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Synthetic Genome
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/22/10
Scientists have built a bacterial genome from scratch and used it to 'reboot' a cell from a different species of bacterium. The achievement could pave the way for engineering bacteria that produce biofuels or proteins used to treat disease.

Triangulating Photosynthesis
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/21/10
Researchers may have determined a way to glean new information from ancient, poorly preserved fossils. Remnants of stromatolites that are billions of years old could help astrobiologists identify when microorganisms first began using photosynthesis to harvest energy from sunlight.

On the Backs of Fishes
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/18/10
A mass extinction of fish 360 million years ago may have set the stage for modern vertebrate biodiversity. The extinction occurred just as vertebrates crawled from the sea to land, and the few survivors were the evolutionary starting point for the vertebrates that survive today.

Life in Ordovician Oceans
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/16/10
Exceptionally preserved fossils are providing new information about life in the oceans between 480 million and 472 million years ago. This period, known as the Ordovician, marks a time of intense diversification of life on Earth.

Peptides May Hold Missing Link to Life
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/08/10
Scientists have discovered that simple peptides can form membranes that may have been essential for life's origin. The contents of all living cells are surrounded by membranes that separate cells from their surrounding environment. The origin of such membranes is thought to be an essential step in the beginnings of life as we know it.

Life as Small as Viruses
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/07/10
Scientists have discovered a microbe living deep in former copper mines that contains one of the smallest genomes ever reported. The ultra-small microbe can teach astrobiologists about how small life can be, and will help us understand how to search for tiny microbes on other worlds.

Resurrected Mammoths are Cool
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/05/10
Using ancient DNA preserved in mammoth bones, scientists have learned how the extinct species survived extreme cold. The study could provide new insights into the history of life on Earth.

Aphids Got Genes From Fungus
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
05/04/10
A new study shows that aphids are genetic pioneers and have evolved unique traits. Aphids are the only animals that produce pigments known as carotenoids. They may have acquired this trait by 'snatching' genes from fungi. The study can help astrobiologists understand mechanisms behind evolution.

Anoxic Animals
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
04/10/10
In the depths of the Mediterranean Sea, a team of researchers has discovered the first animals that live their entire lives without oxygen. Instead, the animals thrive in an environment surrounded by 'poisonous' sulphides. Previously, only microbes and viruses were thought to be active in such environments.

Frozen in Amber
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
04/06/10
Scientists have discovered a 95-million-year-old amber deposit - the first of its kind found in Africa. The amber and the organisms encased inside are providing a wealth of information about the evolution of life during the age of the dinosaurs.

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