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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Stolen Fungus Gene Turned Aphids Red
29 April 2010 2:00 pm
You are what you eat—or, at least, you may turn the same color as the things you eat. Flamingos are pink because they eat shrimp, and even humans can turn orange if we consume too many carrots or tomatoes. The agents responsible are pigments known as carotenoids, but scientists have now found that at least one animal doesn't need to eat them to change color. Instead, tiny insects called aphids picked up the genes needed to produce carotenoids from a fungus sometime during their evolutionary history. That makes aphids the first animal known to produce its own carotenoids, researchers report tomorrow in Science. The scientists remark that it is curious that other animals haven't acquired a means to produce carotenoids, given the many important functions they perform, such as strengthening the immune system.