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  • News

    Droplets of these simple molecules may have helped kick-start life on Earth

    For the origin of life on Earth, ancient puddles or coastlines may have had a major ripple effect.

    A new study shows that a simple class of molecules called alpha hydroxy acids forms microdroplets when dried and rewetted, as could have taken place at the edges of water sources. These cell-sized compartments can trap RNA, and can merge and break apart — behavior that could have encouraged...

    07/22/2019 - 15:24 Chemistry, Evolution, Cells
  • News

    Boosting a gut bacterium helps mice fight an ALS-like disease

    A friendly gut bacterium can help lessen ALS symptoms, a study of mice suggests.

    Mice that develop a degenerative nerve disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, fared better when bacteria making vitamin B3 were living in their intestines, researchers report July 22 in Nature. Those results suggest that gut microbes may make molecules that can slow...

    07/22/2019 - 11:00 Neuroscience, Cells, Biomedicine
  • News

    This gene may help worms live longer, but not healthier

    Long life and good health don’t always go hand in hand. 

    A gene that lengthens nematode worms’ lives and is necessary for reproduction also makes the worms more susceptible to infection and stress, researchers report July 17 in Nature Communications. That’s unusual; longevity-promoting genes generally help organisms deal with stress, says Arjumand Ghazi, a geneticist who studies aging at...

    07/17/2019 - 05:00 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    Both fish and humans have REM-like sleep

    No one should have to sleep with the fishes, but new research on zebrafish suggests that we sleep like them.

    Sleeping zebrafish have brain activity similar to both deep slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep that’s found in mammals, researchers report July 10 in Nature. And the team may have tracked down the cells that kick off REM sleep.

    The findings suggest that...

    07/10/2019 - 13:38 Neuroscience, Physiology, Animals
  • News

    Ground beetle genitals have the genetic ability to get strange. They don’t

    A new peek at the genetics of beetle genitals reveals the underpinnings of a battle of the sexes.

    When mating, males of Japan’s flightless Carabus beetles insert a chitin-covered appendage that, once inside a female, pops out a plump sperm-delivery tube as well as a side projection called a copulatory piece. That piece doesn’t deliver any sperm, but steadies the alignment by fitting just...

    07/08/2019 - 08:00 Animals, Evolution, Genetics
  • News in Brief

    Ancient DNA reveals the origins of the Philistines

    Hard-won genetic clues from the bones of Philistines, a people known from the Old Testament for their battles with Israelites, have taken some of the mystery out of their hazy origins.

    DNA extracted from the remains of 10 individuals buried at Ashkelon, an ancient Philistine port city in Israel, displays molecular links to ancient and modern populations in the eastern Mediterranean,...

    07/03/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Genetics
  • News

    Antioxidants may encourage the spread of lung cancer rather than prevent it

    Antioxidants, once touted as a cancer preventive, may actually spur the disease’s spread. Now scientists have figured out how.

    Whether taken as a dietary supplement or produced by the body, antioxidants appear to help lung cancer cells invade tissues beyond the chest cavity, two studies report online June 27 in Cell. Experiments in mice and human tissue revealed that antioxidants both...

    06/27/2019 - 11:02 Cancer, Health, Genetics
  • News

    DNA reveals a European Neandertal lineage that lasted 80,000 years

    Neandertals had evolutionary stamina. An unbroken genetic line of the jut-jawed, powerfully built human relatives inhabited Europe for at least 80,000 years until dying out around 40,000 years ago, scientists say.

    DNA extracted from fossils of two roughly 120,000-year-old European Neandertals displays closer genetic links to 40,000-year-old European Neandertals than to a Siberian...

    06/26/2019 - 14:00 Genetics, Human Evolution
  • News in Brief

    These fungi drug cicadas with psilocybin or amphetamine to make them mate nonstop

    SAN FRANCISCO — A cicada-infecting fungus produces drugs that make the insects literally mate their butts off.

    Massospora fungi make either a drug found in hallucinogenic mushrooms or an amphetamine found in khat leaves, plant pathologist Matthew Kasson of West Virginia University in Morgantown reported June 22 at the ASM Microbe 2019 meeting.

    The fungi may use psilocybin, which...

    06/25/2019 - 14:42 Microbiology, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Dried Earth microbes could grow on Mars with just a little humidity

    SAN FRANCISCO — Salt-loving microbes can dry out and come back to life with just a little humidity, researchers have demonstrated for the first time.

    Scientists have suspected that microbes in arid places may get their moisture from humidity alone, but no one has shown that dried-out microbes can revive with water sucked from the air. Dessicated Halomonas bacteria from Washington’s Hot...

    06/25/2019 - 06:00 Microbiology