How giant viruses fuel the evolution of algae — ScienceDaily

Viruses are tiny invaders that cause a wide range of diseases, from rabies to tomato spotted wilt virus and, most recently, COVID-19 in humans. But viruses can do more than elicit sickness — and not all viruses are tiny.

Large viruses, especially those in the nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA virus family, can integrate their genome into that of their host — dramatically changing the genetic makeup of that organism. This family of DNA viruses, otherwise known as “giant” viruses, has been known within scientific circles for quite some time, but the extent to which they affect eukaryotic organisms has been shrouded in mystery — until now.

“Viruses play a central role in the evolution of life on Earth. One way that they shape the evolution of cellular life is through a process called endogenization, where they introduce new genomic material into their hosts. When a giant virus endogenizes into the genome

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Homeland Security’s Small Business Program Will Focus on Viruses, Security and Networks in 2021

Next year, the Homeland Security Department plans to tap America’s small businesses to help solve critical issues around improving physical and digital security, screening for infectious diseases—including COVID-19 and the African Swine Fever—and building safer vehicles.

DHS is charged with staying ahead of emerging threats and looks to the country’s small businesses for innovative ideas for solving its biggest challenges through the Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, program, with outfits under the Science and Technology Directorate and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.

Thursday, the program released a draft list of 12 focus topics for 2021, asking for feedback ahead of a final request for proposals schedule for Dec. 11.

Once finalized, all of the projects will operate under a three-phase structure, each with its own timeline, objectives and funding.

Phase I will focus on the “merit and feasibility of the proposed effort … with a relatively small agency

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Sorting out viruses with machine learning — ScienceDaily

The ongoing global pandemic has created an urgent need for rapid tests that can diagnose the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, and distinguish it from other respiratory viruses. Now, researchers from Japan have demonstrated a new system for single-virion identification of common respiratory pathogens using a machine learning algorithm trained on changes in current across silicon nanopores. This work may lead to fast and accurate screening tests for diseases like COVID-19 and influenza.

In a study published this month in ACS Sensors scientists at Osaka University have introduced a new system using silicon nanopores sensitive enough to detect even a single virus particle when coupled with a machine learning algorithm.

In this method, a silicon nitride layer just 50 nm thick suspended on a silicon wafer has tiny nanopores added, which are themselves only 300 nm in diameter. When a voltage difference is applied to

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Once-discounted binding mechanism may be key to targeting viruses — ScienceDaily

“Position 4” didn’t seem important until researchers took a long look at a particular peptide.

That part of the peptide drawn from a SARS-CoV virus turned out to have an unexpected but significant influence on how it stably binds with a receptor central to the immune system’s ability to attack diseased cells.

In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Rice University’s Brown School of Engineering and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center revealed models at atomic resolution that detail not only the binding but also, for the first time, the unbinding mechanisms that underlie a key component of the immune system.

They say better understanding of the entire mechanism could lead to advancements in immunotherapy that boosts the body’s ability to fight disease.

Rice computer scientist Lydia Kavraki, alumnus Jayvee Abella and postdoctoral researcher Dinler Antunes, led the study.

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Plant viruses hijack the defense system of plants, but there might be a way to strike back — ScienceDaily

Many diseases caused by common plant viruses reduce the crops of important food plants. In the worst case, potato viruses, among others, can destroy as much as 80% of crops on infected fields.

Plants are not entirely defenceless against viruses, although they lack an immune system like the one found in humans. For plant cells, the primary defence mechanism against viral infections is gene silencing. By utilising the mechanism, plant cells identify the foreign genetic material originating in the virus and cut it up into small pieces.

“In turn, these bits of the genome guide plant cell proteins to identify and destroy viral genomes. As a result, the production of viral proteins ends, which is interpreted as ‘silencing’ of the viral genes. A successful defensive response prevents the virus from spreading in the plant,” says Docent Kristiina Mäkinen from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki.

Viruses can

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Exposure to Ebola viruses may be more frequent and widespread than previously thought — ScienceDaily

Scientists found antibodies to Ebola virus in people up to a year before the 2018 Ebola virus disease outbreak began in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC. This suggests that either early cases may have been missed or that exposure occurs more commonly than previously thought, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis.

The study, published today in the journal One Health Outlook, also documents the first detection of antibodies to Bombali ebolavirus in a person, showing that spillover of that virus from bats to humans has likely occurred. Scientists from the UC Davis One Health Institute and Columbia University discovered Bombali virus — a sixth ebolavirus species — in bats in Sierra Leone in 2018.

“This study highlights that, yes, these are lethal diseases, but there’s a range of severity — not everyone who is exposed dies,” said lead author Tracey Goldstein,

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Criss-crossing viruses give rise to peculiar hybrid variants — ScienceDaily

For millions of years, viruses have participated in a far-flung, import-export business, exchanging fragments of themselves with both viral and non-viral agents and acquiring new features. What these tiny entities lack in outward complexity, they make up for with their astonishing abilities to swap out modular genomic components and ceaselessly reinvent themselves.

In new research appearing in the journal mBio, Arvind Varsani and his colleagues investigate a recently discovered class of viruses that have taken the characteristic versatility of the viral world to new heights.

Referred to as cruciviruses, these minute forms reveal a fusion of components from both RNA and DNA viruses, proving that these previously distinct genomic domains can, under proper conditions, intermingle, producing a hybrid or chimeric viral variant.

Varsani, a virologist at the Arizona State Univeristy Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, is deeply intrigued with these new viruses, which are starting to crop

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Half a million ‘undiscovered’ animal viruses could cause the next pandemic – the science explained

Monday, 2nd November 2020, 9:44 am

Updated Monday, 2nd November 2020, 9:44 am

Scientists estimate that there are more than 500,000 currently “undiscovered” viruses which could infect people, potentially leading to another pandemic.

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What causes pandemics?

Global agricultural expansion, travel, and the wildlife trade are the main factors which contribute to the emergence of new diseases, which often come from “microbial spillover,” due to contact between wildlife, people and livestock.

The report also suggests that deadly diseases thrive in areas where nature is destroyed, and “the recent exponential rise in consumption and trade, driven by demand in developed countries and emerging economies.”

While the report warns that “more frequent, deadly

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Hungry screwworms eat livestock alive while thrips transmit viruses — ScienceDaily

The University of Cincinnati is decoding the genetics of agricultural pests in projects that could help boost crop and livestock production to feed millions more people around the world.

Joshua Benoit, an associate professor in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, contributed to genetic studies of New World screwworms that feed on livestock and thrips, tiny insects that can transmit viruses to tomatoes and other plants.

It’s the latest international collaboration for Benoit, who previously sequenced the DNA for genomes of dreaded creatures such as bedbugs.

Just in time for Halloween, Benoit’s new study subject is no less creepy. The New World screwworm’s Latin name means “man-eater.” These shiny blue flies with pumpkin-orange eyes lay up to 400 eggs in open cuts or sores of cattle, goats, deer and other mammals. Emerging larvae begin gnawing away on their hosts, feeding on living and dead tissue and creating ghastly wounds.


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How Integrated Operations is Using a Breakthrough Misting Technology to Stop the Spread of Deadly Viruses and Bacteria

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich., Oct. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Consumers and businesses require due diligence to ensure they are opting for effective disinfection methods for dangerous viruses and bacteria. Many approaches are less effective than claimed and provide a false sense of security to people in environments that can be germ-ridden including schools, elder care facilities, offices, etc.

To achieve effective protection against surface and airborne germs, engineer, former

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