Coming to a farm near you: The humble microbe boosting Europe’s food industry

Analysing chicken genetics could help identify which strains are more responsive to a particular microbe. Image credit - Pexels, licensed under the pexels licence

By: Alex Whiting Farmers who want to produce bigger chickens, fewer greenhouse gas-filled cow burps or healthier animals are increasingly able to turn to one tiny source: microbes. The microbes – which include a plethora of bacteria, viruses and fungi – have existed for billions of years and live everywhere including in people’s and animals’ … Read more

Genetic error led humans to evolve bigger, but more vulnerable, brains

The skull of a Australopithecus sediba, a species of Australopithecines, who were our ancestors and whose brains started to grow two to three million years ago. Image credit - Australopithecus sediba by Brett Eloff, courtesy Profberger and Wits University is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Newly-discovered genes that helped supersize human brains along with DNA retrieved from extinct humans, which can still be found in people living today, are expanding scientists’ understanding of how our species evolved. One of the major features that distinguish humans from other primates is the size of our brains, which underwent rapid evolution from about … Read more

Study of DNA flags could reignite centuries-old evolution debate

Charles Darwin (left) and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (right) are the faces of the earliest debate about evolutionary research.

Evolution could be partly based on environmental adaptation and not just random mutations, re-opening a centuries-old debate between Charles Darwin and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, according to Professor Thomas Carell from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. He studies the way our genes are switched on and off over our lifetimes – a process known as epigenetics. How has … Read more