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Mosquito moms can pass Zika to offspring

Aedes aegypti

INHERIT THE VIRUS  Lab tests show that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes don’t need to bite someone to pick up Zika virus; youngsters (larvae shown) can inherit the virus from their moms.

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Female mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus can pass the infection to the next generation, lab tests show.

Among Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, thought to be the main species spreading Zika in the Americas, at least one out of every 290 lab offspring catches the virus from its mother, Texas researchers say August 29 in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Infected eggs, which can survive for months on dry surfaces, could keep the virus circulating even after dry or cold spells, when adult mosquitoes die off, warns Robert Tesh of University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Earlier research had already shown that youngsters of this species can inherit related viruses, such as those causing dengue, West Nile and yellow fever. Mom-to-egg transmission though is not a given:  The same research project also reported no evidence so far of this vertical transmission in 803 offspring of another possible Zika spreader, Ae. albopictus.

It’s not known how likely mosquito moms are to infect their young outside of the lab. Doing a reliable test with wild mosquitoes outdoors is a much more difficult project, the researchers say.

Genetics,, Animals

Genes help snub-nosed monkeys live the high life

By Tina Hesman Saey 12:30pm, August 25, 2016
Snub nosed monkeys have certain genetic variants that help them breathe easy in low oxygen.
Animals,, Biophysics

Hoverflies (probably) can’t sense gravity

By Helen Thompson 3:04pm, August 18, 2016
Acrobatic insects called hoverflies may simply use visual and airflow cues and not gravity to orient their bodies midair.
Animals,, Conservation,, Agriculture

Evidence piles up for popular pesticides' link to pollinator problems

By Helen Thompson 5:32pm, August 17, 2016
Neonicotinoid pesticides linked to population declines in California butterflies and wild bee extinctions in Great Britain.
Animals,, Ecology

Female fish have a fail-safe for surprise sperm attacks

By Helen Thompson 1:30pm, August 16, 2016
A Mediterranean fish provides evidence that, even after laying their eggs, females can still influence who fertilizes them.

This year’s Perseid meteor shower will be especially flashy

By Christopher Crockett 11:30am, August 11, 2016
This year’s Perseid meteor shower could produce up to 200 meteors per hour as Earth plows through the debris trail of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.
Animals,, Genetics,, Evolution

Colugo genome reveals gliders as primate cousins

By Helen Thompson 7:00am, August 11, 2016
New genetic analysis suggests gliding mammals called colugos are actually sisters to modern primates.
Genetics,, Neuroscience

Scientists get a glimpse of chemical tagging in live brains

By Tina Hesman Saey 2:00pm, August 10, 2016
For the first time scientists can see where molecular tags known as epigenetic marks are placed in the brain.
Neuroscience,, Health

Red blood cells sense low oxygen in the brain

By Laura Sanders 12:00pm, August 4, 2016
Red blood cells sense low oxygen and speed to the scene, a new study suggests.
Chemistry,, Technology,, Science & Society

X-rays reveal portrait hiding beneath Degas masterpiece

By Helen Thompson 9:00am, August 4, 2016
X-ray technique reveals an additional painting hiding behind Edgar Degas’ "Portrait of a Woman."

Smart mice have better odds of survival

By Helen Thompson 2:00pm, August 3, 2016
African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) may survive summer droughts by their wits, a study suggests.
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