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Scientists find 27 new viruses in bees

Gorkha Post

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WASHINGTON — A team of international researchers have discovered 27 new, previously unknown viruses in bees.

The finding, published in journal Scientific Reports, could help scientists design strategies to prevent the spread of viral pathogens among these important pollinators.

“Populations of bees around the world are declining, and viruses are known to contribute to these declines,” said David Galbraith, research scientist at Bristol Myers Squibb and a recent Penn State graduate.

“Despite the importance of bees as pollinators of flowering plants in agricultural and natural landscapes and the importance of viruses to bee health, our understanding of bee viruses is surprisingly limited.”

For the study, the team collected samples of DNA and RNA, which is responsible for the synthesis of proteins, from 12 bee species in nine countries across the world to investigate viruses in bees.

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They, then, developed a technique that efficiently detected both previously identified and 27 never-seen-before viruses belonging to at least six new families in a single experiment.

Among the new viruses the team identified was one that is similar to a virus that infects plants.

“It is possible that bees may acquire viruses from plants, and could then spread these viruses to other plants, posing a risk to agricultural crops,” said Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State.

The team also found that some of the viruses exist in multiple bee species — such as in honey bees and in bumble bees.
Galbraith added, “This finding highlights the importance of monitoring bee populations brought into the United States due to the potential for these species to transmit viruses to local pollinator populations.”

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NASA’s Parker spacecraft rockets toward sun for closest look

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CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA has launched a spacecraft to the sun which will fly closer to our star than anything ever sent before. The Parker Solar Probe rocketed away from Cape Canaveral, Florida, early Sunday.

The spacecraft is on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the wispy edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) from the sun’s surface that was visible during last August’s total solar eclipse.

It will eventually stay comfortably cool despite the extreme heat and radiation allowing scientists to vicariously explore the sun in a way never before possible.

Saturday morning’s launch attempt was foiled by last-minute technical trouble and postponed by a day.

But what better day to launch to the sun than Sunday, as NASA noted.

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“Fly baby girl, fly!!” project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University tweeted just before lift-off. She urged it to “go touch the sun!”

“All I can say is, ‘Wow, here we go.’ We’re in for some learning over the next several years,” said Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.

It was the first time NASA named a spacecraft after someone still alive, and Parker wasn’t about to let it take off without him.

Thousands of spectators jammed the launch site in the middle of the night as well as surrounding towns, including Parker and his family.

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