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Your search has returned 60 articles:
  • News

    Plants engineered to always be on alert don’t grow well

    A tiny weed that slithers up through sidewalk cracks is helping scientists understand the sacrifices that plants make to protect themselves from pests.

    Most plants combat insects and other herbivores by sending out bitter chemicals through their leaves. Now by studying thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a commonly found member of the mustard family, researchers found that energy spent...

    10/22/2018 - 16:09 Agriculture, Plants, Molecular Evolution
  • 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

    A ghost gene leaves ocean mammals vulnerable to some pesticides

    A gene that helps mammals break down certain toxic chemicals appears to be faulty in marine mammals — potentially leaving manatees, dolphins and other warm-blooded water dwellers more sensitive to dangerous pesticides.

    The gene, PON1, carries instructions for making a protein that interacts with fatty acids ingested with food. But that protein has taken on another role in recent decades...

    08/09/2018 - 14:00 Animals, Molecular Evolution, Toxicology
  • News

    The ‘language gene’ didn’t give humans a big leg up in evolution

    Humans’ gift of gab probably wasn’t the evolutionary boon that scientists once thought.   

    There’s no evidence that FOXP2, sometimes called “the language gene,” gave humans such a big evolutionary advantage that it was quickly adopted across the species, what scientists call a selective sweep. That finding, reported online August 2 in Cell, follows years of debate about the role of FOXP2...

    08/03/2018 - 07:00 Genetics, Molecular Evolution, Ancestry
  • Feature

    Hybrids reveal the barriers to successful mating between species

    It’s a tale as old as wine. Two organisms meet over a barrel of alcohol and decide to mate.

    Geneticist Maitreya Dunham didn’t see it happen. But she has molecular evidence that two yeast species produced a hybrid in an old warehouse turned microbrewery. The two species had grown apart, evolutionarily speaking, about 10 million to 20 million years ago, Dunham, of the University of...

    10/31/2017 - 10:00 Evolution, Molecular Evolution, Animals
  • News

    The first look at how archaea package their DNA reveals they’re a lot like us

    Single-celled microbes may have taught plants and animals how to pack their genetic baggage.

    Archaea, a type of single-celled life-form similar to bacteria, keep their DNA wrapped around proteins much in the same way as more complex organisms, researchers report in the Aug. 11 Science. This finding provides new insight into the evolutionary origins of the DNA-packing process and the...

    08/10/2017 - 14:00 Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • Editor's Note

    Jumping genes are part of all that makes us human

    Ask 10 people what makes humans human and you’ll probably get 10 different answers — and then some. From our biased perspective, it’s seemingly simple to come up with many qualities that define the human experience. We love, we laugh. We form deep personal bonds and complex societies. We use language to communicate, art to express ourselves and technology to accomplish complex tasks....
    05/17/2017 - 11:00 Molecular Evolution
  • Feature

    Jumping genes play a big role in what makes us human

    Face-to-face, a human and a chimpanzee are easy to tell apart. The two species share a common primate ancestor, but over millions of years, their characteristics have morphed into easily distinguishable features. Chimps developed prominent brow ridges, flat noses, low-crowned heads and protruding muzzles. Human noses jut from relatively flat faces under high-domed crowns.

    Those facial...

    05/16/2017 - 07:00 Genetics, Human Evolution, Molecular Evolution
  • Feature

    CRISPR had a life before it became a gene-editing tool

    It is the dazzling star of the biotech world: a powerful new tool that can deftly and precisely alter the structure of DNA. It promises cures for diseases, sturdier crops, malaria-resistant mosquitoes and more. Frenzy over the technique — known as CRISPR/Cas9 — is in full swing. Every week, new CRISPR findings are unfurled in scientific journals. In the courts, universities fight over patents...

    04/05/2017 - 09:00 Cells, Microbiology, Molecular Evolution
  • News

    Ancient enzymes adapted to a cooler Earth to keep life’s chemical reactions going

    Like lifelong Floridians dropped into a Wisconsin winter, enzymes accustomed to warmth don’t always fare well in colder climes. But ancient heat-loving enzymes forced to adapt to a cooling Earth managed to swap out parts to keep chemical reactions going, scientists report online December 22 in Science.

    By reconstructing enzymes as they might have looked billions of years ago, the...

    12/22/2016 - 14:00 Molecular Evolution