Viviane Callier

Illustration of two strips of movie film coiled around each other in a double helix.
behavior

Inherited Learning? It Happens, but How Is Uncertain

October 16, 2019

Studies suggest that epigenetics allows some learned adaptive responses to be passed down to new generations. The question is how.

Illustration of DNA that combines elements of mealybug and bacterial imagery.
evolution

Cell-Bacteria Mergers Offer Clues to How Organelles Evolved

October 3, 2019

Cells in symbiotic partnership, sometimes nested one within the other and functioning like organelles, can borrow from their host’s genes to complete their own metabolic pathways.

Illustration: a virus broken up into parts over several cells
viruses

Viruses Can Scatter Their Genes Among Cells and Reassemble

May 21, 2019

Some viruses can replicate without infecting any one cell with all their genes.

Abstractions blog

Viruses Have a Secret, Altruistic Social Life

April 15, 2019

Researchers are beginning to understand the ways in which viruses strategically manipulate and cooperate with one another.

Art for "Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly"
evolution

Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly

February 5, 2019

If highly repetitive gene-regulating sequences in DNA are easily lost, that may explain why some adaptations evolve quickly and repeatedly.

Art for "Adaptations or Neutral Changes? Evolutionary Theory Seeks a Balance"
evolution

Theorists Debate How ‘Neutral’ Evolution Really Is

November 8, 2018

For 50 years, evolutionary theory has emphasized the importance of neutral mutations rather than adaptive ones at the level of DNA. Real genomic data challenges that assumption.

Photo of a grasshopper poised to jump.
biophysics

Too Small for Big Muscles, Tiny Animals Use Springs

June 13, 2018

Elastic springs help tiny animals stay fast and strong. New work is finding what size critters must be to benefit from the springs.

Image for "Cells Talk and Help One Another via Tiny Tube Networks"
microbiology

Cells Talk and Help One Another via Tiny Tube Networks

April 23, 2018

Long-overlooked “tunneling nanotubes” and other bridges between cells act as conduits for sharing RNA, proteins or even whole organelles.

Elephant thumbnail
genomics

A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer

November 7, 2017

Elephants did not evolve to become huge animals until after they turned a bit of genetic junk into a unique defense against inevitable tumors.

About the author

Viviane Callier, a biologist by training, works as a science writer at the National Eye Institute and freelances for various science news publications.