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genetics

Illustration for "How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me"
insights puzzle

How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me

Can a set of simple instructions produce complex, three-dimensional living structures?

520px photo of Barbara Engelhardt
Q&A

A Statistical Search for Genomic Truths

The computer scientist Barbara Engelhardt develops machine-learning models and methods to scour human genomes for the elusive causes and mechanisms of disease.

520px photo of Jarvis holding a zebra finch
Q&A

In Birds’ Songs, Brains and Genes, He Finds Clues to Speech

The neuroscientist Erich Jarvis found that songbirds’ vocal skills and humans’ spoken language are both rooted in neural pathways for controlling learned movements.

520px photo of a dingo
evolution

A Domesticated Dingo? No, but Some Are Getting Less Wild

Near an Australian desert mining camp, wild dingoes are losing their fear of humans. Their genetic and behavioral changes may echo those from the domestication of dogs.

Illustration: altered DNA in bears
synthetic biology

Is a Bigger Genetic Code Better? Get Ready to Find Out

Evolution settled on a genetic code that uses four letters to name 20 amino acids. Synthetic biologists adding new bases to DNA will be free to improve on nature — if they can.

During fertilization, eggs may play an unexpected role in choosing which sperm offer the best genetic match.
genetics

Choosy Eggs May Pick Sperm for Their Genes, Defying Mendel’s Law

The oldest law of genetics says that gametes combine randomly, but experiments hint that sometimes eggs select sperm actively for their genetic assets.

Selfish DNA
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Are Genes Selfish or Cooperative?’

Puzzle solvers rediscovered a simple mathematical result of Mendelian genetics and weighed in on a Richard Dawkins metaphor.

Selfish Genes
insights puzzle

Are Genes Selfish or Cooperative?

Can you discover a simple mathematical result of Mendelian genetics that describes how genes interact with each other?

Evolving bird
genetics

Beating the Odds for Lucky Mutations

If DNA repair makes useful mutations more likely, it could accelerate cells’ adaptations to harsh environments.