Dec 23, 2017

Scientists want to find the genes of the perfect Christmas tree

A Christmas tree at Galleria Alberto Sordi in Rome. Photo: Ernesto Ruscio / Getty Images

Science might soon allow you to host a hardy, needle-retaining Christmas tree in your home with minimal care via new genetic research, per Wired. Researchers at Washington State University and the University of Connecticut are working together to analyze five years' worth of genetic data from the best and worst needle-retaining trees around the country.

How it works: The scientists aren't analyzing the entire genomes of the conifers — just the sequences that deal with needle retention. By focusing their research there, they can look for genetic patterns amongst the best and worst trees. In the future, those markers could allow growers to target the best Christmas trees and cull the needle droppers, which is especially important because it can take up to a decade to grow a properly sized tree.

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Coronavirus updates: Market ends worst week since financial crisis

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.

The stock market ended its worst week since the financial crisis, prompting the Fed to release a statement. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that countries are losing their chance to contain the novel coronavirus and raised its global risk assessment to "very high" Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected more than 84,000 others in over 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

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California coronavirus: Latest case has no recent history of international travel

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A new case of the novel coronavirus in California was announced on Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that 33 people had tested positive for the virus, noting the risk to the public remains low.

What's new: An adult woman with chronic health conditions in Santa Clara County who "did not recently travel overseas" or come into contact with anyone known to be ill was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus on Friday by CDC and California Department of Public Health officials.

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Big video game conference delayed amid coronavirus concerns

Photo: GDC

Next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco became the latest tech event to be cancelled or postponed amid growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: A growing number of events are being scrapped, including Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 developer conference. Some, like the giant SXSW event in Austin, insist they are moving forward.