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genomics

In the ongoing controversy over whether and how to use a powerful new genome editing technology in the wild to achieve conservation and public health goals, two new papers urge caution.
Abstractions blog

New Model Warns About CRISPR Gene Drives in the Wild

November 16, 2017

Two new papers urge caution in using powerful genome-editing technology against invasive species: Models show that aggressive gene drives can’t be contained in the wild.

Elephant thumbnail
genomics

A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer

November 7, 2017

Elephants did not evolve to become huge animals until after they turned a bit of genetic junk into a unique defense against inevitable tumors.

Modern humans (at left) and Neanderthals (right)
evolution

Genetics Spills Secrets From Neanderthals’ Lost History

September 18, 2017

How many Neanderthals were there? Archaeology and genetics have given very different answers. A new study reconciles them and reveals the lost history of these ancient people — including an early brush with extinction.

A boy and his dog and its viruses
evolution

Viruses Would Rather Jump to New Hosts Than Evolve With Them

September 13, 2017

The discovery that viruses move between species unexpectedly often is rewriting ideas about their evolutionary history — and may have troubling implications for the threat from emerging diseases.

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.