genetics

The Plan To Feed The World By Hacking Photosynthesis

With the world population projected to soar past the 11 billion mark by 2100, we’re going to need to find some creative new ways of putting food on the table. The latest science-powered plan to feed the world? Hacking photosynthesis.


What Made The Y Chromosome So Tiny?

The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male animals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 — and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes?


Scientists Hope Tiny Asexual Animals Can Teach Us Why Sex Works

Sex is how most animals reproduce, so you might wonder why some scientists are using a tiny asexual animal to study it. In an article published last winter at Quanta, Emily Singer explains that the way bdelloid rotifers manage their genes has scientists asking what the term “sex” really means.


11 Species Of Chameleon Masqueraded As One

Biologists just discovered 11 new species of chameleon hiding in plain sight — as chameleons tend to do.


Don't Get Too Excited If A DNA Test Says You Have Royal Ancestors

People love finding out that they have a famous relative, or they’re descended from royalty. Thanks to genetic testing services like 23AndMe, it’s easy to send your spit away and get a rundown of your potentially regal DNA. But being related to long-ago kings doesn’t make us special — it just makes us human.


Genetic Engineers Are Building A Biological Kill Switch

The fear of genetically-modified creatures escaping from the lab is the basis for a thousand sci-fi stories, but it’s also a legitimate concern. That’s why genetic engineers are inventing kill switches, or genetically-encoded suicide triggers, for GMOs they want to keep contained. Here’s how they work.


Scientists To Sequence Lil Bub's Genome

A team of geneticists is ready to unlock the secrets behind Internet celebrity cat Lil Bub’s unique appearance. Lil Bub, whose full name is Lillian Bubbles (her friends call her Bub), may be the most recognisable cat on the Web. Although Bub is an adult now, she still looks like a kitten, with wide green eyes and short legs and her tongue sticks out, giving her a perpetual happy-go-lucky expression.


Scientists Edited A Human Embryo -- But It Didn't Go Very Well

It’s an unprecedented feat: tweaking the genomes of human embryos. In a groundbreaking move, Chinese researchers have officially done it, but the announcement comes amid a whole bunch of ethical fracas.


After 150,000 Years In A Cave, A Neanderthal Skull Looks Like This

This is the Altamura Man. He’s old. In 1993, cave researchers stumbled across an odd formation in Italy: a skull that had essentially grown over time to become part of the cave, calcite budding from its features. Now, scientists have discovered that it could easily be 150,000 years old.


Harvard's 'Frankenstein': The 1970s Controversy Over Mixing DNA

In the 1970s, two inhuman creatures — one hairy and tall, another with orange eyes — were spotted in New England. The mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, blamed these monsters not on unreliable testimonies, but recombinant DNA technology, then a new and promising laboratory technique.