In science, things often aren't as simple as they seem. This is certainly the case for the genetic code. Even as elegant experiments in the 1960s assigned DNA and messenger RNA (mRNA) base triplets to specific amino acids, researchers were wondering if a protein's blueprints were the sole meaning imparted by those long strings of A, T, G and C. But back then, they could do little more than wonder.

Today, with more than a dozen genomes sequenced, researchers can ask age-old questions as well as pose new ones about the meanings of DNA sequence organization, and begin to tease answers from data (R. Lewis, The Scientist, 12[1]:11, Jan. 5, 1998). That's why several dozen biochemists, geneticists, molecular biologists, and evolutionary biologists convened at Rockefeller University in New York City, June 27 to 29, for "Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution," a conference sponsored by the New York...

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