Home Science News at a glance: Bringing kids along to field sites, restricting EU trawling, and calling the pandemic ‘over’ | Science

News at a glance: Bringing kids along to field sites, restricting EU trawling, and calling the pandemic ‘over’ | Science

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Bacterial nomenclature relies on DNA

A controversial new system for naming bacteria and other prokaryotes relies solely on their DNA, rather than laboratory culture, to identify them. This approach is called SeqCode and this week natural microbiology, promises to alleviate the backlog created by so many microbial species being uncovered by DNA analysis. Bacteria, or prokaryotes known as archaea, will only be accepted as authentic if they have been cultured and submitted a pure “type” culture to at least two facilities around the world that hold microbes. Instead, SeqCode accepts complete or comprehensive sets of bacterial genomic sequence data as its “type” material It outlines a protocol for assigning Latin names. SeqCode software confirms that her DNA sequence is unique, and scientists assess whether the name was chosen according to guidelines. However, it is unclear whether this method will take hold. Some microbiologists refuse to accept genomes as sufficient evidence for the existence of species.

scientific integrity

Disputed Botanical Paper Stand

journal BMCmedicine announced this month We won’t retract the influential but controversial 2013 paper by botanist Stephen Newmaster PhD from the University of Guelph (UG) who questioned the purity of herbal remedies. In 2021, eight scientists signed a complaint alleging Newmaster was responsible for “missing, fraudulent, or plagiarized data” in three of his papers, including this one. Independent experts supported these concerns. chemistry Investigation. The UG investigation said in June that he admitted to Newmaster’s wrongdoing, but noted that he “failed to apply the standards reasonably expected of research.” BMCmedicine Articles and others, including those that have been retracted. Despite not withdrawing herbal medicine treatises, BMCmedicine Retaining a note posted in February to alert readers to questions raised about the reliability of the data in the paper, Newmaster did not respond to requests for comment.

you are counting votes Most of us are just counting bodies.

  • Yale University epidemiologist Greg Gonsalves
  • Despite tweeting about President Joe Biden’s remarks that the pandemic is “over,” about 400 Americans die from the disease every day.
research security

Mathematics professor on probation

An applied mathematics professor at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale said the recent resolution of a case involving the US government’s controversial China Initiative that targeted US academics, most of them Chinese, put her in jail. and will instead be on probation for one year. ancestor. In May, a jury acquitted Mingqing Xiao of making false statements to the government about his affiliation with a Chinese agency in a grant application. He was found guilty of failing to report his bank account, adding charges to his original indictment. In Shao’s sentencing this week, District Court Judge Stacey Yandl said imprisoning Shao served no purpose and there was no fear of him reoffending. Xiao, who is on administrative leave, told the judge that he would like to return to work at the SIU and resume his teaching and research. In February, the U.S. Department of Justice removed the name of the China initiative after concluding that it “enhanced a narrative of intolerance and bigotry.” The department has not announced any new indictments of academic researchers since the name change.


King of the Hill: 20,000 Trillion Ants

ants build a bridge
Army Ali (Esiton Hamatam) in Panama build bridges during raids.Christian Ziegler/Minden Pictures

Ants were already estimated to be the most numerous insects. now, Research team has produced the most comprehensive estimate yet of individual ant numbers, which puts a new perspective on the “flock of anthills”. Combining data from 489 studies around the world, the team found the figure to be 20 trillion, or 20 followed by 15 zeros. Although individual ants are light, their astronomical figure is 12 megatons in total dry weight (the weight after all the liquids that make up the total biomass of carbon have been removed), equivalent to 12 megatons of all wild birds and mammals. The team reports that it is greater than the combinedthe week of Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesEstimates are 2- to 20-fold higher than previous estimates, many of which were extrapolated from studies of ants at a single location or calculated based on estimated percentages of ants to all insects. The new study relied on actual counts of ground-caught ants, but did not include studies covering nest-hidden ants, and was found in boreal forests, much of central Africa, and Asia. It may be incomplete because it lacked research from some of the


Europe protects more seabed

To prevent damage to sensitive marine habitats, the European Commission will close more than 16,000 square kilometers of shallow coastal waters in the northeast Atlantic to bottom trawling next month. When fishing vessels pull heavy nets along the seabed to catch benthic organisms such as red shrimp, they also kill other species and cloud the water with sediment. Banned bottom trawling to depths of less than 800 meters in more than 4.9 million square kilometers to protect the ecosystems inhabited by The European Commission’s announcement last week extended protection to her EU waters, between 400 and 800 meters from the shores of her four member states: France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Scientists working on behalf of the International Ocean Exploration Council use existing data to predict areas likely to contain vulnerable species such as glass sponges and tube-dwelling sea anemones. did. Environmental groups welcomed the announcement, but fishing groups warned it would cost jobs.


take the kids to the field

Yale University paleoanthropologist Jessica Thompson has been on field trips to Malawi for years with her three children. Her experience was both challenging and rewarding, but it made her think about how a field of intense fieldwork poses unique questions for researchers, especially mothers and families. rice field. Should I bring my child? What if they trample fragile fossils or get sick? She and her colleagues have surveyed her fellow scientists on their professional commitments to conduct fieldwork and their decisions regarding parenting. She hopes the answer will drive change in practice and make fieldwork more manageable for researchers with families.

Q: How did parenting issues affect your ability to do fieldwork?

A: When I was just starting out, my oldest son was a year old, and my parents took him in for the summer so that I could focus on what I needed to do. My partner works in the fields with me, so either my parents help or we bring them. [the children]. There is no other choice. … The most obvious obstacle is economics. Airfare for taking multiple children to Central Africa, where I work, escalates rapidly. … The local community loves the fact that we bring our kids. It humanizes this group of scientists who come in, so it opens doors in ways that would otherwise have been completely closed.

Q: How do the children on site affect your work?

A: I worry about the morale of other people on the ground. For some reason, if there is a child who is annoying, do you think that you do not want to be there? Or is it that they are not part of this family unit? how do you divide the cost of [for the children]?

Q: How are these challenges affecting your scientific field?

A: I think being a mother is one of the reasons why we don’t have too many women leaders in our field. I think it pulls a lot of people out of the field research pipeline and into lab work instead.

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