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Morning Person or Night Owl? Your Genes May Decide

Biology may be influencing if you stay up all night or wake up with the sun

(Newser) - You may be naturally disposed toward being a morning person or a night owl—and scientists are now saying that may have a true biological basis that's hard to fight, the Guardian reports. Per a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications , researchers under the direction of 23andMe lead scientist... More »

Scientist Tackles 'Last Major Disease We Don't Know Anything About'

Whitney Dafoe no longer walks, talks, or eats, and is fed intravenously

(Newser) - Whitney Dafoe packed a lot in his first quarter-century of life. The son of renowned scientist Ronald Davis, the head of the Genome Technology Center at Stanford University, was an award-winning photographer who traveled the world and worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign. Now 31 and diagnosed with systemic exertion... More »

Study: DNA Test Can Predict Whether You're Gay

Potential for misuse troubles lead scientist, who's just left the lab

(Newser) - UCLA scientists think they've developed the first test that can accurately predict whether a man is gay based on his DNA, and all it takes is a swab of saliva, reports New Scientist . The researchers examined 400,000 epigenetic tags—"chemicals that latch onto DNA and help turn... More »

Test Can Detect Every Virus to Afflict Humans, Animals

Even uncommon viruses and ones present in low levels: scientists

(Newser) - A new test developed by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may prove an invaluable aid to doctors who can't figure out what's wrong with their patients. The test, described in a study in the Genome Research journal, is able to detect, all at... More »

Genome Reveals Secrets of Last Mammoths

Low genetic variation perhaps led to decline on Wrangel Island

(Newser) - The last of the woolly mammoths in Siberia died out about 10,000 years ago, but a smaller number living on Wrangel Island, off the coast of what is now Russia, managed to stick around for another 6,000 years. Researchers set out to investigate the two groups and the... More »

Google's Big New Project: Autism Research

Company aids in sequencing thousands of genomes

(Newser) - To learn more about the genetics behind autism, researchers are planning to sequence the genomes of thousands of people—and they've enlisted a partner who knows a thing or two about sifting through scads of data. Using its Genomics tool, Google will host on its servers and index the... More »

Easter Islanders Not as Isolated as Thought

Genetic data suggests travel to and from South America 20-plus generations ago

(Newser) - Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is such a remote speck of rock in the Pacific Ocean that it has been nicknamed "navel of the world." Yet a review of genetic data of 27 natives suggests the islanders made contact with outsiders hundreds of years before the first Europeans... More »

Sorry, Blood in Gourd Isn't from Louis XVI

Researchers map out genome

(Newser) - A famous gourd was believed to contain the blood of Louis XVI after he was beheaded: It said as much in an inscription, and some research has appeared to confirm it. Now, however, experts have sequenced the blood's genome, and they're saying the opposite, the BBC reports. Their... More »

Peppers Might Get Spicier Thanks to Scientists

Researchers discover gene for capsaicin

(Newser) - Don't say science never did anything for you, spicy food lovers. Last week researchers published the full genome for the hot pepper (Capsicum annuum), a discovery that, according to LiveScience , could have a very practical application: even hotter peppers. The findings will "help breeders accelerate the research of... More »

Genetically, Dolphins Are Like ... Bats?

They have nearly 200 genomic regions in common

(Newser) - One is an adorable marine mammal. The other is a creepy flying rodent that inspires masked vigilantes. But it turns out that, deep down, dolphins and bats have a surprising amount in common. A new study has found that dolphin and bat genes are strikingly similar in nearly 200 genomic... More »

'Anonymous' Online DNA Not So Anonymous

Surprised researchers raise privacy concerns

(Newser) - If your genetic data, or even a relative's, has made its way online—albeit posted anonymously—it's simple for researchers to uncover your identity. So simple it surprised the researchers themselves. All they needed to suss out a person's name, and the names of members of that... More »

We've Been Getting Dumber —for Thousands of Years: Study

Hunter-gatherers were pretty darn smart: geneticist

(Newser) - Talk about optimism: A genetics professor in California argues that human beings have been dumbing down for thousands of years and will only grow dimmer down the road, the Independent reports. We probably peaked as hunter-gatherers, who survived by their wits, and saw a decline in natural selection of the... More »

Experts Decode Ancient Girl's Genome

Pinky bone reveals eye, hair color of child who lived 80K years ago

(Newser) - You can tell a lot about someone from her finger bone—even if it's 80,000 years old. Using the bone, scientists were able to sequence an ancient Siberian girl's genome 31 times; now, they can tell you her hair, eyes, and skin color, Science reports. (All were... More »

We Could Soon Know Truth About Elephant Man

Genome sequencing could reveal his true ailment

(Newser) - It's been more than a century since Joseph Merrick—the so-called Elephant Man—died at age 27, but researchers still can't definitively explain the huge growths on his body. Though he was nicknamed after the parasitic infection Elephantiasis, other scientists believe he may have suffered from the congenital... More »

This Exists: DNA Tests for Cats

Now you can verify your cat's lineage

(Newser) - Do you have a burning desire to know your cat's ancestry? Are you dying to know if she's really a pure Abyssinian or if the guy at the pet store ripped you off? Well, now you can. Lyons Feline Genetics Laboratory at the University of California now offers... More »

Scientists Decode Banana Genome

Breakthrough could help keep millions fed in developing nations

(Newser) - They got the tomato in May, and now researchers have sequenced the banana genome, too. It's no mere scientific exercise—the feat could have huge implications in the developing world, explains the Los Angeles Times . Bananas are a vital source of food for hundreds of millions, but they're... More »

Why Are Tomatoes Red? Blame Meteor

Dinosaur-killing impact forced the tomato into big changes, say scientists

(Newser) - Why are tomatoes red? The same reason dinosaurs were killed off, say scientists. The massive meteorite that struck Earth 60 to 70 million years ago created extremely harsh conditions that forced the evolution of the tomato into its current red and edible form, reports . Researchers discovered this connection... More »

Scientists Crack Tomato Genome

Which should allow producers to breed tastier ones

(Newser) - What makes a tomato a tomato? Researchers now know all 35,000 genes that make up the answer to that question, Reuters reports. An international team of scientists has fully mapped the order, orientation, types, and relative position of all those genes inside both a domesticated and a wild tomato... More »

For Just $1K, You'll Soon Be Able to Map Your Genes

Genomics company unveiling new machine today

(Newser) - Want to map your genes, but don't have the $3,000 the cheapest sequencing currently costs? By the end of the year, you could be in luck: California genomics company Life Technologies Corp. will introduce a machine today that, by year's end, is expected to be able to... More »

Scientists Crack Code of Kangaroo's DNA

Decoding could lead to new antibiotics, hope for wombats

(Newser) - What makes the kangaroo hop? That’s just one of the questions answered by international researchers who’ve decoded the genome of a kangaroo species, the BBC reports. The genome research team—the first to be led by Australian scientists—sequenced the genome in 2008 but finally completed its analysis... More »

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