• SERT Gene Enhances Emotional Response to Life Events, For Better or Worse

    September 22, 2015

    In studying long-term depression, researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered with some surprise that the same gene that makes abused individuals more susceptible to depression can, in other circumstances, magnify their level of happiness. Researchers hope that this increased understanding of gene-environment interactions can help patients seeking care for their depression
  • Population Genetic Analysis of European Mudminnow Reveals Limited Gene Flow

    September 22, 2015

    The European Mudminnow is a little threatened fish native to Austria and Eastern Europe. A recent study by Hungarian researchers reveals a fragmented landscape characterized by shrinking populations within isolated regions. Over 400 specimens were analysed from eight regions, showing restricted gene flow
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Is Associated With Shortened mtDNA

    September 22, 2015

    In order to further characterize the signs, symptoms, and associations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, researchers compared the mtDNA copy number of leukocyte cells between smokers and non-smokers. They found a dramatic decrease in mtDNA copy number in the group of smokers, which appeared otherwise unaffected by participant age, sex, or weight.
  • Completed Genome of An Italian Flatworm Boosts Stem Cell Research

    September 21, 2015

    There’s no better organism to study the mechanics of regeneration than M. ligano, a flatworm native to the beaches of Italy. This amazing creature can regenerate every part of its body except the brain, due to a remarkable pathway that allows stem cells to essentially heal the organism. The flatworms’ genome was surprisingly difficult to assemble due to its complexity and lack of semblance to the genomes of other sequenced organisms
  • Larger Genomes Mean A Lot More Progeny For Seed Beetles

    September 14, 2015

    Scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered that large genomes are associated with increased fertility, at least for seed beetles. This means that females lay more eggs, and males fertilize a greater number of them. The roll that “junk DNA” plays in all this is unclear, but some suspect that it’s a significant determinant of fertility
  • Testing Copy-Number Variations as Ancestral Markers

    September 11, 2015

    An international effort to understand the evolutionary significance of CNV diversity has been completed. Researchers used deep sequencing methods to quantify the correlation of CNV duplication and deletion among different ethnic groups, including a duplication only seen in Oceanic populations and ancient Denisova hominin
  • Human, Chimp Facial Differences Due to Gene Expression

    September 10, 2015

    Humans and chimpanzees clearly have different facial structures, but our differences are not due to the possession of separate genes, but rather to varying levels of expression of genes common to both species. Scientists from Stanford University were able to measure these expression levels by creating a type of stem cell found in chimpanzee embryos
  • Geneticists Unravel Ancient Origins of Basque Country

    September 7, 2015

    The uniqueness and isolation of Basque culture, language, and physical characteristics has been a topic of contention among anthropologists for quite some time. New genomic analyses suggest that, prior to the isolation of Basque country, a group of early Iberian farmers mixed with local hunters from the mountains. The rest, as they say, is history
  • How Genes Kick Start Embryonic Development

    September 3, 2015

    A team of researchers led by Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet has characterized the growth of gene expression during the first days following fertilization. The team found that only 32 genes are active after two days, but by day three there are approximately 129 genes at work, some of which involve junk DNA
  • How Soft Tissues Become Not Just Hard, But Actual Bone

    September 2, 2015

    The skeleton to the left belonged to a man with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva – a disease that turns normal tissue into bone. This strange and rare disease only affects a few thousand people worldwide, and the underlying molecular mechanisms have long been a mystery to scientists – until recently. New research published inScience highlights specific receptors
  • Genetic Links to Mystery Disease Have Been Uncovered

    September 1, 2015

    In 2004, a Norwegian doctor examined a child with symptoms affecting the muscles, brain, nervous system, cartilaginous tissue, eyes, and growth rate. Doctors suspected genetic origins, but the precise cause of this mystery disease remained unknown – until recently. Sequencing analysis has revealed a defective gene that may be involved in protein variants
  • Researchers Characterize Genes Involved In Spring Growth

    August 31, 2015

    Vernalization refers to the process by which plants begin flowering after extended exposure to cold climates. An understanding of the genetic variants involved in this process is particularly valuable to breeders, who can manipulate these genes to improve crop yield. Researchers have now characterized the Vernalization 4 gene in south Asian wheats
  • Transgenic Moths As A New Form of Pesticide

    August 31, 2015

    Every year, diamondback moths pose a problem to farmers by consuming vast amounts of produce. A plan has now been hatched to cause harmful moth populations to self-destruct by infusing lab populations with DNA designed to kill female larvae. Scientists suggest that introducing these transgenic moths into wild populations could work as a chemical-free form of pest control
  • Advancing Our Grasp of the Barley Genome

    August 25, 2015

    The barley genome is recognized by breeders as large and repetitive – and therefore difficult to decode. Fortunately, researchers from University of California, Riverside have made significant progress in this arena. Using novel computational methods, the team was able to identify several gene-dense regions, as well as recombination rate
  • New and Improved Phylogeny of Orchids A Step Forward

    August 25, 2015

    Orchids comprise the largest and most diverse group within the plant kingdom, and the precise evolutionary relationship of its various species has eluded biologists for centuries. Now, the largest genomic analysis of orchid chloroplasts has allowed botanists to rearrange the orchid family tree in a way that’s not only supported, but will be useful for future research
  • Sequencing the mtDNA of Two Accipitridae Species

    August 21, 2015

    Researchers have sequenced and compared the mitochondrial DNA of both Bonelli’s Eagle and the Rough-Legged Hawk. In both species they found a significant bias towards A-T nucleotide pairs, as well as established some differences in base sequence between the two species
  • Exploring the Parallel Evolution of Melanoma Mestasis

    August 18, 2015

    The establishment of metastatic sites from the parent tumor and subsequent evolution is very complex. New research shows that not only can different cell lines break off from the primary tumor simultaneously, thus resulting in parallel evolution (not linear), but some metastases are founded by multiple cells
  • Study Sheds Light on Parkinson's Disease in Arab Patients

    August 14, 2015

    While genomic contributions to Parkinson’s disease has been widely studied in the western world, less is known about Parkinson’s in Arab populations. An analysis of 98 Saudi patients emphasized this point when it revealed only three pathogenic point mutations in genes that known to play a large roll in PD of European and American patients
  • Sequencing the Octopus Genome Reveals Profound Complexity

    August 12, 2015

    The completion of the Californian two-spot octopus genome reveals a realm of unexplored complexity and mystery. Not only are cephalopod brains designed completely unlike those of vertebrates, but their genetic construction is very surprising. Transposons comprise nearly half their genome, dispersing genes that are normally clustered together in other animals
  • UCSD Researchers Uncover Microbial ``Paleome``

    August 10, 2015

    By sifting through large sets of sequencing data, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, have established a core set of genes and functions essential for sustaining microbes. These guidelines may prove helpful to bioengineers who wish to develop genetically modified organisms that are both healthy and useful
  • Researchers Gain Insight Into X Chromosome Inactivation

    August 10, 2015

    In order to avoid imbalances in protein production and other functions, the duplicate X chromosome in women is inactivated early in fetal development. Recent research in mouse models reveals that an RNA molecule called Xist may play a critical role, as several hundred copies of these molecules attach themselves to the X chromosome prior to inactivation
  • Regardless of Taxa, Proteins in Extremophiles Are More Disordered

    August 7, 2015

    Organisms that thrive in harsh environments–with high radiation, extreme temperatures, or salinity, for example–appear to have a common trend: they have a greater proportion of proteins with unstructured regions. Regardless of environment, this trait is more common between extremophiles of different phyla than to their own evolutionary neighbors
  • Researchers Explore Genomic Causes of Cerebral Palsy

    August 3rd, 2015

    Because the majority of cerebral palsy cases can be  attributed to external causes, genomic risk factors are not well understood. A cohort of Canadian researchers genotyped 115 families in an attempt to elucidate these genetic origins, and found a link between cerebral palsy and several copy number variations
  • Historical Bottlenecks of Eagle Owl Populations

    July 31, 2015

    The population of Eurasian eagle owls in Spain steadily declined until the 1970s, when conservation groups began focusing on the species’ protection. To study the impact this may have had on the genomic diversity of modern populations, scientists genotyped 235 specimens across Spain
  • Phenotypic Effects of Nematodes Starved Early in Life

    July 16, 2015

    To characterize the long-term effects of starvation on organisms and their offspring, researchers exposed nematodes to varying levels of starvation during their larval stage. Not surprisingly, starved individuals were adversely affected in growth, fertility, and overall fitness. Progeny exhibited similar defects, but were surprisingly resistant to heat
  • Library of Iberian Butterflies Identifies 64 Potential Cryptic Species

    July 24, 2015

    A DNA barcode reference library of all 228 recognized butterfly species of the Iberian peninsula has finally been completed, giving researchers a greater opportunity to identify species that may have been overlooked due to morphological similarities. By focusing primarily on segments of mtDNA sequences, researchers identified 64 potential cryptic species
  • Kiwi Genome Reveals Insight Into Evolution of Nocturnality

    July 23, 2015

    The kiwi birds of New Zealand are the only flightless birds adapted to nocturnal life. Sequencing the brown kiwi genome and analyzing gene expression levels allowed researchers to identify corresponding adaptations, such as the loss of color vision and an enhancement of their sense of smell. This appears to have co-occurred with the development of nocturnality in mammals as well
  • Migration Model Suggests Oceanic Migration to Americas

    July 22, 2015

    A new study concerning the genomic similarities between Amazonian tribes and Australasians leads some researchers to believe that some indigenous American tribes have roots Oceania, rather than Siberia. Some Brazilian tribes resemble inhabitants of Australia and Melanesia…
  • Five-Gene Analysis Suggests New Fungal Phylum

    July 22, 2015

    Entorrhiza is a small fungus genus that only inhabits the roots of sedges and rushes. By carrying out a five-gene analysis of the genus, researchers hoped to clarify the phylogenetic relationship between Entorrhiza and other fungi taxa. They proposed a new phylum of root-colonizing fungi altogether, dubbing it the Entorrhizomycota
  • Characterizing Tumor Types Through Gene Expression

    July 15, 2015

    Studies involving detection of lung tumors in heavy smokers revealed some surprising results –  doctors could detect and remove tumors more frequently, but the overall mortality rate remained constant. Scientists then compared gene expression between the tumors initially detected, and the ones that led to patient death
  • 'Melanomics' Reveals Structural Variation of the Genome

    July 14, 2015

    Researchers in Spain and Italy have sequenced 7 melon varieties to characterize the impacts of breeding on the melon genome. In concordance with results from prior studies, domesticated melons demonstrated decreased genetic diversity over their wild ancestors as well as altered gene expression
  • Scientists Explore Gut Microbiomes of River Prawns

    July 13, 2015

    By using next-generation sequencing technology, researchers were able to explore the genetic architecture of microbiomes within different populations of the oriental river prawn. Key factors and influences included host genetics, habitat, and variation between species
  • The Link Between Mexican Cavefish and Human Obesity

    July 13, 2015

    Mexican cavefish are fat and blind, well-adapted to cycles of starvation and food abundance. They have evolved to burn fat particularly slowly due in part to a mutation in the autosomal MC4R gene. This same mutation has been found in some obese people as well who experience constant hunger…
  • E. Coli Populations Continually Swap and Transfer Genomes

    July 7, 2015

    By examining the pattern of single nucleotide polymorphisms in individual E. coli genomes, researchers were able to determine which segments were directly inherited from ancestral cells, and which were acquired through horizontal gene transfer. Incoming DNA tended to be fragmented by restriction enzymes before being incorporated
  • Scientists Characterize 12 Strains of Pasteurella Multocida

    July 7, 2015

    Pasteurella multocida is a species of bacteria known to cause a range of diseases in many hoofed mammals, several of which are economically significant as sources of food or labor. In an effort to better understand the bacteria’s genetic architecture, and its weaknesses, researchers sequenced 12 strains…
  • Gene Expression in Rooting Cells of Terrestrial Plants

    July 6, 2015

    The development of filamentous cells, such as rhizoids and rooting hairs, was critical in the success of plants during their colonization on land. By analyzing gene expression of rooting cells as they develop upon contact with soil, researchers have been able to identify integral genetic pathways…
  • Draft Genome of Parasitic Fly Reveals Resistance Genes

    June 26, 2015

    The larvae of Lucilia cuprina, otherwise known as the Australian sheep blowfly, are known to feed on animal tissue and threaten the welfare of livestock. Sequencing and analysis of the 458Mb draft genome not only revealed insight into protein-coding genes and microbiology, but genes promoting resistance to insecticides and host response
  • For Starfish, Cloning is Advantageous for Health and Longevity

    June 25, 2015

    In researching population genetics of C. tenuispina in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, scientists have found that sexual reproduction led to decreased telomere length in the progeny in relation to cloning. They also noted that the telomeres in cloned tissues appeared to be rejuvenated
  • Newly-Discovered Opioid Gene Will Allow For Drug Synthesis

    June 25, 2015

    Researchers have uncovered a critical gene in poppies involved in the production of morphinian alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. The discovery of this long-sought gene will allow scientists to genetically engineer morphinian synthesis in yeast and other microbes, hoping for a pipeline more efficient than extracting the compound from plants themselves
  • Characterizing Aggressive Behavior on the Genomic Level

    June 22, 2015

    While aggressive behavior can often be (at least partially) attributed to external factors, scientists examined the genomes of inbred lines of D. melanogaster in an attempt to uncover atrributable factors in their DNA
  • Ancient Romanian Man Found to Have 10% Neanderthal DNA

    June 22, 2015

    Genetic analysis of a man known to have lived ~40,000 years ago revealed that he had large segments of neanderthal DNA in his genome, indicating that he may have had a full-blooded neanderthal ancestor up to 4 generations back. This provides further evidence for the contention that some of our earliest ancestors interbred with neanderthals…
  • Coevolution on the Genomic Level Fueled By Duplications

    June 22, 2015

    Coevolution, often referred to as an “arms race,” represents the adaptation of species in response the development of other species with whom they interact. This is easily observed in many butterflies and the flowering plants they consume. Researchers set out to determine the extent to which these adaptations relied on gene and genome duplication in these species…
  • New Gene Variant Now Associated With Parkinson's Disease

    June 22, 2015

    Realizing that Parkinson’s disease (PD) resembles multiple system atrophy (MSA) share in pathology and clinical course, researchers genotyped over 1,000 PD patients and controls to see if they carried a variant known to be associated with MSA in east Asian populations. The results are clear and unambiguous…
  • Germ Cell Differentiation Determined By Its DNA, Not Host's Sex

    June 11, 2015

    Japanese scientists have uncovered the first known gene to determine germ cell differentiation in vertebrates. The suppression of this gene in female Japanese rice fish caused their ovaries to produce functional sperm, which could then fuse with eggs to produce normal offspring. That this “genetic switch” is in the germ cells, rather than the host, is a breakthrough for embryologists…
  • MERS, Though Related to SARS, Is Transmitted Differently

    June 11, 2015

    Discovered in 2012, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus has infected over 1,100 people, and killed hundreds of them. The virus is known to be transmitted from bats, and researchers from UMN have uncovered two mutations that make transmission possible. The two mutations allow the virus to be activated by human proteases
  • Ancient Australians May Have Arrived From a Northern Route

    June 8, 2015

    Contrary to the theory that indigenous Australians followed a southern coastal route before travelling to the island, new mitochondrial analyses support the hypothesis that they first traveled northward, mixing with the neanderthal population. Researchers believe there was then a second age of human expansion throughout Europe and Asia
  • Cancerous Mutations Shared Between Humans and Canines

    June 8, 2015

    Whlle many instances of human cancer show mutations in the BRAF gene, these mutations had yet to be shown in canine cancer. New seqencing analyses of 667 canine turmors revealed that 9.6% carried these mutations, especially in instances of prostate cancer and urothelial carcinoma

  • Gene Content of W Chromosome in Collared Flycatchers

    June 4, 2015

    The W chromosome is a female-specific sex chromosome found across the non-mammalian animal kingdom. Researchers characterized the extent of gene content and conservation in the ZW sex chromosomes in female collared flycatchers, finding both significant similarities and differences between their XY counterparts in mammalians
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo Gives Clues to Habitat Fluctuations

    May. 29, 2015

    While glaciation during the Pleistocene epoch of the Quaternary period has long been studied, fluctuation of mesic (moist) and rainforest ecosystems is less understood. By determining the dispersal of haplogroups in populations of eastern grey kangaroos, researchers could determine the locations of these refugia during those times

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