For the first time ever, researchers in New Zealand have shown that mitochondrial DNA can move between cells in an animal tumor. It's an extraordinary finding that could lead to an entirely new field of synthetic biology and the treatment of hundreds of diseases.
Mitochondria float around in the goo of your cells, tirelessly making the molecules that power your body. But these mitochondria used to be independent of your body; they were bacteria, floating free in the world. You are, at a fundamental level, the result of symbiosis — the interdependence of two life forms.
To date, we know of only two things that can reverse the effects of aging: caloric restriction and extensive exercise. But in a recent experiment, researchers applied a new compound to 2-year old mice, causing their muscles to regenerate to 6-month old levels. Incredibly, human trials may start next year.
Eons ago, two single-celled organisms, a bacterium and an archaeon, combined to form the first complex cell. This symbiosis gave birth to all multi-cellular organisms, but new evidence suggests this wasn't about cooperation. That bacterium was actually a parasite.
Lots of organisms rely on symbiotic relationships, in which two species rely on each other for survival and one lives inside the other. But citrus mealybugs enjoy a triply symbiotic relationship unlike any we've ever seen...with one absolutely crucial exception.
Calcium is everywhere in your body, not just your bones and teeth. In fact, this mineral is crucial to countless biological processes, from regulating your hormones to aiding muscle function. And when you don't have enough of it, the results can be disastrous.
Mitochondria are your body's power plants - inside each of your cells, they convert sugars into energy. Last month, Harvard released this breathtaking 3D animation that shows a mitochondrion at work. Some call it the greatest science video ever made.
Researchers have shown off a prototype of a new biological battery cell, which produces energy in the same way we do—by breaking down sugars and fats into something a little more useful.
In each cell nucleus, hidden in our massive strands of human DNA, lies the secret of longevity. Or so we thought. But tiny rings of mitochondrial DNA, responsible for coding just 13 proteins, might actually hold the key.