Tree of Life – Medical

music
ambience: crickets

As scientists study the interconnectedness of all species, the so-called “Tree of Life,” they’re learning that this knowledge can provide practical benefits, for example in the field of medicine. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“The reason why it’s important to know about who’s related to whom is that, that’s what orients our knowledge of living things, and it gets us started on understanding the distribution of various characteristics that are of interest to us. So, for example, if we discover in a particular species, a particular chemical that’s of great importance to us, say for medicinal purposes, and we’d like to know where else could we find that chemical – then we’d like to look at related species.”

Michael Donoghue is a Professor of Biology at Yale University.

“There are many problems in the world that require some knowledge of phylogenetic relationships. That is knowledge of who’s related to whom. So for example malaria, the search for, and the cure for malaria requires a very good understanding of the evolutionary history of the mosquitoes that transmit the malaria parasite. That’s become a kind of a cottage industry as we try to figure out the evolution of the vectors, the things that transmit the malarial parasite. Another fine example of that is the Hantavirus that was such a big problem in the southwestern United States, and it turns out that the solution to that problem required serious knowledge of the phylogeny of the little rodents that are transmitting that Hantavirus. So there has been a bit of an industry trying to figure out how those organisms are related to one another, and what parts of the world do they live in. Are they transmitting this virus everywhere in the world, and under what circumstances? So basic knowledge of who’s related to whom, how those mammals or those mosquitos are related to one another, becomes a crucial item.”

To hear about our CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Tree of Life - Medical

Newly recognized phylogenetic relationships have given researchers a frontier for medical exploration.
Air Date:03/17/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: crickets

As scientists study the interconnectedness of all species, the so-called "Tree of Life," they're learning that this knowledge can provide practical benefits, for example in the field of medicine. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"The reason why it's important to know about who's related to whom is that, that's what orients our knowledge of living things, and it gets us started on understanding the distribution of various characteristics that are of interest to us. So, for example, if we discover in a particular species, a particular chemical that's of great importance to us, say for medicinal purposes, and we'd like to know where else could we find that chemical - then we'd like to look at related species."

Michael Donoghue is a Professor of Biology at Yale University.

"There are many problems in the world that require some knowledge of phylogenetic relationships. That is knowledge of who's related to whom. So for example malaria, the search for, and the cure for malaria requires a very good understanding of the evolutionary history of the mosquitoes that transmit the malaria parasite. That's become a kind of a cottage industry as we try to figure out the evolution of the vectors, the things that transmit the malarial parasite. Another fine example of that is the Hantavirus that was such a big problem in the southwestern United States, and it turns out that the solution to that problem required serious knowledge of the phylogeny of the little rodents that are transmitting that Hantavirus. So there has been a bit of an industry trying to figure out how those organisms are related to one another, and what parts of the world do they live in. Are they transmitting this virus everywhere in the world, and under what circumstances? So basic knowledge of who's related to whom, how those mammals or those mosquitos are related to one another, becomes a crucial item."

To hear about our CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music