Cities’ shrinking gene pools

Looking around a city or suburb, you might think that mammals are doing pretty well. There are pizza rats and egg roll squirrels, mice in the basement, rabbits in the garden, raccoons in the garbage bins, woodchucks under the shed, deer bounding over fences, maybe some skunks skulking around the yard. Yeah, mammals have it pretty good.

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Is more DNA better?

Plants are pretty flexible when it comes to chromosome numbers. Whole genome duplications–aka, when a whole extra set of chromosomes are made by accident– is a major route by which plants evolve. Humans, by contrast, generally have 2 copies of each chromosome. If this same mutation were to happen in a human egg or sperm cell, it would nope outta there. Pretty normal day in the plant kingdom, though.

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Evolution at the edge

Evolution and adaptation to different environments seem like straightforward processes. If you treat bacteria to a low dose of antibiotics, chances are they’re going to evolve resistance. But this process isn’t as simple as it seems: different factors determine whether or not those bacteria will develop resistance. Continue reading “Evolution at the edge”

VOCs are in the air 💕

We can’t get enough of the intricacies of volatile organic compounds, whether they’re for communication among ants, communication between bacteria and fungishedding light on shaded plant leaves, or a means of sexual selection in moths. These volatiles are incredibly versatile, and new research published in the journal Evolution doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading “VOCs are in the air 💕”

Setting the standard

Have a look outside. What organisms do you see there? (For me, some squirrels and elm trees!) Now think about all the other kinds of places those animals might live in, with different climates than where you are: somewhere way hotter, or drier, or with less pronounced seasons. What about the animals there? What are they like?

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Beetles in color!

J.B.S. Haldane once remarked that if there is a creator, they must have an inordinate fondness for beetles. Hundreds of thousands of beetle species have been named; by contrast, there are only about 60,000 described species of vertebrates*. Naturally, the sheer number and diversity of beetles out there is of great interest to biologists.

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