-kiss sucking. This outstanding phenomenon, highly reproducible, is one of the most recurrent visions in starving people world-wide, an important cause of high cholesterol levels in non-starved individuals, and a common nightmare for common farm hens (Gallus gallus) and akin, especially for those with utter maternal instincts. Despite of its capital interest to mankind, a consensus for an internationally accepted nomenclature for this phenomenon has remained elusive and an issue of controversy. The Kellogg-Emerson International Consortium for Egg Systematics (KE-ICES), presided by the Indonesian researcher Lympyathe Kesthasdewevo, during its annual meeting and egg festival in Burgo de Osma, stated the relevance of agreeing on a final decision on the term. Although a perfectly round name has not come out of the shell yet, important progresses were made: “Sunny side up”, proposed by the American committee, was regarded as absurd by most of the other members. Etymological arguments on the resemblances of the yolk with the star in our solar system found the opposition of the Japanese Committee, who claimed plagiarism of national values represented by their flag. The Eastern European Committee defended the term “Volske Oko” (literally wolf’s eye), but it was disregarded for it could be not pronounced with the mouth full. Similar criticisms were met by “Ochsenaugen” (Oxen’s Eye, proposed by the German committee), that was also considered disgustingly non-inviting. “Oeuf sur le plat” and “Uovo al Tegamino” were considered too boring. “Ovo estrelato”, the Portuguese proposal, was seriously considered, given its poetically evocating phonetics when pronounced with a Brazilian accent, but it was subsequently discarded when the Consortium learned that it meant “smashed egg”, an alleged blasphemous combination of words. “Chicken Abortion” was vetoed by the Vatican delegate. “Güevofrito, Joer”, proposed by Dr. Conrado, of uncertain Spanish origin, was disliked, being apparently a diminutive. But “Entonse Gëvofro, cohone” sounded even worse. The Japanese proposal “Yanopoyito” (and the alternative less familiar Yanopoyo, of course), did not find enough support either. Finally, trends towards the use of Latin words, proposed by the Vatican delegate, were supported by a majority. Although a final co-co-co-co-consensus term has not been minted yet, Ovus regius, Ovus moxabilis, Ovus magnus, Ovus deliciossus gallinarum and similar names were considered. It is expected that a final decision will hatch in the next meeting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The solitude of the blogger: a case report

Joseph Könrad, Prof., MD, PhD
Stadt Klinik, Munich, Germany

Blogger Solitude Disease (BSD) is one of the clinical manifestations of Robinson´s Syndrome, and constitutes the second more aggressive blog-related disease in humans, after Blog Addiction Disease (related information at El Garrofer). The incidence of BSD is growing exponentially in young adults and naive bloggers, largely due to the increase in risk-exposure to internet resources at both home and job environments, as well as at public premises. However, the etiology of BSD remains obscure, and its symptoms are usually overlooked by non-skilled physicians. Here, an acute case of BSD is reported that affected to a relatively young individual without previous clinical blog-related history. When the case was clinically diagnosed, the patient had already been abandoned by his family and had lost his job. The patient had been sleeping under the shelter of a bridge for weeks, and he was spending most of the daytime wandering at cybercafes and telephone parlors. A very severe solitude crisis (grade III) brought him to the hospital emergencies. Clinical parameters of the patient at the time of admission were as follows:

Number of blogs being run by the patient; NBP = 13
Number of patient aliases in blogs; NPA = 10-20
Number of blogs being run by the patient with others; NBO = 1
Number of patient entries in own´s blogs; NPE/day = 13.5
Number of comments by others to entries in patient´s blogs; NOC/day = 0.01

Following the guidelines of the BSD International Consortium, the case was diagnosed as a paradigm of extreme BSD (X-BSD), with a blogger solitude index (BSI) ranging from 1.1 to 1.6. Since BSI provides a good estimation of the number of real friends of patients with BSD, a follow up of the case was made by telephone calls and email messages to relatives and potential friends of the patient. The lack of answers confirmed the BSI data. There was no positive response of the patient to the standard therapy for Robinson´s Syndrome, consisting of a pencil and writing paper, an assortment of tools, and a Bible. The patient is currently under mild Log-in therapy, and his vital constants remain stable. It is concluded from our study that X-BSD patients are in the threshold of absolute loneliness, desperation, and virtual misery.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A novel inheritance mechanism that does not fit to the second Mendelian law

Juan J. Conrado and Gregori Marañó
Universidad Popular de la Valldigna, Benifairó, Spain

Mendel´s laws are the foundation of modern genetics and the basis to understand the inheritance of single characters in peas. Here, we have attempted to verify the two major Mendel´s laws with true-breeding varieties of mediterranean orange (Citrus sinensis) and wild blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), using in vitro pollen-microinjection and colorimetric techniques. The offspring obtained after crossing of homozygous oranges and blueberries (F1 generation) displayed an uniform heterozygous phenotype consisting of 100% blueberries of orange color. This result is in accordance with the first Mendel´s law, and demonstrates that the blueberry character is dominant with respect to the orange character in the orange blueberry hybrids:

On the other hand, crossing of the specimens from the F1 generation produced an offspring that did not display the expected 3:1 Mendelian ratio for the F2 generation. Instead, identical proportions of oranges and blueberries were obtained in the F2, corresponding to a frequency of 1:1 in the transmission of the blueberry and orange characters. We conclude that the second Mendel´s law is not universal, and that production of oranges from orange blueberry hybrid seeds can be achieved at large scale by a novel low-cost inheritance mechanism.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


High yield of spaghetti sections with an innovative spaghetti longitudinal cutter

Conchia Rigati and Pepino Conraldo
Istituto Pastaldente di Tecnologia, Aldente, Italy

Spaghetti, together with macaroni, is the basic food for children under thirteen in the western world, and the second source of carbohydrates in the adult diet, after beer. We have previously reported the invention of an adaptable household vacuum pump suitable to isolate in one-single step the holes from all kinds of macaroni, from penne giganti to fideuá. Now, we have developed a domestic spaghetti longitudinal cutter machine, engineered to obtain with high performance thin and very thin sections from different-gauged long pasta varieties, such as bucatini, regular spaghetti, or long capellini. The cutter machine works optimally on both frozen and desiccated pasta, with a yield that ranges from two to four longitudinal sections per spaghetti unit, depending on the calibre of the starting sample. Fresh long pasta can also be sectioned with the spaghetti cutter if a previous lyophylization step is included in the cutting procedure. Advantages of sectioned spaghetti are multiple, and include faster, energy-saving cooking, tastier flavour, and easier digestion. In addition, sectioned spaghetti accommodate to all Italian and home-made recipes, and provide up to four-times more servings per dish, which can make the difference in large families during periods of unemployment and/or economic shortage.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mutation of the Kamikaze gene impairs window glass-crashing in flies

Mi Yen, Hose Konlado and Tamu Tokao
Kyoto Insurance Institute, Kyoto, Japan

Windshield-head crash (WC) is the major direct cause of human death in traffic accidents in developed countries. Here, using the fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism, we report the identification of the gene responsible for the stubborn crashing against glass windows displayed by most of the fly species, and extend this finding to a highly related gene in humans. Flies were mutagenized and selected for their ability to avoid glass crashing in fly-flight simulation chambers under WC-like conditions. After thirteen rounds of selection, a fly strain (kaka1) was obtained which manifested a strong and rapid preventive response against glass crashing. Kaka1 flies avoided crashing by diminishing the speed at the proximity of the glass, followed by a paused flying backwards. Genome analysis of the kaka1 strain identified the gene responsible of the WC-like response in flies, which was named as Kamikaze. Targeted inhibition of Kamikaze expression on wild type flies abrogated glass-crashing induced by light. Conversely, ectopic overexpression of Kamikaze protein produced hypersensitivity to glass-crashing inducers, with devastating consequences. Computational search for Kamikaze related genes revealed the existence of an orthologous gene in humans, located at the tip of the chromosome Y, which displayed variability in copy-number among individuals. Remarkably, this gene was absent from all other living organisms, with the exception of some blowflies and mosquitos, suggesting an unique function for Kamikaze, conserved in flies and humans along evolution, in the prevention of glass crashing during flying or car driving. Preliminary genetic analysis of a random population of alive or WC-dead male drivers indicated a strong negative correlation between the number of copies of Kamikaze and driving survival. Our findings demonstrate the involving of Kamikaze in WC, and suggest that Kamikaze inhibitors could be used to ameliorate the burden of traffic accident-associated mortality in modern human society. Supplementary information at El Garrofer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Evidence for the missing link from an East-coast cave in Spain

Eva Blanca and José Conrado
Casa de la Cultura, Paterna, Spain

The precise evolutionary traits of modern hominids have been obscured by the lack of a continuous linkage with our primate ancestors. We report here the preliminary description of a collection of tools, shells and bones, found at the upper level of a deserted cave at Paterna archaeological site (Paterna, Valencia, East-coast Spain), which suggests the existence of a novel Homo species (H. levantiscus) defining the evolutionary transition from primitive apes to modern humans (H. sapiens). Paleomagnetism and radioisotope techniques, as well as food-based biostratigraphy analysis, have dated the samples in the very late Holocene. The bones included well-preserved pieces from chicken thighs and wings, as well as from Mediterranean-rabbit anterior and posterior legs. All shells found at the site were from the clochina local variety of Atlantic mussel. Careful surface examination of the bones revealed bite-like scratched traces, suggesting the consumption of the meat in situ by flesh-eating extinct humans. More importantly, several cooking ironed-artefacts were found at the same stratum, including a flattened, double-handled pan heavily burned at its bottom, and a link of medium size which resembled the so-called missing link between humans and apes. The link was unbroken, suggesting an important role in preserving the continuity of Hominoidae family along evolution. Our findings shed some light on the ancient roots of H. sapiens species at the Mediterranean area and its evolutionary relationship with other hominid- and ape-species, and provide evidence on the unequivocal origin of paella at Spanish Levant region.
Supplementary information at El Garrofer.