MB311 Writing Exercise #3

In the scientific and academic community, the peer review process is much more than just having someone read over your work. When researchers want to submit their work to be published in a journal, the editor may decide to have peer reviewers look over it before accepting the submission. Usually, the peer reviewers remain anonymous and are fellow experts in the field that is being submitted for publication. The author of the paper could let the editor know which reviewers they would like and/or do not want to look over their work. This could give them a greater chance of their work passing the submission process. The number of reviewers depends on the specific journal. The review process is much more than just fixing typos; the reviewers can submit helpful feedback and suggestions that can elevate the chances of the paper being published. Also, peer review can give the work more credibility or attention based on who is reviewing the article and their feedback. 

There are also some cons to the peer-review process. First, the review process could take a long time, and this could impact a lab’s timeline and give potential competitors a chance to publish first. Also, it opens up the work to be stolen or taken advantage of by a peer reviewer before the authors could file for a trademark or copyright. Third, the review can be impacted by the reviewer’s biases towards the author(s): good or bad. Anonymity is not always an option since in some fields, “everyone knows everyone” and identities can be revealed based on the writing, techniques, and topics.  

Overall, the peer review process allows for more experts to refine the submission and makes sure that quality work is being published in the journal. It is important to remember that there are pros and cons throughout the process, but I personally see the pros greatly outweigh the cons. It is beneficial for a different set of eyes, experiences, and knowledge to look over the work. So the next time you might be interested in looking at what the process looks like, just take a moment to find the comments if they are made public on the article

Writing Exercise #2:

During DNA replication, DNA must be able to replicate itself to make two identical copies of the original DNA molecule. During this process, mistakes called mutations can occur. Some of these mutations are harmless because of the fidelity of the genetic code, and the nucleotide changes do not change the amino acids being coded for in the DNA sequence. Some other changes can have more noticeable effects. For example, sickle cell anemia is caused by a single nucleotide change that leads to a different amino acid to be coded for. What if there was a way to have an editing system go in and mix these mistakes? Well, researchers have been exploring the CRISPR-Cas9 system as a method to edit genomes. CRISPR stands for “clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”, and Cas9 is an enzyme in the system that is able to cut DNA strands (https://www.livescience.com/58790-crispr-explained.html). The CRISPR system is a bacteria and archaea immune defense mechanism to protect their genomes from viruses. The region consists of palindromic repeats, meaning that the DNA strands read the same forward and backward, and spacers contain viral DNA. The spacers allow the organism to recognize the virus if it tries to infect them again. This is similar to how antibodies and vaccines create immunological memory in humans. The CRISPR DNA region is like a blueprint that encodes for RNAs that are able to carry out the editing process. The CRISPR RNAs, crRNA and tracrRNA, are able to pair with the Cas9 enzyme and guide Cas9 to target and cut parts of the virus’ DNA. Researchers have been able to figure out how CRISPR can become a gene-editing tool for organisms besides bacteria. They are able to create RNA that matches a unique DNA sequence in a particular gene that needs to be edited. From there, the RNA guides the Cas9 enzyme to cut the DNA. Afterward, the cell can repair the cut which introduced mutations that can turn off the gene or edit it. The CRISPR-Cas9 is a cheap, efficient, and accurate tool that can give a lot more insight into different functions of genes, diseases, and genetic therapies. 

Writing Exercise #1: Cloning Using Bacterial Vectors

Besides learning about general genetics in my courses at OSU, I do not have much personal experience with bacterial genetics or biological engineering. I have taken some courses that have discussed horizontal gene transfers and plasmids, and I believe that cloning using bacterial vectors would be a related technique. I assume that the bacterial vector would hold the desired genetic information and using various enzymes would be able to insert the genetic material into the targeted organism. It seems like this is something that we are currently exploring through our first experiment by creating antibiotic resistance bacteria.