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Scramble to Keep the Work Alive

Some federal researchers are sneaking into their labs to take care of their experiments as the US government shut down soldiers on, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"When the government shuts down, it's not a case of, 'Well, you just turn the lights off and lock the door,'" Bob Peterson, an entomologist at Montana State University and president of the Entomological Society of America, tells the LA Times. "You can't do that with living organisms."

At one US Department of Agriculture facility, the LA Times reports, a lab member goes in every few days to transfer their microbe cultures to new substrates, hoping they won't be arrested for violating federal law to keep their experiments alive. It would have taken weeks to train the essential staffers who are allowed into on how to handle the fussy microbes, it adds.

Other researchers say they are missing out on research opportunities while they are shut of the lab or greenhouse. Other USDA researchers studying a fungus that kills disease-transmitting viruses, for instance, are unable to monitor the fungus and viruses as they go through their lifecycles, and others are unable to pollinate blossom as their plants flower, the LA Times adds.

This, researchers tell the paper, could lead to months of wasted effort and could also set experiments back by months.