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Random Review: Book on genetics to be discussed

Random Review: Book on genetics to be discussed

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Oregon State University distinguished professor of botany and plant pathology Joseph Spatafora will review "The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, by David Quammen," as part of the Random Review series of book reviews.

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The event will take place online via GoToWebinar. It is free but registration is required:

Award-winning science writer Quammen loves a good story. In "The Tangled Tree" his fascinating tale is based on the work of scientists whose groundbreaking ideas have changed our understanding of evolutionary genetics during the past fifty years.

The author chronicles the discovery of a new picture of genetic inheritance more complicated than Darwin’s tree of life. It turns out that genes move horizontally, between species, rather than only from parent to offspring. Carl Woese, whose research identified a third domain of life, single-cell microbes called archaea, as distinct from bacteria, figures prominently in the story. Quammen is the rare writer who brings a storyteller’s verve to complex scientific concepts and his book is eminently readable.

Spatafora is Head of the OSU Department of Botany and Plan Pathology. He received his bachelor's in zoology from Louisiana Tech University, his doctorate in botany from Louisiana State University, and he completed a postdoc in mycology at Duke University. Joey joined the faculty of Oregon State in 1995 and for the past 25 years he has taught courses in mycology (the study of fungi) and evolution. He runs a research laboratory in evolutionary genomics of fungi and serves on the advisory boards of the Fungal Genomics Program of DOE Joint Genome Institute and the Westerdijk Fungal Biology Institute of the Dutch Royal Academy. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Corvallis and have three children, Anna, Gioia and Nicolas.

Up next: Next month’s review will be on May 12, when Mishele Mennett will review “And Then We Danced: A Voyage Into the Groove” by Henry Alford.


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