📰 EwA News Digest: Bird Flu Immunity, Carbon Budget Exhaustion, and Algae's Amazing Ability

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Jessica Yuan

Nov 21, 2023, 10:01:09 AM11/21/23
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Hello everyone! I’m Jessica, and here is my news digest for November. 

The current bird flu outbreak began in 2021 and was caused by H5N1, resulting in millions of bird deaths. This outbreak has been the most severe one ever recorded, but there is some good news. Research shows that two types of seabirds, the northern gannets (Morus bassanus), and the shags (family Phalacrocoracidae), are starting to develop immunity. It is very difficult to capture and take blood samples from wild birds, and scientists are planning to test other bird species. To learn more about this interesting study, read here.

Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas component that traps heat and warms the planet. The goal of the 1.5-degree Celsius standard is to prevent irreversible climate change from global warming. However, an estimation from 50 leading climate scientists stated that 250 gigatonnes (billion metric tonnes) of carbon dioxide emissions left before humans use up the carbon budget for this mission. This means that we have less than six years to achieve net zero. To read more about this issue, check here.

Although it seems that we don’t have much time left, there are still some new techniques that can reduce carbon emissions. Microalgae can capture atmospheric carbon dioxide and convert it into proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. A recent study used algae as substrates to produce fungi and convert them to bioproducts. This technology has great potential to achieve a net zero carbon footprint. For more information, click here.

Sun bears are ecologically important but face tremendous challenges from habitat loss and poaching. A traditional way to save these species is by rescuing and rehabilitating them. However, a recent study showed that the survival rate of released bears was very low, which indicated rehabilitation alone is not efficient in protecting them from constant decline. Want to learn more about how to save this species? Read here.

A new beech leaf disease caused by a nematode, a microscopic roundworm, is spreading in Massachusetts. A team of naturalists from Earthwise Aware is documenting this disease on iNaturalist and other citizen science platforms. This parasite can infect leaves, causing them to fall off and even kill the tree due to lack of nutrients. To know more about this concerning issue, check out here.

Satellite viruses rely on the host and a helper virus to finish their life cycles, and those “helpers” can replicate satellites’ DNA, or make a shell to store those genetic materials. A first-ever discovery by scientists from the University of Maryland Baltimore County observed a case in which a satellite attached to another virus, the helper. To read about this incredible relationship, look here.  

Thank you all for reading my second news digest! Happy Thanksgiving!🎉

- Jessica

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