Best from science journals: Microplastics in molluscs

Here is some of the most interesting research to have appeared in top science journals last week.

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A new class of antibiotics

Published in Nature

New molecules that can kill difficult-to-treat bacterial infections and also enhance our natural immune response have been developed by researchers from the U.S. The molecules target a metabolic pathway that is essential for most bacteria but absent in humans. The team writes that these molecules can help in the fight against the rising multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Big smart bumblebees

Published in Current Biology

Trajectory showing bee’s position and body orientation in every 20-ms frame of the recorded flight. Gray disks represent cylinders that help bees locate the 5-cm-diameter flower
| Photo Credit:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

If you thought bumblebees only visit random flowers and collect nectar, you are wrong. A new study has shown that big bumblebees learn where the best flowers are located, remember the spot and visit them repeatedly. Since they can carry more nectar, they explore areas away from the nest and spend energy to find the best flower. But smaller ones that have a short flight range don’t make the effort to learn about the best flowers and visit many flowers near the nest.

Moon craters map

Published in Nature Communications

Using data from Chang’E-1 and Chang’E-2 lunar orbiters researchers have identified 1,09,956 new craters on the Moon and also tried to estimate their ages using artificial intelligence. The computer was taught to identify not just round craters but also look at irregular and even degraded craters that can give clues about the history of the Moon. The team was able to decode the mechanism of formation of 18,996 of the newly detected craters.

Brain tracks

Published in Nature

A wireless device records each patient's brain waves as he or she navigates an empty room.

A wireless device records each patient’s brain waves as he or she navigates an empty room.
| Photo Credit:

How does your brain help you navigate in a crowded space, find the perfect parking spot or even the shortest route to a counter? A new study has shown that the brain not just looks at your movements and surroundings but also calculates other’s movements. “Our results support the idea that, under certain mental states, this pattern of brain waves may help us recognise boundaries,” said first author Matthias Stangl in a release.

Microplastic pollution

Published in Environmental Health Perspectives

By looking at 50 studies between 2014 and 2020 researchers have found that mussels, oysters and scallops have the highest levels of microplastic contamination among seafood. Study author, Evangelos Danopoulos said in a release: “No-one yet fully understands the full impact of microplastics on the human body, but early evidence from other studies suggest they do cause harm. A critical step in understanding the full impact on human consumption is in first fully establishing what levels of microplastics humans are ingesting. We can start to do this by looking at how much seafood and fish is eaten and measuring the amount of microplastics in these creatures.”

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