Genetics

  • Photo of Some Neandertal genes in people today may protect against severe COVID-19

    Some Neandertal genes in people today may protect against severe COVID-19

    Some genetic variants inherited from Neandertals may protect against developing severe COVID-19. A new study looked at a stretch of DNA on chromosome 12 where a haplotype — a cluster of genetic variants that are inherited together — that affects susceptibility to the coronavirus is located. For each copy of the Neandertal haplotype a person inherited, the risk of needing…

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  • Photo of The oldest animal DNA ever recovered reveals mammoths’ evolution

    The oldest animal DNA ever recovered reveals mammoths’ evolution

    The oldest DNA ever recovered from an animal is adding new chapters to mammoth life history, going back more than 1 million years. Genetic material from ancient mammoth molars found in Siberia handily beats the previous record set by 700,000-year-old DNA from a frozen, fossilized horse (SN: 6/26/13). Some mammoth gene snippets suggest that ancient mammoths already had the traits…

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  • Genetic study of Lewy body dementia supports ties to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases

    In a study led by National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers, scientists found that five genes may play a critical role in determining whether a person will suffer from Lewy body dementia, a devastating disorder that riddles the brain with clumps of abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are also a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. The results, published…

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  • Photo of Modified genes can distort wild cotton’s interactions with insects

    Modified genes can distort wild cotton’s interactions with insects

    Cotton plants native to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula may all look the same — unkempt and untamed bushes with flowers that shift from pale yellow to violet as pollinators visit them. But genes that have escaped from genetically modified cotton crops have made some of these native plants fundamentally different, changing their biology and the way they interact with insects. One…

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  • Photo of Beyond DNA: How proteins let us get up close and personal to our ancient relatives

    Beyond DNA: How proteins let us get up close and personal to our ancient relatives

    Ancient DNA teased out from the fossilised bones and teeth of human species has transformed what we know about our ancestors. Over the past two decades, analysis of genetic material has not only revealed new human species, but it’s also allowed archaeologists to recreate what our ancestors looked like, thousands of years after they went extinct. But it can’t give…

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  • Photo of ‘Sex, lasers and male competition:’ fruit flies win genetic race with rivals

    ‘Sex, lasers and male competition:’ fruit flies win genetic race with rivals

    Scientists have accepted natural selection as a driver of evolution for more than 160 years, thanks to Charles Darwin. But University of Cincinnati biologist Michal Polak says Darwin’s book “The Descent of Man” only tells part of the story. Sometimes when the victor vanquishes his sexual rival, the quest to pass genes to the next generation is just beginning. According…

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  • How a single gene alteration may have separated modern humans from predecessors

    As a professor of pediatrics and cellular and molecular medicine at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Alysson R. Muotri, PhD, has long studied how the brain develops and what goes wrong in neurological disorders. For almost as long, he has also been curious about the evolution of the human brain — what changed that makes us so…

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  • Photo of Rising of the Clones: 7 ways cloning is already happening

    Rising of the Clones: 7 ways cloning is already happening

    Theme: cloning is already happening. It’s almost 25 years since the most famous clone on Earth, Dolly the sheep, was born on a farm in Scotland. It was one small step for lamb, one giant leap for lambkind. Along with the celebrity bleater came promises of innovative applications, but at the time, no one really knew how cloning would come…

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  • Photo of How does radiation reproduction take place?

    How does radiation reproduction take place?

    You might not have heard of it, but you’ve probably eaten a fruit or vegetable that’s been created through radiation breeding. This technique exposes seeds to radiation in order to create mutations in the plant’s DNA. Often, the mutated plants are useless. But occasionally, the genetic mutations give the plants useful new properties, like resistance to drought or disease, or…

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  • Photo of Fish’s fins evolved into limbs from one genetic change

    Fish’s fins evolved into limbs from one genetic change

    The movement of vertebrates from water to land was an iconic step in the evolutionary timeline. Now, research by a team at Harvard University has found that a small genetic change may have been all that was needed to allow a fin to develop into a limb. The researchers were investigating the mutations that can affect the pectoral fins of…

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