The MacArthur Foundation today announced the recipients of its 2008 MacArthur Fellows (a.k.a. Genius Awards): Among the 25 winners, who will receive $500,000 over the next five years, four were life scientists. Here's the line-up: linkurl:Kirsten Bomblies,; a plant evolutionary geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, studies genetic incompatibility in Arabidopsis as a model for the development of new plant species in shared ecological niches. In hundreds of hybrids crosses of numerous strains of the plant, she found that incompatibilities, which arose in about 2% of the crosses she studied, were likely caused by genes related to pathogen resistance and immunity. See our linkurl:story; on Bomblies' work on the intersection between plant immunity and speciation, published earlier this year. linkurl:Susan Mango,; a biologist at the University of Utah, studies how specialized tissues integrate to form complex organs. Mango identified the linkurl:gene pha-4; as a key player...

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