Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Genetics

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria talk to soybean roots via tiny RNAs, suggesting new avenue to improve yields

In order for soybean plants to get their necessary dose of nitrogen, they partner with bacteria called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms the plant can use. But scientists don’t have the full picture of what facilitates … Continue reading

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By separating life stages, metamorphosis may circumvent harmful evolutionary tradeoffs

  There’s no guarantee evolution will bestow the best version of every trait. The benefits of one trait may impose a cost when an unfavorable trait, correlated genetically, comes along for the ride. In a recent study on wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) … Continue reading

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Honeybee queens influence offspring caste through egg size

Queen bees have surprising sway over the future development of their eggs, a recent study reports. The reigning bee matriarch lays larger eggs in the wax honeycomb cells where workers raise new queens as compared with the eggs laid in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Tumors create an acidic environment that helps them invade surrounding tissues

Cancer cells tend to turn their extracellular environment acidic, thus helping these rogue cells thrive while creating a hostile environment for normal ones. Acidosis promotes tumor growth, metastasis and drug resistance, while helping tumor cells evade the immune system. But … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Seedbanks, meant to safeguard key plant species, need to enhance their diversity

Humanity’s last hope could someday rest on a humble seed, tucked away in the cool and dark of a collection. Seed collections, called seedbanks or seed genebanks, store millions of grains, nuts, and kernels in baggies and plastic bins, meant … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Ion channel puts the squeeze on blood vessels, affecting blood pressure

Blood pressure is exquisitely regulated to respond to our physiological state. Stress raises blood pressure. Simply stand up, and the arteries constrict to maintain pressure. New findings in mice show how a protein called PKD2 helps regulate blood pressure by … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Single gene mutation may boost recombination and help produce better crops

As climate change and population growth threaten to destabilize global food security, plant breeders are ramping up efforts to create better, more productive crops. But in order to introduce new traits, breeding techniques typically rely on rare genetic recombination events … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Butterflies get diversity boost from associations with ants, plants

Harvard University evolutionary biologist Naomi Pierce began studying Lycaenidae butterflies as a graduate student in the 1980s. But only recently has she accumulated enough data, from her team’s work and others’, to begin to address the question that has long … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New screening method promises to reveal elusive cellular receptors for a range of pathogens

The surfaces of human cells are chock-full of proteins that help cells communicate with one another. Unfortunately, many viruses coopt these proteins, latching on in order to enter cells. By revealing which proteins are receptors for which viruses, researchers may … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Fruit flies’ internal circadian clocks continually check the temperature

As a fruit fly sails from sunshine into a patch of shade, its temperature drops by 10 degrees F or so. Immediately, certain neurons in its brain spring into action, telling the fly’s circadian clock about the temperature change. By … Continue reading

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