DNA on Fountain of Youth, Do something to do an actual Tests

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DNA on Fountain of Youth, Do something to do an actual Tests

Postby dan-370 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:25 pm

Have bought some Horizon Gel equipment for DNA sequencing, and have done some basic research on this. Is there a possibility of some testing of DNA animal comparisons? Turtles live extremely long lives!

Please help give us some ideas. Daughter has done exremely well in previous science fairs.

Thanks
Dan
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Postby EmilyDolson » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:37 pm

Hi Dan,

I'm sorry, but I'm not 100% clear on what your question is. Are you asking whether it would be a valid sciene fair project, to compare the DNA of different animals? If so, I would say that, while you should check the rules of your individual fair, DNA tests are generally allowed. Often you have to submit an extra form for scientific review, but this shouldn't be a problem, as you are not doing anything dangerous or unethical.

This sounds like a very interesting line of thinking to persue! The DNA projects I have seen a science fairs have tended to do very well, so, if your daughter is intereted in DNA, she should by all means go for it!

As for specific ideas, those are among the hardest part of any science fair project, if your daughter wants to do well. The Science Buddies Idea Generator has a lot of good project ideas, but, if your daughter is at a really high level of science fair competition, I would have to suggest trying to find something that has not been widely explored in the past. The fountain of youth idea, if I am understanding it correctly, is an intruiging starting point, although I could imagine that it could potentially be very difficult. You could compare DNA within a given species, such as turtles, which might be interesting, although you would have to determine why this would be a better way to investigate the question than comparing human DNA. You could also try comparing DNA across species, some of which are more long-lived than others, but the issue is that different species' lifespans are often not directly genetic. There is a lot of research to suggest that, while smaller animals tend to have shorter lives, all of their internal rythyms are sped up to the point where they tend to have the same amount of life experience as larger, slower animals. In fact, some studies have found a direct correlation between metabolism and life-span. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&uid=15855403&cmd=showdetailview&indexed=google). While this could suggest that lifespan across different species may be too complicated to anylyze purely through DNA, it is important to note that DNA also controls metabolism, so this may still be a viable idea. This is discussed more thouroughly here: http://www.mccmedia.com/pipermail/brin-l/Week-of-Mon-20040607/019939.html. The mitochondrial DNA discussed in the second section may be of particular interest to your daughter.

If your daughter does decide to persue a project along these lines, I would strongly reccomend finding her a very knowledgable and experienced mentor, as DNA analysis is rapidly developing and probably not yet at the point where it is easy to self-teach. A mentor may also have some better topic suggestions.

I hope this answered some of your questions, and provided some sort of jumping off point into a very interesting but complex field. If you have any further questions feel free to ask. Good luck!

- Emily Dolson
Reach for the stars and, if you miss, grab the moon!
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Re: DNA on Fountain of Youth, Do something to do an actual Tests

Postby adance » Mon Dec 24, 2007 11:16 am

Try googling the search term "longevity gene"--I think that's basically the topic you're interested in.

There have been a few such genes found in fruit flies and C. elegans worms. Many scientists expect to find similar genes in other organisms like humans. But, I'm not sure exactly what you'd sequence for this project. It might be too big a topic to tackle.

However, comparing sequences for different animals is a good idea. You might consider what genes different animals are likely to share, but have variation in. For example, you might look at coat color genes for animals that are the same species or a different color? If you want to do cross-species comparisons, pick a gene every animal would have, like a gene for basic metabolism. One possibility is to try a few different species and use the number of differences in their sequences to create an evolutionary tree for the species, scientists often use these kinds of genetic differences to estimate how far back along the evolutionary tree the species diverged. For example, genes from a chicken and a robin would be more similar that from a chicken and a lizard.

This sounds like a pretty intense project. Good luck.

Amber
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Re: DNA on Fountain of Youth, Do something to do an actual Tests

Postby Louise » Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:08 pm

adance wrote:Try googling the search term "longevity gene"--I think that's basically the topic you're interested in.

There have been a few such genes found in fruit flies and C. elegans worms. Many scientists expect to find similar genes in other organisms like humans. But, I'm not sure exactly what you'd sequence for this project. It might be too big a topic to tackle.

However, comparing sequences for different animals is a good idea. You might consider what genes different animals are likely to share, but have variation in. For example, you might look at coat color genes for animals that are the same species or a different color? If you want to do cross-species comparisons, pick a gene every animal would have, like a gene for basic metabolism. One possibility is to try a few different species and use the number of differences in their sequences to create an evolutionary tree for the species, scientists often use these kinds of genetic differences to estimate how far back along the evolutionary tree the species diverged. For example, genes from a chicken and a robin would be more similar that from a chicken and a lizard.

This sounds like a pretty intense project. Good luck.

Amber


Amber's suggestions are good ones, though to expand a little on her comments- usually this type of study is done on the computer. Since there are already vast databases on many biological topics (DNA, proteins, genes, etc) people wanting to compare across large datasets usually use data from these libraries, rather than spend years doing experiments just to obtain the data. [And don't think these studies are trivial just because they are computer based. This can be (and is) serious research.] Try searching for "bioinformatics" and "genomics". There are some projects at this link that give you some idea of the different projects/tools available:

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/home_Genom.shtml?from=Home

Linking DNA sequences to specific functionality is difficult, so I don't think you can just run some gels on the DNA of two species and make a useful comparison. I'm not sure what a valid hypothesis for that experiment would be. I think doing well at the science fair is most closely linked to how good the hypothesis is, and how excited the student is about the topic. After your daughter has done a little bit more research, why doesn't she post back here and chat with us about what she finds exciting?

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Re: DNA on Fountain of Youth, Do something to do an actual Tests

Postby MariahG » Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:15 pm

Hi Dan,
I've worked at a lab this past summer, and we focused on DNA sequencing. I think your project idea is a great one, although like past replies have said, this could be quite complicated without proper equiptment found in a lab. Also,as someone wrote, this can also be done through the internet, I think it could be a cool idea to compare results from your project to what others have recorded. If your daughter is planning on doing a more complicated experiment, I would suggest looking on places such as googlescholar.com or and public library for articles and papers on this topic.
Hope that helped a bit!
~Mariah :D
Hi! My name is Mariah and I'm here to help ^_^
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Re: DNA on Fountain of Youth, Do something to do an actual T

Postby Rooz » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:51 am

Hi Dan,

I have a slightly different approach to test your idea. A recent study was published in the Journal of Nature suggesting that
knocking down a senescence biomarker gene may reduce tissue dysfunction in aged mice.

I think that one can descriptively compare the gene sequence or protein characteristics (preserved domains, size, etc)
of this gene across various species. These comparison could speculate on some correlation between longevity in various
species and structure of this gene or the product of the gene: the protein.

How to do this:

Here is the link to the article: http://www.nature.com.ezproxy.bu.edu/na ... 10600.html (I can send you the PDF if you don't have access to it)
Here a perspective on the report in NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/scien ... gests.html
Here is the link to the gene: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/1029
Here is the homology across species for the gene (P16INK4) : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene?Db=hom ... esult=1029

I hope this help. I would be happy to elaborate on any issue.

Good luck,
-Rooz
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