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Mouse sperm survive space to spawn

mouse pups

SPACE PUPS  Mice born from sperm that took a nine-month trip to space were healthy despite the gametes being exposed to massive amounts of solar radiation.

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Mouse sperm could win awards for resilience. Sperm freeze-dried and sent into space for months of exposure to high levels of solar radiation later produced healthy baby mice, researchers report May 22 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

If humans ever embark on long-term space flights, we’ll need a way to reproduce. One potential hurdle (beyond the logistical challenges of microgravity) is the high amount of solar radiation in space — it’s 100 times more powerful on the International Space Station than on Earth. Those doses might cause damaging genetic mutations in banked eggs and sperm.

To test this, Japanese researchers freeze-dried mouse sperm and sent it up to the ISS, where it spent nine months orbiting the Earth in microgravity. When rehydrated back on Earth, the space sperm did show some evidence of DNA damage compared with earthly sperm, the scientists found.

But when researchers used that sperm to fertilize eggs in the lab that were then injected into female mice, the mice birthed pups at a normal rate. Those babies were healthy and were even able to have their own offspring. The researchers suspect that some of the initial DNA damage might have been repaired after fertilization. 

If mouse sperm can survive a trip to space, perhaps human sperm can, too.

Biomedicine,, Health

Older adults may not benefit from taking statins

By Aimee Cunningham 2:30pm, May 22, 2017
Statins did not reduce heart attacks, coronary heart disease deaths or deaths from any cause in people age 65 and older, a new analysis finds.
Climate,, Animals,, Ecology

Higher temperatures could trigger an uptick in damselfly cannibalism

By Helen Thompson 7:05pm, May 16, 2017
Experiments in the lab suggest that increases in temperature could indirectly lead to an increase in cannibalistic damselfly nymphs.
Animals,, Technology

Trackers may tip a warbler’s odds of returning to its nest

By Helen Thompson 2:30pm, May 5, 2017
Geolocator devices that help track migrating birds could also hamper migration survival or timing.
Animals

Big dads carry weight among wandering albatrosses

By Helen Thompson 12:00pm, May 3, 2017
For male albatrosses, bulking up impacts survival and reproduction.
Earth,, Climate

Crack in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf forks

By Thomas Sumner 4:39pm, May 2, 2017
An 180-kilometer-long rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf has forked into two branches, new satellite observations show.
Fungi,, Chemistry

How a mushroom gets its glow

By Susan Milius 9:00am, April 27, 2017
For the first time, biologists have pinpointed the compound that lights up in fungal bioluminescence.
Animals,, Genetics

Dog DNA study maps breeds across the world

By Helen Thompson 11:30am, April 26, 2017
Here are five findings from a massive study of dog breed genomes.
Science & Society

Watch the March for Science in Washington, D.C.

By Science News 6:00am, April 22, 2017
Watch the live stream of the March for Science in Washington, D.C. on April 22.
Planetary Science

In ‘grand finale,’ Cassini spacecraft sets off on collision course with Saturn

By Ashley Yeager 7:00am, April 21, 2017
The Cassini spacecraft will plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrate on Sept. 15, but is slated to do some solid science before its demise.
Oceans,, Pollution

The Arctic is a final garbage dump for ocean plastic

By Thomas Sumner 2:10pm, April 19, 2017
Ocean currents dump plastic garbage from the North Atlantic into previously pristine Arctic waters, new research shows.
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