Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Genetics

Study uncovers new privacy worries for direct-to-consumer DNA testing

Genetic testing services let consumers analyze their DNA to learn about their heritage, their relatives, and their risk for certain heritable diseases. But access to such personal data hasn’t been without controversy, stoking privacy fears. A recent study in eLife … Continue reading

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Genome of “mile-a-minute weed” hints at the secrets to its invasive success

The weedy vine Mikania micrantha, originally from Central and South America, has become a worldwide menace. Thus far, it’s spread to tropical climes in China and Southeast Asia, Australia, and islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as … Continue reading

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Models shift blame for Neanderthal extinction away from modern humans

Neanderthals vanished about 40,000 years ago, but the reasons for their demise remain shrouded in mystery and a source of debate among archaeologists. The timing coincides with the arrival of modern humans in Europe, which has led some researchers to … Continue reading

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Potentially key gene has big role in natural variation of chloroplast size

Worldwide populations of Arabidopsis thaliana all have the same genes, but they vary in many traits, including the size of their chloroplasts. A recent study in Plant Physiology identified one of the genes, FtsZ2-2, contributing to the natural variation in … Continue reading

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Common features of domestic animals suggest caveats to evolutionary theory

White patches on fur coats, floppy ears, and curly tails are some of the traits frequently seen in domesticated animals. A group of researchers has now put forth a theory as to why these traits so often evolve in association … Continue reading

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Unlocking a mystery of seed development promises fatter, oilier oilseeds

The canola cooking oil lining supermarket shelves comes from the seeds of Brassica napus, a weedy-looking plant in the mustard family. Farmers of this crop understandably want varieties that yield big, oily seeds. A recent study in The Plant Cell … Continue reading

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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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