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  • News

    A 5,000-year-old mass grave harbors the oldest plague bacteria ever found

    A long-dead Scandinavian woman has yielded bacterial DNA showing that she contracted the earliest known case of the plague in humans.

    DNA extracted from the woman’s teeth comes from a newly identified ancient strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, the oldest ever found. The woman’s bones, which date from 5,040 to 4,867 years ago, were found nearly 20 years ago in a...

    12/06/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Anthropology, Microbiology
  • News

    Dads, not just moms, can pass along mitochondrial DNA

    Some dads have broken a textbook genetic rule. Fathers in three unrelated families passed mitochondria — tiny energy factories found in cells — on to their children, researchers report.

    Scientists have long thought that children inherited mitochondria exclusively from their mothers, since mitochondria from the father’s sperm are usually destroyed after fertilizing the egg (SN: 1/1/00, p...

    12/03/2018 - 06:00 Cells, Genetics
  • News

    The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends his work but fails to quell controversy

    A Chinese researcher who helped create the world’s first gene-edited babies publicly disclosed details of the work for the first time to an international audience of scientists and ethicists, and revealed that another gene-edited baby is due next year.

    Lulu and Nana, twin girls whose DNA was edited with CRISPR/Cas9 to disable the CCR5 gene involved in HIV infections, may soon be joined...

    11/28/2018 - 15:54 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Chinese scientists raise ethical questions with first gene-edited babies

    A Chinese scientist’s surprise announcement on the eve of an international human gene-editing summit that he has already created the world’s first gene-edited babies has led to swift condemnation.

    Jiankui He is expected to discuss his work November 28 in Hong Kong at the second International Summit on Human Genome Editing. But in an interview with the Associated Press, and in a video...

    11/27/2018 - 17:51 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Coffee or tea? Your preference may be written in your DNA

    Whether people prefer coffee or tea may boil down to a matter of taste genetics.

    People with a version of a gene that increases sensitivity to the bitter flavor of caffeine tend to be coffee drinkers, researchers report online November 15 in Scientific Reports. Tea drinkers tended to be less sensitive to caffeine’s bitter taste, but have versions of genes that increase sensitivity to the...

    11/15/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, Nutrition
  • News

    Ancient DNA suggests people settled South America in at least 3 waves

    DNA from a 9,000-year-old baby tooth from Alaska, the oldest natural mummy in North America and remains of ancient Brazilians is helping researchers trace the steps of ancient people as they settled the Americas. Two new studies give a more detailed and complicated picture of the peopling of the Americas than ever before presented.

    People from North America moved into South America in at...

    11/09/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, Ancestry
  • News in Brief

    To get a deeper tan, don’t sunbathe every day

    Sunbathing — if you must do it — should be limited to every other day, a new study suggests. You’ll get darker and prevent some skin damage.

    That’s because skin makes the protective pigment melanin only every 48 hours, researchers report October 25 in Molecular Cell. Daily sunbathing can disrupt the pigment’s production and leave skin vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet light.

    A...

    10/25/2018 - 11:07 Physiology, Genetics
  • 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
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers wonder about a hydrogen wall, pig lung transplants and more

    Wonderwall

    An ultraviolet glow spotted by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft may signal a hydrogen wall that separates the solar system from the rest of the Milky Way galaxy, Lisa Grossman reported in “New Horizons may have seen a glow at the solar system’s edge” (SN: 9/15/18, p. 10).

    Online reader RayRay wondered if researchers could see similar walls at the edges of other solar...

    10/17/2018 - 07:15 Astronomy, Biomedicine, 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