Organisation - February 1, 2005

Square eggs

Square eggs are easier to stack, so why not breed chickens that lay square eggs? Professor Jack Leunissen is not saying that it is possible to do so, but if it can be done it’ll happen thanks to his subject area, bio-informatics. “We have designed a system together with breeders that does literature searches for information on the genetic origin of certain characteristics,” said Leunissen during his inaugural speech this week. “The aim is to be able to modify things, for instance so that chickens can lay square eggs.” Bio-informatics is more than just doing statistical analyses of the data generated by cracking genetic codes. “A philosopher once said that statistics are like a young woman in a bikini: they show most of the parts, but leave the most important bits covered,” said Leunissen. The new professor of Bio-informatics, chair of a group that has not yet officially been created, says there’s a long way to go, for instance by comparing different genomes to cover the gaps left by statistics, and working out how the genomes work.