What's up in

Biology

Photo of Corina Tarnita 520px
Q&A

A Mathematician Who Decodes the Patterns Stamped Out by Life

Corina Tarnita deciphers bizarre patterns in the soil created by competing life-forms.

RNA Peptide 520
origins of life

The End of the RNA World Is Near, Biochemists Argue

For decades, an origin-of-life story starring RNA has prevailed. New research may be shaking that theory’s hold on our understanding of life’s beginnings.

Short term VS Long term memory illustration
neuroscience

Light-Triggered Genes Reveal the Hidden Workings of Memory

Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa’s lab is overturning old assumptions about how memories form, how recall works and whether lost memories might be restored from “silent engrams.”

New finch species "Big Bird "(offspring)
Abstractions blog

New Bird Species Arises From Hybrids, as Scientists Watch

The rapid, unorthodox emergence of a new finch in the Galápagos hints that speciation isn’t rare. New hybrid species may quietly appear and disappear without anyone noticing.

Traveling person with a luggage filled with bacteria
Quantized Columns

What Bacteria Can Tell Us About Human Evolution

To discover our species’ deep history and to shape its future health, we should learn from the microbes that accompanied us on our evolutionary journey.

Illustration of gut sending signals to kidneys.
physiology

How Bacteria Help Regulate Blood Pressure

Kidneys sniff out signals from gut bacteria for cues to lower blood pressure after meals. Our understanding of how the symbiotic microbes affect health is becoming much more molecular.

Frozen clock photo
Abstractions blog

The Overlooked Link Between Two of This Year’s Nobel Prizes

To better understand the molecules described by the latest prize in medicine, we will need the technique recognized by the latest prize in chemistry.

Illustration of a doctor trying to get to a patient
molecular biology

Bacteria Sacrifice DNA Repair for Better RNA

Preserving its DNA ought to be a cell’s top priority. But bacteria slow their DNA repair to a crawl in favor of proofreading gene transcripts.

In the ongoing controversy over whether and how to use a powerful new genome editing technology in the wild to achieve conservation and public health goals, two new papers urge caution.
Abstractions blog

New Model Warns About CRISPR Gene Drives in the Wild

Two new papers urge caution in using powerful genome-editing technology against invasive species: Models show that aggressive gene drives can’t be contained in the wild.