New research on its origins offers insight into genetic evolution

Slime is everywhere. It shapes the consistency of your body fluids, from the saliva in your mouth to the goo that covers your organs. It protects you against pathogens, including coronavirus, while creating a home in your mouth for billions of friendly bacteria. It helps slugs have Spiderman sex hanging from walls, hagfish turn water … Read more

Warring genetic parasites could lead to new defenses against dangerous bacteria

Nucleic Acids Research DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkab859″ width=”800″ height=”505″/> Features of plasmids encoding CRISPR-Cas components. (A) Mobility predictions for the collection of non-redundant proteobacterial plasmids analyzed in this study, presented according to their CRISPR-Cas contents: complete CRISPR-Cas loci, orphan CRISPRs or cas, and no CRISPR or cas. (B) Size distributions for the collection of plasmid genomes carrying … Read more

Synthetic genetic circuits could help plants adapt to climate change

Synthetic genetic circuits designed to rewire gene expression in plant roots may be used to change the way they grow. Credit: Jennifer Brophy Increasingly, global food production is being threatened by the effects of climate change. As floods, droughts, and extreme heat waves become more common, crops need to be able to adapt faster than … Read more

Evolving to outpace climate change, tiny marine animal provides new evidence of long-theorized genetic mechanism

Several species of copepods and one ostracod are shown here. Credit: NOAA Some copepods, diminutive crustaceans with an outsized place in the aquatic food web, can evolve fast enough to survive in the face of rapid climate change, according to new research that addresses a longstanding question in the field of genetics. Barely more than … Read more

Uncharted genetic territory offers insight into human-specific proteins

Uncharted territories in the human genome. Credit: Karen Arnott/EMBL-EBI When researchers working on the Human Genome Project completely mapped the genetic blueprint of humans in 2001, they were surprised to find only around 20,000 genes that produce proteins. Could it be that humans have only about twice as many genes as a common fly? Scientists … Read more

Genetic paparazzi are right around the corner, and courts aren’t ready to confront the legal quagmire of DNA theft

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Every so often stories of genetic theft, or extreme precautions taken to avoid it, make headline news. So it was with a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting at the opposite ends of a very long table after Macron declined to take a Russian PCR … Read more

Genetic roots of three mitochondrial diseases identified via new approach

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain When something goes wrong in mitochondria, the tiny organelles that power cells, it can cause a bewildering variety of symptoms such as poor growth, fatigue and weakness, seizures, developmental and cognitive disabilities, and vision problems. The culprit could be a defect in any of the 1,300 or so proteins that make … Read more

Genetic predictability steadily erodes during evolution, new study shows

Rendering of the X-ray crystal structure of the 700-million-year-old ancestral steroid receptor (blue), bound to DNA, gray. Starting from this protein (and eight of its descendants), the Thornton Lab engineered libraries of mutants containing every possible amino acid state at all 76 sites in the protein (spheres). Credit: Joe Thornton, UChicago A critical goal in … Read more