SciBites: Week of December 9th

SciBites: Week of December 9th

Climate change has already caused many local extinctions

Many studies have shown that species are shifting their geographic ranges over time as the climate warms. John Wiens at the University of Arizona used this research to show that local extinctions have already happened in the warmest parts of the ranges of over 450 plant and animal species, 47 percent of the species studied, and have been particularly common in the tropics. As mean temperatures are predicted to increase much more in future – by an additional 1 to 5 degrees Celsius – these results highlight the need to slow and prevent further warming.


New Ebola monitoring method could analyze outbreaks

Jantien Backer and Jacco Wallinga at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) have developed novel algorithms that represent Ebola virus epidemics as a series of local outbreaks linked by travelers who spread infection between districts. The researchers were able to track how quickly the 2014 epidemic moved between districts and crossed national borders. The algorithms could enable analysis of future outbreaks of other infectious diseases, even when their transmission characteristics are not known, to help inform control measures.


Most deadly brain tumors may have a distinctive lncRNA signature

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are thought to be involved in governing gene expression and thereby controlling many processes, including tumor formation. Anindya Dutta and colleagues at the University of Virginia analyzed gene expression changes in two types of brain tumors, low-grade gliomas and glioblastoma multiforme, and compared them to changes in normal brain tissue. They identified an expression signature of certain lncRNAs that was associated with how long patients with low grade gliomas survived, as well as several lncRNAs that also predicted different survival outcomes in glioblastomas. If validated in future work, these findings could lead to the establishment of an lncRNA panel that could be used to assess the prognosis for patients with these tumors.

Image Credit: wanderingseoul61, Flickr


Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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