Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Headline Party

My first master's degree was in architecture, and I graduated the day the United States housing market collapsed. So my second master's was in public health, and I got my first job the day Planet Earth went into pandemic lockdown. Expertise in indoor air quality and occupant exposure during an airborne pandemic will make your life pretty busy. Hence, a list of smell-related headlines I've been collecting in the meantime:

Unparalleled inventory of the human gut ecosystem
Jul 2020, phys.org
The Unified Human Gastrointestinal Genome (UHGG) collection, comprising 204,938 nonredundant genomes from 4,644 gut prokaryotes. These genomes encode >170 million protein sequences, which we collated in the Unified Human Gastrointestinal Protein (UHGP) catalog. 

via the European Bioinformatics Institute: Alexandre Almeida et al. A unified catalog of 204,938 reference genomes from the human gut microbiome, Nature Biotechnology (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41587-020-0603-3
Fresh sea spray turns 'sour' after being airborne
Jan 2021, phys.org
"The smallest particles become 100,000 times more acidic than the ocean within two minutes," said Angle, first author of the paper.

via University of California San Diego: Kyle J. Angle et al. Acidity across the interface from the ocean surface to sea spray aerosol, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2018397118
Researchers create a highly sensitive biohybrid olfactory sensor
Jan 2021, phys.org
So we decided to combine existing biological sensors directly with artificial systems to create highly sensitive volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors. We call these biohybrid sensors."

Takeuchi and his team essentially grafted a set of olfactory receptors from an insect into a device that feeds certain odors to the receptors and also reads how the receptors respond to these odors. 

via the University of Tokyo: T. Yamada el al. Highly sensitive VOC detectors using insect olfactory receptors reconstituted into lipid bilayers. Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd2013
Male butterflies mark their mates with repulsive smell during sex to 'turn off' other suitors
Jan 2021, phys.org

Butterfly genitals secrete an odor that covers female genitals, deterring other males from mating with them. Occimene - it's the anti-aphrodisiac (for moths).

via University of Cambridge: Darragh K, Orteu A, Black D, Byers KJRP, Szczerbowski D, Warren IA, et al. (2021) A novel terpene synthase controls differences in anti-aphrodisiac pheromone production between closely related Heliconius butterflies. PLoS Biol 19(1): e3001022. 

Cosmic mouthful - Tasters savor fine wine that orbited Earth
Mar 2021, phys.org
This comes via the Institute for Wine and Vine Research in Bordeaux, and of course the International Space Station.
Researchers develop new smell test for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and COVID-19
May 2021, phys.org
A new smell test developed by Queen Mary University of London researchers has been found to be easy to use in patients with Parkinson's disease, and could also be helpful in diagnosing COVID-19 in the broader population.

via  Queen Mary, University of London: A. Said Ismail et al. A novel capsule-based smell test fabricated via coaxial dripping, Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2021). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0039
Scientists invent an artificial nose for continuous bacterial monitoring
Jun 2021, phys.org
via Americans for Ben-Gurion University: Nitzan Shauloff et al, Sniffing Bacteria with a Carbon-Dot Artificial Nose, Nano-Micro Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1007/s40820-021-00610-w

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