Rhesus macaques live in social hierarchies, and for those at the bottom, well, life is not so great. After extensive studies on these macaques, scientists have found that low rank is correlated with poor health as well as physiological changes in stress-related hormones, sex hormones, and white blood cell counts.
In this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a new study went one step further to show that gene expression, especially that of immune-related genes, was also dependent on social rank. By following female rhesus macaques as their ranks changed over time, the researchers gathered evidence for causal link’s direction, too. It wasn’t that poor health lead to low social rank; it was falling on the social ladder that led to physiological and gene-regulation changes.
RNAs from rice can survive digestion and make their way into mammalian tissues, where they change the expression of genes.
What’s the News: It’s no secret that having lunch messes with your biochemistry. Once that sandwich hits your stomach, genes related to digestion have been activated and are causing the production of the many molecules that help break food down. But a new study suggests that the connection between your food’s biochemistry and your own may be more intimate than we thought. Tiny RNAs usually found in plants have been discovered circulating in blood, and animal studies indicate that they are directly manipulating the expression of genes.
All clones are not alike.
What’s the News: Foresters have long noticed that trees with the exact same genes, when raised in separate nurseries, have very different responses to drought. While one shoots up through lean times, the other droops. Why the divergence?
Scientists have now found that twin trees raised separately are, just like human twins, expressing different genes. In other words, nurture is affecting nature.