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Genetic Linkage

COVID Complacency: Warnings from Invasion, Station Eleven, and a Research Report

When Mark Twain wrote "Truth is stranger than fiction," he wasn't imagining people watching tales of an alien invasion and a pandemic unfold on their screens while hiding from a real pandemic. For a short span as 2021 became 2022, Apple TV+'s Invasion and HBOMAX's Station Eleven, each 10 episodes, briefly relieved reality. The first imagines planetary doom, while the second depicts humanity's recovery two decades after attack by a microscopic menace.


While thinking about both limited series a few days ago, I read a report in Nature that eerily evoked Mark Twain. It presents compelling evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, could change in one tiny but crucial part, in an instant, and transform itself into a pathogen perhaps worse than what we've already experienced. That truth would indeed be more terrifying than any fiction.


So here's a look at all three scenarios: two fiction, one not.


To continue reading, go to my blog DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

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Yellow Mealworm Genome Sequence May Ease Farming Insects for Food

I have a special fondness for the yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor.


As a child, I fed the mealworm stage of this beetle to my pet chameleon.


As a teen, I babysat for a family that owned a pet shop. The house was filled with animals, and I was thrilled to be there. That is, until right before bedtime.


As I was trying to get the kids upstairs, a monkey grabbed a can, leaped atop a curtain rod, whipped the top off, and happily sprayed dozens, perhaps hundreds, of writhing, fat, pale mealworms all about the living room. It was great fun collecting them.


Then a few days ago I got a news release from Paris-based Ynsect. The company's goal: to farm massive numbers of yellow mealworms as food for humans. And I instantly remembered the creatures festooned around that long-ago living room.


Ynsect's good news was that the yellow mealworm's genome had finally been sequenced. Thank goodness! It was a tough one to crack.


Eating Mealworms


Farming yellow mealworms for food makes sense.


To continue reading go to my blog DNA Science.

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