The fight to save Europe’s olive trees from disease

The discovery of Xyella fastidiosa in European olive trees in 2013 caught European researchers off-guard. Image credit - Sjor/Wikimedia commons, licenced under CC BY-SA 4.0

by Fintan Burke A plant disease spread by sap-sucking insects has been devastating olive and fruit orchards across southern Europe, but scientists are inching closer to halting its spread with the help of insect repelling clays, vegetative barriers and genetic analysis.  In the late summer harvest of 2013, olive farmers in the Puglia region of … Read more

Covid-19: How unprecedented data sharing has led to faster-than-ever outbreak research

Online tools such as NextStrain are helping to track the spread of coronavirus in real time. Image credit -

by Ian Le Guillou Advances in gene sequencing have allowed scientists to trace and monitor the COVID-19 pandemic faster than any previous outbreak. However, gaps in our knowledge of how coronaviruses work has made it difficult to understand what makes the new coronavirus special. When the new coronavirus (formally known as SARS-CoV-2) was identified in China … Read more

The prostheses that could alleviate amputees’ phantom limb pain

When it comes to improving amputees’ quality of life, one of the biggest challenges is making prostheses that feel like a natural part of the user. Image credit - Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Wikimedia Commons

by Ian Le Guillou New prosthetic technologies that stimulate the nerves could pave the way for prostheses that feel like a natural part of the body and reduce the phantom limb pain commonly endured by amputees. Silvestro Micera, a professor of translational neuroengineering at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, has spent the past 20 … Read more