Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Articles related to genetics

Cover Story: Genes that Cuddle in the Cold
An ingenious experiment has allowed scientists to observe how plant genes move around the nucleus to locations that either stop or stimulate flowering depending on temperature.
Cover Story: Gene Drives: A Way to Genetically Engineer Populations
Gene drives occur when a bias in the mechanism of inheritance spreads particular genetic variants through a population. Developments in gene-editing technology now make it possible to construct gene drives that address problems in health, agriculture and conservation.
Browse: Genetic Test Stings Killer Bee Invaders Browse: The Origins of Vanuatu and Tonga’s First People
Browse: The fine line between playing God and saving species Browse: Gene Drives: Just 100 Infertile Mice Can Eradicate an Island Population
Feature: Driving Mosquitoes out of Town
Existing techniques to control mosquito-borne diseases are coming up short. Can gene drives offer hope to the millions affected?
Browse: Tassie Devils Are Evolving Resistance to Facial Tumours
Feature: Jumping Genes and the Spectacular Evolution of Flowering Plants
The emergence and rapid rise of flowering plants is one of the most extraordinary and yet still not fully explained phenomena in evolutionary history. Could what Darwin himself called an “abominable mystery” be caused by jumping genes?
Feature: Gene Drives for Conservation
Gene drives may provide a novel tool to counteract seemingly unstoppable threats to global biodiversity.
Browse: Blood Test Predicts Early Labour
Credit: Elka Lesmono
Feature: Kissing Cousins: Why Haven’t Arranged Marriage Laws Reduced Human Genetic Diversity?
Many traditional communities, including our ancestors, have long enforced marriage between first cousins. Why hasn’t this had a negative impact on genetic diversity?
Credit: ktsdesign/adobe
Feature: Autism Genes Exist in Us All
A new study has found that genetic factors underlying autism are present in everyone and are influencing our behaviour.
Feature: The Future of Pest Control Lies Within (the Pest)
Gene drives could improve global food security by turning pest biology against itself.
Browse: Corals Have the Genes to Adapt to Warmer Oceans Browse: Genes Could Get the Jump on Cane Toads
Credit: Menna Jones
Feature: The Devil Is in the DNA
DNA analysis reveals that Tasmanian devils survived a major population decline thousands of years ago, leaving them with low genetic diversity to withstand devil facial tumour disease.
Feature: Gene Drives: A Fork in the Road for the GMO Debate
What are the moral and ethical concerns about gene drives, and how should the technology be regulated?
Feature: It’s Not Just About “The Science”
Female scientists and health professionals have revealed that opposition to genetically modified food is less about “the science” and more about perceived conflicts with personal values.
Browse: Inherited Alzheimer’s Damage Begins Decades before Symptoms
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease may actually slow once symptoms appear, according to a study investigating an inherited form of the disease.
Browse: Epigenetic Signatures Predict Breast Cancer Aggression Browse: Faulty Gene Linked to Depression and Cardiovascular Disease
Browse: DNA Reveals Diversity of Ancient Australians Browse: “Alternative RNA” Switches Reptile Gender
Browse: “Frankenstein” Chromosomes Amplify Cancer Genes Expert Opinion: Gene Editing for Conservation Needs In-Built Protection
Researchers have been considering using gene drives to rid New Zealand of invasive pests, but have they adequately estimated the issues and addressed indigenous rights?
Browse: Blind Beetles Show Signs of Sight Browse: Warning of Ecological Risks of Gene Drives
Credit: Johan Larson/Adobe
Feature: Genetic “Backburning” Can Stop Cane Toads
Could the cane toad’s march through the Kimberley be stopped in its tracks by introducing less-dispersive toads ahead of the invasion front?
Browse: Males Make Fast Sperm for Sisters
Browse: Genes for Coffee Cravings
Tiger snakes on Chappell Island
Feature: Shape-Shifters
Genetic analyses reveal that Australia’s land and sea snakes have rapidly evolved different body shapes and sizes to suit the local prey available, from fat muttonbird chicks to eels hiding in narrow crevices.
Feature: Can Diet Be Tailored to Suit Our Genes?
Lifestyle factors such as a eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, getting a good night’s sleep and keeping physically active are the best way to help your genes keep you healthy.
Browse: Kea Genetics Shaped by Climate, Not People
Genetic variation in New Zealand’s kea is the result of recolonisation of alpine areas since the last ice age 10,000 years ago, and not due to population decline as a result of human colonisation, as initially thought.
Browse: Europeans Came from Three Ancient Populations Browse: Genes Amp Up Resistance in Weeds
Browse: Mother Whale’s Cultural Traditions Shape the Genetics of Offspring Browse: Fainting Is Genetic
Clues have been found to the genetic basis for fainting, with the gene that controls the tendency located in at least one family.
Browse: Sunscreen Protects DNA
For all the effort put into promoting sunscreen, evidence that it prevents skin cancer has been inconclusive according to Dr Elke Hacker of Queensland University of Technology’s AusSun Research Laboratory. However, Hacker has now demonstrated that sunscreen protects the genes responsible for repairing the skin.
Browse: Evidence Is Weak for Genetic Testing of Sporting Talent
Browse: Genetic Discovery May Explain Cancer Risk Mystery
Some common genetic cancer mutations could indicate the presence of more influential rare mutations that have yet to be found.
Online Feature: The genetics of epilepsy: bringing hope to families
Browse: Malaria Gene Targets Lit Up Browse: Heat Genes Influence Flowering of Foreign Canola
Browse: Primitive Microbes Stole Genes on a Surprising Scale Browse: Nose Gene’s Role in Muscular Dystrophy Onset
Online Feature: Regulating genes to treat illness, grow food, and understand the brain Browse: Embryonic Editing Speeds Up Gene Studies
Feature: How Do Hybrid Species Overcome Genome Shock?
How do hybrid species like cotton and ligers combine different genes, proteins and chromosomes, and can this knowledge be exploited for agriculture?
Browse: A Better Test for Childhood TB
Credit: nobeastsofierce
Cover Story: Should Australia Allow Mitochondrial Donation?
Is there any ethical reason why legislation should prevent the use of donor mitochondria in cases where children are likely to inherit mitochondrial disease from their mothers?
Browse: Genetic Overlap in Mental Illnesses
Genetic variations associated with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have substantial overlap, indicating possible relationships between the conditions.
Browse: Theory of the Evolution of Sexes Tested with Algae Browse: Theory of the Evolution of Sexes Tested with Algae
Browse: DNA Repair Gene’s Role in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia Browse: Many Height Genes Add Up
Browse: Genetic Clues to Managing Koala Demise
Genetic patterns in koala populations have revealed that the right balance between tree cover and roads is required to save koala populations from urban growth.
Cover Story: Oz Mammal Genomics
A large project to sequence the genomes of Australia’s mammals will provide the first complete picture of their interrelationships and evolutionary history – and aid their conservation.
Cover of the March 2014 edition of Plant Cell. Artwork by Scot Nicholls, Domokun
Feature: A Protein Is Born
It used to be thought that new proteins only evolved as a result of gradual changes to existing genes, but recent studies are showing that completely new genes and proteins often evolve suddenly. Now Australian researchers have predicted the biochemical events that allowed an enzyme-blocking protein to evolve “from scratch” in sunflowers.
Feature: The 21st Century Imitation Game
New sequencing technologies are enabling scientists to crack the genetic code of rare mitochondrial diseases and disorders of sex development.
A pygmy blue whale. Credit: research team
Feature: DNA Gives Hope to Blue Whales
A DNA study has determined whether the low genetic diversity of Australia’s blue whales was caused by past natural events or recent whaling, and offered hope for their long-term survival.
Credit: Henry Cook
Feature: Wallabies Rock the Basis of Speciation
Six rock-wallaby species in Queensland have different numbers of chromosomes, yet gene flow somehow occurs between them. What does this tell us about how new species form?
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Feature: A Gene for Speed
A gene that may have enabled ancient humans to spread to colder climates may also be the difference between power athletes and the rest of us, and play a role in muscle diseases.
Feature: The Bold and the Beautiful
The discovery that a gene partly determines which swans are bold and which are wary of people could assist captive breeding programs in cities.
Adnan Riaz speed breeding wheat varieties.
Feature: Russian Revolution Could Save Aussie Wheat
Ancient wheat varieties that survived the Siege of Leningrad have rare genes that offer resistance to important diseases affecting Australian wheat.
Credit: Dmitry Lobanov/Adobe
Feature: Why Size Matters at Birth
A large genetic study has determined why small babies are at greater risk of disease as adults.
Feature: The World’s Most Interesting Genome
Sequencing of the genome of a pure-bred dingo pup rescued from the side of a remote desert track will enable scientists to examine one of Charles Darwin’s few remaining untested theories.
Feature: The Evolution of Sexes
Sex does not depend on the existence of different sexes. Instead, males and females may be the result of genetic conflict arising from the evolution of large and complex individuals.
Credit: Phil Spark
Feature: What Do Genomes Have To Say About Marsupial History?
Marsupials have walked on Australia for tens of millions of years, and include iconic species like the kangaroo, wombat and bilby. New methods for studying the genomes of marsupials have revealed some surprising aspects of their evolution.
Browse: Exclusive subscriber content
Subscribe for complete access to dozens of news articles and features each month.
Browse: Gene Variations Influence Education
An exceptionally large study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – variations in which just one of the four nucleotides of DNA is altered – has found a number that relate to the time spent in education.
Browse: Red Hair Gene Is a Melanoma Risk for Us All
The association between red hair and melanoma is well-known, but the gene responsible can endanger others as well.
Browse: Obesity Is Not In Our Genes
Genetic factors have less influence on obesity than previously thought, a new study has concluded. As interesting as the finding may be, the methodology used to reach the conclusion could provide insights into even more exciting questions.
Browse: Over-Harvesting Recorded in Turtle DNA
The effects of over-harvesting are visible in the DNA of turtles decades after the exploitation stopped.
Browse: Epilepsy, Epigenes and Molecular Filters Earn PM’s Prizes Browse: Graphene Sequences DNA
Browse: Sweetness Is in the Genes Browse: 53 Genes Help Reef Fish Respond to Warmer Oceans
Browse: Genes Lead Teens to Binge-Eat Browse: Evolution Goes Back to the Drawing Board
Browse: Genes Raise Chance of Twins Browse: New Zealand fish and chips hold human DNA clues
Browse: Edited Stem Cells Correct Kidney Disease Browse: Epigenetic Mechanism of Crop Immunity Identified
Expert Opinion: Designer Baby Patent Makes Scientists Uneasy
A private company, 23andMe, has patented a method of creating “designer” babies by allowing the selection of sperm and eggs that are most likely to produce traits chosen by the parents, such as eye colour or athleticism, and also allows screening out of sperm and eggs likely to lead to genetic disease.
Expert Opinion: Mozzies Knocked out with Gene Drive
Researchers say they've successfully used a CRISPR-based gene drive to cause the collapse of a population of caged malaria-carrying mosquitoes by targeting a gene that determines whether an individual mosquito develops as a male or a female.
Lowe Tech: Tasmania Bans GM Indefinitely
The Tasmanian government has turned its moratorium on genetically modified crops into an indefinite and complete ban.
Quandary: Genetic Privacy at Risk
US intelligence agencies may be analysing our communications on a massive scale, but genetic data is already proving just as vulnerable.
Quandary: The Science of Persuasion
How did scientists win the public relations war to persuade British Parliament to approve the creation of three-parent babies?
Quandary: Born to Be Bad
The idea that bad guys are made by bad genes may have a new springtime.
Quandary: Germline Tinkering Sparks More Controversy
The ability to “edit” the genome has already seen Chinese scientists accidentally introduce mutations into human embryos.
Quandary: This Little Piggy Went to Market
Gene editing promises to enable the safe use of pig organs to transplant into humans. Who could object to that?
Simon Says: GM Approvals Score a Century
Almost 40 years after the genetic engineering revolution hit Australia, it is beginning to look like the establishment.
Up Close: Beyond exceptional: What makes a child prodigy?
Psychology researcher Dr Joanne Ruthsatz talks about the personality traits that set child prodigies apart from other children.
Up Close: Sequencing seizures: Discovering new genetic mutations behind epilepsy
Neurologist Prof Sam Berkovic and molecular geneticist Prof David Goldstein describe their work uncovering chance mutations that cause childhood epilepsy.
Up Close: You've got male: The wide-ranging effects of testosterone
Endocrinologist and hormone researcher Prof Jeffrey Zajac talks about the broad and transformative effects of testosterone on the male body.
Up Close: Making nice: Julian Savulescu and the case for moral bioenhancement
Philosopher and bioethicist Julian Savulescu joins host Peter Mares for a conversation on the potential for moral bioenhancement through direct brain stimulation, pharmacology or genetics, and the ethical implications of such interventions.
Up Close: Inherited risk: The benefit and burden of genetic testing for heritable diseases
Clinical and research geneticist Prof Ingrid Winship discusses the use of genetic testing to improve the lives of people with inherited diseases and their families, as well as the pitfalls of direct-to-consumer genetic testing.
Up Close: Linking childhood diarrhoea and the onset of type I diabetes
Virologist Associate Professor Barbara Coulson explains how a common childhood infection could hasten the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Up Close: Screening along the spectrum: The search for a genetic test for autism
Neuropsychiatrist Prof Chris Pantelis and neural engineering researcher Prof Stan Skafidas discuss the potential for the use of genetics to improve the diagnosis of autism.
Up Close: Altered expression: Epigenetics and its influence on human development
Geneticist Dr Marnie Blewitt explains how epigenetics makes us more than just our genes and how gene inactivation can be crucial to our development.
Up Close: Ribosomes: Unlocking the secrets to your cellular protein factories
Nobel laureate Prof Ada Yonath discusses her work on understanding ribosomes – the protein factories that are found in every cell of every living organism.
Up Close: The cost of cognition: The blessing and curse of human brain complexity
Neuroscientist Prof Seth Grant explains how genetics gave rise to the modern human brain, and how the very complexity that characterises our brains makes them vulnerable to neurological diseases that reveal themselves in mental illness.
Up Close: Twin engines of truth? How science and law interact to construct our world
Social science and legal scholar Prof Sheila Jasanoff discusses how science and the law interact or compete with one another in the formulation of public reason -- in the economy, the courts and the political landscape.
Up Close: Going viral: Global food security under threat from crop and livestock diseases
Virologist and infectious diseases expert Prof John Fazakerley details the myriad threats to the global food supply from pathogen infestations in crops and livestock, and how new genetic and surveillance technologies are lending hope to keeping them in check.
Up Close: Genetic find and replace with CRISPR: Technology that will revolutionize medicine and agriculture
Molecular biologist Prof Jacob Corn describes how gene editing is carried out with CRISPR-Cas9. He explains why this technology has the potential of revolutionizing the treatment of diseases such as sickle cell anemia and malaria. Besides human health, CRISPR-Cas9 can also contribute to improving agriculture and, consequently, food security. Jacob also discusses the possible ethical challenges posed by the widespread application of gene editing.
Up Close: The baby makers: The science behind healthier embryos and better IVF
Reproductive biologist Professor David Gardner explains what we're still learning about healthy embryo development, how it's being applied to improve IVF technologies, and the unexpected insights it may offer into how cells implant themselves and proliferate, including how cancers take hold.
Up Front: The Age of Genomics
This edition of Australasian Science focuses on the ethical, legal and social issues associated with advances in genomic science.
Up Front: A New Twist in the DNA Revolution
Gene drives take genetic modification to the population level, with applications in health, conservation and agriculture, but there are also practical and ethical concerns.
Up Front: Born This Way
A study reporting a weak association between two genes and homosexuality could have powerful consequences.
Up Front: Cold Case for a National Genetic Database
If we won’t share our medical history across the health system, it’s hard to see Australians handing over their genetic profile.
Online Feature: 'Dead' gene comes to life and puts chill on inflammation
Discovery may explain how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work, leading to entirely new classes of anti-inflammatory treatments without some of the side effect of steroids.
Online Feature: Scientists link DNA to marital satisfaction
Study links genetics, emotions and marital satisfaction.
Online Feature: Temper trap: the genetics of aggression and self-control
A new study concludes that people who are genetically predisposed toward aggression have inefficient functioning in brain regions that control emotions.
Online Feature: New genes involved in food preferences will revolutionise diets and improve health
New understanding of the genes involved in taste perception and food preferences could lead to personalised nutrition plans effective not just in weight loss but in avoiding diseases.
Online Feature: Born this way? An evolutionary view of 'gay genes'
New research supports this claim that particular genes influence sexuality.
Online Feature: Four things you should know about gene patents
The Federal Court’s decision that gene patenting is permitted in Australia will have ramifications for all gene patents, even though the case involved only one gene associated with breast cancer.
Online Feature: The ethics of "gifted" genes: the road to Gattaca?
Browse: A dog's colour could impact longevity, increase health problems Browse: Mutation Challenges Theories on Evolution and High-Carb Diets
Browse: Unexpected Outcomes Sound Warning for Embryo Editing Browse: Loch Ness Waters Sampled for Monster's DNA