How to give a Neanderthal a blood transfusion

It began as a joke. A paleoanthropologist, a geneticist and a blood specialist were hanging around an espresso machine – and one of them wondered: how would you give a Neanderthal a blood transfusion? By the time they’d finished their short blacks and lattes, the researchers from the mixed lab at Aix-Marseille Université in France … Continue reading How to give a Neanderthal a blood transfusion

DNA solves riddle of extinct Xerces butterfly

Near-century-old butterfly DNA  has confirmed that the Xerces blue butterfly, famously wiped out by humans in the 1940s, was a distinct species, according to a study published in Biology Letters. A team of researchers, led by Felix Grewe of the Chicago Field Museum’s Grainger Bioinformatics Center, US, analysed the DNA of a 93-year-old museum specimen … Continue reading DNA solves riddle of extinct Xerces butterfly

‘Technically no longer human’ – can mRNA COVID-19 vaccines meld with your DNA?

It’s becoming increasingly common to see social media posts claiming that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, which include those made by Pfizer and Moderna, could alter a person’s DNA. Some posts even suggest that nano-machines are being injected into the body. Read more: The jab is jumpin’ Explainer: COVID-19 vaccine dosage Could a nasal spray protect … Continue reading ‘Technically no longer human’ – can mRNA COVID-19 vaccines meld with your DNA?

Why it took 20 years to ‘finish’ the human genome

By Melissa Southey, Monash University and Tu Nguyen-Dumont, Monash University The release of the draft human genome sequence in 2001 was a seismic moment in our understanding of the human genome, and paved the way for advances in our understanding of the genomic basis of human biology and disease. But sections were left unsequenced, and … Continue reading Why it took 20 years to ‘finish’ the human genome

Previewing data stored in DNA

DNA stores tremendous amounts of genetic information, but it also has a lot of potential for storing digital data. It’s possible that the billion-odd base pairs in a single strand of DNA could be used to record binary data in a way that won’t degrade or use too much energy. But the technology is still … Continue reading Previewing data stored in DNA

Fold here for success

DNA is a clever molecule that folds easily, so it can be used to act as scaffolds for nanomaterials. This involves long, single strands of DNA that have shorter strands to act as staples. Folded DNA shocked many science enthusiasts in 2006, when California Institute of Technology’s Paul Rothermund released images of a smiley face … Continue reading Fold here for success

Step aside barcodes, here’s the Porcupine

Scannable barcodes, QR codes and RFID tags may soon be surpassed by DNA-based tagging technology. Researchers from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research in the US say they have developed a fast, reliable and inexpensive system of molecular tagging that uses DNA sequences as identification. Smaller and lighter than conventional tags, this method can … Continue reading Step aside barcodes, here’s the Porcupine

Latrines: A tale of two cesspits

Scientists have reported what they say is the first attempt to use the methods of ancient bacterial detection, pioneered in studies of past epidemics, to characterise the microbial diversity of ancient gut contents from two medieval latrines. The findings, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, provide insights into the microbiomes of pre-industrial … Continue reading Latrines: A tale of two cesspits

Shedding new light on how males develop

By Peter Koopman, University of Queensland It’s one of the most important genes in biology: “Sry”, the gene that makes males male. Development of the sexes is a crucial step in sexual reproduction and is essential for the survival of almost all animal species. In the journal Science, my international collaborators and I report the … Continue reading Shedding new light on how males develop

There’s no single gene for left-handedness

By David Evans, University of Queensland, and Sarah Medland, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute   Most people consistently use the same hand to do tasks that require skill and control such as writing or threading a needle. We know genetics plays a big part in which hand a person prefers, but it has been difficult … Continue reading There’s no single gene for left-handedness

Friedrich Miescher gets ahead of the double helix

In just over 75 years, DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – has risen in public and scientific status from being “an obscure molecule with presumed accessory or structural functions inside the nucleus, to the icon of modern bioscience”. So wrote Ralf Dahm, Director of Scientific Management at Germany’s Institute of Molecular Biology, in the journal Developmental … Continue reading Friedrich Miescher gets ahead of the double helix

Cells access data from genetic cotton reels

Australian geneticists have unravelled part of the mystery about how nature can usefully access genetic information in cells despite it being so tightly packed away. The discovery, they say, helps solve what is effectively an input/output problem caused by the need for cells to pack metres of DNA into a space just millionths of a … Continue reading Cells access data from genetic cotton reels