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Schematic of SARS-CoV-2 polymerase building a new copy of the virus from naturally occurring nucleotides (blue) and nucleotide analogs (red). Image credit: Mona Seifert (CC BY 4.0)

To multiply and spread from cell to cell, the virus responsible for COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2) must first replicate its genetic information. This process involves a ‘polymerase’ protein complex making a faithful copy by assembling a precise sequence of building blocks, or nucleotides.

The only drug approved against SARS-CoV-2…


Atlas of the bumblebee brain with different neurons in different colors. Image credit: Marcel Sayre (CC BY 4.0)

Bumblebees forage widely for pollen and nectar from flowers, sometimes travelling kilometers away from their nest, but they can somehow always find their way home in a nearly straight line. These insects have been known to return to their nest from new locations almost 10 kilometers away. …


Microscopy image showing bacterial aggregates (false color, green to white) in the zebrafish gut. Image credit: Schlomann and Parthasarathy (CC BY 4.0)

The human gut is home to vast numbers of bacteria that grow, compete and cooperate in a dynamic, densely packed space. …


Image credit: Angus Paton (CC BY 4.0)

Scientists use statistical tools to evaluate observations or measurements from carefully designed experiments. In psychology and neuroscience, these experiments involve studying a randomly selected group of people, looking for patterns in their behaviour or brain activity, to infer things about the population at large.

The usual method for evaluating the…


From left to right: a normal specimen of Arabidopsis thaliana; a specimen with a mutation in the TOC complex, which turns the plant yellow; and a specimen with the same mutation that is also lacking SUMO, which appears healthier and greener than the second plant. Image credit: Samuel Watson (CC BY 4.0)

All green plants grow by converting light energy into chemical energy. They do this using a process called photosynthesis, which happens inside compartments in plant cells called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts use thousands of different proteins to make chemical energy. Some of these proteins allow the chloroplasts to absorb light energy using…


15-day-old C. elegans, displaying signs of old age such as cell detachments, intestinal atrophy, germ-line tumours, and organ distortion. Image credit: Max Hess (CC BY 4.0)

The goal of geroscience, or research into old age, is to promote health during old age, and thus, to increase lifespan. In the body, the groups of biochemical reactions, or ‘pathways’, that allow an organism to sense nutrients, and regulate growth and stress, play major roles in ensuring healthy aging…


Histological section of the fallopian tube. Image credit: Navid Golpour (CC BY 2.0)

Infertility in women can be caused by many factors, such as defects in the ovaries. An important part of the ovaries for fertility are internal structures called follicles, which house early forms of egg cells. A follicle grows and develops until the egg is finally released from the ovary into…


Pollen grain with a pattern on its surface that resembles the Chinese yin-yang symbol (also known as taijitu), which represents balance, a metaphor for the balance between proteins that controls pollen apertures. Image credit: Anna Dobritsa (CC BY 4.0)

Zooming in on cells reveals patterns on their outer surfaces. These patterns are actually a collection of distinct areas of the cell surface, each containing specific combinations of molecules. The outer layers of pollen grains consist of a cell wall, and a softer cell membrane that sits underneath. As a…


Image credit: Tyler Nix (CC0)

Genetic mutations that increase cancer risk can be passed down from parents to their children, which can affect families across many generations. In these families, multiple members may be affected by different types of cancer, and these cancers often develop at an early age. Unaffected family members are often referred…


Fishing Tsimane people. Image credit: RNW/Piotr Strycharz (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Genes contain the instructions needed for a cell to make molecules called proteins, which perform various roles in the body. Different variants of a gene can affect how the protein works, and in some cases, can increase a person’s risk to develop certain diseases.

For example, people who carry a…

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