An artificial intelligence system has predicted the 3D structures of more than 360,000 proteins, representing a ‘quantum leap for biology’ and paving the way for an acceleration in scientific research, according to experts.
A fungus that inflicts the most damaging disease of oilseed rape in the UK is becoming increasingly resistant to azole fungicides. This fall-off was confirmed in a new study of light leaf spot at Rothamsted Research, which reported that a mixture of azole plus QoI (pyraclostrobin) or SDHI (penthiopyrad) fungicides is required for robust disease control (Plant Pathology, doi: 10.1111/ppa.13441).
Farnesol, found in herbs and fruits, prevents and reverses brain damage linked to Parkinson’s disease in mice, report US researchers. It does this by deactivating a key protein associated with disease progression.
Ladybirds produce a volatile scent that causes their principal food – aphids – to move away to avoid predation. The same smell can also slow aphid reproduction rates. Now, researchers have identified components of ladybird odour that could pave the way to managing aphids – and the crop viruses they spread – without recourse to traditional pesticides.
German biotech firm BioNTech plans to commence clinical trials of a possible malaria vaccine by the end of 2022 as the annual death toll attributed to the disease surpasses 400,000 people, many of them in Africa.
Malawi has launched a campaign to eradicate malaria, which accounts for 15% of all the country’s hospital admissions, by 2030.
Researchers in Texas and Singapore have developed a way to make urea for fertiliser that makes use of renewable electricity and saves on emissions from fossil fuels.
The commercial battery with the highest energy density is the lithium-thionyl chloride (Li-SOCl2) battery. Developed in the 1970s, this non-rechargeable battery is still widely deployed in military, space, utility metering and GPS tracking applications. It uses thionyl chloride as the catholyte, lithium metal as the anode and amorphous carbon as the cathode.
A more efficient and low-cost system for desalinating water using solar energy could be rolled out across the sun-rich but arid regions of Africa and the Middle East.
During WWII, German scientists Heisenberg and Diebner both experimented with converting uranium to plutonium, needed for the atomic bomb. Roughly 12 cubes of uranium said to originate from this programme in early 1940s Germany remain from approximately 1000 produced.