Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Journal Club: Cultivated sweet potatoes were genetically modified — naturally 

The first genetically modified foods were not human creations. Scientists have now found that sweet potatoes all over the world naturally contain bacterial genes that the microbes introduced. Such transgenes may have provided attractive traits for domestication, researchers added. The … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Age of ‘Little Foot’ provides twist in story of hominid evolution

An early hominid named Little Foot has been dated to 3.67 million years old, making the timeline of human evolution even more complicated. Little Foot was found in a cave at Sterkfontein in South Africa, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Genetic detective work suggests a crucial role for Maya in papaya domestication

Papaya is a multimillion-dollar crop with a complicated sex life. Now plant geneticist Ray Ming at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his colleagues find that hermaphrodite papayas, the version most useful to farmers, most likely arose due to … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Newly found tiny peptides may have a big role

Tiny proteins known as micropeptides can play key roles in developmental biology. These molecules are encoded by equally little bits of DNA known as short or small open reading frames that often escape detection amidst an extraordinary number of meaningless … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Experimental technique uncovers new cell types in the brain

The brain is the most complex organ in the body, and presents countless mysteries – including the very nature of all the cells contribute to its function. By using single-cell RNA sequencing to map the genetic activity in more than … Continue reading

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Journal Club: High-throughput sequencing transforms the study of human evolution

In the last five years, great strides have been made in the field of human evolution, such as the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome that revealed that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred, and the discovery of an extinct branch of … Continue reading

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First Look: Banked seed replantings affected by climate change

Plants that are not able to rapidly adapt to climate change may decline and disappear from their previous habitats, prompting dramatic projects such as a doomsday vault for seeds of the world. Now researchers suggest find that seeds banked only … Continue reading

Categories: Evolution | Leave a comment

First Look: Brains missing key left-right bridge from birth compensate

The right and left halves of the brain are connected by a bridge known as the corpus callosum. When people have their corpus callosum surgically removed, it can lead to disconnection syndrome, where one half of the brain might not … Continue reading

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First Look: Finding dark matter with gamma rays

Dark matter remains one of the greatest mysteries in the universe, an invisible substance thought to make up five-sixths of all matter in the universe. Research teams around the world are striving to discover what exactly dark matter is by … Continue reading

Categories: Physics | Leave a comment

First Look: When an increase in predator numbers can lead to an increase in prey

When numbers of predators and their prey rise and fall over time, one would expect peaks in prey abundance to precede spikes in predator abundance. Now scientists find the opposite, counter-intuitively, also can happen. Predator numbers can rise before prey … Continue reading

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