Two faculty members of the CST Biology Department were published in Nature in October. Congratulations to them!
Sergei Pond, in the News & Views entitled "Anti-COVID drug accelerates viral evolution" , comments on a recent genomic study showing how certain antiviral drug types can accelerate viral evolution. Sergei also explains how it is highly undesirable because such accelerated evolution may increase the risk of new variants emerging, for example.
S. Blair Hedges has a study entitled “Ongoing declines for the world's amphibians in the face of emerging threats, (link https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06578-4)” based on the second global amphibian assessment conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The assessment evaluated the extinction risk of more than 8,000 amphibian species from all over the world, including 2,286 species evaluated for the first time. More than 1,000 experts across the globe contributed their data and expertise, which found that 41% of amphibians are threatened with extinction, more than any vertebrate class. The species assessments are available on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They found that habitat loss and degradation is the greatest threat, affecting 93% of all threatened amphibian species. Disease caused by the chytrid fungus, and overexploitation, also continues to cause amphibian declines. These are all threats that are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. In fact, when only the species showing an increase in extinction risk—by moving to a higher threat category since the 2004 assessment—were considered, climate change appeared as a substantial emerging threat. Hedges played a key role in this study with his expertise on amphibians of Caribbean islands, a region found in this analysis to have the most threatened species. The article made the journal cover.
Nature Cover October 12, 2023: a black microhylid frog ( Melanobatrachus indicus ), a rare species from the Western Ghats of India. Photo by Sandeep Das.