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genetics

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.

Q&A

Wanted: More Data, the Dirtier the Better

The computational immunologist Purvesh Khatri embraces messy data as a way to capture the messiness of disease. As a result, he’s making elusive genomic discoveries.

Q&A

A Map of Human History, Hidden in DNA

The computational biologist John Novembre uses our genetic code to rewrite the history of humanity.

Still illustration: changing genes
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘A Ticking Evolutionary Clock’

How to calculate when a gene’s rate of evolution will slow to a crawl.

GIF illustration: changing genes
insights puzzle

A Ticking Evolutionary Clock

How quickly will a gene’s rate of evolution slow to a crawl?