March 3, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

High level of antibiotics in rivers; mosquito killing fungus, and salt in diamonds.

First up, researchers from the University of York have analysed samples from rivers on every continent except Antarctica and have found that two-thirds of their sample contained traces of antibiotics. This is dangerous not only because killing bacteria could interrupt natural ecosystem functions, but also because the increased presence of antibiotics could accelerate the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These bacteria make infections in humans more difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. Researchers stress that we need more research on antibiotic resistance as well as solutions to stop antibiotics seeping into our waters, as not even wastewater treatment plants seem to catch all of the drugs (written by Julia Langer).

Next, the fight against malaria has seen a success this week. Researchers have genetically engineered Metarhizium Pingshaense, a fungus already known to infect mosquitos, to produce spider toxins when it comes into contact with mosquito blood. Within 45 days of the start of the trial, the mosquito population being monitored had collapsed from 1500 adults to 13. The trails took place in Burkina Faso where malaria is endemic and the fungus has been shown to infect insecticide resistant mosquitos. The fungus is harmless to humans and other animals and so could represent a way forward in the battle against malaria (written by Harry Lampert).

And finally, the question of where the traces of salt found in diamonds comes from has finally been put to bed… the seabed, in fact! Research led by the MacQuarie University in Australia has shown that during the formation of diamond, sediments from the seabed are recycled and subsequently trapped in the previous stone. This takes place in the high pressures and temperatures of subduction zones, where one tectonic plate slides under another. When the researchers recreated these conditions, the balance of salts that formed mirrored the salt content found in diamond (written by Katy Pallister).

This week’s news was presented and written by Harry Lampert, Julia Langer, and Katy Pallister, who are studying for a MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.

Banner image: Diamonds, Pixabay