SciBites: Week of October 7th

SciBites: Week of October 7th

Antibodies may protect against complications of P. vivax malaria

The malarial parasite Plasmodium vivax can cause complications in pregnancy, including low infant birth weight. Researchers tested blood samples from 1,056 pregnant women from five countries to assess the prevalence and effects of antibodies to the parasite’s “VIR” protein family. Their results show an association between certain antibodies and higher birth weight, and could further efforts to develop a P. vivax vaccine.

Bumblebees can learn string pulling culturally

Scientists have found that bumblebees can be trained to pull a string to access a reward, as shown in these fascinating videos, but most could not solve the task on their own. Naive bees instead learned how to pull strings by observing a trained ‘demonstrator’ bee. In a semi-natural situation, once one bee knew how to string pull, the skill spread by demonstration to most of the foraging bees. These results suggest that a non-natural skill in bumblebees can spread culturally through populations.

E.coli drives Crohn’s disease risk after gastroenteritis

Exposure to foodborne pathogens causing acute gastroenteritis produces a long-term risk of the chronic inflammatory condition Crohn’s disease, though the mechanism had not previously been elucidated. Researchers have found that the increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease after gastroenteritis is driven by growth of adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) populations in the gut, whose effects include inflammation. These AIEC populations could therefore be a target for future therapeutic interventions.


Image Credit: Alem et al. (2016)


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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