BOOKS Fourth edition of the “bible” of molecular cloning Even classics deserve an update. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual has served as an indispensable source of technical expertise in laboratories around the world for 30 years. In June 2012, the fourth edition of this influential work will be published after several years of careful nurturing by founding author JOE SAMBROOK of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Melbourne, Australia, and new co-author MICHAEL R. GREEN from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, United States. Molecular Cloning was introduced in 1982 as a collection of essential molecular biol- ogy protocols that would serve the life science community. The collection was based on the protocols used during the 1980 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Course on the Molecular Cloning of Eukaryotic Genes. While it was not the first manual to be published, it is fair to say that it is the book that put the techniques of molecular cloning within easy reach of almost all laboratory practitioners in the life sciences. “We believe that the latest edition of Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual carries on the tradition of accuracy, clarity and attention to detail that have come to be expected from this publication,” remarked EMBO Associate Member Michael Green. “It has been a pleasure to work closely with the many researchers from the molecular biology community who have both helped to define the content and made outstand- ing contributions to this practical resource.” Ten years have passed since the last edition and molecular biology continues to develop at a bewildering pace. Core chapters from previ- ous editions have been revised to feature the current best practice strategies for cloning of nucleic acids, gene transfer, and gene expression analysis. 12 new chapters have been added to cover those research areas that have emerged or significantly changed in the past decade, includ- ing epigenetic analyses, RNA interference, and genome sequencing. Recognizing that much of the recent research in genomics has been linked to a deluge of computational data, a new chapter on bioinformatics describes the use of analyti- cal tools for comparing the sequences of genes and proteins and identifying shared expression patterns among sets of genes. The new edition, which extends to almost 2000 pages and is spread over three volumes, also includes an up-to-date collection of reagents, vectors, media, detection systems, and commonly used techniques. “It is always a significant challenge to keep up to date with the latest protocols in molecular biol- ogy. I think this book continues to serve a real need for researchers and I hope the fourth edition encourages scientists to explore new techniques that will lead to breakthrough discoveries,” said Joe Sambrook. 12 EMBOencounters | Summer 2012 | ©2012 EMBO The Spark of Life EMBO Member FRANCES ASHCROFT has published a new popular science book entitled The Spark of Life: Electricity in the human body. In this book, Ashcroft explains how ion channels give rise to the electrical events in our brain, heart and muscle cells, and how they underlie many other physiological processes. Says Ashcroft: “Ion channels are found in every cell on Earth and they govern every aspect of our lives, from consciousness to sexual attraction, from fighting infection to the beating of our hearts and our ability to see and hear.” She adds: “What I have tried to do is to explain how ion channels work, how they are the targets for many drugs and toxins and how their malfunction can cause disease, through a series of real-life stories. These tales are inter- weaved with descriptions of some of the many engaging personalities who have studied them over the years.” Ashcroft is a Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. The book is published by Allen Lane (Penguin Books) and is available from 28 June 2012.