I love it when good science comes together

I realize that I missed an opportunity, though! A week or so ago I was teaching my cell biology class about cell cycle regulation, and I was all about retinoblastoma, Rb, the gene product that acts as a regulator of the cell cycle — the cell will not proceed to the DNA synthesis phase unless Rb is deactivated by phosphorylation first. And then this week I was talking about the evolution of multicellularity, so I showed them unicellular algae like Chlamydomonas, and constitutive colonial protists like choanoflagellates, and of course I told them all about Volvox…but I failed to connect the two.

Now I read about the complexities of cell division in Chlamydomonas which could have played a role in the evolution of multicellularity, and from there I learn that differences in cell cycle can be traced to slight modifications of a few genes (no new genes required), in particular…Rb!

I wonder if the students would complain if we wound the class back to early November and started over? Probably.

Although today is a weird class day — it’s the day before Thanksgiving break, and I know from past experience that attendance will be very, very poor as students skip out to go home for vacation a day early; I also polled the class on Monday and learned that only about a quarter will show up (isn’t it nice that they’re honest about it?) I’m bribing them by promising pizza in class, but I’ve also told them it’ll just be a review/Q&A day. Maybe we can just sit down and have a conversation about science over pizza.


  1. says

    A conversation about science over pizza sounds like heaven. It’s been a long time since I did any formal education, but those classes where the teacher just rambled about stuff were special, and made the grind through every other lesson worth it.

  2. inflection says

    My university ends for the Thanksgiving break even earlier — last Friday was our last class day before the break. We’re off all week. (We’re in a remote town with snowy weather often possible in late November so we give the students extra travel time.)

    Lest you ever suspect that dropping an extra day might make students more willing to stay, I assure you that they are still attempting to skip town early. This semester I told them on the first day of class that Friday was still a class day, and that Exam III was scheduled that day. Attendance was roughly normal.