The powerful Habsburg dynasty ruled Spain and its empire from 1516 to 1700 but when King Charles II died in 1700 without any children from his two marriages, the male line died out and the French Bourbon dynasty came to power in Spain. Gonzalo Alvarez and colleagues at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain have provided genetic evidence to support the historical evidence that the high frequency of inbreeding (mating between closely related individuals) within the dynasty was a major cause for the extinction of its male line.
A study of gene expression in chickens, frogs, pufferfish, mice and people has revealed surprising similarities in several key tissues. Researchers have shown that expression in tissues with a limited number of specialized cell types is strongly conserved, even between the mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrates.
Once thought to be only the realm of the blue-ringed octopus, researchers have now shown that all octopuses and cuttlefish, and some squid are venomous. The work indicates that they all share a common, ancient venomous ancestor and highlights new avenues for drug discovery.
Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have developed a slow-release anesthetic drug-delivery system that could potentially revolutionize treatment of pain during and after surgery, and may also have a large impact on chronic pain management.
Since the human genome was sequenced six years ago, the cost of producing a high-quality genome sequence has dropped precipitously. More recently, the National Institutes of Health called for cutting the cost to $1,000 or less, which may enable sequencing as part of routine medical care.
A reservoir of briny liquid buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier supports hardy microbes that have lived in isolation for millions of years, researchers report April 17 in the journal Science.
Anyone who studied a little genetics in high school has heard of adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine - the A, T, G and C that make up the DNA code. But those are not the whole story. The rise of epigenetics in the past decade has drawn attention to a fifth nucleotide, 5-methylcytosine (5-mC), that sometimes replaces cytosine in the famous DNA double helix to regulate which genes are expressed. And now there's a sixth: 5-hydroxymethylcytosine.
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have trained computers to automatically analyze aggression and courtship in fruit flies, opening the way for researchers to perform large-scale, high-throughput screens for genes that control these innate behaviors. The program allows computers to examine half an hour of video footage of pairs of interacting flies in what is almost real time; characterizing the behavior of a new line of flies "by hand" might take a biologist more than 100 hours.