Science Bites: August 1st

Science Bites: August 1st

Genetic basis for alcoholism found in rats

Rats bred to abuse alcohol accumulated numerous genetic differences, many of which occurred in regulatory regions of the genome, according to a recent study. The study’s results confirmed the existence of previously identified alcoholism-related genes and found many new genes associated with the overuse of alcohol.

Resisting infection by the Ascaris roundworm

A new study found that mice resistant to Ascaris roundworm infection generated higher levels of certain proteins in their livers and had faster immune responses than did susceptible mice. The authors suggest that their findings may lead to a potential new strategy for controlling a disease that affects 1 billion people worldwide.

Plant sugars influence malaria transmission

Different plant sugars affect female mosquitos’ ability to transmit malaria by influencing the host-pathogen interaction between Anopheles mosquitos and Plasmodium parasites. These findings suggest that planting sources of anti-Plasmodium sugars may be a promising alternative strategy to controlling malaria.

Emphasizing errors boosts motor skills

Exaggerating the visual appearance of mistakes reduces random fluctuations in nervous system signals that control muscle movement. These results could help people, such as elite athletes and healthy elders, further improve their motor skills past a performance plateau.

Image Credit: Feng C. Zhou


Tessa is the Journal Media Manager at PLOS. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Rhetoric and Music. She can be reached by email at and on Twitter at @tessagregs.

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