Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to modify the behavior of carpenter ants using epigenetics—the science of how a gene gets turned into a physical body part or a character trait. They reported their findings last week in the journal Science. Are you ready to be a Beastmaster?
In what sounds like a plot line from a BioShock game, a team of biologists has coaxed an animal into growing a new head and brain resembling those of a different species. The bizarre accomplishment adds to a growing body of research highlighting the importance of non-DNA factors—collectively known as the…
Today, a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics tied male homosexuality to chemical markers on DNA that affect how genes are expressed.
Research on the biological origins of human sexual orientation remains controversial (and poorly funded), and more than two decades of slow work is starting to reveal a much more complex process than anyone first suspected.
In addition to being incredibly entertaining and provocative, the popular Orphan Black series is absolutely teeming with science. From human clones and genetic engineering through to DNA barcodes and genetic patents, here's what you need to know about the science behind the show.
There are 20,000 genes in the human genome, but only a small fraction of them are active in any given cell. This video from Nature explains with beautiful clarity the system that activity, turning genes on and off. It's called the epigenome, and it's incredibly important. Now you can understand how it works, too.
While many comic book heroes may have gained their powers through scientific experiments or accidents, there's more magic than science behind their powers. Or is there? A Stanford biologist looks at how epigenetic science can explain two Marvel characters' abilities.
The truth makes for a bad meme. That seems to be the lesson we can take from the continued popularity of Richard Dawkins' idea that the "selfish gene" controls evolution.
Some people age faster than others, but the discovery of a DNA body clock by UCLA researchers now shows that different parts of our bodies age faster than others. The discovery offers important insights into the aging process — and what we might be able to do about it.
Environment plays a key role in how our genes behave. Now evidence is mounting that our social world is part of that environment, and that interpersonal connection shapes the gene expression in animals from bees to humans. In humans, a lack of social connection can even compromise the immune system.
Why do some identical twins look so different from each other? Could your eating habits during puberty have an impact on the genetic makeup of your grandkids? These are just two of the startling questions raised by the science of epigenetics, as this "deleted" chapter from David Epstein's book The Sports Gene explains.
Over at Download the Universe, the science ebook review, I have a new article about one way that well-intentioned science journalism can go very, very wrong.
Early last week we told you about a new paper published in the Quarterly Review of Biology which suggests that homosexuality arises on account of epigenetic processes rather than genetic ones (i.e. non-heritable factors that alter the expression of DNA). Not surprisingly, the web exploded in a firestorm of debate,…
A team of international researchers has completed a study that suggests we will probably never find a ‘gay gene.' Sexual orientation is not about genetics, say the researchers, it's about epigenetics. This is the process where DNA expression is influenced by any number of external factors in the environment. And in…
Most of us are well aware that stress dramatically heightens our susceptibility to contracting illnesses — both physical and psychological. Scientists have known about this link for decades, but have often struggled to describe the actual mechanics involved. But new research from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) is…
You've seen the reports that individuals with a lower economic and social status suffer from poor health more often than folks in higher tax brackets. Now, thanks to a multi-year study of rhesus macaques monkeys, researchers have found genetic changes caused by stressful environments are likely contributing to that…
Do you ever wish you had the power to control your DNA at will? New research says it's possible. Scientists today published findings revealing that methyl groups — which are usually used to suppress gene activity — can be removed from specific regions of your DNA in a matter of minutes. And all it takes is a little…
New research shows that if your grandmother or even your great-grandmother came in contact with some very common environmental chemicals, you could be suffering the consequences today in the form of male infertility, ovarian disease and the early or late onset of puberty.
Scientists have long searched unsuccessfully for the genetic factors that cause schizophrenia. Now we know why: the disorder is actually caused by what happens in cells around the genes. That knowledge could give us our best treatment yet for schizophrenia.
Do you prefer to run in packs or operate as a loner? Your answer is determined by your genes, a new study claims. It's a big shift in social behavior theory, since scientists previously thought the environment determined social behavior.