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  • News in Brief

    A deadly fungus gives ‘zombie’ ants a case of lockjaw

    Fungus-infected “zombie” ants are known to scale a plant, sink their jaws into a leaf or twig and wait to die while the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungi feast on the insects’ bodies. Eventually, a fungal stalk shoots out of the ant’s head and releases spores that rain down and infect more ants below.

    The carpenter ants’ part in this nightmare may seem dictated by mind control, but the...

    07/17/2019 - 18:00 Animals, Fungi, Ecology
  • News

    Spraying bats with ‘good’ bacteria may combat deadly white nose syndrome

    A one-time spritz with a solution of beneficial bacteria may help bats infected with white nose syndrome survive the deadly disease.

    Boosting the amount of naturally antifungal Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria that are already present on many bats’ skin allowed nearly half of the animals to live through winter, compared with only 8 percent surviving in an untreated group, a small study...

    07/15/2019 - 09:00 Conservation, Animals, Fungi
  • News in Brief

    ‘Sneezing’ plants may spread pathogens to their neighbors

    Next time you pass a wheat field on a dewy morning, you might want to say “gesundheit.”

    That’s because some sick plants can “sneeze” — shooting out tiny water droplets laden with pathogens, scientists report June 19 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. In wheat plants infected with the fungus Puccinia triticina, coalescing dew droplets flew away from the leaves they were on and...

    06/18/2019 - 19:01 Biophysics, Plants, Fungi
  • News

    Some fungi trade phosphorus with plants like savvy stockbrokers

    Some stringy fungi are tough negotiators, trading nutrients shrewdly with plants.

    An advance in tracking the nutrient phosphorus has revealed new details of ancient trading networks between fungi and plants. Some fungal species grow what are called arbuscular mycorrhizal connections underground, reaching intimately into plant roots. These fungi pull phosphorus from the soil and trade it...

    06/10/2019 - 10:00 Fungi, Plants, Ecology
  • News

    A fungus weaponized with a spider toxin can kill malaria mosquitoes

    A fungus engineered to produce a spider toxin could help take down insecticide-resistant mosquitoes that can spread malaria.

    In a netted, outdoor experiment in Burkina Faso, the genetically engineered fungus wiped out mosquito populations within two generations, researchers report in the May 31 Science. If the result holds up in a real-world situation, the modified fungus may one day...

    05/30/2019 - 14:00 Health, Fungi, Genetics
  • News

    A deadly fungus is infecting snake species seemingly at random

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a burly rattler or a tiny garter snake. A deadly fungal disease that’s infecting snakes in the eastern and midwestern United States doesn’t appear to discriminate by species, size or habitat, researchers report online December 20 in Science Advances.

    The infection, caused by the fungal pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, can cover snakes’ bodies with lesions...

    12/20/2017 - 16:35 Fungi, Animals, Ecology
  • Science Ticker

    How a mushroom gets its glow

    The enzyme that turns on the light for a glow-in-the-dark mushroom seems “promiscuous,” researchers say. But in a good way.

    Researchers from Brazil, Russia and Japan have worked out new details of how two Neonothopanus fungi shine softly green at night. The team had earlier figured out that the basic starting material for bioluminescence in these fungi is a compound called hispidin,...

    04/27/2017 - 09:00 Fungi, Chemistry
  • News in Brief

    How a mushroom gets its glow

    The enzyme that turns on the light for a glow-in-the-dark mushroom seems “promiscuous.” But in a good way.

    Researchers have worked out new details of how two Neonothopanus fungi shine softly green at night. The team had earlier figured out that the basic starting material for bioluminescence in these fungi is a compound called hispidin, found in some other fungi as well as plants such as...

    04/27/2017 - 09:00 Fungi, Chemistry