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  • News

    Slow sperm may fail at crashing ‘gates’ on their way to an egg

    The female reproductive tract is an obstacle course that favors agile sperm. Narrow straits in parts of the tract act like gates, helping prevent slower-swimming sperm from ever reaching an egg, a study suggests. 

    Using a device that mimics the tract’s variable width, researchers studied sperm behavior at a narrow point, where the sex cells faced strong head-on currents of fluid. The...

    02/13/2019 - 14:49 Development
  • News

    DNA reveals early mating between Asian herders and European farmers

    Hundreds of years before changing the genetic face of Bronze Age Europeans, herders based in western Asia’s steppe grasslands were already mingling and occasionally mating with nearby farmers in southeastern Europe.

    That surprising finding, published online February 4 in Nature Communications, raises novel questions about a pivotal time when widespread foraging and farming populations...

    02/08/2019 - 06:00 Genetics, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    In some cases, getting dengue may protect against Zika

    Previous infections with dengue virus may have protected some people in an urban slum in Brazil from getting Zika.

    In a study of more than 1,400 people in the Pau da Lima area of Salvador, those with higher levels of antibodies against a particular dengue virus protein were at lower risk of contracting Zika, researchers report in the Feb. 8 Science. “The higher the antibody, the higher...

    02/07/2019 - 14:00 Health, Immune Science
  • News

    What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you

    A popular at-home DNA testing company has announced that it is allowing police to search its database of genetic data just as customers do when looking for family members. But there’s one big difference: Police are trying to track down rape and murder suspects using relatives’ DNA.

    Since Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested as the suspected Golden State Killer last April, police have...

    02/06/2019 - 06:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • The Science Life

    DNA from extinct red wolves lives on in some mysterious Texas coyotes

    Mysterious red-coated canids in Texas are stirring debate over how genetic diversity should be preserved.

    “I thought they were some strange looking coyotes,” wildlife biologist Ron Wooten says of the canids on Galveston Island, where Wooten works. But DNA evidence suggests the large canids might be descendants of red wolves, a species declared in 1980 to be extinct in the wild.

    A...

    02/04/2019 - 10:00 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    This bacteria-fighting protein also induces sleep

    “Feed a cold, starve a fever,” or so the adage goes. But fruit fly experiments suggest that sleep may be a better remedy.

    A microbe-fighting protein helps control how much and how deeply fruit flies sleep, researchers report in the Feb. 1 Science. That’s evidence that sleep speeds recovery from illness, they conclude.

    “We finally have a very clear link between being sleepy and...

    01/31/2019 - 14:03 Genetics, Physiology, Immune Science
  • Science Visualized

    How light-farming chloroplasts morph into defensive warriors

    Chloroplasts may seem like docile farmers of light. But inside these microscopic plant and algal cell structures lurks the spirit of a warrior.

    When a pathogen attacks a plant, chloroplasts stop making food from sunlight and rush to the site of infection to help fend off the invader. Now, researchers have identified the protein that mobilizes these organelles into a defensive army.

    ...
    01/28/2019 - 08:00 Plants, Cells, Immune Science
  • News

    A CRISPR gene drive for mice is one step closer to reality

    Scientists are getting closer to creating a genetic pest-control measure against rodents.

    Female mice engineered to carry a genetic cut-and-paste machine called a gene drive may be able to pass a particular version of one gene on to more than 80 percent of their offspring, researchers report January 23 in Nature. That rate would beat the usual 50 percent chance of handing down a gene...

    01/23/2019 - 13:17 Genetics, Animals
  • News in Brief

    A protein in mosquito eggshells could be the insects’ Achilles’ heel

    Mosquito researchers may have hatched a new plan to control the bloodsuckers: Break their eggshells.

    A protein called eggshell organizing factor 1, or EOF1, is necessary for some mosquito species’ eggs and embryos to develop properly, a new study finds. Genetically disrupting production of that protein in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes caused about 60 percent of their normally dark eggshells...

    01/08/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Genetics, Development
  • News

    DNA tests of Lassa virus mid-outbreak helped Nigeria target its response

    When an outbreak of a viral hemorrhagic fever hit Nigeria in 2018, scientists were ready: They were already in the country testing new disease-tracking technology, and within weeks managed to steer health workers toward the most appropriate response.

    Lassa fever, which is transmitted from rodents to humans, pops up every year in West Africa. But 2018 was the worst season on record for...

    01/03/2019 - 14:09 Health, Genetics