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Origin of life: Highlights of Suzan Mazur’s interview with researcher Corrado Spadafora

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Suzan Mazur interviews Corrado Spadafora:

Corrado Spadafora’s laboratory originally discovered that mature sperm cells from a variety of species share the ability to spontaneously take up exogenous DNA molecules and deliver them to oocytes at fertilization: they called that phenomenon cell-mediated sperm-mediated gene transfer (SMGT). That feature was subsequently exploited, in theirs and other laboratories, to generate genetically modified animals in different species. More.

Corrado Spadafora:
Three aspects need to be seriously recognized. First, epigenetics heavily affects inheritance. Second, there is transgenerational inheritance, that is, information that can be inherited from one generation to the next unlinked from chromosomes, because extrachromosomal DNA or RNA structures can get through the germline to the next generation and cause phenotypic variations in the offspring. Transgenerational inheritance constitutes a flow of information that parallels that associated with chromosomes. The third aspect is determined by retrotransposons or retro-elements that exert genome-wide effects at both the genetic and epigenetic levels.
Currently there is too much emphasis on next generation technology data. A flood of information appears every week in the literature, but how much of it is truly significant? How much of it actually advances our knowledge of fundamental mechanisms?

We are distracted by a quantitative excess of information while fundamental questions go unanswered. We need to go back and answer those questions in molecular biology, development and evolution — not dwell so much on technology.

Suzan Mazur: This “flood of information” is largely being published to sell journals and magazines?

Corrado Spadafora: [I]f technology enables us to do something valuable, that must be published. But many papers address very specialized audiences. Sometimes it’s difficult for scientists outside that specialized area to understand what these papers mean. For example, sometimes I read the title of an article and I just give up. . . .

Technology is evolving and provides novel tools for expanding knowledge, but technology per se is not everything. We need broader critical understanding.

Origin of Life Circus Mazur is the author of The Origin of Life Circus

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Corrado Spadafora's work 20 some years ago on the organization of chromatin in sperm cells revealed that "sperm cells can behave as vectors of foreign genetic information to embryos at fertilization." This led to his current investigation of embryos and cancer. Spadafora, a biomedical research scientist at Rome's Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian National Institute of Health) says findings from his experiments have "profound implications" for non-Mendalian inheritance of characters from one generation to the next. Our interview follows. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-mazur/does-the-weismann-barrier_b_7289146.html
non-Mendalian ? Don't they have proofreading staff in that media company? It's ok to see that kind of errors in comments posted here, but is it ok to see it in a media outlet like that? Yes, some would say "oh, c'mon give me a break, that's only one letter wrong!" But it's the famous last name of the person who worked on genetics long ago and it sounds different. Dionisio
Suzan Mazur: This “flood of information” is largely being published to sell journals and magazines?
This Spadafora response you show after Mazur's question shows as a separate quote. Is that the whole of his immediate replay or just an excerpt? I'd be curious to know what he actually said in response to the allegation that journals publish to sell copies, implying that this is almost an unethical practice. Seversky
Corrado Spadafora: "but technology per se is not everything. We need broader critical understanding." May I add that science isn't everything either. We do need a broader critical understanding. We need understanding of ourselves, our own life's experience. We need understanding of others' lifes experience. We need an understanding of logic, and the ability to communicate logically. We need the humility to be students as well as teachers. bFast
Sometimes I read the title of a thread here at UD and I just give up. :D Mung

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