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DNA

Q&A

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

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

A row of skulls ending with homo sapiens, foreground, found at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins.
Abstractions blog

Artificial Intelligence Finds Ancient ‘Ghosts’ in Modern DNA

With the help of deep learning techniques, paleoanthropologists find evidence of long-lost branches on the human family tree.

Art for "Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly"
evolution

Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly

If highly repetitive gene-regulating sequences in DNA are easily lost, that may explain why some adaptations evolve quickly and repeatedly.

Abstractions blog

Gene Drives Work in Mice (if They’re Female)

Biologists have demonstrated for the first time that a controversial genetic engineering technology works, with caveats, in mammals.

Art for "Stem Cells Remember Tissues’ Past Injuries"
developmental biology

Stem Cells Remember Tissues’ Past Injuries

Stem cells seem to retain memories of old injuries to improve future healing. When that system goes wrong, chronic inflammation can result.

Art for "Adaptations or Neutral Changes? Evolutionary Theory Seeks a Balance"
evolution

Theorists Debate How ‘Neutral’ Evolution Really Is

For 50 years, evolutionary theory has emphasized the importance of neutral mutations rather than adaptive ones at the level of DNA. Real genomic data challenges that assumption.

Art for "‘Broadband’ Networks of Viruses May Help Bacteria Evolve Faster"
microbiology

‘Broadband’ Networks of Viruses May Help Bacteria Evolve Faster

A newly discovered mechanism may enable viruses to shuttle genes between bacteria 1,000 times as often as was thought — making them a major force in those cells’ evolution.

Photo of Renee Reijo Pera
Q&A

In the Ticking of the Embryonic Clock, She Finds Answers

Renee Reijo Pera has spent decades uncovering how the timing of embryonic development contributes to health and disease.

Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum leaf
botany

DNA Analysis Reveals a Genus of Plants Hiding in Plain Sight

Gene-sequence data is changing the way that botanists think about their classification schemes. A recent name-change for a common houseplant resulted from the discovery that it belonged in an overlooked genus.