Features

Conceptual image of coronavirus, SARS?Cov?2 infects a human cell
Viruses Target Super-Short Protein Motifs to Disrupt Host Biology
Conchita Fraguas Bringas , Jakob Nilsson | May 16, 2022
Only recently appreciated as critical components of cellular functions, unstructured stretches of amino acids called SLiMs are key to viral-host interactions.
Conceptual image of a person's brain with a cluster of cells inside
Is the Immune System to Blame for Schizophrenia?
Diana Kwon | Apr 18, 2022
Several lines of evidence suggest that targeting the body’s defense pathways might help treat a subset of people with the psychiatric disorder. But many open questions remain.
Illustration showing two hands join, father or mother with child
Does Human Epigenetic Inheritance Deserve a Closer Look?
Catherine Offord | Apr 4, 2022
The concept of epigenetic inheritance has long been controversial. Some researchers hope that new data on cross-generational effects of environmental exposures will help settle the debate.
Composite image of earliest humans and wooly mammoths
New Evidence Complicates the Story of the Peopling of the Americas
Emma Yasinski | May 2, 2022
New techniques have shown that people reached the New World far earlier than the long-standing estimate of 13,000 years ago, but scientists still debate exactly when humans arrived on the continent—and how.

Editorial

Illustration of a crowd of people wearing protective masks
Once More Unto the Breach
Once More Unto the Breach
Notes from my first in-person mega-conference in two years

Speaking of Science

3D objects of Ebola Viruses in abstract plasma
Notable Science Quotes
Notable Science Quotes
Cracking the mystery of fungal infections in India, the Sabatini controversy, addressing Ebola, and more

Critic at Large

Data protection illustration
Opinion: Is Open Access Worth the Cost?
Opinion: Is Open Access Worth the Cost?
As we continue to transition out of the print era of scientific publishing, funders and institutions are paying a steep price to have trustworthy publishers certify research outcomes.

Notebook

Photo of a Dwarf mongoose
Dwarf Mongooses Shun Bullies to Manage Conflict: Study
Dwarf Mongooses Shun Bullies to Manage Conflict: Study
These social animals keep tabs on aggressive members of the group and groom them less after fights to punish them.
Close up photo of a wing
Unearthing the Evolutionary Origins of Insect Wings
Unearthing the Evolutionary Origins of Insect Wings
A handful of new studies moves the needle toward a consensus on the long-disputed question of whether insect wings evolved from legs or from the body wall, but the devil is in the details.
Photo of fish in the Haemulidae family
Fish Are Chattier Than Previously Thought
Fish Are Chattier Than Previously Thought
Once thought to be silent, fish turn out to produce a range of vocalizations—so polluting the oceans with noise could pose a danger to them.
Image of sperm hooks (<em>Peromyscus maniculatus</em>)
The Mystery of the Mouse Sperm Hook
The Mystery of the Mouse Sperm Hook
Nearly all mouse sperm have hooks on their heads. But new research suggests the structures slow them down—so what exactly is their purpose?

Scientist to Watch

Photo of Ana Marija Jakšic
Ana Marija Jakšić Shapes Fruit Fly Brains
Ana Marija Jakšić Shapes Fruit Fly Brains
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne evolutionary neurobiologist is using Drosophila to investigate how organisms adapt to novel environments.
Giannina Descalzi
Giannina Descalzi Studies the Factors Underlying Chronic Pain
Giannina Descalzi Studies the Factors Underlying Chronic Pain
The University of Guelph neuroscientist is scoping out the brain regions and genes that change as a consequence of pain that lasts for months or even years.

Modus Operandi

Conceptual image of blue neurons with glowing segments over blue background.
CRACK Method Reveals Novel Neuron Type in Mouse Brain
CRACK Method Reveals Novel Neuron Type in Mouse Brain
A new technique reveals cells’ precise locations and functions in the brain. Its developers have already used it to identify a previously unknown neuron type.

The Literature

salmonella bacteria 3d illustration
Salmonella Injection Helps the Mouse Immune System Kill Tumors
Salmonella Injection Helps the Mouse Immune System Kill Tumors
Nanoparticle-coated bacteria can capture tumor antigens and deliver them to immune cells, triggering a response that improved survival rates in mice.
A micrograph from the first US case of COVID-19, with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in blue
SARS-CoV-2 Can Spread Via Cell-to-Cell Transmission
SARS-CoV-2 Can Spread Via Cell-to-Cell Transmission
The virus’s ability to slip directly from one cell to another may help it avoid some of the body’s immune responses.
Photo of wooden block letters
Distracted Brains Better at Parsing Unfamiliar Languages: Study
Distracted Brains Better at Parsing Unfamiliar Languages: Study
People who had cognitive functions depleted by noninvasive brain stimulation or a mentally demanding task could subconsciously recognize individual words in a made-up language more easily than controls, researchers find.
Image of not-to-scale renderings of the skulls of various primate species
Surface Area of Tooth Roots Predicts Primate Body Size
Surface Area of Tooth Roots Predicts Primate Body Size
Researchers determine that a primate’s tooth root, and not just its crown, can yield reliable information about body size, but the relationship between root surface area and diet isn’t as clear.
Photo of a North American caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in Jasper National Park in Canada
Dozens of Genes Tied to Caribou’s Seasonal Migration
Dozens of Genes Tied to Caribou’s Seasonal Migration
Researchers tracked the movements of endangered caribou and sequenced a portion of their genomes to determine which genes may influence migratory behavior.

Careers

Illustration of a doctor in medical coat and mask speaking at camera
Making the Most of Media Interviews
Making the Most of Media Interviews
As the pandemic has underscored the importance—and benefits—of communicating science to the general public, it’s also highlighted the challenges that researchers can face in speaking with journalists.

Bio Business

Bacteria on the skin
Biotech Tries Manipulating the Skin Microbiome
Biotech Tries Manipulating the Skin Microbiome
Researchers are revealing the complexity of the microbial community living on the body—and paving the way for new bacteria-targeting treatments for acne and other dermatological conditions.

Reading Frames

Between Ape and Human book cover
Opinion: Another Species of Hominin May Still Be Alive
Opinion: Another Species of Hominin May Still Be Alive
Do members of Homo floresiensis still inhabit the Indonesian island where their fossils helped identify a new human species fewer than 20 years ago?
A fossil imprint of the stridulatory apparatus from an extinct cricket species
Listen to Extinct Crickets Chirp
Listen to Extinct Crickets Chirp
The land’s first known singer may have sounded like a raspier version of today’s familiar insect fiddlers.

Foundations

Photo of John Calhoun crouches within his rodent utopia-turned-dystopia
Universe 25, 1968–1973
Universe 25, 1968–1973
A series of rodent experiments showed that even with abundant food and water, personal space is essential to prevent societal collapse.
A black and white photo of a woman holding up a spider in a pair of tweezers
The Spider Lady, Circa 1939
The Spider Lady, Circa 1939
Nan Songer, a spider expert living in California, played an integral part in the Allies’ success in World War II by supplying silk for bombsights.

Infographics

Infographic about SLiMs in SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Infographic: Short Protein Motifs’ Role in SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Infographic: Short Protein Motifs’ Role in SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Known as SLiMs, these stretches of up to 10 amino acids play notable roles in cell biology, including responses to viral invasion.
Illustration comparing neural pathway and the humoral pathway
Infographic: How the Body’s Defenses Attack the Brain
Infographic: How the Body’s Defenses Attack the Brain
Scientists have pinpointed several pathways through which the immune system could disrupt neuronal functioning and thereby lead to psychotic symptoms.
Illustration showing epigenetic changes
Infographic: Questions Linger About Epigenetic Inheritance
Infographic: Questions Linger About Epigenetic Inheritance
Some studies suggest that associations between the health of children and the experiences of their parents or grandparents may be due to epigenetic mechanisms, but confounding factors challenge this interpretation.
Illustrated map showing where evidence was found of the earliest humans
Infographic: Mixed Evidence on Human Occupation of the Americas
Infographic: Mixed Evidence on Human Occupation of the Americas
Diverse lines of evidence point to humans’ presence in the New World long before the dawn of Clovis culture. But rewriting this chapter of human history raises many questions about how these early people came to inhabit these continents.
Illustration showing how calcium imaging and HCR-FISH combined is a technique called comprehensive readout of activity and cell type markers (CRACK)
Infographic: Simultaneously Studying Neuron Structure and Function
Infographic: Simultaneously Studying Neuron Structure and Function
A new methodology combines existing techniques to reveal the specific function and location of multiple types of neurons at once.
Illustration showing how following radiation therapy, which triggers the release of cancer-specific antigens, researchers injected Salmonella typhimurium bacteria covered in positively charged nano- particles near tumors in mice.
Infographic: Salmonella Shuttle Tumor Antigens to Immune Cells
Infographic: Salmonella Shuttle Tumor Antigens to Immune Cells
Nanoparticle-coated bacteria carry cancer-derived proteins to dendritic cells, enabling the immune system to launch a response in a mouse model.