Evolving Bacteria Can Evade Barriers to ‘Peak’ Fitness
Paradoxically, natural selection can sometimes seem to block organisms from evolving useful adaptations. But a new study of “fitness landscapes” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria shows that life still finds a way.
In Our Cellular Clocks, She’s Found a Lifetime of Discoveries
For decades, Carrie Partch has led pioneering structural research on the protein clockwork that keeps time for our circadian rhythm. Is time still on her side?
‘Species Repulsion’ Enables High Biodiversity in Tropical Trees
Because tree seedlings don’t grow as well when close to their parents, more tree species can be packed into tropical forests.
Andreas Wagner Pursues the Secrets to Evolutionary Success
Why did mammals, grasses and some other groups of organisms explode in diversity only after millions of years? The evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner plumbs the secrets of those “sleeping beauties.”
The Key to Species Diversity May Be in Their Similarities
New modeling work suggests why nature is more diverse than niche-based ecological theory predicts.
She Finds Keys to Ecology in Cells That Steal From Others
The ecologist Holly Moeller studies microorganisms that expand their range by absorbing organelles and gaining new metabolic talents from their prey.
How Genes Can Leap From Snakes to Frogs in Madagascar
The discovery of a hot spot for horizontal gene transfer draws attention to the possible roles of parasites and ecology in such changes.
Simple Gene Circuits Hint at How Stem Cells Find New Identities
Synthetic biology experiments suggest a “MultiFate” model for how genetically identical cells become the many different types found in complex organisms like us.
Ancient Genes for Symbiosis Hint at Mitochondria’s Origins
Was the addition of mitochondria a first step in the formation of complex cells or one of the last? A new study of bacteria tries to answer this contentious question in evolutionary biology.