Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

In findings that elucidate Mendel’s 19th C work, gene triggers asexual births in dandelion

Historians have long debated why the ground-breaking hereditability experiments of Gregor Mendel languished, largely unnoticed for decades. His experience with the humble hawkweed probably played a role. Despite Mendel’s best efforts, the common flowering plant refused to breed in the … Continue reading

Categories: Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Plant Biology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Microbes can shape host evolution, even without perfect transmission from parent to child

Termites need certain gut bacteria to digest wood. Aphids require the bacteria Buchnera to provide essential amino acids. Many microbes affect host traits related to survival and reproduction. But how exactly the microbiome might shape evolution is a mystery. The … Continue reading

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A guidebook to incorporate changing human behaviors into planetary models

Humanity is now a geological force. Industries belch greenhouse gases into the sky; dams reroute waterways. People are changing major planetary cycles in the atmosphere, cryosphere, and ocean. These complex, multi-faceted effects have feedbacks that, in turn, affect society. And … Continue reading

Categories: Journal Club | Sustainability Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stem cell niche within plant callus tissue drives organ regeneration

Proper plant growth in tissue culture experiments typically depends on one crucial step: the plant’s ability to form a clump of pluripotent cells that can then regenerate root, stem, and other organs. This cluster of cells, known as a callus, … Continue reading

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Jellyfish species proves its mettle as a neurobiology model organism

Aquaria at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena bustle with tiny translucent jellyfish, adrift like dust motes in a sunbeam, rhythmically pulsing with long tentacles in tow. They’re beautiful—they may also be an important tool for neurobiologists. According to … Continue reading

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Social leverage makes great apes share more

Sharing is caring. But how much sharing seems fair? In a classical economics test of fairness called the Ultimatum Game, two individuals must agree on how to divide a pot of money. If I propose a split and you accept, … Continue reading

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Could expanding social webs help humans cooperate altruistically on a global scale?

Celebrities and social media influencers are reaching global audiences on unprecedented scales. Such audiences are already forming cooperative groups that could one day tackle complex problems such as climate change, argues a recent perspective published in One Earth. Drawing on … Continue reading

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Hormones not the only drivers of sex disparities in heart health

Often when it comes to disease, the sexes are not equal. Dementia, chronic kidney disease, and many other conditions disproportionately affect one sex or another. Heart disease is a complex case: Males are more likely to suffer heart attacks at … Continue reading

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Is scientific progress waning? Too many new papers may mean novel ideas rarely rack up citations

There are so many papers coming out in the largest fields of science that new ideas can’t get a foothold, according to a recent study in PNAS. Researchers analyzed citation trends for 90 million papers and found that in very … Continue reading

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To find zoonotic viruses, researchers seek genomic signatures of virus adaptations to hosts

In light of the ongoing pandemic, researchers have stepped up efforts to identify new zoonotic threats—viruses that could make the leap from animals to humans and cause future epidemics. Studies aiming to identify such viruses often focus on a novel … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Computer sciences | Genetics | Infectious disease | Journal Club | Medical Sciences | Microbiology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using helpers, desert birds hedge their bets to weather variable conditions

Unpredictable environments can help explain the evolution of cooperative behavior, according to a decade-long study of birds in the Kalahari Desert. The research showed that white-browed sparrow-weavers (Plocepasser mahali) work to raise the offspring of other birds as a strategy … Continue reading

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