Volume II, Issue 6: March 2010


Grounding mosquitoes may control dengue fever

Mosquito close-up
Infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit the virus causing dengue fever.

A new strain of genetically engineered mosquitoes in which females cannot fly may help reduce the spread of dengue fever, a deadly disease that affects millions worldwide and has no vaccine or treatment. UCI and British scientists created the new breed of grounded females, which are expected to die quickly in the wild, curtailing the number of mosquitoes and reducing — or even eliminating — dengue transmission. Males of the strain can fly but do not bite or convey disease.

Flightless mosquitoes »

This 'green' may be bad for the planet

UCI researcher Amy Townsend-Small
UCI researcher Amy Townsend-Small says the management of urban green spaces can emit more greenhouse gases than the plots take in and store.

The ubiquitous suburban lawn may cause the emission of more greenhouse gases than it removes from the air, dispelling the notion that such well-tended turfgrass is good for the environment, a UCI study found. Total emissions might actually be lower if lawns did not exist, says Amy Townsend-Small, Earth system science postdoctoral researcher and lead study author. Turfgrass removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and stores it as organic carbon in soil, but that amount is often exceeded by the greenhouse gases produced through fertilizing, mowing, leaf-blowing and other practices employed to maintain that perfectly coifed plot of grass.

Not-so-green lawns »

New scanner goes beyond mammography

Bruce Tromberg, John Butler, David Hsiang and Rita Mehta
Bruce Tromberg (right), director of the Beckman Laser Institute, and UCI oncologists John Butler, David Hsiang and Rita Mehta (from left) are evaluating the breast imaging device.

A laser imaging device created by researchers at UCI's Beckman Laser Institute improves detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Scientists evaluating the handheld scanner found that, unlike mammograms, it can accurately distinguish between malignant and benign growths, possibly offering an easy, noninvasive way to tell whether breast tumors warrant aggressive treatment.

Laser scanner »

Colorful butterfly wings not just for show

Heliconius erato butterfly close-up
Heliconius erato butterflies have evolved photoreceptors in their eyes for detecting UV colors and express UV-yellow pigment on their wings.

Butterflies' colorful wings aid their search for love, or at least an appropriate mate, say UCI biologists. In a study of nine Heliconius species, the researchers proved what butterfly experts had long suspected: Vision plays a key role in explaining wing color diversity. Butterflies that have a duplicate gene allowing them to see ultraviolet colors also have UV-yellow pigment on their wings, which helps them more easily spot a potential mate. This keeps them from chasing after the wrong species, freeing up their schedule for reproducing, eating and thriving.

Butterfly wings »