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Gene study shows human skin tone has varied for 900,000 years

Posted on 12 Oct 2017 in Evolution, Genetics, Journalism

Skin tone has varied greatly among humans for at least the last 900,000 years. So concludes an analysis of the genetic variants associated with skin pigmentation in people from several regions of Africa. The latest findings suggest that some particularly dark skin tones evolved relatively recently from paler genetic variants. Image: llamnudds

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Recoded organism paves way to new genetic language of life

Posted on 15 Mar 2017 in Genetics, Journalism

A form of life that uses a fresh genetic “language” could be just a few years away. This comes after geneticists used a new technique to recode 5 per cent of the Salmonella bacterium’s genome, introducing a record number of engineered changes into a single organism. Image: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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Our ancestors may have spread anthrax all around the world

Posted on 6 Aug 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Genetics, Health, Journalism

Somehow, a disease that is intrinsically unfit for international travel became a globetrotter thousands of years ago – and there is a good chance humanity is, inadvertently, to blame. Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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Tolerance of smoke may have given us an edge over Neanderthals

Posted on 3 Aug 2016 in Featured, Genetics, Human Origins, Journalism

Where there’s fire there’s often smoke – which might have been bad news for Neanderthals and other ancient hominins. Modern humans carry a genetic mutation that reduces our sensitivity to cancer-causing chemicals found in wood smoke. But Neanderthals and Denisovans apparently lacked the mutation. Image: jmw120

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You are junk: Why it’s not your genes that make you human

Posted on 27 Jul 2016 in Evolution, Genetics, Journalism

The blueprint for building a human, or indeed any complex creature, lies not only in our genes but in other, neglected parts of our genome. Image: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Bacterial RNA-editing tool could disable viruses or halt disease

Posted on 2 Jun 2016 in Chemistry, Genetics, Journalism

Move over DNA, its RNA’s time to shine. A revolutionary RNA-editing tool promises to transform our understanding of RNA’s role in our growth and development, and provide a new avenue for treating infectious diseases and cancer. Image: AJC

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