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Living World

CRISPR gene editing: Moving closer to home

With the first medical therapy approved and systems like CRISPR-Cas showing up in complex cells, there’s a lot going on in the genome editing field. Here’s our primer.

How shade coffee lends conservation a hand

When managed in the right way, the farms that provide our morning brew can be a refuge for plant and animal biodiversity

Genes and heart disease: Finally making the link

Polygenic risk scores — a patient’s chance, based on tiny DNA variants, of developing cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and more — are coming to clinics. But there are kinks to iron out and accuracy remains an issue.

How gut bacteria connect to Parkinson’s disease

Growing evidence suggests a link between the debilitating neurological illness and the microbes that live in our intestines. The vagus nerve may be a pathway.

The growing link between microbes, mood and mental health

New research suggests that to maintain a healthy brain, we should tend our gut microbiome. The best way to do that right now is not through pills and supplements, but better food.

Top science stories of 2023

Twelve standout news events and trends in a tumultuous year

Why scientists are making transparent wood

Stronger than plastic and tougher than glass, the resin-filled material is being exploited for smartphone screens, insulated windows and more

New Zealand’s quest to save its rotund, flightless parrots

DNA sequencing, GPS tracking and tailored diets are slowly restoring the endangered kākāpō

Neanderthals: More knowable now than ever

They have held our fascination ever since we first identified their remains. Today, thanks to new artifacts and technologies, findings about our closest relatives are coming thick and fast.

In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, new marine ecosystems are flourishing

Sea life, stuck to plastic bottles and other human trash, has journeyed far from coastal habitats — and may threaten local species

Untangling the genetics that underlie our facial features

After turning up hundreds of genes with hard-to-predict effects, some scientists are now probing the grander developmental processes that shape face geometry

As the climate changes, plants must shift their ranges. But can they?

Lots of them depend on fruit-eating birds and mammals to spread their seeds. But it’s debatable whether the animals — many in trouble themselves — can disperse seeds far and fast enough to keep pace with a warming world.

Everyone should start counting spiders

Our collective arachnid aversion could be causing us to overlook something even scarier: Spiders may be disappearing.

Where the heck did all those structures inside complex cells come from?

Scientists agree that eons ago, a bacterium took up residence inside another cell and became its powerhouse, the mitochondrion. But there are competing theories about the birth of other organelles such as the nucleus and endoplasmic reticulum.

Division of labor in ants, wasps, bees — and us

Social insects and humans share the trait of divvying up tasks, as do some fish. Researchers find that it emerges naturally, and it often doesn’t take a boss to keep things in order.

Animal CSI: Forensics comes for the wildlife trade

Scientists are using the latest in DNA fingerprinting to combat the multibillion-dollar business of trafficking plants and animals

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