Soybean virus may give plant-munching bugs a boost in

Most viral infections negatively affect an organism’s health, but one plant virus in particular — soybean vein necrosis orthotospovirus, often referred to as SVNV — may actually benefit a type of insect that commonly feeds on soybean plants and can transmit the virus to the plant, causing disease, according to Penn State research.

In a laboratory study, the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences researchers found that when soybean thrips — small insects ranging from 0.03 to 0.20 inches long — were infected with SVNV, they tended to survive longer and reproduce better than thrips that were not infected.

Asifa Hameed, who led the study while completing her doctoral degree in entomology at Penn State and is now a senior scientist of entomology at Ayub Agricultural Research Institute in Multan, Pakistan, said the findings give key insight into how the virus spreads in plants and affects its insect hosts.

“In addition to prolonging the life of the insects, SVNV infection also shortened the doubling time of soybean thrip populations,” Hameed said. “This means infected thrips populations grew much more quickly, which could enhance the spread of the virus to additional soybean plants.”

According to the researchers, who recently published their findings in the journal Insects, soybean vein necrosis is a disease that affects soybean plants and is caused by SVNV. It can be spread by either infected seeds or infected soybean thrips. The thrips contract the virus as larvae by feeding on infected leaves and then can pass the virus to additional plants through their saliva, mainly during thrips adulthood.

Once a plant is infected with the virus, the pathogen first attacks the veins of the leaves, causing them to turn yellow. This yellowing then can spread to other parts of the leaves, which eventually may develop brown lesions.

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Ancient Practice Shows Promise for Treating Deadly Virus

Not long ago, the Nicholas Pet Haven shelter in Tyler, TX had to close its doors for two weeks due to a parvo outbreak affecting 11 puppies. The pups were taken next door to the Spence and White Veterinary Hospital, a critical care facility, where they were isolated and received treatment.

Veterinarian Dr. Gary Spence, owner of the hospital, had never seen an outbreak like it in his six years of operation. In an interview with local news station KLTV, Spence explained the deadly activity of the virus once it enters the gastrointestinal (GI) tract:

“You’ve got your intestinal wall, but then you’ve got thousands and thousands of villi that line your intestinal wall where all your absorption takes place. And as the parvovirus replicates, the tips of the villi rupture, and each of those tips has a vessel in it that sits there and just spurts blood and they bleed to death.”1

Sadly, two of the pups didn’t make it, but the other nine were showing great improvement at the time the story made the news. According to Spence, “… it looks like we’ve turned the corner. The puppies that we’ve got now are all starting to eat again.” Here’s hoping the remaining pups continued to improve and were adopted into loving homes.

Why Parvo Is Such a Frightening Disease

For all of us who love dogs, the fear of parvovirus is real, because it’s a deadly, difficult to treat, and highly contagious disease. Canine parvovirus type 2, or CPV-2, is an infection that attacks the GI tract of both domesticated and wild puppies and adult dogs.

The virus damages intestinal crypt cells, which results in increased gut permeability and profuse, bloody diarrhea. And in addition to the GI effects of parvo, in very young and unborn puppies, … Read more

Page-Turning Bookstore Cats – Catster

Cats and books are a comforting match. The combination drums up idyllic thoughts about sun-dappled afternoons spent in the company of your faithful feline while relaxing in a comfy chair and leafing through a captivating tome. So, it’s no surprise that a growing number of kitties have decided to further their literary ambitions by taking up residence at independent bookstores across the country. Here’s a spotlight on a highbrow clowder of cats who love nothing more than lounging on a pile of your favorite author’s latest release.

Junie B. Jones / Cat Tales

The donation-based Cat Tales used bookstore in Portland, Indiana, is connected to and was created to help fund the Midwest Pet Refuge rescue. Junie B. Jones is a 4-year-old, affectionate girl who’s been known to unexpectedly jump on a few shoulders in her time! The Cat Tales felines in residence vary, as some get adopted and others graduate to the bookstore to take their place. Junie is currently hoping to find her forever home.; Facebook @MPRCatTales

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Dinah / The Dusty Bookshelf

Living at the Lawrence location of The Dusty Bookshelf in Kansas, Dinah has graduated to a figurehead role as the store’s official mascot (and self-annointed queen). When not prowling the aisles, you’ll find this sleek midnight feline recommending “dinahmite” approved books to the venture’s visiting bibliophiles.; Facebook @The Dusty Bookshelf – Lawrence

©Getty Images

Tiny the Usurper / Community Bookstore

Tiny the Usurper is considered bookstore cat royalty. This runt of the litter ended up being adopted by the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York. Tiny has since gone on to claim co-ownership of the venture (along with billing himself as the “fiercest predator in Park Slope” on his social media outlets). Tiny’s recommended reading picks include the charmingly titled On Tyranny:

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Bats’ midnight snacks reveal clues for managing endangered

How do we bring threatened and endangered animals back from the brink? The task is never easy or simple, but one thing is undeniably true: If we don’t understand these animals and what they need to survive, we have little chance of success.

Saving bats, then, is arguably a trickier endeavor than for other species. After all, the cryptic critters only emerge at night and are highly mobile, making it difficult to track their movements and behavior.

In a first-of-its-kind study, University of Illinois and Brown University scientists reveal the diets of endangered Indiana bats and threatened northern long-eared bats, providing clues to effectively manage both species and their habitats.

“This was an in-depth study of these two imperiled species in landscapes where they co-occur. Nobody’s done that before. This investigation gives us a much better sense of how bats not only coexist, but also how they benefit our forests and how we can thus manage the forest to provide bats with better habitat,” says Joy O’Keefe, an assistant professor and wildlife extension specialist in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at Illinois.

Previous research into these bats’ diets relied on older, outdated technologies that could miss important prey species. And no study had yet investigated how the two species divvy up their prey resources to coexist.

“When you have two closely related species sharing the same habitat, that means they’re probably built similarly and need similar places to live and things to eat. This brings up a lot of questions about how they’re doing that. Are they competing? Or is there some system in place where they’re able to divide resources? Our job was to figure that out,” says Tim Divoll, a data scientist in the Center for Computation & Visualization at Brown who completed his doctoral

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Amphibian Survival Alliance Infectious Disease Mitigation

Please note that the deadline to apply to the current ASA Disease Mitigation Grants call has been extended and the criteria expanded.

Infectious diseases are considered one of the leading threats to amphibians around the world, causing population declines and extinctions even in relatively pristine areas. Today, despite decades of research, there are still very few tools available for conservation practitioners to deal with the disease when it arrives in susceptible populations. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development of effective strategies to address and combat these threats. The Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), with the support of Synchronicity Earth’s Amphibian Endowment Fund, founded in honour of Dr. George Rabb, aims to fund projects on disease mitigation that seeks to tackle this conservation challenge through science, policy and effective collaborations across disciplines.

Grant Criteria:

ASA Infectious Disease Mitigation Grants aim to facilitate projects that have the potential to inform the development of solutions or strategies for minimizing the impacts of amphibian diseases, and that may be candidates for ongoing funding. Grants of up to US$5,000 are currently available from ASA, and are organised in collaboration with Synchronicity Earth.

In this call, ASA welcomes applications from all regions of the world. Priority may be given to projects with direct application and relevance to on-the-ground disease management, and to projects that benefit amphibian populations in lower- and middle-income countries and where the lead or co-lead of the project is an early career researcher/conservationist based in the project country, although these requirements are not mandatory. All projects will be considered for funding on their own merits.

Likewise, projects in developing countries that are led by (or integrally include) local partners will be prioritised, as will projects that focus on globally Threatened/Data Deficient amphibian species. While we appreciate efforts to keep regionally threatened

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The Two Best Foods for a Healthy Gut

In 2017, a team of university researchers published a study that revealed how different types of diets affect the gut bacteria (microbiome) of dogs.1 The objective of the 28-day study was to determine fecal microbiota and metabolite concentrations in eight adult dogs fed four different diets, including:

  • Two lightly cooked Freshpet diets
  • One raw Freshpet diet
  • One extruded diet (Purina Dog Chow)

The study results showed that (unsurprisingly) there are differences in gut bacteria depending on what food dogs eat, but beyond that, nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary came to light.

Mildly Cooked and Raw Diets Proved More Digestible

One of the study co-authors, Kelly Swanson, a professor of animal and nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois, told the food dogs eat has a significant effect on the types of microorganisms found in their digestive tracts.

“The quality and chemical composition of the ingredients and nutrient digestibility are key factors,” says Swanson.

“That is an important factor in our study because the ingredient list, chemical composition (nutrient profile), and nutrient digestibility was quite different among diets. The mildly cooked and raw diets were generally higher in protein and/or fat and were more digestible than the extruded diet.”2

Based on this feedback, the lightly cooked and raw diets performed as I would expect them to, in that they were easier for the dogs to digest than the ultraprocessed extruded diet. If this was a surprise to the researchers, it really shouldn’t have been. And made this observation:

“… despite having a higher fat content than extruded dog food, both lightly cooked and raw diets seemed to reduce blood triglyceride concentration, which would be considered beneficial long term. The biological reason for this is unknown.”

My guess is the lightly cooked and raw diets have … Read more