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Sunday, February 28, 2021
Dire wolves aren’t wolves at all—they form a distinct lineage with jackals

Dire wolves aren’t wolves at all—they form a distinct lineage with...

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Dire wolves had a burst of newfound fame with their appearance in Game of Thrones, where they were portrayed as a far larger version of more mundane wolves. Here in the real world, only the largest populations of present-day wolves get as large as the dire wolf, which weighed nearly 70 kilograms. These animals once…
Some identical twins don’t have identical DNA

Some identical twins don’t have identical DNA

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Identical twins may not be carbon copies at the DNA level after all. On average, identical twins differ by 5.2 genetic changes, researchers report January 7 in Nature Genetics. The finding is important because identical twins — also called monozygotic twins because they come from a single fertilized egg — are often studied to determine…
Plague may have caused die-offs of ancient Siberians

Plague may have caused die-offs of ancient Siberians

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Ancient people brought the plague to Siberia by about 4,400 years ago, which may have led to collapses in the population there, a new genetic analysis suggests. That preliminary finding raises the possibility that plague-induced die offs influenced the genetic structure of northeast Asians who trekked to North America starting perhaps 5,500 years ago. If…
A key to the mystery of fast-evolving genes was found in ‘junk DNA’

A key to the mystery of fast-evolving genes was found in...

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A long-standing puzzle in evolution is why new genes — ones that seem to arise out of nowhere — can quickly take over functions essential for an organism’s survival. A new study in fruit flies may help solve that puzzle. It shows that some new genes quickly become crucial because they regulate a type of…
Penicillin allergies may be linked to one immune system gene

Penicillin allergies may be linked to one immune system gene

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Penicillin, effective against many bacterial infections, is often a first-line antibiotic. Yet it is also one of the most common causes of drug allergies. Around 10 percent of people say they’ve had an allergic reaction to penicillin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now researchers have found a genetic link to…
The weird genomes of domesticated fish

The weird genomes of domesticated fish

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Humans have domesticated a large number of animals over their history, some for food, some as companions and protectors. A few species—think animals like rabbits and guinea pigs—have partly shifted between these two categories, currently serving as both food and pets. But one species has left its past as a food source behind entirely. And,…
Ancient skull a new window on human migrations, Denisovan meetings

Ancient skull a new window on human migrations, Denisovan meetings

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Enlarge / These excavations identified Denisovan DNA within the sediment.Dongju Zhang, Dongju Zhang, Lanzhou University The Denisovans occupy a very weird place in humanity's history. Like the Neanderthals, they are an early branch off the lineage that produced modern humans and later intermingled with modern humans. But we'd known of Neanderthals for roughly 150 years…
New African genomes: Complicated migrations and strong selection

New African genomes: Complicated migrations and strong selection

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Enlarge / A building in a Ndebele village, South Africa. The Ndebele-language speakers, currently about a million strong, arrived in South Africa with the Bantu expansion. Humanity originated in Africa, and it remained there for tens of thousands of years. To understand our shared genetic history, it's inevitable that we have to look to Africa.…
Gene-editing tool CRISPR wins the chemistry Nobel

Gene-editing tool CRISPR wins the chemistry Nobel

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Turning a bacterial defense mechanism into one of the most powerful tools in genetics has earned Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier the Nobel Prize in chemistry.  The award for these genetic scissors, called CRISPR/Cas 9, is “a fantastic prize,” Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, said at an Oct. 7 news…
Strict new guidelines lay out a path to heritable human gene editing

Strict new guidelines lay out a path to heritable human gene...

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Gene editing to make heritable changes in human DNA isn’t yet safe and effective enough to make gene-edited babies, an international scientific commission says. But in a Sept. 3 report, the group laid out a road map for rolling out heritable gene editing should society decide that kind of DNA alteration is acceptable. The International…

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