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Going to the Extreme

In work published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, scientists found extremophiles -- photoautotrophic microbial communities -- in the Atacama desert in Chile, the driest place on Earth and also the place that most resembles the conditions on Mars. If life could be found to exist here, the authors suppose, it could be found on Mars, too. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder's Alpine Microbial Observatory combined biogeochemical and molecular phylogenetics to look at the genetic diversity of the microbial community at the top of the 19,850-foot-high Socompa volcano. Near the areas around the volcanic fumaroles, they found "a thriving, complex microbial community that appears to be supported by gases emanating from volcanic vents around the rim," says a post at Ars Technica.

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.