ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "dna"

The Artful Amoeba

Parasitic Trypanosomes Contain Nature’s Only Chain Mail DNA

kinetoplast_minicircles_lukes_et_al_2002_200

The organisms that cause us untold suffering can also be astounding works of art, sculpted by evolution into elegant, deadly packages. Such is the case for the trypanosomes, the protists I discussed last time as the source of Chagas Disease, but which also cause sleeping sickness in Africa. But what lurks inside those little packages [...]

Keep reading »
@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American Goes Bananas on December 20

Editor’s note: Join the Hangout by visiting Scientific American’s Google Plus page at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. That’s right. Using ordinary household items and a humble piece of fruit, we’re going to perform a seemingly magical feat of science while you watch on a Google Science Fair Hangout on December 20 at 1 p.m. [...]

Keep reading »
Compound Eye

What DNA actually looks like

This blog often covers small things: insects, spiders, slime molds and so on. In the scheme of biology, though, the usual fare here is pretty big. In contrast, here is something truly small- the first high-contrast microscope image of an isolated molecule bundle of DNA: Researchers at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia strung a molecule [...]

Keep reading »
Cross-Check

Craig Venter has neither created–nor demystified–life

Craig Venter is the Lady Gaga of science. Like her, he is a drama queen, an over-the-top performance artist with a genius for self-promotion. Hype is what Craig Venter does, and he does it extremely well, whether touting the decoding of his own genome several years ago or his construction of a hybrid bacterium this [...]

Keep reading »
Expeditions

You wanted to know: who are these scientists? Introducing: Marco Coolen

Marco in action.

There are two really cool things about this research cruise: time and scale. The researchers are going from satellite images taken from far above the Earth, all the way down to the lipids and proteins found within individual Ehux cells, bridging a huge range of scales. They’re also using today’s observations to tell them about [...]

Keep reading »
Extinction Countdown

Tiger Skins Are Like Fingerprints—Could That Help Stop Smugglers and Poachers?

tiger

Last month forest rangers in India arrested a 21-year-old engineering student and his friend who had been caught carrying a tiger skin that they intended to sell for nearly $25,000. A few days earlier Indonesian police raided the homes of two suspected wildlife traffickers, where they confiscated a small menagerie of live animals, a number [...]

Keep reading »
Extinction Countdown

DNA Reveals the Last 20 Ethiopian Lions Are Genetically Distinct

ethiopian lion

Every day 20 unusual lions greet visitors at a tiny animal park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These lions, which have spent generations in captivity, are not like most African lions (Panthera leo leo). For one thing, they are slightly smaller than the wild lions found elsewhere on the continent. For another, the males carry distinctive [...]

Keep reading »
Extinction Countdown

Ted Turner Donates $1 Million to Help Endangered Gorillas

Grauer

Billionaire media mogul Ted Turner has made a $1 million donation to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to help support a new initiative to save endangered Grauer’s gorillas (also known as eastern lowland gorillas, Gorilla beringei graueri), a subspecies living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) whose population is on the decline. [...]

Keep reading »
Extinction Countdown

Rare African kittens bred from frozen eggs and sperm

One of the risks in writing about endangered species is concentrating too much on the cute ones. But I couldn’t skip covering the African black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) and the scientific breakthrough that could give this rare species an extra chance at survival. The African black-footed cat is one of the world’s smallest and rarest [...]

Keep reading »
Extinction Countdown

DNA bar codes, a new tool for tracking illegal wildlife trade

illegally traded bushmeat products

The illegal trade of bushmeat—meat and products made from wildlife—has grown dramatically in the past several years, thanks to high demand, enormous profits, a lack of law enforcement and minimal sentencing for criminals caught trafficking in bushmeat. The worldwide market for these illegal products reached an estimated $5 billion to $8 billion in 2008. One [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Hallmarks of Cancer 7: Genome Instability and Mutation

BRCA1 structure

All cancers share ten underlying principles, also known as the Hallmarks of Cancer. You can read about the first six here. The seventh is defined as genome instability and mutation. Cancer Cells Evolve Not all cancer cells are equal. They vary, they compete, and the fittest survive to pass on their genes to daughter cells, [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

How do you ID a dead Osama?

Osama bin Laden is dead. At least, that’s what we’ve been told, and I tend to believe such things. But how do they know it’s him? Well, they have the visual evidence and the body, for one. But to be certain it’s not a look-alike, the U.S. government has taken a step above and beyond [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

A genome story: 10th anniversary commentary by Francis Collins

francis collins and bill clinton announced completion of human genome in 2000

For those of you who like stories with simple plots and tidy endings, I must confess the tale of the Human Genome Project isn’t one of those. The story didn’t reach its conclusion when we unveiled the first draft of the human genetic blueprint at the White House on June 26, 2000. Nor did it [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

Prions May Develop Drug Resistance: The Implications for Mad Cow, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

The brain of a patient with Creutzfeldt-Jakob shows signs of neurodegeneration and the presence of  large clumps of prion protein (purple). Courtesy of Lary Walker.

Clumps of proteins twisted into aberrant shapes cause the prion diseases that have perplexed biologists for decades. The surprises just keep coming with a new report that the simple clusters of proteins responsible for Mad Cow and other prions diseases may, without help from DNA or RNA, be capable of changing form to escape the [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Y Chromosome May Protect against Cancer, Other Diseases

The image shows our 23 pairs of chromosomes

Elderly men who have lost the Y in blood cells have their lives cut short, compared with men who still have the little chromosome

Keep reading »
Observations

Sex with Neandertals Introduced Helpful and Harmful DNA into the Modern Human Genome

Neandertal skull

Over the past few years a number of studies of ancient and contemporary genomes have reached the same stunning conclusion: early human species interbred, and people today carry DNA from archaic humans, including the Neandertals, as a result of those interspecies trysts. Now two new analyses of modern human genomes are providing insights into how [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Supreme Court Rejects Patents on 2 Naturally Occurring Genes

supreme-court-breast-cancer

When Angelina Jolie announced last month that she decided to get a prophylactic double mastectomy, she based her decision on the presence of the BRCA1 gene in her body—a gene that was detected via a costly medical test. The Supreme Court today unanimously struck down patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2—two genes linked to hereditary forms [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Finding My Inner Neandertal

Odds are you carry DNA from a Neandertal, Denisovan or some other archaic human. Just a few years ago such a statement would have been virtually unthinkable. For decades evidence from genetics seemed to support the theory that anatomically modern humans arose as a new species in a single locale in Africa and subsequently spread [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Why Total Reporting of Genetic Results Is a Bad Idea

Laboratories that sequence an individual’s entire genome should limit the results they report to clinicians and their patients based on certain usability criteria, according to the first set of guidelines on the subject from the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG). Geneticists simply don’t know what to make of most of the information that they [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Editorial: Chief Justices Should Not Allow DNA Collection During an Arrest Booking

  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments this week about whether law enforcement officials have a constitutional right to collect DNA after an arrest and before a person has been convicted of a crime. The argument in favor of this practice holds that it is no different than fingerprinting during a booking procedure. [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2012

Australopithecus sediba skull

Recent years have brought considerable riches for those of us interested in human evolution and 2012 proved no exception. New fossils, archaeological finds and genetic analyses yielded thrilling insights into the shape of the family tree, the diets of our ancient predecessors, the origins of art and advanced weaponry, the interactions between early Homo sapiens [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Real-Time Genetics Could Squash “Superbug” Outbreaks before They Spread

track superbug outbreak real time genetic sequence

Genetic sequences of drug-resistant bacteria have helped scientists better understand how these dastardly infections evolve—and elude treatment. But these superbugs are still claiming lives of many who acquire them in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. And recent outbreaks of these hard-to-treat infections can spread easily in healthcare settings. Researchers might soon be able to track [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Oyster Genome Pries Open Mollusk Evolutionary Shell

oyster genome sequence

The world of the mollusk genome is now our oyster, as researchers have now sequenced the genetic code of this hearty (and delicious) shellfish, revealing it to be even more complex and adaptable than previously imagined. The new genome provides insights how oysters manage to cope with a dynamic habitat and how they build their [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Major Phobias Might Hasten Aging

phobias might cause premature aging

Do you get panicky in wide-open spaces? Tight, closed ones? What about in high places or—eek!—around arachnids? If these fears are frequent or debilitating, you might have a phobic anxiety. And you would not be alone—at least 8 percent of Americans have at least one. All of this psychological stress could be taking a toll [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

DNA Finds New Octopus Species Hiding in Plain Sight

octopus

Describing a new species for science is not quite as easy as it was in the days of 17th- or 18th-century naturalists. But that just means we have to look a little more closely. Such as, into an organism’s DNA. And rather than hunting through the dense jungles for years, scientists can, with a little [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse Recorded in Octopus DNA

western ice sheet antarctica

Octopuses have made themselves at home in most of the world’s oceans—from the warmest of tropical seas to the deep, dark reaches around hydrothermal vents. Antarctic species, such as Turquet’s octopuses (Pareledone turqueti), even live slow, quiet lives near the South Pole. But these retiring creatures offer a rare opportunity to help understand how this [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Is Your Sense of Humor in Your Genes? Geneticists Crack the Code

          // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the seventh video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Forget Skeuomorphic Illustration

Claudia_Stocker_small

Most scientific illustration strives for realism, skeuomorphic textures of pencil and digital paint to resemble delicate insect wings, contours of a mammalian face or the movement in fluid on the cellular level. When I first saw the scientific illustrations by Claudia Stocker, I thought yes – here is scientifically literate artwork that also understands the [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Sequencing art: Lynn Fellman’s paleogenomic slideshow

© Lynn Fellman

Communicating science through art is sometimes still in its nascent stages, I think.  While traditional + digital scientific illustration using representational techniques will always be central to reaching out with new research, less traditional aesthetic approaches can be just as illuminating and effective at communicating science.  And we’re starting to see some of that develop [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

The DNA Hall of Shame

image of Left-handed DNA

Confession time. Illustrators are people, too. And by that I mean they bring assumptions to the table at the outset of every project. There’s no avoiding it – no matter how educated and experienced you are, you can’t know it all. That is why it is so critical for researchers and editors to be intimately [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Brainomics: Hacking the Brain (and Autism) with Gene Machines

Tony Zador Tony Zador is a professor of biology at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory who studies auditory processing, attention and decision-making in rodents. He spoke recently at the laboratory’s 79th annual symposium on quantitative biology, which focused this year on the topic of cognition. Zador talked about his recent work trying to demonstrate how [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Out of Africa: Startling New Genetics of Human Origins

I love population genetics for its ability to peer back into human history through the medium of DNA’s ATCGs. One of the stars of this discipline is Sarah Tishkoff, a standout in African genetics, someone who will readily haul a centrifuge into the bush in Cameroon. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania is lead author [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X