What's up in

viruses

Illustration of a connection between a bat and a human, with a backdrop of coronaviruses.
Quantized Columns

The Animal Origins of Coronavirus and Flu

February 25, 2020

Zoonotic diseases like influenza and many coronaviruses start out in animals, but their biological machinery often enables them to jump to humans.

Illustration of an RNA sequence, with an arrow pointing from one end to the other, and a sequence of complementary nucleotides, with an arrow pointing the other way.
Abstractions blog

New Clues About ‘Ambigram’ Viruses With Strange Reversible Genes

February 12, 2020

For decades, scientists have been intrigued by tiny viruses whose genetic material can be read both forward and backward. New research begins to explain this puzzling property.

Abstractions blog

Biodiversity Alters Strategies of Bacterial Evolution

January 6, 2020

In evolution, context is everything: Bacteria with neighbors evolve to rebuff viruses in a different way.

Illustration of pathogens, vaccines, and other necessary factors for eradicating a disease.
Quantized Columns

How to Permanently End Diseases

December 3, 2019

Smallpox was eradicated relatively quickly, but other diseases have proved harder to eliminate. The reasons are a mix of biology and psychology.

Illustration: a virus broken up into parts over several cells
viruses

Viruses Can Scatter Their Genes Among Cells and Reassemble

May 21, 2019

Some viruses can replicate without infecting any one cell with all their genes.

Art for "Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses"
Abstractions blog

Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses

April 25, 2019

New work raises the estimated diversity of viruses in the seas more than twelvefold and lays the groundwork for a better understanding of their impact on global nutrient cycles.

Abstractions blog

Viruses Have a Secret, Altruistic Social Life

April 15, 2019

Researchers are beginning to understand the ways in which viruses strategically manipulate and cooperate with one another.

Q&A

Doudna’s Confidence in CRISPR’s Research Potential Burns Bright

February 27, 2019

Jennifer Doudna, one of CRISPR’s primary innovators, stays optimistic about how the gene-editing tool will continue to empower basic biological understanding.

Art for "‘Broadband’ Networks of Viruses May Help Bacteria Evolve Faster"
microbiology

‘Broadband’ Networks of Viruses May Help Bacteria Evolve Faster

October 16, 2018

A newly discovered mechanism may enable viruses to shuttle genes between bacteria 1,000 times as often as was thought — making them a major force in those cells’ evolution.