genetics
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'Metabolic Switch' Toggles Our Cells To Store Or Burn Fat

It seems like cruel fate that some folks are naturally thin, while others have to work tirelessly to control their weight. But in the future, we may be able to level the playing field, because scientists have just discovered a ‘metabolic master switch’ that determines whether fat-producing adipocytes store or burn energy.


First Complete Octopus Genome Will Unlock Cephalopod Secrets

Scientists have finished sequencing the first complete octopus genome, and it’s a big step toward unravelling many cephalopod mysteries, including the basis of their unusual intelligence and unmatched camouflage abilities.


Ancient Humans Had More DNA Than Us

Our ancestors weren’t blessed with smartphones, WiFi and Amazon Prime, but for what it’s worth they did have a little extra DNA. According to a study published today in Science, Homo sapiens have shed about 40.7 million base pairs of DNA since migrating out of Africa nearly two million years ago.


'Virgin Births' Won't Save The Smalltooth Sawfish From Extinction

The critically endangered smalltooth sawfish was recently found to be capable of asexual reproduction. It’s an exciting discovery for many reasons, but breathless claims by the media that sawfish could save their species from extinction by resorting to virgin births are wrong, wrong, wrong. Let’s explore why.


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.


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