Apr 8, 2017

Octopuses defy the genetic norm

Thomas Quine / Flicr cc

Octopuses are some of the most intelligent creatures on Earth. They can open jars, escape fish tanks, are expert tool-makers, and are skilled in camouflage thanks to their ability to change in both color and texture.

A team of scientists led by Joshua Rosenthal at the Marine Biological Laboratory and Eli Esienberg at Tel Aviv University have found that octopuses and their relatives — the coleoid cephalopods, including cuttlefish and squid — have the ability to edit the RNA information encoded in their genes, possibly allowing them to rapidly and temporarily respond to environmental conditions or tasks.

Why it matters: Coleoid species are the rare few who edit their RNA. It's unclear if it is responsible for their incredible intellect, but Noa Liscovitch-Brauer, a member of Rosenthal's team, says "that would definitely be my guess."

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,202,827 — Total deaths: 64,771 — Total recoveries: 246,886Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 312,076 — Total deaths: 8,496 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S. The global death toll has surpassed 64,700, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: The United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II will speak in a televised address on the coronavirus Sunday of the "disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all," per the BBC. The U.K. death toll rose 708 to 4,313 on Saturday — the fourth highest in the world.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,400

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,400 in the U.S. on Saturday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest week, between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. should expect to see deaths continue to rise in this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health