A common bacteria is furthering evidence that evolution is not entirely a blind process, subject to random changes in the genes, but that environmental stressors can also play a role. A NASA-funded team is the first group to design a method demonstrating how transposongs-DNA sequences that move positions within a genome-jump from place to place. The researchers saw that the jumping rate of these transposons, aptly-named "jumping genes" increases or decreases depending on factors in the environment, such as food supply.
What is Biological Physics?
In 1944, physicist Erwin Schrödinger published a short book, What is Life?, that changed the course of modern biology.
Could the behavior of a living organism be explained solely by physics and chemistry? Yes, it could, Schrödinger answered. "The obvious inability of present-day physics and chemistry to account for such events," he wrote, "is no reason at all for doubting that they can be accounted for by those sciences."
It's a sentiment that has lured generations of physical scientists to biology.
For the past half-century, researchers have applied the rigorous tools of physics to help answer Schrödinger's question and unravel the fundamental mechanisms of life, but some of the most exciting challenges remain.
What are we doing in Biological Physics at Illinois?
The Experimental Biological Physics Research faculty's study includes, but is not limited to single-molecule methods, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, nucleic acid and protein translocases, DNA protein interactions, molecular biology, structure and dynamics of biological macromolecules.
The Theoretical and Computational Biological Physics Research faculty's study includes such ideas as biomolecular modeling of molecular motors, multiscale modeling of pattern formation, photosynthesis, cellular mechanics, multiscale modeling of cells and bionanotechnology.