MI weekly selection #249
Geneticists pan paper that claims to predict a person’s face from their DNA
Reviewers and a co-author of a paper by genomics entrepreneur Craig Venter claim that it misrepresents the risks of public access to genome data.
Immune cells can trigger fungus in lungs to self-destruct
Immune cells in the lungs release an enzyme into an airborne fungus, causing its cells to self-destruct and preventing dangerous lung infections. The study helps explain why people with healthy immune systems can routinely breathe in such fungus spores without getting sick and may lead to treatments for those with compromised immune systems.
ESA’s ExoMars rover to look for signs of ancient life on red planet
Mars will get new rovers in 2020, including the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover. The ExoMars mission will focus on areas of the planet that may have once been home to ancient microbes.
Reason behind purple spots on ancient animal-skin parchments revealed
Marine microbes with a taste for salt are the likely culprit behind mysterious purple spots found on ancient animal-skin parchments such as an 800-year-old petition for sainthood kept in the Vatican Secret Archive. The marine microbes survived for awhile on the salt used to make the goatskin parchment but died when the salt was depleted, creating a food source for new bacteria that also ate parts of the parchment and causing the purple spots.
Dopamine itself may play role in own destruction in Parkinson’s patients
Dopamine, the brain chemical missing in Parkinson’s disease patients, may play a role in its own demise. Researchers grew Parkinson’s cells in lab dishes and observed levels of a dangerous form of dopamine rising after certain periods of time, starting a chain reaction of cellular problems.