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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.
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.
How Genetic Surprises Complicate the Old Doctrine of DNA
For over a century, biologists have had to contend with a complicated picture of genetics, which they’ve only recently begun to understand.
How Pools of Genetic Diversity Affect a Species’ Fate
A new, deeper understanding of how the breeding structure of species affects their genetic diversity is giving conservationists better tools for saving animals.
How a DNA ‘Parasite’ May Have Fragmented Our Genes
A novel type of “jumping gene” may explain why the genomes of complex cells aren’t all equally stuffed with noncoding sequences.
Ants Live 10 Times Longer by Altering Their Insulin Responses
Queen ants live far longer than genetically identical workers. Researchers are learning what their longevity secrets could mean for aging in other species.
Secrets of Early Animal Evolution Revealed by Chromosome ‘Tectonics’
Large blocks of genes conserved through hundreds of millions of years of evolution hint at how the first animal chromosomes came to be.
When a Gene Illness Discovery Means Breaking Bad News
When scientists discover genes linked to dangerous illnesses in their samples, how should they convey that news to the study participants? The geneticist Cristen Willer had to tackle that challenge.