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Evolving Bacteria Can Evade Barriers to ‘Peak’ Fitness
Paradoxically, natural selection can sometimes seem to block organisms from evolving useful adaptations. But a new study of “fitness landscapes” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria shows that life still finds a way.
During Pregnancy, a Fake ‘Infection’ Protects the Fetus
Cells in the placenta have an unusual trick for activating gentle immune defenses and keeping them turned on when no infection is present. It involves crafting and deploying a fake virus.
Fossilized Molecules Reveal a Lost World of Ancient Life
A new analysis of ancient sediments fills a gap in the fossil record — revealing a massive dynasty of ancient eukaryotes, which may have reigned for 800 million years and shaped the history of life of Earth.
Andreas Wagner Pursues the Secrets to Evolutionary Success
Why did mammals, grasses and some other groups of organisms explode in diversity only after millions of years? The evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner plumbs the secrets of those “sleeping beauties.”
Even Synthetic Life Forms With a Tiny Genome Can Evolve
By watching “minimal” cells regain the fitness they lost, researchers are testing whether a genome can be too simple to evolve.
Underground Cells Make ‘Dark Oxygen’ Without Light
In some deep subterranean aquifers, cells have a chemical trick for making oxygen that could sustain whole underground ecosystems.
How 3D Changes in the Genome Turned Sharks Into Skates
Changes in the 3D structure of their genome gave skates and rays their distinctive winglike fins and pancake flatness.