A molecular mimic designed to promote plant growth and limit witchweed infestation shows promise in initial trials.
An Oregon State University study has identified four new species of parasitic, cockroach-killing ensign wasps that became encased in tree resin 25 million years ago and were preserved as the resin fossilized into amber.
One of the basic approaches in organic farming is to use organisms beneficial to the system to combat pests. The bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens is one such beneficial organism. Yet, it seems this is not the only ability of Photorhabdus that can be exploited for organic plant cultivation. A German research team has discovered additional properties that could significantly extend its range of uses.
Scientists are planning for Phase 1 human trials of a vaccine they developed by using CRISPR gene-editing technology to mutate the parasite that causes leishmaniasis, a skin disease common in tropical regions of the world and gaining ground in the United States.
A multi-disciplinary research collaboration which was led by Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), created a field-applicable, ultrasensitive diagnostic assay that specifically detects DNA sequences from all Plasmodium species in symptomatic and asymptomatic malaria. The new malaria diagnostic method combines an optimized 10-minute rapid sample preparation protocol with the CRISPR-based SHERLOCK system to enable highly specific and sensitive Plasmodium detection in another 60 minutes in simple reporter devices.
By comparing genetic variants differing in the two fly populations, researchers found that polygenic traits led to the quickness of adaptation; many genes, each with very small effects, worked together to determine the rate of development. The research illustrates that crop pests and insect disease vectors with similar biology may rapidly respond to changing climates by a similar genetic mechanism.
Princeton researchers Rachel Kaletsky, Rebecca Moore, Coleen Murphy and colleagues have discovered that the microscopic roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans recognizes a small RNA made by a pathogenic bacterium, and uses that RNA to convey learned avoidance of the bacterium to offspring. Their work appears in the Sept. 9, 2020 issue of Nature.
Researchers at the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam have documented what biologists call a "host shift" of the coconut rhinoceros beetle in Guam. The beetle, first documented as an invasive species in Guam in 2007, has been devastating the island's ubiquitous coconut trees and is now also burrowing into Guam's endangered native cycad tree, Cycas micronesica.
The secret of how the Dantu genetic blood variant helps to protect against malaria has been revealed for the first time by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya. The team found that red blood cells in people with the rare Dantu blood variant have a higher surface tension that prevents them from being invaded by the world's deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.
A tick species associated with bats has been reported for the first time in New Jersey and could pose health risks to people, pets and livestock, according to a Rutgers-led study in the Journal of Medical Entomology. This species (Carios kelleyi) is a "soft" tick. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, are an example of "hard" ticks.