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genetics

Abstractions blog

The Downside to Neanderthal DNA

How interbreeding among early hominins harmed humans but may have slowed the Neanderthals’ decline.

Native Tibetans make use of a gene derived from Denisovans to stay healthy at high altitudes.
evolution

How Neanderthal DNA Helps Humanity

Neanderthals and Denisovans may have endowed modern humans with genetic variants that helped them thrive in new environments.

genetics

A Secret Flexibility Found in Life’s Blueprints

A new study reveals that individual genes can create many different versions of the molecular machinery that powers the cell.

Biology

How Strange Twists in DNA Orchestrate Life

Coils and twirls in DNA’s double-helix change how the molecule behaves, opening a new role for topology in the study of life.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains

Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

Life’s Secrets Sought in a Snowflake

A single genetic change and some clever geometry show how single-celled organisms can band together to form cooperative multicellular entities.

Biology

Networks Untangle Malaria’s Deadly Shuffle

By examining regions shared between some of nature’s most variable genes, malaria researchers are piecing together an understanding of a deadly parasite.

Biology

The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death

Only a few genetic changes were enough to change an ordinary stomach bug into the bacteria responsible for the plague.

Q&A

An Explorer of Life’s Deepest Partnerships

The biologist Nancy Moran has spent a career investigating the surprising nature of symbiosis, a phenomenon in which two species can appear to merge into one.