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New York City Rats Found to Carry SARS-CoV-2

New York City rats have been found to carry SARS-CoV-2 in a new study appearing this week in mBio, raising concerns that the animals could act as a reservoir for the virus and aid in its transmission to humans. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to infect a range of animals, including deer, cats, dogs, and mink. In light of the millions of rats that inhabit New York, a team led by University of Missouri's Xiu-Feng Wan examined SARS-CoV-2 exposure among 79 wild Norway rats captured in the city during late 2021. They found that 13 of the animals tested positive for the virus, predominantly variants that were circulating in New York during the early stages of the pandemic. The researchers also conducted virus challenge experiments, showing that rats are susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha, Delta, and Omicron variants. "Our findings highlight the need for further monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in urban rat populations and for evaluating the potential risk of secondary zoonotic transmission from these rat populations back to humans," the study's authors write.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.