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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.”
Even Synthetic Life Forms With a Tiny Genome Can Evolve
By watching “minimal” cells regain the fitness they lost, researchers are testing whether a genome can be too simple to evolve.
Selfish, Virus-Like DNA Can Carry Genes Between Species
Genetic elements called Mavericks that have some viral features could be responsible for the large-scale smuggling of DNA between species.
How Genetic Surprises Complicate the Old Doctrine of DNA
For over a century, biologists have had to contend with a complicated picture of genetics, which they’ve only recently begun to understand.
Underground Cells Make ‘Dark Oxygen’ Without Light
In some deep subterranean aquifers, cells have a chemical trick for making oxygen that could sustain whole underground ecosystems.
Can Math and Physics Save an Arrhythmic Heart?
Abnormal waves of electrical activity can cause a heart’s muscle cells to beat out of sync. In this episode, Flavio Fenton, an expert in cardiac dynamics, talks with Steve Strogatz about ways to treat heart arrhythmias without resorting to painful defibrillators.
In a Fierce Desert, Microbe ‘Crusts’ Show How Life Tamed the Land
Extreme microorganisms carpeting the Atacama Desert in Chile illuminate how life might have first taken hold on Earth’s surface.
Microbes Gained Photosynthesis Superpowers From a ‘Proton Pump’
New research reveals how marine microbes use an extra membrane that once had digestive functions to boost their yield from photosynthesis.