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College of Arts and Sciences DNA

Biomarkers could help diagnose male infertility

Michael Skinner in his laboratory at WSU.It can take a year or longer of trial and error for a doctor to determine if a man is infertile but new research by Michael Skinner, a WSU reproductive biologist, could change that.

Skinner and an international team of collaborators discovered infertile men have identifiable patterns of epigenetic molecules or biomarkers attached to their sperm DNA that aren’t present in fertile men. » More …

In the company of penguins, whales, and pteropods

Researcher in red coat in snow field Luana Lins, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences, is fresh off a month-long visit studying polar organisms as part of the National Science Foundation’s Training Program in Antarctica for Early-Career Scientists. When she wasn’t counting bacteria or extracting the DNA of pteropods, Lins was visited by penguins, watched whales, and toured the drafty hut assembled in 1902 by Robert Falcon Scott. She saw precious little fresh food and not a single vascular plant.

“Antarctica is beautiful, magical and harsh,” Lins said on her return. “I left with an extreme awareness » More …

Dramatic decline in genetic diversity of Northwest salmon charted

Chinook SalmonColumbia River Chinook salmon have lost as much as two-thirds of their genetic diversity, Washington State University researchers have found.

The researchers reached this conclusion after extracting DNA from scores of bone samples — some harvested as many as 7,000 years ago — and comparing them to the DNA of Chinook currently swimming in the Snake and Columbia rivers.

Preserving genetic diversity is a central goal of the Endangered Species Act, in part because it helps a species adapt to changing environments. Yet it is rarely measured to this degree. » More …

Self-fertilizing fish reveal surprising genetic diversity

Luana LinsAs weird animals go, the mangrove killifish is in a class of its own.

It flourishes in both freshwater and water with twice as much salt as the ocean. It can live up to two months on land, breathing through its skin, before returning to the water with a series of spectacular 180-degree flips. » More …

Researchers honored for work on environmental DNA

Collecting water samplesWSU researchers Caren Goldberg, Katherine Strickler, and Alex Fremier are being honored this week for their use of a technique that can detect minute amounts of DNA to see if at-risk species are in an area.

The researchers took the Project of the Year for Resource Conservation and Resiliency award during the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program Symposium. » More …