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biochemistry

Illustration that depicts two types of simple molecules reacting in water on the early Earth.
origins of life

New Clues to Chemical Origins of Metabolism at Dawn of Life

October 12, 2020

The ingredients for reactions ancestral to metabolism could have formed very easily in the primordial soup, new work suggests.

A DNA double helix being struck by a cosmic ray.
Abstractions blog

Cosmic Rays May Explain Life’s Bias for Right-Handed DNA

June 29, 2020

Cosmic rays may have given right-handed genetic helixes an evolutionary edge at the beginning of life’s history.

Art for "Mitochondria Direct the Fate of Stem Cells by Shape-Shifting"
developmental biology

Biologists Discover Unknown Powers in Mighty Mitochondria

March 18, 2019

Mitochondria are most famous as sources of metabolic energy. But by splitting and combining, they can also release chemical signals to regulate cell activities, including the generation of neurons.

Illustration: Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells
viruses

Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells

December 6, 2016

A virus that causes crippling birth defects has been shown to do something else: It changes thousands of messages coming from DNA that control normal cellular activities.

The helmet jellyfish (Periphylla periphylla) uses bioluminescence for defense.

In the Deep, Clues to How Life Makes Light

December 1, 2016

Bioluminescent organisms have evolved dozens of times over the course of life’s history. Recent studies are narrowing in on the complicated biochemistry needed to illuminate the dark.

origins of life

Chemists Seek Possible Precursor to RNA

February 5, 2014

Scientists have discovered building blocks similar to those in modern RNA that can effortlessly assemble when mixed in water and heated.