Blaxter Lab EISF Cabinets Exhibition

As part of Edinburgh International Science Festival, How the Light Gets In, ASCUS presents a new exhibition in our Cabinet space. These mobile cabinets currently situated next to TechCube are one of ASCUS’s permanent exhibition spaces at Summerhall soon to be joined by newly renovated ASCUS Cabinets, watch this space!

If your in Summerhall for the Science Festival, be sure to check this display out!

Blaxter Lab

Caenorhabditis elegans
Bound books (12 volumes) and erratum sheet, 2012

Caenorhabditis elegans is a beautiful, but tiny nematode worm. It has the accolade of being the first animal for which the whole of its genome sequence was deciphered, all 100,258,171 letters. The genetic code reveals the entire instruction set for building the nematode’s skin, nerves, gut, and for the programme of reproduction and development to make the next generation of tiny worms. In the books this code is laid out, letter by letter, with each volume spanning half of one of the six chromosomes.

The code is just that: a code. It makes no sense to us except in the context of the animal in which it is found. We can translate the code into proteins, we can fold the linear protein sequences into three dimensional models of the enzymes, but we cannot yet reconstruct a living C. elegans from the code: only C. elegans can do that.

There’s one additional page, loose, which reports the sequence of the genome of C. elegans’ mitochondrion, a tiny organelle found in each of its cells. Without these 13,794 letters, the whole 100 million letters of the chromosomes’ code, and the nematode, would be dead.

from the collection of Mark Blaxter


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