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Some bacteria can take in DNA from the environment and add those pieces to their own genome, writes Michael Marshall at the New Scientist. This, he adds, is an often-overlooked mechanism of evolution.

Søren Overballe-Petersen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark has found that bacteria can even incorporate DNA from long-dead organisms, Marshall writes. Overballe-Petersen fed bits of degraded synthetic DNA to Acinetobacter baylyi, finding that the bug sopped them up. It also took up DNA from an old mammoth bone he broke up.

Marshall adds that just what bacteria are doing with these extra pieces of DNA is unclear. But, he says, it may have been a key mechanism driving the early evolution of life as microorganisms traded genes amongst themselves.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.