One of the surprises of this work...is that the circadian clock operates in essentially all cells that contain a nucleus, not only specialized cells in the brain, allowing PER and TIM to “affect other aspects of physiology” with “implications for work schedules, sleep hygiene,” and more, ushering in the field of chronobiology.

In the study of the plant kingdom, a slow revolution is underway. Scientists are beginning to understand that plants have abilities, previously unnoticed and unimagined, that we’ve only ever associated with animals. In their own ways, plants can see, smell, feel, hear, and know where they are in the world. One recent study found that clusters of cells in plant embryos act a lot like brain cells and help the embryo to decide when to start growing.

For only a few years, it has been clear that bacteria are completely dominant in a healthy human being: On top of our ten billion body cells, there are one hundred billion microbial cells that play a role in our metabolism. This enormously increases the options for our bodily processes: If we include the microbes’ genes, then we have over 100,000 genes at our disposal, as opposed to just over 20,000.

the evidence lined up to support the anti-insect hypothesis...overlaying the ranges of various biting flies and insects with the places where zebras, and their non-striped cousins like the Asiatic wild ass, ranged...You find striping where you have high biting fly abundance... One question is about the flies—why are they repulsed by black and white? Another is whether the zebras adapted this anti-fly defense because they are particularly susceptible to blood loss, or to diseases the flies carry.

To the 78 organs that make up the human body, a group of scientists says we should add one more... the mesentery is actually one single band of tissue, beginning at the pancreas and continuing down through the small intestine and colon, wrapping around these vital organs to hold them tight and help them maintain their structure. It is made of a folded-over ribbon of peritoneum, a type of tissue usually found lining the abdominal cavity.

Soil is the second biggest reservoir of carbon...next to the oceans. It holds four times more carbon than all the plants and trees in the world. But human activity...is ruining our soils... As our soils degrade, they are losing their ability to hold carbon ... There is, however, a solution ... we can regenerate degraded soils by switching from intensive industrial farming to more ecological methods ... as the soils recover...they begin to actively pull additional CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Of the 911 reefs ARC surveyed this year, only 68 — 7 percent — escaped bleaching, while between 60 and 100 percent of corals were found to be severely bleached on 316 reefs. Coral bleaching is a phenomenon in which stressed corals expel algae and turn white. If not given time to recover, bleached corals can perish ... There’s no denying the Great Barrier Reef is in serious trouble, having been hammered in recent years by El Niño and climate change ... But as a whole, it is not dead

The rat’s primary survival skill, as a species, is its unnerving rate of reproduction. Female rats ovulate every four days, copulate dozens of times a day and remain fertile until they die. (Like humans, they have sex for pleasure as well as for procreation.) This is how you go from two to 15,000 in a single year. When poison or traps thin out a population, they mate faster until their numbers regenerate. Conversely, if you can keep them from mating, colonies collapse in weeks and do not rebound

all plants...orient their flowers and leaves to follow the sun as it moves across the sky. But it’s sunflowers that are the most obvious about it ... botanists have long wondered is just how the sunflower and similar types of flowers manage this mobility. In a study published in Science, a team of researchers at last answer those questions, finding the solutions partly in genes, partly in hormones and partly in the sunflower’s need to make friends with its favorite pollinator—the bee.

Oregon's humongous fungus qualifies as the world's largest organism: every part of the enormous network shares the same genome, and so the network would qualify as a single biological thing ... In fact, the biological individuality of something like a whale or a sauropod is even more controversial than the individuality of the fungal network: some philosophers of biology dispute the biological individuality of organisms, but relatively few dispute that genes are biological individuals.