1. viruses from the Siphoviridae (left) and Podoviridae (right) families

    Some viruses thwart bacterial defenses with a unique genetic alphabet

    DNA has four building blocks: A, C, T and G. But some bacteriophages swap A for Z, and scientists have figured out how and why they do it.

  2. scientists in Estatuas cave

    Neandertal DNA from cave mud shows two waves of migration across Eurasia

    Genetic material left behind in sediments reveals new details about how ancient humans once spread across the continent.

  3. crowd of Japanese commuters wearing masks

    A coronavirus epidemic may have hit East Asia about 25,000 years ago

    An ancient viral outbreak may have left a genetic mark in East Asians that possibly influences their responses to the virus that causes COVID-19.

  4. human skull from early humans in Europe

    Europe’s oldest known humans mated with Neandertals surprisingly often

    DNA from ancient fossils suggests interbreeding regularly occurred between the two species by about 45,000 years ago, two studies find.

  5. rabbit standing on front paws

    A gene defect may make rabbits do handstands instead of hop

    Mutations in a gene typically found throughout the nervous system rob rabbits of their ability to hop. Instead, the animals walk on their front paws.

  6. Jennifer Doudna presenting at an NIH event

    ‘The Code Breaker’ tells the story of CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna

    In his latest book, Walter Isaacson chronicles the discovery of CRISPR and delves into the ethics of gene editing.

  7. illustration of slinky structures in archaea dna

    Archaea microbes fold, twist and contort their DNA in extreme ways

    Single-celled archaea open and close their Slinky-like genetic material in a clamshell motion, possibly providing easy access to their genes.

  8. illustration of a woman walking across of a bridge of DNA

    DNA databases are too white, so genetics doesn’t help everyone. How do we fix that?

    A lack of diversity in genetic databases is making precision medicine ineffective for many people. One historian proposes a solution: construct reference genomes for individual populations.

  9. street scene in Lagos, Nigeria

    The first human genetic blueprint just turned 20. What’s next?

    The Human Genome Project led to many medical advances. Deciphering 3 million African genomes and using new tech to fill gaps could lead to even more.

  10. neandertal skeleton
    Health & Medicine

    Some Neandertal genes in people today may protect against severe COVID-19

    Neandertal DNA on chromosome 12 may affect genes involved in a biochemical chain reaction that ends with the destruction of viral RNA.

  11. illustration of steppe mammoths

    The oldest animal DNA ever recovered reveals mammoths’ evolution

    Mammoths evolved to handle the cold over hundreds of thousands of years and North America may been home to a hybrid species, a new study finds.

  12. pink flower on a cotton plant in the Yucatan Peninsula

    Modified genes can distort wild cotton’s interactions with insects

    In a Yucatan nature park, engineered genes influence nectar production, affecting ants’ and maybe pollinators’ attraction to the wild cotton plants.