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  • News

    Dog domestication happened just once, ancient DNA study suggests

    People and pooches may have struck up a lasting friendship after just one try, a new genetic study suggests.

    New data from ancient dogs indicates that dogs became distinct from wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, researchers report July 18 in Nature Communications. Dogs then formed genetically distinct eastern and western groups 17,000 to 24,000 years ago, the researchers...

    07/18/2017 - 11:18 Genetics, Animals, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    GM moth trial gets a green light from USDA

    Cabbage-chomping moths genetically modified to be real lady-killers may soon take flight in upstate New York. On July 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture OK’d a small open-air trial of GM diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella), which the agency says do not pose a threat to human or environmental health.

    These male moths carry a gene that kills female offspring before they mature....

    07/14/2017 - 13:11 Agriculture, Genetics
  • Science Ticker

    CRISPR adds storing movies to its feats of molecular biology

    Short film is alive and well. Using the current trendy gene-editing system CRISPR, a team from Harvard University has encoded images and a short movie into the DNA of living bacteria.

    The work is part of a larger effort to use DNA to store data — from audio recordings and poetry to entire books on synthetic biology. Last year, Seth Shipman and his colleagues at Harvard threw CRISPR into...

    07/12/2017 - 19:09 Genetics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    How a crop-destroying fungus mutated to infect wheat

    A wheat strain that let its guard down may have paved the way for a crop-destroying fungus to infect the species.

    About 1980, Brazilian farmers began growing a strain of wheat called Anahuac, which is suited to the country’s nonacidic soils. And that, researchers report July 7 in Science, may be when wheat started to lose an arms race with blast fungus (Pyricularia oryzae, also known as...

    07/10/2017 - 08:00 Genetics, Plants
  • News in Brief

    Fossil tooth pushes back record of mysterious Neandertal relative

    DNA retrieved from a child’s worn-down fossil tooth shows the ancient Asian roots of extinct Neandertal relatives called Denisovans, researchers say.

    A 10- to 12-year-old female Denisovan, represented by the tooth, lived at least 100,000 years ago, conclude evolutionary geneticist Viviane Slon of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues....

    07/07/2017 - 14:00 Anthropology, Genetics, Human Evolution
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers intrigued by Mars' far-out birth

    Martian mysteries

    Mars may have formed out where the asteroid belt is now, far from its planetary neighbors, Thomas Sumner reported in “New proposal reimagines Mars’ origin” (SN: 5/27/17, p. 14).

    Readers online were fascinated by Mars’ origin story. “There seemed to be evidence of actual seas on early Mars,” stargene wrote. “How can this be finessed into the idea of Mars living out in...

    07/06/2017 - 12:30 Planetary Science, Genetics, Particle Physics
  • Feature

    DNA evidence is rewriting domestication origin stories

    One lab full of rats looks pretty much the same as another. But visiting a lab in Siberia, geneticist Alex Cagan can distinguish rats bred to be tame from those bred to be aggressive as soon as he opens the lab door.

    “It’s a completely different response immediately,” he says. All of the tame rats “come to the front of the cage very inquisitively.” The aggressive rats scurry to the backs...

    07/06/2017 - 12:00 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    Double-duty DNA plays a role in birth and death

    Babies are little heartbreakers — literally. Genetic variants linked to fertility are also linked to coronary artery disease, a new study finds.

    It’s not uncommon to find genes that affect more than one trait, but this is the first time scientists have seen a genetic connection between reproduction and heart disease, the researchers report online June 22 in PLOS Genetics. “Evolution is...

    07/05/2017 - 12:00 Genetics, Human Evolution
  • News

    Petunias spread their scent using pushy proteins

    When it comes to smelling pretty, petunias are pretty pushy.

    Instead of just letting scent compounds waft into the air, the plants use a particular molecule called a transporter protein to help move the compounds along, a new study found. The results, published June 30 in Science, could help researchers genetically engineer many kinds of plants both to attract pollinators and to repel...

    06/29/2017 - 14:00 Plants, Cells, Genetics
  • News in Brief

    Horse version of ‘Who’s your daddy?’ answered

    A few stallions from the Orient were the sires of all modern horses, a new genetics study suggests.

    Using genetic analyses of more than 50 horse breeds, along with the pedigrees of three stallions that founded English Thoroughbreds, researchers traced the Y chromosomes of modern horses back hundreds of years. Arabian and Turkoman stallions were the source of Y chromosomes shared by all...

    06/29/2017 - 12:00 Genetics, Animals