• Question: what science conforence did you enjoy the most?

    Asked by hokidoki to Jim on 23 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Jim Caryl

      Jim Caryl answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      That’s easy – my favourite one in recent years was this one: http://www.ispb.org/Archive/PB06/

      It was a conference about bits of DNA called ‘mobile genetic elements’. These come in many shapes and sizes, but essentially they are bits of DNA that either exist as rings of DNA, or live temporarily within the genomic DNA of bacteria, or plants (and even your DNA) and periodically they can cut themselves out and be transferred to another place on the DNA, or when in bacteri, can be moved to completely different strains of bacteria.

      These pieces of DNA can encode resistance to antibiotics, disinfectants, as well as encode potent toxins that can kill people. The toxin in bacterial disease Anthrax and the toxin in Cholera are both carried on such mobile genetic elements.

      The conference was in Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada/California border. A beautiful area. I then went on a road trip around Northern California with a friend of mine from New York.