281 articles from THURSDAY 2.7.2020

Why are the offspring of older mothers less fit to live long and prosper?

The offspring of older mothers don't fare as well as those of younger mothers, in humans and many other species. They aren't as healthy, or they don't live as long, or they have fewer offspring themselves. A longstanding puzzle is why evolution would maintain this maternal effect in so many species, since these late-born offspring are less fit to survive and reproduce.

Research reflects how AI sees through the looking glass

Intrigued by how reflection changes images in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, a team of researchers used artificial intelligence to investigate what sets originals apart from their reflections. Their algorithms learned to pick up on unexpected clues such as hair parts, gaze direction and, surprisingly, beards - findings with implications for training machine learning models and detecting faked...

How the body fights off urinary tract infections

Some people are better protected than others against urinary tract infections. This may be because their bodies produce more of a protein called uromodulin. An interdisciplinary research team has now found out exactly how this helper protein brings relief when nature calls and how this knowledge might benefit the treatment and prevention of these painful inflammations.

Why are the offspring of older mothers less fit to live long and prosper?

In a new study in rotifers (microscopic invertebrates), scientists tested the evolutionary fitness of older-mother offspring in several real and simulated environments, including laboratory culture, under threat of predation in the wild, or with reduced food supply. They confirmed that this effect of older maternal age, called maternal effect senescence, does reduce evolutionary fitness of the...

Sniffing out smell: How the brain organizes information about odors

Neuroscientists describe for the first time how relationships between different odors are encoded in the brain. The findings suggest a mechanism that may explain why individuals have common but highly personalized experiences with smell, and inform efforts better understand how the brain transforms information about odor chemistry into the perception of smell.

Grassroots dog vaccinations can help stop rabies, but not alone

While scientists are trying to find a vaccine for COVID-19, the rabies virus continues to kill 59,000 people every year. But unlike COVID, a vaccine has existed for more than a century. Vaccinating dogs can stop the spread to humans, but systemic challenges make that easier said that done. In a new study, scientists where grassroots campaigns to stop rabies work -- and where they need to be...

New method measures temperature within 3D objects

Engineers have made it possible to remotely determine the temperature beneath the surface of certain materials using a new technique they call depth thermography. The method may be useful in applications where traditional temperature probes won't work, like monitoring semiconductor performance or next-generation nuclear reactors.

Moss protein corrects genetic defects of other plants

Almost all land plants employ an army of molecular editors who correct errors in their genetic information. Researchers have now transferred one of these proofreaders from the moss Physcomitrium patens (previously known as Physcomitrella patens) into a flowering plant. Surprisingly, it performs its work there as reliably as in the moss itself.

New light-based method for faster 'green' production of building blocks for medicines

In industry, gaseous hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane are frequently changed into molecules that can act as building blocks for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Typically, these processes take place at high temperatures and pressures, and can also produce large amounts of pollutants. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have developed a new method for the immediate...

Rising water temperatures could endanger the mating of many fish species

In a new meta-study, experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have published groundbreaking findings on the effects of climate change for fish stocks around the globe. As they report, the risks for fish are much higher than previously assumed, especially given that in certain developmental stages, they are especially sensitive to rising water...

Anaplasmosis bacterium tinkers with tick's gene expression to spread to new hosts

For the first time, scientists have shown that the bacterium that causes the tick-borne disease anaplasmosis interferes with tick gene expression for its survival inside cells and to spread to a new vertebrate host. Girish Neelakanta of Old Dominion University and colleagues report these findings in a study published July 2nd in PLOS Genetics.

Scientists dissociate water apart efficiently with new catalysts

University of Oregon chemists have made substantial gains in enhancing the catalytic water dissociation reaction in electrochemical reactors, called bipolar membrane electrolyzers, to more efficiently rip apart water molecules into positively charged protons and negatively charged hydroxide ions.

A phage-encoded anti-CRISPR enables complete evasion of type VI-A CRISPR-Cas immunity

The CRISPR RNA (crRNA)–guided nuclease Cas13 recognizes complementary viral transcripts to trigger the degradation of both host and viral RNA during the type VI CRISPR-Cas antiviral response. However, how viruses can counteract this immunity is not known. We describe a listeriaphage (LS46) encoding an anti-CRISPR protein (AcrVIA1) that inactivates the type VI-A CRISPR system of Listeria...

A piperidinium salt stabilizes efficient metal-halide perovskite solar cells

Longevity has been a long-standing concern for hybrid perovskite photovoltaics. We demonstrate high-resilience positive-intrinsic-negative perovskite solar cells by incorporating a piperidinium-based ionic compound into the formamidinium-cesium lead-trihalide perovskite absorber. With the bandgap tuned to be well suited for perovskite-on-silicon tandem cells, this piperidinium additive enhances...

An ideal Josephson junction in an ultracold two-dimensional Fermi gas

The role of reduced dimensionality in high-temperature superconductors is still under debate. Recently, ultracold atoms have emerged as an ideal model system to study such strongly correlated two-dimensional (2D) systems. Here, we report on the realization of a Josephson junction in an ultracold 2D Fermi gas. We measure the frequency of Josephson oscillations as a function of the phase difference...

C(sp3)-H functionalizations of light hydrocarbons using decatungstate photocatalysis in flow

Direct activation of gaseous hydrocarbons remains a major challenge for the chemistry community. Because of the intrinsic inertness of these compounds, harsh reaction conditions are typically required to enable C(sp3)–H bond cleavage, barring potential applications in synthetic organic chemistry. Here, we report a general and mild strategy to activate C(sp3)–H bonds in methane, ethane,...

Cell position fates and collective fountain flow in bacterial biofilms revealed by light-sheet microscopy

Bacterial biofilms represent a basic form of multicellular organization that confers survival advantages to constituent cells. The sequential stages of cell ordering during biofilm development have been studied in the pathogen and model biofilm-former Vibrio cholerae. It is unknown how spatial trajectories of individual cells and the collective motions of many cells drive biofilm expansion. We...

Development of an inactivated vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in an unprecedented public health crisis. Because of the novelty of the virus, there are currently no SARS-CoV-2–specific treatments or vaccines available. Therefore, rapid development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are urgently needed. Here, we...

Feasibility of blood testing combined with PET-CT to screen for cancer and guide intervention

Cancer treatments are often more successful when the disease is detected early. We evaluated the feasibility and safety of multicancer blood testing coupled with positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) imaging to detect cancer in a prospective, interventional study of 10,006 women not previously known to have cancer. Positive blood tests were independently confirmed by a...