SciTech Briefs

New virus-killing process discovered

Researchers led by microbiology professor Shou-Wei Ding, who heads a lab in the University of California, Riverside’s Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, have discovered that mammals use the RNA interference (RNAi) process to destroy viruses within their own cells like plants and invertebrate animals.

The team’s earlier research into plants, nematodes, and fruit flies helped them find the key: Viruses outwit the innate protection in cells by using proteins to suppress the virus-killing mechanism. Ding’s research discovered that removing the suppressor protein from the virus causes the subject’s body to quickly eliminate the virus using the RNAi process, which sends out small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to kill the disease.

Source: Science Daily

Compost may hold fatal bacteria

Compost may harbor Legionella spp., the bacteria responsible for Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially deadly form of pneumonia. A recent study by researchers in the United Kingdom found the bacteria in 15 out of 24 commercially available composts. Previous research identified the bacteria in compost from Australia, Japan, and Switzerland, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC warns that Legionella infection risk is greater for older individuals, former smokers, chronic lung disease patients and those with weakened immune systems.

Source: Discovery News

Gas giants may rain diamonds

Studies suggest that on Jupiter and Saturn, it may rain diamonds. Theoretically, carbon soot particles, freed from methane particles in the planets’ upper atmosphere, would fall through heavy layers of hydrogen and helium toward the cores. On the way down, this carbon soot would be greatly condensed by high pressure and temperatures, thus leading to the formation of diamonds.

By the time the diamonds neared the cores of each gas giant, they would likely have melted under such extreme heat and morphed into a liquid state, creating diamond rain.

Source: The Huffington Post

Deadly amoeba found in U.S.

State officials have confirmed that the amoeba Naegleria fowleri has been found in a northern Louisiana parish’s water. The amoeba proves deadly if water is ingested through the nose, and has recently been identified in Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

In response to the number of incidents in Louisiana, state health officials announced they will implement new standards to kill the amoeba in water systems by increasing the amount of chlorine and ammonia they use to disinfect the water. The standards will exceed federal standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is unclear if other states will follow suit.

Source: Discovery News