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E.g., 04/26/2018
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  • News in Brief

    Genetically modified plant may boost supply of a powerful malaria drug

    Genetic modifications to a plant that makes artemisinin, a key compound used in malaria drugs, more than tripled the amount of the ingredient naturally produced in leaves.

    Previous attempts to genetically engineer Artemisia annua to increase the yield of artemisinin had failed. So Kexuan Tang, a plant scientist at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and colleagues determined A. annua’s entire...

    04/24/2018 - 14:56 Plants, Genetics, Immune Science
  • Science Ticker

    Cicadas on different schedules can hybridize

    Every few years, a buzz fills the air in the southeastern United States as adolescent cicadas crawl out from the soil to molt and make babies. After a childhood spent sipping tree sap underground, some species emerge every 13 years, others every 17 years, rarely overlapping. Yet somehow in this giant cicada orgy, hybridization happens between species that should be out of sync.

    ...

    04/20/2018 - 17:00 Genetics, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Larger spleens may help ‘sea nomads’ stay underwater longer

    In turquoise waters off the Indonesian coast, evolutionary geneticist Melissa Ilardo watched as the diver, wearing handmade, wooden goggles, spotted a giant clam meters below and darted down to retrieve it.

    The diver was one of the Bajau people of Southeast Asia, known for holding their breath for long periods while spearing fish and gathering other seafood. During a typical day, these “...

    04/19/2018 - 15:04 Physiology, Genetics
  • News

    This is how norovirus invades the body

    How a nasty, contagious stomach virus lays claim to the digestive system just got a little less mysterious.  

    In mice, norovirus infects rare cells in the lining of the gut called tuft cells. Like beacons in a dark sea, these cells glowed with evidence of a norovirus infection in fluorescent microscopy images, researchers report in the April 13 Science.

    If norovirus also targets...

    04/13/2018 - 10:23 Health, Cells
  • News

    Sweet potatoes might have arrived in Polynesia long before humans

    Sweet potatoes were domesticated thousands of years ago in the Americas. So 18th century European explorers were surprised to find Polynesians had been growing the crop for centuries. Anthropologists have since hypothesized that Polynesian seafarers had brought the tuber back from expeditions to South America — a journey of over 7,500 kilometers.

    New genetic evidence instead suggests...

    04/12/2018 - 18:14 Genetics, Agriculture, Anthropology
  • News

    Human brains make new nerve cells — and lots of them — well into old age

    Your brain might make new nerve cells well into old age.

    Healthy people in their 70s have just as many young nerve cells, or neurons, in a memory-related part of the brain as do teenagers and young adults, researchers report in the April 5 Cell Stem Cell. The discovery suggests that the hippocampus keeps generating new neurons throughout a person’s life.

    The finding contradicts a...

    04/05/2018 - 14:50 Neuroscience, Human Development, Cells
  • News

    Birds get their internal compass from this newly ID’d eye protein

    Birds can sense Earth’s magnetic field, and this uncanny ability may help them fly home from unfamiliar places or navigate migrations that span tens of thousands of kilometers.

    For decades, researchers thought iron-rich cells in birds’ beaks acted as microscopic compasses (SN: 5/19/12, p. 8). But in recent years, scientists have found increasing evidence that certain proteins in birds’...

    04/03/2018 - 07:00 Genetics, Chemistry, Animals
  • News

    ‘Nanobot’ viruses tag and round up bacteria in food and water

    NEW ORLEANS — Viruses engineered into “nanobots” can find and separate bacteria from food or water.

    These viruses, called bacteriophages or just phages, naturally latch onto bacteria to infect them (SN: 7/12/03, p. 26). By tweaking the phages’ DNA and decking them out with magnetic nanoparticles, researchers created a tool that could both corral bacteria and force them to reveal...

    03/27/2018 - 11:36 Microbiology, Chemistry, Health
  • Science Ticker

    Atacama mummy’s deformities were unduly sensationalized

    By analyzing the genome of a tiny fetal mummy known as Ata, researchers have learned more about what led to its strange-looking deformities — and that Ata was not an it, but a she.

    The 6-inch human mummy, found in 2003 in Chile’s Atacama Desert, contains genetic mutations associated with skeletal abnormalities and joint problems, researchers report online March 22 in Genome Research....

    03/22/2018 - 14:54 Genetics, Anthropology
  • Science Visualized

    Meet the giants among viruses

    For decades, the name “virus” meant small and simple. Not anymore. Meet the giants.

    Today, scientists are finding ever bigger viruses that pack impressive amounts of genetic material. The era of the giant virus began in 2003 with the discovery of the first Mimivirus (SN: 5/23/09, p. 9). The viral titan is about 750 nanometers across with a genetic pantry boasting around 1.2 million base...

    03/21/2018 - 07:00 Microbiology