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Living World

Humanizing immunology

The field has long been more mice than men. New technologies and systems-based approaches with human cells may soon fill gaps in our understanding of autoimmune disease and health, Mark Davis says in a Q&A.

The mind of an anthill

Can we use the tools of psychology to understand how colonies of social insects make decisions?

Searching for chocolate’s roots, and enemies, in Colombia’s wilderness

A newfound peace has spurred the hunt for disease-resistant wild cacao within the nation’s borders. What scientists find could help the country expand its role in the global trade.

Five mysteries about breast milk

The little that we know about breastfeeding tells us a lot — imagine if we knew more

Controlling electric signals in the body could help it heal

Tiny charges inside human cells spur development of an embryo’s form and structure. In a Q&A, Michael Levin talks about using those sparks to fix birth defects, control cancer and regrow tissues.

The self-made beauty of the centriole

Cells build an elegant, symmetrical structure. How they do it is intriguing on its own, but recent insights could also help explain some developmental disorders.

Darwin’s finches fall prey to a blood-sucking parasite

An invasive fly could mean the loss of bird species on the Galápagos Islands. To save them, scientists may introduce another invasive insect.

A master teller of fish stories

First came fugu. Then he took a bite out of sharks. Now a pioneer in genome research helps lead the effort to sequence every lineage of vertebrates.

Labor of love

Flipping the scientific thinking on our species’ “difficult childbirth”

Marine wildlife is starting to suffocate

Global warming and agricultural runoff have driven the loss of oxygen in oceans around the world, with looming ecological consequences.

What makes a tree a tree?

Despite numerous studies and 30-plus genomes under their belts, scientists are still struggling to nail down the defining traits of these tall, long-lived, woody plants

There goes the night

Artificial lights spell darker times for much of the planet’s wildlife — but it doesn’t have to be that way

Organs grown to order

Genetic advances may make it possible to grow transplantable tissues in other species. That could solve immunity and availability issues, but raises ethical concerns.

The base of the iceberg: It’s big and teeming with life

Passing chunks of ice can fertilize ocean waters and play a role in the planet’s carbon cycle

Pathways to a cure for AIDS

Medications can control HIV, but not eliminate it. Scientists hope to one day vanquish it completely.

Tricks and traits that let insects take flight

The world’s earliest aeronauts possess a panoply of adaptations to help them navigate the skies.

The marks of extinction

The mass die-offs of Earth’s past may hold clues to our future