Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Genetics

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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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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