Skunks vs. Spores (Abstract Science August 3-9)
Eureka Staff

Skunks vs. Spores (Abstract Science August 3-9)

Also: brain dangers in space and difficult to clean medical devices 

A Fungus Makes a Chemical That Neutralizes the Stench of Skunk Spray

(Carolyn Wilke, Science News, 8/06/19)

A puppy pal that gets sprayed by a skunk is no friend to human noses. The nasty odor can linger for weeks or more. But at least one kind of Tolypocladium fungi makes a chemical that can snuff out the stink. Called peri cosine, it reacts with skunk spray’s sulfur-containing compounds, forming residues that aren’t offensive to the nose and can be more easily washed away, researchers report in the July 26 Journal of Natural Products.

How Deep Space Travel Could Affect the Brain

(Society for Neuroscience, 8/05/19)

Exposure to chronic, low dose radiation — the conditions present in deep space — causes neural and behavioral impairments in mice, researchers report in eNeuro. These results highlight the pressing need to develop safety measures to protect the brain from radiation during deep space missions as astronauts prepare to travel to Mars. Radiation is known to disrupt signaling among other processes in the brain. However, previous experiments used short-term, higher dose-rate exposures of radiation, which does not accurately reflect the conditions in space.

These Medical Devices Are Tough to Sterilize

(Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times, 8/06/19)

In hospitals around the world, the snakelike duodenoscope is regarded as an indispensable tool for diagnosing and treating diseases of the pancreas and bile ducts. But these fiber-optic devices have a remarkable drawback: Although they are inserted into the upper part of the small intestine through the mouth and constantly reused, they cannot be sterilized by the usual methods. Instead, they are hand-scrubbed and then put through dishwasher-like machines that use chemicals to kill microorganisms. Even when cleaned as instructed, the devices may still retain bacteria that can be transmitted to patients.

—Stories compiled by Communications Intern Katherine Hartford