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  • News

    Key parts of a fruit fly’s genetic makeup have finally been decoded

    Some of the most important chapters in fruit flies’ genetic instruction book have finally been decoded.

    For the first time, researchers have deciphered, or sequenced, the genetic makeup of all of a multicellular organism’s centromeres — and discovered stretches of DNA that may be key in divvying up chromosomes. Errors in doing that job can lead to cancer, birth defects or death. The team...

    05/17/2019 - 12:05 Genetics, Cells, Molecular Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Some dog breeds may have trouble breathing because of a mutated gene

    Dogs with flat faces aren’t alone in their struggle to breathe. It turns out that Norwich terriers can develop the same wheezing — caused not by the shape of their snouts, but possibly by a wayward gene. 

    DNA from 401 Norwich terriers revealed that those suffering a respiratory tract disorder shared the same variant of gene ADAMTS3 that’s associated with swelling around airways. Nearly a...

    05/16/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News

    Tweaking one gene with CRISPR switched the way a snail shell spirals

    A genetic spin doctor sets snail shells to swirl clockwise, new research confirms. And the twist in this story comes at the beginning — when snail embryos are just single cells.

    Though most pond snails (Lymnaea stagnalis) have shells that coil clockwise, a few have taken a left turn, curling counterclockwise. Researchers had strong evidence that a mutation in a gene called Lsdia1 caused...

    05/14/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Development, Animals
  • News

    A lack of circular RNAs may trigger lupus

    A lack of certain mysterious genetic molecules may spin the immune system out of control and lead to lupus.

    People with lupus have lower than normal levels of circular RNAs, triggering an immune reaction meant to fight viruses, biochemist Lingling Chen of the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and her colleagues discovered. Switching on the body’s virus-fighting...

    04/25/2019 - 11:00 Genetics, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    A marine parasite’s mitochondria lack DNA but still churn out energy

    One parasite that feeds on algae is so voracious that it even stole its own mitochondria’s DNA.

    Mitochondria — the energy-generating parts of cells — of the parasitic plankton Amoebophyra ceratii seem to have transferred all of their DNA to the cell’s nucleus, researchers report April 24 in Science Advances. The discovery is the first time that scientists have found an oxygen-using...

    04/24/2019 - 14:52 Genetics, Microbes
  • News

    A genetic scorecard could predict your risk of being obese

    There’s a new way to predict whether a baby will grow into an obese adult.

    Combining the effect of more than 2.1 million genetic variants, researchers have created a genetic predisposition score that they say predicts severe obesity. People with scores in the highest 10 percent weighed, on average, 13 kilograms (about 29 pounds) more than those with the lowest 10 percent of scores, the...

    04/18/2019 - 11:00 Genetics
  • News in Brief

    Some people may have genes that hamper a drug’s HIV protection

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Some people’s genes may stop an antiretroviral drug from protecting them against HIV, a genetics study suggests.

    The drug, called tenofovir, is used for preventing as well as treating an HIV infection. But success in prevention has been mixed, with studies reporting between 78 to 92 percent success rates. It wasn’t clear why the drug didn’t protect everyone.

    Now,...

    04/15/2019 - 06:00 Genetics, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    How chemical exposure early in life is ‘like a ticking time bomb’

    ORLANDO — Being exposed to a chemical early in life can be a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book: Some things that happen early on may hurt you later, but only if you make certain choices, an unpublished study in mice suggests.

    Mouse pups were exposed to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) for only five days after birth, a crucial time during which mice’s livers develop. BPA, once...

    04/12/2019 - 10:00 Genetics
  • Feature

    Here are 5 RNAs that are stepping out of DNA’s shadow

    DNA is the glamour molecule of the genetics world. Its instructions are credited with defining appearance, personality and health. And the proteins that result from DNA’s directives get credit for doing most of the work in our cells. RNA, if mentioned at all, is considered a mere messenger, a go-between — easy to ignore. Until now.

    RNAs, composed of strings of genetic letters called...

    04/07/2019 - 06:00 Genetics
  • News in Brief

    Testing mosquito pee could help track the spread of diseases

    There are no teensy cups. But a urine test for wild mosquitoes has for the first time proved it can give an early warning that local pests are spreading diseases.

    Mosquito traps remodeled with a pee-collecting card picked up telltale genetic traces of West Nile and two other worrisome viruses circulating in the wild, researchers in Australia report April 4 in the Journal of Medical...

    04/05/2019 - 08:00 Health, Genetics, Animals