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Primitive Asgard Cells Show Life on the Brink of Complexity
As researchers race to cultivate more of the intriguing cells from the deep seafloor, the few cells now growing in labs are giving us our best glimpses of the forerunners of all complex life.
A Billion Years Before Sex, Ancient Cells Were Equipped for It
Molecular detective work is zeroing in on the origins of sexual reproduction. The protein tools for cell mergers seem to have long predated sex — so what were they doing?
RNA Brakes May Stabilize a Cellular Symbiosis
In some symbiotic partnerships, an RNA-based mechanism may sabotage the growth of greedy hosts.
DNA’s Histone Spools Hint at How Complex Cells Evolved
New work shows that histones, long treated as boring spools for DNA, sit at the center of the origin story of eukaryotes and continue to play important roles in evolution and disease.
The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes
Mistletoes have all but shut down the powerhouses of their cells. Scientists are still trying to understand the plants’ unorthodox survival strategy.
Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near.
An unorthodox symbiotic theory about the origin of eukaryotes’ defining characteristic may soon be put to the test.
Why Sex? Biologists Find New Explanations.
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.
Billion-Year-Old Algae and Newer Genes Hint at Land Plants’ Origin
A recently unearthed fossil and new genomic discoveries are filling important gaps in scientists’ understanding of how primitive green algae eventually evolved into land vegetation.
Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire
In harsh ecosystems around the world, microbiologists are finding evidence that “microbial seed banks” protect biodiversity from changing conditions.