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Bird origin for 1918 flu pandemic

Nature Model also links avian influenza strains to deadly horse flu. The virus that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic probably sprang from North American domestic and wild birds, not from the mixing of human and swine viruses. A study published today in Nature reconstructs the origins of influenza A virus and

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Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable

Nature Natural selection favours those with a greater capacity to generate genetic variation. Some gamblers succeed by spiriting cards up their sleeves, giving them a wider range of hands to play. So do some bacteria, whose great capacity for genetic variability helps them evolve and adapt to rapidly changing environments. Now research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shows that the capacity to evolve can itself be the target of natural selection. The results were published today in PLoS Pathogens1. “There are other data that suggest that there could be selection on evolvability, but this is the first example … Read more…

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Muslim students weigh in on evolution

In Indonesia and Pakistan, questions about how science and faith can be reconciled. In the first large study of its kind, a survey of 3,800 high-school students in Indonesia and Pakistan has found that teachers are delivering conflicting messages about evolution. The Can$250,000 Islam and Evolution research project is the first large study of students, teachers and scientists in countries with significant Muslim populations to examine their understanding and acceptance of evolution. Some results from the three-year project were presented at a symposium at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, this week. “We now have empirical data for how Muslim students, … Read more…