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Scientists find 27 new viruses in bees

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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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Google+ to shut down after private data of about 500,000 users exposed

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KATHMANDU — Alphabet Inc’s Google is going to shut down the consumer version of its failed social network Google+ and tighten its data-sharing policies after announcing that private profile data of about 500,000 users may have been exposed to hundreds of external developers, the company said on Monday.

Google, however, kept silent for more than six months its discovery of a bug that put at risk the personal data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users.

The issue was discovered and patched in March as part of a review of how Google shares data with other applications, Google said in a blog post.

But the delay until October in revealing the incident could reignite long-standing complaints from federal and state officials that tech giants such as Google are reckless with user privacy.

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Google feared disclosure would invite comparison to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.

The Journal reported that Google opted not to disclose the security issue at the time due to fears of regulatory scrutiny, citing unnamed sources and a memo prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff for senior executives, adding that chief executive Sundar Pichai had been briefed on the issue.

Google announced in its blog post Monday that it will mostly discontinue Google+ limiting it to only business and other enterprise customers.

The search engine giant has also announced new curbs on the information, such as call logs and contact lists, that outsider developers can gather on Android, the Google operating system used by most of the world’s smartphones. And it will also impose new limits on the data shared about users of its popular email service, Gmail.

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