neuro collage
Our Favorite Neuroscience Stories of 2021
From a Nobel prize and photosynthesis-powered brains to neurodegeneration research and controversy over a new Alzheimer’s drug, a look back at some of the biggest brain-related developments of the year.
Our Favorite Neuroscience Stories of 2021
Our Favorite Neuroscience Stories of 2021

From a Nobel prize and photosynthesis-powered brains to neurodegeneration research and controversy over a new Alzheimer’s drug, a look back at some of the biggest brain-related developments of the year.

From a Nobel prize and photosynthesis-powered brains to neurodegeneration research and controversy over a new Alzheimer’s drug, a look back at some of the biggest brain-related developments of the year.

photosynthesis
The head of a tadpole is pictured. Its eye is black, but the rest of its head is various shades of green
Scientists Use Photosynthesis to Power an Animal’s Brain
Abby Olena | Oct 13, 2021
Injecting oxygen-generating algae into tadpoles allows brain activity to continue in the absence of oxygen, researchers find.
Proterocladus antiquus green algae evolution photosynthesis nanfen formation
Oldest Green Algae Fossil Discovered in China
Kerry Grens | Feb 25, 2020
The 1-billion-year-old impressions have features similar to modern algae and indicate that photosynthesizing plants evolved at least that long ago.
ants symbiotic plants
Image of the Day: Farming Ants
Amy Schleunes | Jan 22, 2020
Evolution imbued ants with an agriculture strategy that optimizes food rewards.
Photos of the Year
Emily Makowski | Dec 26, 2019
From bubbling plants to endangered whales, here are some amazing images from The Scientist in 2019.
Image of the Day: Bubbling Plants
Emily Makowski | Nov 18, 2019
Plants use two different strategies to photosynthesize underwater.
Infographic: Open and shut
Chia-Yi Hou | Sep 1, 2019
Researchers devise a way to make plants’ stomata open and close more quickly.
A Synthetic Ion Channel Makes Plants Grow Faster
Chia-Yi Hou | Sep 1, 2019
Arabidopsis with guard cells modified by a light-activated potassium ion channel can open and close stomata more quickly, conserving water.
Oceanic Bacteria Trap Vast Amounts of Light Without Chlorophyll
Abby Olena | Aug 8, 2019
Microbes that dwell in nutrient-poor waters use a photopigment called retinal to harvest energy from sunshine at levels at least equal to those stored by chlorophyll-based systems.
atmosphere atmospheric microbe microbes photosynthesis France cloud rain microbiology algae cyanobacteria
Clouds and Rain Carry a Menagerie of Photosynthetic Microbes
Chia-Yi Hou | Jun 24, 2019
Microbiologists identify diatoms, algae, and cyanobacteria species from samples above a mountaintop in France.
Quantum Biology
Quantum Biology May Help Solve Some of Life’s Greatest Mysteries
Catherine Offord | Jun 1, 2019
From the remarkable speed of enzyme-catalyzed reactions to the workings of the human brain, numerous biological puzzles are now being explored for evidence of quantum effects.
quantum biology infographic
Infographic: Quantum Explanations for Biological Phenomena
Catherine Offord | Jun 1, 2019
Weird effects on the scale of subatomic particles may play roles in enzyme catalysis, photosynthesis, and avian magnetoreception.
Genetically Engineered Tobacco Does Photosynthesis More Efficiently
Carolyn Wilke | Jan 4, 2019
The modification beefed up plant biomass by 40 percent in field tests.
Image of the Day: Multiple Choice
Sukanya Charuchandra | Jun 19, 2018
Photosynthesis can happen in more than one way.  
Image of the Day: Artificial Cell
Sukanya Charuchandra | May 31, 2018
Researchers made a synthetic cell that can photosynthesize and make proteins crucial for cellular structure. 
Long-Term Study Reveals Flip in Plant Responses to Carbon Dioxide
Catherine Offord | Apr 20, 2018
The 20-year project calls into question the conventional wisdom about the role plants will play in mitigating future climate change.
Light Scattering Varies Among Corals
Ashley P. Taylor | Jul 13, 2017
A new study reports which types of corals make the most of the sunlight they receive. 
Bright Lights and Bacteria Treat Rats’ Heart Attacks
Ruth Williams | Jun 14, 2017
Injecting photosynthetic microbes into oxygen-starved heart tissue can improve cardiac function in rodents. 
A Coral to Outlast Climate Change
Ashley P. Taylor | May 18, 2017
Stylophora pistillata, a reef coral in the Northern Red Sea, thrived in simulated global-warming conditions.
Atomic-Scale 3-D Images Help Unravel the Mysteries Of Photosynthesis
Joshua A. Krisch | Nov 21, 2016
An X-ray laser technique allows researchers to capture each stage of photosystem II—in vivid detail—at room temperature.