Autumnal re-opening

Welcome back, everyone! With our Welcome BBQ today, Scipos is officially back in business for the academic year. We have a great new co-admin and blogger, Brandon Peecook, so look forward to his contributions.

As always, Science Positive is all about the grad students of the UW Biology Department. If you're a grad, and you're doing cool science, reading about it, looking at the natural world, or taking pictures, we want to post your thoughts here, so let us know. New grads, that definitely includes you!

For our re-opening I thought I'd post a photo of the autumn crocus that are starting to flower here in Seattle.

Natural history: They put up leaves in the spring, but those die back before the flowers are ready in fall.

Scientific applications: Colchicum autumnale is the original source of colchicine, which is a microtubule inhibitor. This means it inhibits mitosis, since microtubules are integral to the mitotic spindle. It's useful for karyotyping, since under colchicine treatment a cell's chromosomes will condense normally (and can thus be seen in a microscope) but not move apart (so you have longer to view and image them).

Colchicine is also used to induce genome duplication in plants, where it has some desirable consequences.

And, as you might imagine, anything that suppresses cell division is being investigated for cancer therapy.

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