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How Could Life Evolve From Cyanide?
How did life arise on Earth? Steven Strogatz speaks with the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Jack Szostak and Betül Kaçar, a paleogeneticist and astrobiologist, to explore our best understanding of how we all got here.
Life’s First Peptides May Have Grown on RNA Strands
RNA and peptides coevolving in the primordial world might have jointly served as a precursor to the modern ribosome.
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.
Why ‘De-Extinction’ Is Impossible (But Could Work Anyway)
Several projects are aiming to bring back mammoths and other species that have vanished from the planet. Whether that’s technically possible is beside the point.
In Test Tubes, RNA Molecules Evolve Into a Tiny Ecosystem
When researchers gave a genetic molecule the ability to replicate, it evolved over time into a complex network of “hosts” and “parasites” that both competed and cooperated to survive.
What Happens When We Give Animals Our Diseases?
While it’s understandable to focus on the diseases affecting humans, it’s important to study how our illnesses may affect animals.
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.
Why Is Inflammation a Dangerous Necessity?
The immune system protects us from a full spectrum of pathogens, but without balance, it can end up hurting us over time, too. The immunologist Shruti Naik explains how our defenses can turn on us.
In Sexy Worms, Inheritance Beyond Genes Can Help Evolution
Traits from RNA molecules passed between multiple generations of worms can work with genetic changes to influence future evolution.