Articles that explore the ways in which the environment influences gene expression and epigenetic marks, including information on pollution, toxins, and global warming.

Epigenetic Mechanism Can Repair Plants Damaged By Stress

October 8, 2019 Andrea P

Plants are an integral part of our ecosystem, major contributors to everything from purifying air quality all the way through providing a critical source of food within the food chain. They are constantly subjected to every environmental stressor imaginable, from natural disasters through manmade pollution. Understanding their relative vulnerability and their potential stress tolerance sheds light on how secure they are within our ecosystems, as well as what we can potentially try to do to protect them.  Protecting plant genetic material is [more…]

Epigenetic Changes May Pass Avoidance Behavior Down Multiple Generations

September 10, 2019 Andrea P

Science classes teach that an individual’s traits are mainly encoded in their genetic sequence—or DNA—which then gets transcribed into RNA that subsequently gets translated into the proteins that carry out cellular functions. But while this is generally true for the majority of traits, it does not account for how all characteristics are passed down across generations. It turns out, epigenetics may play a large role in how traits are inherited. Researchers at Princeton’s Department of Molecular Biology and the Lewis-Sigler [more…]

Popular Herbicide May Epigenetically Promote Health Problems In Descendants

July 2, 2019 Natalie Crowley

For decades, farmers and homeowners alike have been eradicating unwanted weeds and vegetation with Roundup. While it’s been an effective herbicide and widely used in the US, its main ingredient has been causing much debate in recent years with claims linking its use to cancer and other conditions. Now, scientists are finding that exposure to this weed killer could also be responsible for damaging the health of future generations via inherited epigenetic defects. Glyphosate, or N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine was first discovered [more…]

Seed Dormancy Stems from the Mother Plant Via Epigenetics

April 2, 2019 Natalie Crowley

The seed stage is an integral part of a plant’s life cycle and necessary for species’ survival. As the dispersal unit of the organism, the seed must be able to sustain extended periods of unfavorable conditions if necessary. It does this by remaining dormant, thereby delaying germination until the environment is ideal. Biologists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland previously revealed that seed dormancy is inherited from the mother plant. Now, this same team has uncovered how this maternal [more…]

Depression Could Severely Increase Epigenetic Aging

November 27, 2018 Tim Barry

Depression can certainly take its toll on a variety of physical and mental processes, so it’s no surprise that major depression often coincides with a shortened lifespan. Now scientists are finding that there may be more to this link than just purely an unfortunate coincidence. According to a new study, major depression disorder (MDD) may actually speed up the aging process on a molecular level and the results illuminate a significant epigenetic mechanism. MDD is a very common mental disorder [more…]

Fluoride’s Epigenetic Effect on Bone Development

November 6, 2018 Natalie Crowley

When it comes to dental health, fluoride is considered a champion against tooth decay. It’s in just about every brand of toothpaste, even added to our drinking water here in the US. But fluoride is a chemical and too much of it can be toxic. Excessive exposure to fluoride has been shown to cause adverse health effects, many of which cannot be corrected.  While several studies have examined chronic fluoride exposure and its link to certain conditions, little is known [more…]

Epigenetic Mark Found in Microbiome Could Help Prevent Digestive Disorders

September 25, 2018 Tim Barry

Maintaining a healthy diet can be incredibly difficult to do, especially with the temptations of junk food, alcohol, and sweets. Often times we are in a rush to get to plans that we’ve made, or go grab a drink after work, and we forget to prioritize putting nutritious foods in our bodies. As a result, most of us follow a western diet in our everyday lives, because the foods are more readily available (and seem to taste better). This diet [more…]

Epigenetics and Diet May Determine Who Becomes Queen Bee

September 18, 2018 Lisa Fox

Swords and stones might determine royalty in England, but scientists discovered that in honeybees, the deciding factor may be epigenetics. A recent study suggests that histone modifications, including histone methylation and histone acetylation, could determine whether bee larvae develop into workers or a queen. Interestingly, the bees’ diet was found to influence these epigenetic marks. Diet can have a significant impact in human epigenetics, and could influence a person’s disease risk and mental ability. “Think of the genome as the [more…]

One Night Without Sleep Could Trigger Epigenetic Changes and Weight Gain

September 4, 2018 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Even just one night of sleep loss could lead to epigenetic changes that tweak our metabolism and regulation of gene expression, a new study suggests. Researchers at Uppsala University found that one night without sleep was linked to alteration of the human epigenome, weight gain, and the loss of lean muscle mass. Previous research has shown that skipping sleep lowers the body’s protective antioxidant levels and leads to epigenetic changes. Sleep deprivation can also impact histone modifications and impair memory. [more…]

Exposure to Cold Temperatures Can Change Our Gene Expression and Fat Cells

August 14, 2018 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Long-term exposure to cold temperatures could actually affect our gene expression and influence our fat cells, a recent study suggests. Research published in Nature Communications offers more evidence on how lifestyle choices and exposure to our environment can dictate the way our genes express themselves, an overarching theme of epigenetics. A group of researchers based out of Tokyo worked alongside colleagues from around the world to track changes to the epigenome following long-term exposure to cold temperatures. They discovered that [more…]

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