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  • News

    DNA differences are linked to having same-sex sexual partners

    SAN DIEGO — For some people, choosing a same-sex partner may be in their DNA.

    In a large study of more than 490,000 men and women in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden, researchers discovered four genetic variants that occur more often in people who indicated on questionnaires that they had had same-sex sexual partners. Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT...

    10/20/2018 - 10:32 Genetics
  • News

    Genealogy databases could reveal the identity of most Americans

    Protecting the anonymity of publicly available genetic data, including DNA donated to research projects, may be impossible.

    About 60 percent of people of European descent who search genetic genealogy databases will find a match with a relative who is a third cousin or closer, a new study finds. The result suggests that with a database of about 3 million people, police or anyone else with...

    10/12/2018 - 16:12 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Gene editing can speed up plant domestication

    Gene editing can speed up plant domestication, taming wild vines, bushes and grasses and turning them into new crops.

    Editing just two genes in ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) produced plants that yielded more and bigger fruit, researchers report October 1 in Nature Plants. Those edits mimic changes that occurred in tomato plants during domestication, bringing the sweet tomato...

    10/01/2018 - 11:00 Plants, Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • News

    Smuggling a CRISPR gene editor into staph bacteria can kill the pathogen

    Bits of DNA that make bacteria dangerous can be co-opted to bring the microbes down instead.

    Stretches of DNA called pathogenicity islands can jump between bacteria strains, introducing new toxin-producing genes that usually make a strain more harmful. Scientists have now modified pathogenicity islands by replacing the toxin-producing genes with genes that, in mice, disabled or killed...

    10/01/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, Immune Science
  • Feature

    Ibrahim Cissé unlocks cells’ secrets using physics

    Ibrahim Cissé, 35Physics and biophysicsMIT

    Ibrahim Cissé expected to join his father’s law firm one day. “There were no scientists where I grew up in Niger,” says the MIT biophysicist. “I certainly didn’t know [science] was a profession one could do.”  

    But Cissé’s parents had a telling clue about their young son’s eventual career path: a door sign he made that read “Laboratoire de...

    09/26/2018 - 08:33 Genetics, Physics, Cells
  • Feature

    Jenny Tung wants to know how social stresses mess with genes

    Jenny Tung, 36Genetics and evolutionary anthropologyDuke University

    Jenny Tung is skeptical when she hears that her older sister, Wenny, compares Jenny’s science to their father’s golf.

    He played so much because he found it “a big, fat, hairy challenge,” Wenny said, proposing that Jenny, too, is drawn to challenges by their difficulty.

    Jenny Tung protests. Yet she doesn’t deny...

    09/26/2018 - 08:26 Animals, Genetics, Health
  • News

    In lab tests, this gene drive wiped out a population of mosquitoes

    A new gene drive may push a species of malaria-carrying mosquito to extinction.

    In a small-scale laboratory study, the genetic engineering tool caused Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes to stop producing offspring in eight to 12 generations, researchers report September 24 in Nature Biotechnology. If the finding holds up in larger studies, the gene drive could be the first capable of wiping...

    09/24/2018 - 11:20 Genetics, Ecology
  • News

    DNA from seized elephant ivory unmasks 3 big trafficking cartels in Africa

    Pairs of elephant tusks that are separated during smuggling are illuminating the tracks of wildlife crime.

    Identifying matching elephant DNA in different shipments of tusks can help scientific sleuths connect the shipments to the same ivory trafficking cartel, a new study finds. That technique has already revealed the presence of three major interconnected cartels that are active in...

    09/19/2018 - 14:00 Conservation, Animals, Genetics
  • Rethink

    A recount of human genes ups the number to at least 46,831

    Figuring out how many genes are in the human genetic instruction manual, or genome, isn’t as easy as scientists once thought. The very definition of a gene has changed since the completion of the Human Genome Project more than 15 years ago.

    Genes used to be defined as stretches of DNA that contain instructions that are copied into RNA and then turned into proteins. Researchers still don’...

    09/17/2018 - 07:00 Genetics
  • News in Brief

    German skeletons hint that medieval warrior groups recruited from afar

    Power systems transcended kinship in medieval Europe. A burial site in southern Germany contains members of a powerful warrior family who journeyed widely to find recruits to join the household and support a post-Roman kingdom, a new study suggests.

    Thirteen individuals interred at Niederstotzingen belonged to the Alemanni, a confederation of Germanic tribes that were conquered by and...

    09/05/2018 - 14:00 Genetics, Anthropology, Archaeology