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DNA

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.

Video of two slipper-shaped paramecia engaged in a sexual process called conjugation.
evolution

Why Sex? Biologists Find New Explanations.

April 23, 2020

Why did sex evolve? Theories usually focus on the diversity of future generations, but some researchers find compelling explanations in the immediate benefits to individuals.

genomics

Where Do New Genes Come From?

April 9, 2020

In their search for sources of genetic novelty, researchers find that some “orphan genes” with no obvious ancestors evolve out of junk DNA, contrary to old assumptions.

Illustration of two strips of movie film coiled around each other in a double helix.
behavior

Inherited Learning? It Happens, but How Is Uncertain

October 16, 2019

Studies suggest that epigenetics allows some learned adaptive responses to be passed down to new generations. The question is how.

3D illustration of a complex atomic structure.
Abstractions blog

Origin-of-Life Study Points to Chemical Chimeras, Not RNA

September 16, 2019

Origin-of-life researchers have usually studied the potential of pure starting materials, but messy mixtures of chemicals may kick-start life more effectively.

3D illustration of three human skulls, split into left and right halves and nested one inside the next.
evolution

Fossil DNA Reveals New Twists in Modern Human Origins

August 29, 2019

Modern humans and more ancient hominins interbred many times throughout Eurasia and Africa, and the genetic flow went both ways.

VIDEO OPENER: TIME-LAPSE OF FLOWER OPENING.
botany

Unexpected ‘Germline’ Plant Cells May Shield New Generations

August 5, 2019

To avoid passing on new mutations to offspring, plants may minimize the number of divisions by the stem cells that make flowers and seeds.

cell biology

Cellular Life, Death and Everything in Between

July 8, 2019

The discovery that apparently dead cells can sometimes resurrect themselves has researchers exploring how far they can push the point of no return.

Art for "Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems"
genomics

Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems

May 29, 2019

Surviving fragments of genetic material preserved in sediments allow scientists to see the full diversity of past life — even microbes.