Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Genetics

Massive study suggests chimp populations mixed more recently than previously reported

A recent study in Communications Biology reports results from the largest such survey of chimpanzee genetics so far. It suggests that animals from the different groups have mixed more recently than many researchers in the field previously believed. The findings … Continue reading

Categories: Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Population Biology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Agricultural spray could quickly deliver advantageous genes to crops mid-growing season

Plant breeders are masters of genome tuning, spending years developing crops with the genes to resist disease, drought, and pests. Now, a team of industry and academic researchers in Germany and the United Kingdom has developed a viral vector technology … Continue reading

Categories: Agriculture | Genetics | Journal Club | Sustainability Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Noncoding DNA shown to underlie function, cause limb malformations

Genes that code for proteins make up only about 2% of the human genome. Many researchers once dismissed the other 98% of the genome as “junk DNA,” but geneticists now know these noncoding regions help to regulate the activity of … Continue reading

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A cellular and genetic atlas of the lung offers insights into disease and development

Explorers need maps. That’s as true for hikers blazing trails as it is for molecular biologists striving to cure disease. A new atlas of the lungs, recently published in Nature, is the most comprehensive map ever of that vital organ. … Continue reading

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Smaller salamander species associated with smaller genomes

The world’s tiniest salamanders are so small that some body parts appear to get short shrift. Those in the genus Thorius, for example, have heads that are “mind bogglingly small, maybe half the size of a pencil eraser,” says herpetologist … Continue reading

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

Deep-sea mussels still show biological rhythms tracking sunlight, tides

Like many land animals, marine organisms follow daily and seasonal clocks—in the water, those clocks are set by the cadence of the sun and the moon. But researchers hadn’t known if deep-sea creatures also exhibit biological rhythms, tucked away in … Continue reading

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Snake venom evolved in fits and spurts

The cocktail of toxins in snake venom experienced constant change with pulses of rapid evolution over the last 60 million years, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Venom, the researchers report, has changed … Continue reading

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Variation in a single gene increases plant yield in groups but not in pairs

Groups of diverse plant species often produce more seeds than monocultures. But whether plants ramp up yield in response to genetically distinct, direct neighbors, as opposed to a broader neighborhood of diverse plants, remains an open question in ecology. “It’s … Continue reading

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Rice gene could make “green revolution” plants greener by cutting back on fertilizer

The green revolution was launched, in large part, with rather squat plants. In the 1960s, farmers began using semidwarf varieties of wheat and rice that produced many grain-bearing branches known as tillers. When farmers added nitrogen fertilizer, the plants gained … Continue reading

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Molecular evidence supports Darwin’s adaptationist view, informing the debate over what drives evolution

Myriad genetic differences distinguish the genomes of two species. What fraction of those differences arises by positive natural selection versus random genetic drift is a central question and topic of debate in evolutionary biology. A recent study in Nature Ecology … Continue reading

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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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