What's up in

genomics

Illustration of bats shedding their genome by Skip Sterling
molecular biology

Shrinking Bat DNA and Elastic Genomes

August 1, 2017

Species gain and shed startling amounts of DNA as they evolve, and even genomes that look stable churn furiously. What does it mean?

Q&A

A Map of Human History, Hidden in DNA

April 20, 2017

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

Larger timescales give a clearer picture of evolution.
evolution

Evolution Runs Faster on Short Timescales

March 14, 2017

Examine evolution over the course of years or centuries, and you’ll find that it progresses much more quickly than it does over geologic time.

A petri dish with an array of mutant yeast strains.
Abstractions blog

Why Some Genetic Miscues Are Helpful

November 3, 2016

A new look at the reasons why organisms missing pairs of genes sometimes do much better than normal.

genomics

Genetic Architects Untwist DNA’s Turns

October 27, 2016

Researchers have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to manipulate the way that DNA coils up inside the cell — another step in the quest to understand how the genome’s 3-D structure impacts its function.

genomics

Giant Genetic Map Shows Life’s Hidden Links

October 25, 2016

In a monumental set of experiments, spread out over nearly two decades, biologists removed genes two at a time to uncover the secret workings of the cell.

synthetic biology

In Newly Created Life-Form, a Major Mystery

March 24, 2016

Scientists have created a synthetic organism that possesses only the genes it needs to survive. But they have no idea what roughly a third of those genes do.

microbes

Below Our Feet, a World of Hidden Life

June 16, 2015

The soil teems with billions of hidden microbes. Researchers have begun to catalog how these organisms are changing the world.

Biology

Networks Reveal the Connections of Disease

January 29, 2015

Disease is the result of failure somewhere along the line in a complex dance of biological components. Now statistical physicists are using enormous databases of medical records to study connections between illnesses.