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developmental biology

Close-up photo of a carpenter ant queen carrying eggs.
evolution

How Two Became One: Origins of a Mysterious Symbiosis Found

September 9, 2020

Carpenter ants need endosymbiotic bacteria to guide the early development of their embryos. New work has reconstructed how this deep partnership evolved.

Illustration of two fantastical creatures. One lifts an urn in its arms. The other lacks arms but lifts the urn on its tail.
evolution

By Losing Genes, Life Often Evolved More Complexity

September 1, 2020

Recent major surveys show that reductions in genomic complexity — including the loss of key genes — have successfully shaped the evolution of life throughout history.

A mother armadillo, lying on her side, nurses four baby armadillos.
developmental biology

Nature Versus Nurture? Add ‘Noise’ to the Debate.

March 23, 2020

We give our genes and our environment all the credit for making us who we are. But random noise during development might be just as important.

Micrograph of a section of brain organoid tissue.
neuroscience

An Ethical Future for Brain Organoids Takes Shape

January 23, 2020

Collaborations in progress between ethicists and biologists seek to head off challenges raised by lab-grown “organoids” as they become increasingly similar to human brain tissue.

An illustration of a machine with two mechanical arms sorts cells by size into processing lines marked “Asymmetric Division” and “Symmetric Division.”
developmental biology

For Embryo’s Cells, Size Can Determine Fate

August 12, 2019

Modeling suggests that many embryonic cells commit to a developmental fate when they become too small to divide unevenly anymore.

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.

Art for "The Math That Tells Cells What They Are"
mathematical biology

The Math That Tells Cells What They Are

March 13, 2019

During development, cells seem to decode their fate through optimal information processing, which could hint at a more general principle of life.

Q&A

Doudna’s Confidence in CRISPR’s Research Potential Burns Bright

February 27, 2019

Jennifer Doudna, one of CRISPR’s primary innovators, stays optimistic about how the gene-editing tool will continue to empower basic biological understanding.

Abstractions blog

Jellyfish Genome Hints That Complexity Isn’t Genetically Complex

January 8, 2019

Jellyfish didn’t need novel genes to take an evolutionary leap in complexity.