(Icelandic) Hver var Thomas Morgan og hvert var hans framlag til erfðafræðinnar?

Arnar Pálsson, 21/08/2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

Politics, not science, at center of debate

Arnar Pálsson, 20/08/2014

In 2005, while a post doc at the University of Chicago I read a op-ed piece by John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer in USA Today titled Evolution: Debate it.

I felt sufficiently outraged by their argument to send a letter to the paper, here printed in full. I would like to thank my friend Kelli Birdsall for reminding me of this letter.

Politics, not science, at center of debate

Commentary writers John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer argue for a scientific debate regarding the evolution-intelligent design controversy. While I agree the issue needs to be discussed, the debate has not been and never will be scientific (“How should schools handle evolution? Debate it,” The Forum, Monday).

The writers’ argument displays a basic misunderstanding about how the scientific process yields understanding of the material world. Scientific knowledge is gathered by evaluating logically coherent, testable hypotheses by careful and repeated experiments or comparisons. The process operates very much like a detective does: Possibilities are evaluated and eliminated if disproved. But because intelligent design does not make predictions that can be evaluated scientifically, i.e. are not testable, there is no scientific controversy. A real scientific debate on evolution would unfold in peer-reviewed journals because scientists like very much to prove each other wrong.

Instead, the current debate is social and political in nature. Politicians are exploiting many Christians’ religious convictions for political gain. But, however popular such politicians are in polls or elections, they cannot alter the fundamental discoveries of science — such as gravity, or the fact that life on this planet has shared ancestry and continues to evolve.

This confusion about the scientific process is a severe handicap to our society and calls for reform of the science curriculum. We should teach the scientific method and the testable scientific theories that we have been unable to refute — meaning Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and not intelligent design.

Arnar Palsson, Ph.D., Chicago

Science web – human genome

Arnar Pálsson, 19/08/2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

Naturally occurring deletions of Hunchback binding sites in the even-skipped stripe 3+7 enhancer

Arnar Pálsson, 24/04/2014

Our manuscript on deletion variations in regulatory elements was published in Plos One.

Naturally occurring deletions of Hunchback binding sites in the even-skipped stripe 3+7 enhancer

Arnar Palsson, Natalia Wesolowska, Sigrún Reynisdóttir, Michael Z. Ludwig and Martin Kreitman

Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Institute of Biology, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

Changes in regulatory DNA contribute to phenotypic differences within and between taxa. Comparative studies show that many transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) are conserved between species and functional studies reveal that some mutations segregating within species alter TFBS function. Single base and insertions/deletion polymorphism are rare in characterized regulatory elements in Drosophila melanogaster. Experimentally defined TFBS are nearly devoid of segregating mutations and evolutionarily conserved. For instance, 8 of 11 Hunchback binding sites in the stripe 3+7 enhancer of even-skipped are conserved between D. melanogaster and Drosophila virilis. Oddly, we found a 72 bp deletion that removes one of those binding sites (Hb8), segregating within D. melanogaster. Furthermore, a 45 bp deletion polymorphism in the spacer between the stripe 3+7 and stripe 2 enhancers, removes another predicted Hunchback site. These two deletions are separated by ~250 bp, sit on distinct haplotypes, and segregate at appreciable frequency. The Hb8del is at 5 to 35% frequency in the new world, but also has cosmopolitan distribution. There is depletion of sequence variation on the Hb8del carrying haplotype. Quantitative genetic tests indicate that Hb8del affects developmental time, but not viability of offspring. The Eve expression pattern differs between inbred lines, but the stripe 3 and 7 boundaries are seemingly not affected by the Hb8del. The deletions of those two Hb binding sites in the eve regulatory elements do not appear to be deleterious to D. melanogaster. The data reveal segregating variation for a characterized TFBS, which may reflect evolutionary turnover due to drift or co-evolution.

Figure 1 of the manuscript illustrates the main findings.

About the academic point system at the University of Iceland

Arnar Pálsson, 31/03/2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

Twitter trial

Arnar Pálsson, 13/03/2014


In order to follow recent works and discussion in evolutionary genetics and related topics I put up a twitter account.

So far I have not figured out how to make it a nice open timeline, for instance on the sidebar as my friend Ian Dworkin does, but that is a secondary issue.

(Icelandic) Virðisauki með vísindum

Arnar Pálsson, 20/02/2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

(Icelandic) Betra að vera hraustur en sætur

Arnar Pálsson, 20/02/2014

Skýring: Pistlinn þessi er aukinn og bætt útgáfa lesendabréfs sem birtist  í Fréttatímanum 24. febrúar 2012, undir titlinum “Betra að vera hraustur en sætur”.

Í helgarpistlinum “stökkbreyting írskra gena” veltir Jónas Haraldsson (17. feb. 2012, bls. 32) fyrir sér spurningum um uppruna íslendinga og mun á fegurð íra og íslendinga. Hann ber sérstaklega saman fegurð íslenskra kvenna og meintan ófrýnileik írskra karlmanna. Því næst tíundar Jónas uppl ýsingar um erfðafræðilegan uppruna íslendinga, sem honum finnst stangast á við dreifingu fegurðar í þessum hluta Evrópu. Jónas segir:

 Þar kemur fram að um 60 prósent erfðaefnis Íslendinga er norrænt en um 40 prósent frá Bretlandseyjum. Hið skrýtna er samt að sömu mælingar segja okkur að um 80 prósent erfðaefnis íslenskra karla megi rekja til Noregs og annarra Norðurlanda en um 20 prósent til Bretlandseyja…..

 …Þegar þetta liggur fyrir hættir maður að skilja. Íslenskar skvísur, fegurðarviðmið víða um heim, eru meira eða minna írskar, upprunalega dætur ljótustu karla í heimi….

….Vill ekki einhver rannsaka það?

Erfðarannsóknir hafa sýnt að 4 af hverjum 5 íslenskum körlum er með Y litning ættaðan frá Noregi. Á sama hátt sýna rannsóknir að u.þ.b. 2 af hverjum 3 hvatberalitningum eru ættaðir frá Bretlandseyjum. Hvatberalitningar erfast eingöngu frá móður og Y litningar eingöngu frá feðrum til sona. En það sem vantar í umfjöllun Jónasar er afgangurinn af erfðaefninu, hinir 23 litningarnir sem bera í sér 98% DNA frumna okkar.

Af hverju skiptir þetta máli? Jú, þessi 98% erfðamengisins, öll hin genin og litningarnir erfast óháð kyni. Það þýðir að erfðasamsetningin stokkast upp í hverri kynslóð. Þannig að þessar írsku ófrynjur sem Jónas lætur sig dreyma um, voru fljótar að umbreytast þegar írsku og norsku genin stokkast saman á þeim fjörtíu kynslóðum sem liðnar eru frá landnámi. Þetta sést best ef við skoðum bókhaldið í smáatriðum. Hvatberalitningurinn, sem erfist bara frá mæðrum, er u.þ.b. 16,570 basar. Y-litningurinn er u.þ.b. 50 milljón basar, en erfðamengi okkar í heild er u.þ.b. 3200 milljón basar.

Að endingu vill ég samt árétta, fyrir mitt leyti a.m.k., að margar írskar konur eru forkunnafallegar og rautt hár íslenskra kvenna mikil prýði. Einnig er ágætt að rifja upp að makaval gengur ekki eingöngu út frá snoppufegurð eða gullnum hlutföllum. Eins valdi stórabóla sér ekki skotmörk með hliðsjón af útliti. Stundum er betra að vera hraustur en sætur.

Article in Icelandic about science funding

Arnar Pálsson, 20/02/2014

Here we catalog publications and events, both in Icelandic and English.

Most of the general writing will be in Icelandic, as the objective is to provide a window into the work of biologists.

This page will also be used to catalog the progress of graduate students and coworkers.

Notes and events

Arnar Pálsson, 27/05/2010

Here we catalog publications and events, both in Icelandic and English.

Most of the general writing will be in Icelandic, as the objective is to provide a window into the work of biologists.

This page will also be used to catalog the progress of graduate students and coworkers.