Thirty years ago in Hope Duarte, California, a researcher by the name of Susumu Ohno wished to explore an intriguing parallel between two very divergent phenomenon. Both music and genes possessed repetition. While the number of options differed – twelve for music and only four for genes – he believed the two could be aligned such that we could make music from our genome.
If climate change were an action thriller, CO2 would have a starring role as the fallen hero. A judicious dose of the heat-trapping gas keeps our planet cozy. Over the last century, CO2 has grown in power and slipped towards the dark side — flooding cities, shriveling farmland and conjuring up über-powerful storms.
By this time of year, most gardeners in the United States have pulled out their summer annual flowers like vincas and petunias to make way for the showy fall pansies and violas. Perennials such as asters and stonecrops, on the other hand, are thriving exactly where they were planted years ago. While the annuals take extensive effort in terms of harvesting, planting and fertilizing, perennials need only be cut back after they die, springing back up, unbidden, year after year.
Iridescent flowers are common in nature. Their sparkly petals attract bees' attention, tempting them to come over and pollinate the flower. But why would leaves be iridescent? This is the question Heather Whitney, a plant scientist at University of Bristol, asked while studying iridescent flowers.
City dwellers' favorite scruffy friend, the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), causes $19 billion dollars in damages around the world every year. Yet for an animal that is responsible for so much havoc, we know surprisingly little about it. Including how it came to own the globe (we just think we're in control). So a team of researchers from Fordham University conducted the first ever large-scale genomic study of the brown rat, and created a rough map of the routes the rodent immigrant took to every continent except Antarctica. It was published this week in the Royal Society's journal Proceedings B.
At some point in our evolutionary history, our Homo sapiens ancestors had sex with Neanderthals. Those cross-species trysts are the reason why almost everyone has a little bit of Neanderthal DNA in them today. Now, a new study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution suggests that in addition to genetic material, the ancient hominids may have given us a common sexually-transmitted infection: A version of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that also causes cervical and oral cancers.