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Malaria is often transmitted through mosquitoes that are infected with the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Flckr CC by Yasser
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying summer-time pests: they also put about half of the world’s population at risk for malaria, infecting around 300 million victims annually. With increased insecticide use, populations of little blood suckers who’ve evolved resistance to our poisons pose a new risk.
A new study from the University of Maryland demonstrates how a mosquito-slaying fungus genetically altered to produce spider and scorpion toxins could help solve this insecticide resistance dilemma.
“The World Health Organization has called on new approaches, new types of insecticide, new approaches to knock back the mosquitos,” says coauthor Raymond John St. Leger, a professor of entomology. “Our products, our transgenic products, are one of the outcomes that were requested.”
The fungus used in this study, Metarhizium pingshaensei, is a known mosquito killer. However, it takes quite a while for the fungus to do the deed naturally.
“The fungus normally takes a very long time, because it want to drain the insect of its resources,” says St. Leger.
St. Leger and his colleagues wanted to speed the process up, so they created transgenic strains of fungi using two toxins from the North African desert scorpion Androctonus australis and the Australian Blue Mountains funnel-web spider Hadronyche versuta. The scorpion toxin blocks sodium channels and the spider toxin blocks both potassium and calcium channels, going beyond the impact of an ordinary insecticide. With those toxins in the mix, a single fungal spore is enough to infect and kill a mosquito. According to St. Leger, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Even before death, the study reports, nearly 100 percent of the insects infected by the hybrid fungi were rendered unable to transmit malaria in as little as five days, which surpasses the World Health Organization’s threshold for a successful vector control agent.
An unfortunate mosquito meeting her end—by resting on a fungus-coated sheet. Brian Lovett
The best part? These toxins have already been approved by the EPA, and they only affect the targeted insects because of very specific promoters which only drive the expression of the toxin in the insect’s blood (the engineered fungal strains did no harm during a test run on honeybees). This means the toxin shouldn’t be able to run wild.
The University of Maryland research teamed up with scientists at the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé/Centre Muraz, Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. Coauthor and graduate student Brian Lovett says this institute was instrumental in the development of insecticide treated bed nets.
“This area in particular has seen sort of the rise of this new technology, insecticide treated bed nets, which has done a whole lot to malaria in the area, but they’ve also seen sort of the decline of this, as resistance has come on the rise,” says Lovett. “New technologies, like the ones we are trying to develop, are hopefully going to be able to integrate well with these other technologies in development.”
St. Leger says that the fungus is suspended into locally available sesame oil, which is then spread out on locally available black sheets and hung in houses. Mosquitos are attracted to black, and if they rest on the sheets they will pick up the fungal infection, bringing them to their doom.
The researchers will soon test the spores on mosquitoes in an enclosure made of netting, as well as testing the fungus on similar species such as midges and gnats. St. Leger says it’s also important to keep an open dialogue with the people that could benefit from the product.
“We’re always getting more safety tests, always talking to people,” he says. “Local people, experts in the field, government. But in the terminology of trade it’s called the stakeholders, the people who will be impacted by our technology.”
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During the Cold War, the United States produced a truly mind-boggling amount of radioactive waste. We failed to properly dispose of much of that sludge, and it’s been leaking from underground storage tanks since the 1950s. Over the years it has contaminated more than 2 billion cubic feet worth of soil and nearly 800 billion gallons of groundwater at low levels.
Cleaning this mess up will be a daunting task, but scientists have just enlisted a new ally. It turns out our best bet for containing radioactive waste might be to stick yeast on it. Many of these tiny fungi can survive extremely radioactive and acidic conditions, scientists reported January 8 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. What’s more, they form gunk called biofilms that could potentially trap the waste.
“The potential for yeast is enormous,” says coauthor Michael Daly, a pathology professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland. “You have a huge group of organisms that are already there, naturally in the environment, that could be harvested for this sort of work.”
The scale of the problem these yeasts would tackle is almost indescribably vast, Daly says. Radioactive waste from the 46,000 nuclear weapons built between 1945 and 1986 is stored in 120 sites around the country. The largest is the sprawling Hanford Site in southeastern Washington, where the first atomic bombs were assembled during the Manhattan Project. It houses more than 50 million gallons of waste.
Leakage at Hanford has contaminated enough soil and sediments to bury 10,000 football fields a yard deep, and polluted enough groundwater to keep Niagara Falls flowing for a month. It’s mostly contained within the soils and aquifers at Hanford, Daly says, although small amounts are slowly seeping into the nearby Columbia River.
The Cold War waste is an assortment of radioactive versions of elements such as strontium, uranium, and plutonium: acids once used to extract metal out of uranium ores, heavy metals like mercury and lead, and toxic chemicals. Scientists have long hoped to find microbes tough enough defang or capture it, a technique known as bioremediation. Bacteria and other microorganisms are relatively cheap to grow and could use a few tricks to neutralize these lethal materials. Certain microbes can catch radioactive waste so rain doesn’t wash it away, feed on toxic chemicals, or transform heavy metals or these chemicals into less dangerous states.
For decades, Daly and his colleagues have tried to harness a microbe so tough its nickname is Conan the Bacterium. This microbe, more properly called Deinococcus radiodurans, is one of the most radiation-resistant life forms we know of (it can also withstand drought, lack of food, extreme temperatures, and the vacuum of space). Over time, scientists managed to genetically engineer this bacterium to have the ability to transform toxic chemicals and heavy metals into less deadly forms. But they just couldn’t get it to thrive in acidic conditions. “At the end of the day the damn thing wouldn’t grow at lemon juice pH ranges,” Daly says.
The mighty Deinococcus radiodurans can survive high levels of radiation but is sensitive to acid. TEM of D. radiodurans acquired in the laboratory of Michael Daly, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, USA
He and his colleagues decided to search for better candidates in nature, and sampled microbes from deserts, mines, rivers, and hot springs around the world. The most promising was a red-hued fungus from an abandoned acid mine drainage facility in Maryland. The yeast, a species called Rhodotorula taiwanensis, surprised the researchers with its endurance in the face of acid and chronic radiation. On top of this, it tolerates heavy metals and even forms biofilms under these trying circumstances, a trick Conan never mastered.
The researchers tested a total of 27 yeasts to see if they could handle exposure to noxious substances like mercury chloride. “These are really, really toxic heavy metals,” Daly says. “If we got a little bit in us they would kill us, and these microbes are flourishing in these mixtures of heavy metals, radiation, and [acid].”
Most bacteria can’t tolerate acidity or radiation, but both skills turn out to be very common among yeasts. “They are masters of the low-pH world,” Daly says. On the other hand, fungi tend to be more sensitive to heat than bacteria. R. taiwanensis prefers to grow around room temperature, but the decaying nuclear wastes can heat the soil around the steel storage tanks to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This wouldn’t necessarily thwart the microbes, though. Placed a small distance away from the storage tanks, the yeasts could capture leaking waste without succumbing to the warmth.
Ideally, different strains of yeasts and bacteria could team up, says Rok Tkavc, an adjunct pathology professor and staff scientist at the Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine at USU. He recently reported that when Deinococcus radiodurans mixes with other bacteria it seems to endow its neighbors with radiation resistance. These cocktails could potentially be used to combat radioactive waste released by nuclear meltdowns as well as that left over from the Cold War.
For the Hanford Site, a successful cleanup would mean keeping radioactive elements out of the Columbia River for the thousands of years it takes them to decay to less dangerous forms. “We cannot get rid of the radiation; no one can do that,” Daly says. “The only thing we can conceivably do to protect ourselves is to contain it, to keep it from coming out.”
Mosquitoes Have a Bizarre Sense of Smell, Study Finds New research finds that the unconventional way mosquitoes process odors could help explain why they are so good at finding humans to bite
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have started to expand their typical range as the climate warms, making the quest to intervene with the disease-spreading insects even more urgent. Photo by LoveSilhouette/iStock
MosquitoesMosquitoes Have a Bizarre Sense of Smell, Study Finds The unconventional way mosquitoes process odors could help explain why they are so good at finding humans to bite
If you’ve ever sprayed yourself head to toe in bug repellent, yet still felt like a mosquito magnet, it will come as no shock to you that mosquitoes are very, very good at finding humans to bite. One key factor in this superpower is their keen sense of smell, or olfaction, which relies on the olfactory system.
“Mosquitoes are highly specialized,” says Meg Younger, a Boston University College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of biology, who studies mosquito olfaction. These relentless, buzzing creatures are designed to find us, bite us, use proteins in our blood to reproduce—and repeat. Mosquitoes, as much as they feel like a seasonal nuisance in the Northeast United States, are deadly creatures that kill more people than any other animal in the world. Depending on where they live, certain types of mosquitoes transmit diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus, dengue, eastern equine encephalitis, and others. And warmer, dry, and tropical climates battle mosquitoes all year long.
Younger is working to crack the code on how mosquitoes use their sense of smell to track us, in order to better understand how we can repel them more effectively. In a new paper published in Cell, Younger and her colleagues describe the unique and previously unknown way Aedes aegypti mosquitoes process smell at the biological level; their findings are a departure from the central theories that previously guided our understanding of insect olfaction.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes normally inhabit warm, tropical climates, and have caused minor outbreaks of dengue in southern states like Florida and Texas. But in recent years, they’ve been spotted as far north as Connecticut, raising alarm bells about what to expect as global temperatures continue to warm.
“This is part of why this work is going to get more and more important,” says Younger, who began the study while completing postdoctoral research with Leslie B. Vosshall at The Rockefeller University, a biomedical research-focused institution in New York.How Smell Works
For humans, scents are registered in the brain by a flow of communication that begins in the nose, which is lined with special cells called olfactory sensory neurons. These neurons—which house sensory receptors, specialized molecules that are stimulated by odor particles—act as detectors of odor and as messengers to the brain.
“The central dogma in olfaction is that sensory neurons, for us in our nose, each express one type of olfactory receptor,” Younger says. This is the underlying organizational principle of olfaction: one receptor to one neuron. For example, the smell of a freshly baked apple pie is actually a chemical code created by different odor molecules. As the distinct smell wafts into our noses, it triggers sensory receptors that match the different odor molecules; corresponding neurons then communicate to a brain region called the olfactory bulb—or the antenna lobe in insects—where it maps the odor code.
According to the study findings, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes’ olfactory system is organized very differently, with multiple sensory receptors housed within one neuron, a process called gene coexpression. This uniquely specialized olfactory system could help explain why mosquitoes are so good at sniffing out humans to bite.
“This is shockingly weird,” says Younger, who initially thought her look into mosquito sensory neurons would prove it to be like every other olfactory system, like in flies and mice. The difference might seem technical, but it suggests that mosquitoes’ sense of smell is highly attuned to humans. “It’s not what we expected,” she says.
Past research has found that even eliminating entire receptors in mosquitoes that are used for decoding carbon dioxide—a major chemical cue that they use to hunt humans—does not interfere with them finding people. Younger’s latest study may indicate one reason why.
In her lab at BU, Younger is raising mosquitoes in incubators and using modern genetic tools to understand olfaction in ways that were not possible a decade ago. For this study, the researchers developed mosquitoes that would light up under the microscope when exposed to certain smells—they expressed fluorescent proteins that glow under the microscope, allowing the researchers to see chemical responses to odorants. They also used CRISPR (which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and is a genetic tool created to edit DNA in living organisms) technology to label different groups of sensory neurons, while preserving the function of the cell proteins.
All of the results point to an olfactory system that is unconventional in the way that it coexpresses sensory receptors within individual sensory neurons. This suggests redundancy in the code for human odor—and possibly a stronger sense of smell that draws mosquitoes to humans. The next step is figuring out what role coexpression plays in driving the behaviors of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
“A compelling idea is that it’s making them good at finding people,” Younger says. Her long-term goal is to intervene in mosquito biting by generating new, improved repellents, or attractants that are more appealing to mosquitoes than human blood. “As we learn about how odor is encoded in their olfactory system, we can create compounds that are more effective based on their biology,” she says.
Until then, Younger uses bug spray—brands with 15 to 25 percent DEET or picaridin tend to be rated most effective—to protect herself from mosquitoes outdoors. Eventually, with more and more research, she hopes there will be a better option.
This research received support from the National Institutes of Health.
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This post has been updated. It was originally published on June 28, 2023.
The first half of this week has been unprecedentedly hot in the Northwest region of the US and western Canada—this is the most intense heatwave to ever hit the region. After an already scorching and record-breaking weekend, with temperatures as high as 112 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland and 108 in Seattle, thermometers crept even higher Monday and Tuesday, sometimes exceeding 30 degrees above the normal daily temperature. Thankfully, most of the heat had passed by Wednesday, as temperatures settle towards the weekend.
The unbearably high temperatures have led to the suspension of pandemic-related capacity limits across Oregon at swimming pools, movie theaters, shopping malls, cooling centers, and public transit to make sure people have access to air conditioning or other places to find refuge from the heat. In some parts of the country that are being hit, air conditioning in homes isn’t common—in Seattle, only 44 percent of homes are air-conditioned.
On top of a low rate of air-conditioned homes and a significant population of people without housing, the uncharacteristically high overnight lows proved deadly. In Oregon alone, 63 people died due to heatwave-related causes—45 of these were due to hyperthermia, according to Reuters. That’s nearly four times as many deaths in just one week than all hyperthermia deaths in the state between 2023 and 2023. British Columbia reported at least 486 sudden deaths over the five day period, as temperatures surged above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in some regions.
[Related: Earth used to be cooler than we thought, which changes our math on global warming]
“We’ve never had this type of heat for so many days, it’s a public-health emergency,” Dan Douthit, a spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, told the Wall Street Journal. But these types of heat waves could become more common. A study released last month tied more than a third of heat-related deaths to a changing climate.
Agriculture is also bearing the heat head-on. Strawberry farms are drying out and endangered salmon species face increasingly warm and unhealthy waters. Meanwhile, many workers in strawberry fields and cherry farms have been forced to work in dangerous conditions as their employers fret about whether their perishable crops will survive the heat. At least one farmworker has died as a result.
The reason for all the maddening weather can largely be attributed to a heat dome—a high-pressure system that sits on top of a region, capturing extra heat over the area and warming it up faster (think putting a lid on a pot of boiling water). Earlier this month, the Southwestern US saw record-breaking temperatures amped up to extreme levels thanks to this same heat dome that has now moved north.
“It’s the same high-pressure pattern we’ve had parked over the West; it just kind of moves north and south or east and west. It moves and strengthens and weakens,” Andrea Bair, the climate services program manager for the National Weather Service’s western region, told National Geographic.
[Related: Did the dip in carbon emissions during the pandemic really help the atmosphere?]
More heatwaves like this one are likely, thanks to a changing climate that will only grow more troublesome in the years to come—something that worries experts, especially when it comes to typically colder areas of the US. Additionally, low-income communities with less tree cover face even deadlier effects than their wealthier counterparts, even in the same cities.
“Unfortunately we’re not well-prepared, generally speaking in the Pacific Northwest, for heat,” Vivek Shandas, a professor of climate adaptation and urban policy at Portland State University, told CNN. “Our [power] grids are largely taxed during the wintertime for heating purposes, but in the summer, there’s a lot less capacity in the grid to be able to actually manage some of the major drains on cooling infrastructure that’s needed.” Shandas told CNN he didn’t have an AC unit in his home until last week.
The Western half of the US is still facing exceptional droughts on top of exceptionally warm days, which creates a kind of feedback loop, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told National Geographic. “You have this further self-reinforcing cycle between heat waves and droughts that are being made worse by climate change on top of the linear warming trend,” he said.
Scorching days in mild-weather climates may be alarming and record-breaking now, but they are only going to get more common as time goes on.
The Bihar Staff Selection Commission is going to organize CGL 3 Exam on 23.12.2023 & 24.12.2023 in which all the registered applicants will appear. Almost every Graduate in the State of Bihar has applied for this exam and is preparing to score good marks. As per notice available online, BSSC CGL Exam Date 2023 is going to be scheduled on 23, 24 December 2023. Now if you have also applied for this exam then you can Download BSSC CGL Admit Card 2023 from 12th December and then attempt the exam. Candidates were eagerly waiting for the announcement of Bihar Graduate Level Admit Card 2023 and now the wait is over because Admit Cards are going to be issued today. Bssc.bihar.gov.in CGL Admit Card 2023 Link is curated below for your reference. You should prepare well in the remaining days and then score a good rank in this exam to get a Government Job.BSSC CGL Admit Card 2023
The BSSC CGL Admit Card 2023 will be uploaded today on Official Website chúng tôi Candidates have to ensure that they get their hall ticket before exam date and it will be available to download from 12th December onwards. All of you have to use your Application Number with Password to get the valid copy of Hall Ticket. Now after downloading the 3rd Graduate Level Exam Admit Card, you have to verify your name in it and then also check the exam center details on it. Admit Card ensures that you are an eligible candidate to appear in examination and your application is approved by Bihar Staff Selection Commission. As per information available with, Admit Cards will be uploaded on 12th December 2023 @ chúng tôi which you can get easily using the link given below.Bihar Graduate Level Admit Card 2023
The Online Application Form Link was opened by Bihar Staff Selection Commission on 14th April 2023.
Recently, BSSC CGL Exam Date was announced and it is scheduled on 23.12.2023 & 24.12.2023.
On 12th December 2023, Bihar Graduate Level Admit Card was issued to all the candidates in order to appear in the examination.
Now make sure you get your copy of the BSSC CGL Admit Card 2023 before the exam date and then attempt the examination with preparation.
Commission NameBSSC (Bihar Staff Selection Commission)ExamBSSC 3rd CGL Exam 2023Total Vacancies2248Online Form Date14th April to 1st June 2023Total ApplicantsMultipleBSSC CGL Exam Date 202323.12.2023 & 24.12.2023BSSC CGL Revised Exam Date 20235th Mar 2023BSSC CGL Mains Exam Date 202323rd July 2023Exam ModeOfflineBihar 3rd Graduate Level Admit Card 2023 Download Date12th December 2023Article CategoryAdmit CardOfficial chúng tôi and bssc.bihar.gov.in
Candidates worrying about BSSC CGL Exam Date 2023 should know that the Written Exam for this recruitment will be conducted on 23.12.2023 & 24.12.2023. Moreover, Admit Cards are being issued on 12th December 2023 for all the eligible candidates and it can be downloaded from chúng tôi using the Registered Email ID and Password. Clear information related to the exam like center location, timing and other details.Bssc.bihar.gov.in CGL Admit Card 2023
The Bihar 3rd CGL Exam is being conducted on 23th and 24th December 2023 across multiple centers in the State.
Exams will be conducted in Offline Mode in which 150 Questions are asked for 600 Marks.
Negative Marking will be applicable on Wrong Answers attempted by candidates.
45% Marks are required in the Written Exam of Graduate Level Recruitment to qualify it.
It is to inform you that bssc.bihar.gov.in CGL Admit Card 2023 will be available to Download on 12th December 2023.Process to Download BSSC CGL Admit Card 2023
Open the chúng tôi or chúng tôi to visit the official website of CGL Exam.
Now you have to select the 3rd CGL Link given on the Homepage.
Thirdly, select the Admit Card notification mentioned over there and further visit the link given on notice.
Now enter your Email ID and Password which you used while filling the Application Form.
Next page will open up with your Call Letter and other information related to the exam which you have to note down.
Now Download the BSSC CGL Admit Card 2023 as visible on screen and take a print out for exam day.
So using this method you can Download BSSC 3rd CGL Admit Card 2023 PDF from the official website.BSSC Graduate Level Call Letter 2023
The Official Website to Download BSSC Graduate Level Call Letter 2023 is chúng tôi or chúng tôi Admit Cards will be available to Download on both websites and you can use your Email ID and Password to get the call letter. Make sure you read all the details and instructions mentioned on the Admit Card to appear in examination. Also ensure that you carry the Valid Photo ID Card issued to you by the Government for verification. Invigilators in the exam will allot you seat number where you have to sit and attempt the exam. Make sure you do not try to cheat in the exam otherwise you will be debarred from selection and no registration in future will be accepted by BSSC.FAQs on BSSC CGL 3 Admit Card 2023
When is BSSC CGL 3 Admit Card 2023 coming?
BSSC 3rd Graduate Level Admit Card 2023 will be available to Download from 12th December 2023.
On Which Website will be Bihar 3rd Graduate Level Admit Card 2023 Come?
You have to visit chúng tôi to Download 3rd Graduate Level Admit Card.
How many Questions are asked in the BSSC CGL Exam?
There are 150 Questions for 600 Marks in the Bihar Graduate Level Exam 2023.
What is the BSSC CGL Exam Date 2023?
On 23.12.2023 & 24.12.2023 BSSC CGL exam 2023 will be conducted.
Major Skyrim Dragonborn details leak out
Xbox 360 players will be getting Skyrim’s latest expansion, Dragonborn, tomorrow, which means that there’s plenty of time left for new details to leak out. Leak they have, with one beta tester sharing all kinds of privileged information with The Out Housers late last week. We should probably warn you that pretty big spoilers wait after the jump, so if you’d rather find all of this out for yourself, don’t read any further than this sentence.
Now that the spoiler warning is out of the way, let’s jump in. Naturally, Dragonborn adds a bunch of new achievements, the descriptions of which give us clues as to what to expect in Dragonborn. There’s an achievement named DragonRider that requires you tame and ride five dragons, while another called Solstheim Explorer tasks you with discovering 30 locations on the island of Solstheim, where the expansion is set. It appears that Solstheim will be packed with things to do and places to visit, which is only a good thing.
There will be new shouts players can learn, including one named Cyclone (which is pretty self-explanatory – you summon a small tornado), and one named Bend Will that forces a dragon to fight alongside you. Dragon Aspect is one of the more interesting shouts added in Dragonborn, as it will outfit you in dragon armor, buff your shouts and melee attacks, and summon an ancient Dragonborn who will help you fend off attackers when your health is low. Dragon Aspect can only be used once a day, which is understandable considering how awesome it sounds.
Bethesda has added new dragon types to vanquish in Dragonborn, and it seems that the Morag Tong from Morrowind will be featured as well. There are new creatures called Lurkers that apparently put up quite a fight, and you’ll also encounter a werebear or two during your time on Solstheim. No one is sure if players can become werebears, but don’t be surprised if something along those lines is possible (or added later on).
New weapons and armor include the Chitin and Bonemold armors that were previously revealed, along with Deathbrand and Morag Tong armors. We heard that spears will be added in Dragonborn, but sadly, it seems that players can’t actually use them, as they’re added to the inventory as arrows when you loot them from enemies. The much-loved Waterwalking spell is making a return in Dragonborn, with Bethesda also adding staff enchanting and a new summoning power that the unnamed beta tester didn’t want to spoil.
Finally, players will be able to buy houses in Raven Rock and Tel Mithryn, with all sorts of new imperial forts, caves, landmarks, and Dwemer ruins to explore on the island of Solstheim. The tester reckons players can blow through Dragonborn’s main storyline in about 10 hours, but for what it’s worth, he says that after 30 hours of playtime he still hasn’t finished it. It looks like Dragonborn will be the expansion players have been waiting for, and it’s out on Xbox 360 tomorrow. Are you ready?
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