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時間:2022-08-16 來源:本站 點擊:258次

Ukraine starts evacuating residents from Sumy******

Ukraine started evacuating residents from the northeastern city of Sumy on Tuesday through a humanitarian corridor as agreed with Russia, Ukraine's UNIAN news agency reported.

"The first column started moving out of the city at 10:00 (0800 GMT)," the agency said.

Dmytro Lunin, acting head of the military-civilian administration of Poltava City in northeast Ukraine, said that 35 buses were sent to Sumy for the evacuation.

"The convoy includes representatives of the Red Cross and doctors. We also sent 20 tons of humanitarian aid: food and medicine," he said, noting that the Ukrainian side observes a ceasefire to ensure the safety of civilians during the evacuation.



If all viruses disappeared, the world would be very different — and not necessarily for the better. But what exactly would happen?


Viruses seem to exist solely to wreak havoc on society and bring suffering to humanity. They have cost untold lives over the millennia, often knocking out significant chunks of the global population – from the 1918 influenza epidemic which killed 50 to 100 million people to the estimated 200 million who died from smallpox in the 20th Century alone. The current Covid-19 pandemic is just one in a series of ongoing and never-ending deadly viral assaults.


If given the choice to magically wave a wand and cause all viruses to disappear, most people would probably jump at that opportunity, especially now. Yet this would be a deadly mistake – deadlier, in fact, than any virus could ever be.


“If all viruses suddenly disappeared, the world would be a wonderful place for about a day and a half, and then we’d all die – that’s the bottom line,” says Tony Goldberg, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “All the essential things they do in the world far outweigh the bad things.”

“如果所有的病毒都突然消失了,世界的美好将持续约一天半,然后我们都会死亡——这是底线,”威斯康辛-麦迪逊大学(University of Wisconsin-Madison)的流行病学家托尼·戈德堡(Tony Goldberg)说。“病毒在这个世界上的重要性远超过其做过的坏事。”

The vast majority of viruses are not pathogenic to humans, and many play integral roles in propping up ecosystems. Others maintain the health of individual organisms – everything from fungi and plants to insects and humans. “We live in a balance, in a perfect equilibrium”, and viruses are a part of that, says Susana Lopez Charretón, a virologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “I think we’d be done without viruses.”

绝大多数病毒对人类没有致病性,许多病毒在支撑生态系统方面发挥着不可或缺的作用。另一些病毒可以维持生物有机体的健康,包括真菌、植物、昆虫和人类等一切事物。墨西哥国立自治大学(National Autonomous University of Mexico)的病毒学家苏珊·沙勒东(Susana Lopez Charreton)说:“我们生活在平衡中,一个完美的平衡”,而病毒就是其中一部分。“我认为没有病毒人类就灭绝了。”

Most people are not aware of the role viruses play in supporting much of life on Earth, because we tend to focus only on the ones that cause humanity trouble. Nearly all virologists solely study pathogens; only recently have a few intrepid researchers begun investigating the viruses that keep us and the planet alive, rather than kill us.


“It’s a small school of scientists who are trying to provide a fair and balanced view of the world of viruses, and to show that there are such things as good viruses,” Goldberg says.


What scientists know for sure is that without viruses, life and the planet as we know it would cease to exist. And even if we wanted to, it would probably be impossible to annihilate every virus on Earth. But by imagining what the world would be like without viruses, we can better understand not only how integral they are to our survival, but also how much we still have to learn about them.


For a start, researchers do not know how many viruses even exist. Thousands have been formally classified, but millions may be out there. “We’ve discovered only a small fraction because people haven’t looked much,” says Marilyn Roossinck, a virus ecologist at Penn State University. “It’s just bias – the science has always been about the pathogens.”

首先,研究人员不知道有多少病毒存在。数千的病毒已经被正式分类,但可能还有数百万病毒未被分类。宾夕法尼亚州立大学(Penn State University)的病毒生态学家玛丽莲·罗斯辛克(Marilyn Roossinck)说:“人类只发现了一小部分病毒,因为人们没有仔细观察。对于科学一直是关于病原体的学科,是一种偏见。”

Nor do scientists know what percentage of total viruses are problematic toward humans. “If you looked numerically, it would be statistically close to zero,” says Curtis Suttle, an environmental virologist at the University of British Columbia. “Almost all viruses out there are not pathogenic to things we care about.”

科学家也不知道病毒整体中有多少对人类有害。英国哥伦比亚大学(University of British Columbia)的环境病毒学家柯蒂斯·苏特尔(Curtis Suttle)说:“如果从统计学角度上看,这个数字接近于零。几乎所有的病毒对我们所关心的东西都没有致病性。”

Key to ecosystems


What we do know is that phages, or the viruses that infect bacteria, are extremely important. Their name comes from the Greek phagein, meaning “to devour” – and devour they do. “They are the major predators of the bacterial world,” Goldberg says. “We would be in deep trouble without them.”


Phages are the primary regulator of bacterial populations in the ocean, and likely in every other ecosystem on the planet as well. If viruses suddenly disappeared, some bacterial populations would likely explode; others might be outcompeted and stop growing completely.


This would be especially problematic in the ocean, where more than 90% of all living material, by weight, is microbial. Those microbes produce about half the oxygen on the planet – a process enabled by viruses.


These viruses kill about 20% of all oceanic microbes, and about 50% of all oceanic bacteria, each day. By culling microbes, viruses ensure that oxygen-producing plankton have enough nutrients to undertake high rates of photosynthesis, ultimately sustaining much of life on Earth. “If we don’t have death, then we have no life, because life is completely dependent on recycling of materials,” Suttle says. “Viruses are so important in terms of recycling.”


Researchers studying insect pests also have found that viruses are critical for species population control. If a certain species becomes overpopulated, “a virus will come through and wipe them out”, Roossinck says. “It’s a very natural part of ecosystems.” This process, called “kill the winner”, is common in many other species as well, including our own – as evidenced by pandemics. “When populations become very abundant, viruses tend to replicate very rapidly and knock that population down, creating space for everything else to live,” Suttle says. If viruses suddenly disappeared, competitive species likely would flourish to the detriment of others.


“We’d rapidly lose a lot of the biodiversity on the planet,” Suttle says. “We’d have a few species just take over and drive out everything else.”


Some organisms also depend on viruses for survival, or to give them an edge in a competitive world. Scientists suspect, for example, that viruses play important roles in helping cows and other ruminants turn cellulose from grass into sugars that can be metabolised and ultimately turned into body mass and milk.


Researchers likewise think that viruses are integral for maintaining healthy microbiomes in the bodies of humans and other animals. “These things are not well understood, but we’re finding more and more examples of this close interaction of viruses being a critical part of ecosystems, whether it’s our human ecosystem or the environment,” Suttle says.


Roossinck and her colleagues have discovered concrete evidence supporting this. In one study, they examined a fungus that colonises a specific grass in Yellowstone National Park. They found that a virus that infects that fungus allows the grass to become tolerant to geothermal soil temperatures. “When all three are there – the virus, fungi and plant – then the plants can grow in really hot soils,” Roossinck says. “The fungus alone doesn’t do it.”


In another case study, Roossinck found that a virus passed through jalapeno seeds allows infected plants to deter aphids. “Aphids are more attracted to plants that don’t have the virus, so it’s definitely beneficial,” Roossinck says.


She and her colleagues have discovered that plants and fungi commonly pass viruses from generation to generation. While they have yet to pinpoint the function of most of those viruses, they assume the viruses must somehow be helping their hosts. “Otherwise, why would plants hang on to them?” Roossinck says. If all of those beneficial viruses disappeared, plants and other organisms that host them would likely become weaker or even die.

她和同事们还发现,植物和真菌通常会将病毒代代相传。虽然他们还没有确定大多数病毒的功能,但认为这些病毒一定是在以某种方式帮助它们的宿主。“否则,植物为什么要抓住它们呢?” 罗斯辛克说。如果所有这些有益病毒都消失了,寄主它们的植物和其他生物体很可能会变得虚弱甚至死亡。

Protective to humans


Infection with certain benign viruses even can help to ward off some pathogens among humans.


GB virus C, a common blood-born human virus that is a non-pathogenic distant relative of West Nile virus and dengue fever, is linked to delayed progression to Aids in HIV-positive people. Scientists also found that GB virus C seems to make people infected with Ebola less likely to die.


Likewise, herpes makes mice less susceptible to certain bacterial infections, including the bubonic plague and listeria (a common type of food poisoning). Infecting people with herpesvirus, bubonic plague and listeria to replicate the mouse experiment would be unethical, but the study’s authors suspect that their findings in rodents likely apply to humans.


While lifelong infection with herpesviruses “are commonly viewed as solely pathogenic,” they write, their data suggest that herpes in fact enters into a “symbiotic relationship” with its host by conferring immune benefits. Without viruses, we and many other species might be more prone to succumbing to other diseases.


Viruses are also some of the most promising therapeutic agents for treating certain maladies. Phage therapy, the subject of considerable research in the Soviet Union as far back as the 1920s, uses viruses to target bacterial infections. It’s now a quickly growing field – not only because of increasing antibiotic resistance, but also because of the ability to fine-tune treatments to knock out specific bacterial species rather than indiscriminately wipe our entire bacterial populations, as antibiotics do.


“Quite a number of lives have been saved by using viruses when antibiotics have failed,” Suttle says. Oncolytic viruses, or ones that selectively infect and destroy cancer cells, are also increasingly being explored as a less toxic and more efficient cancer treatment. Whether targeting harmful bacteria or cancer cells, therapeutic viruses act “like little microscopic guided missiles that go in and blow up the cells we don’t want”, Goldberg says. “We need viruses for a suite of research and technology development efforts that are going to lead us into the next generation of therapeutics.”


Because they are constantly replicating and mutating, viruses also hold a massive repository of genetic innovation that other organisms can incorporate. Viruses replicate by inserting themselves into host cells and hijacking their replication tools. If this happens in a germline cell (eggs and sperm), the viral code can be passed on to the next generation and become permanently integrated. “All organisms that can be infected with viruses have an opportunity to suck up viral genes and use them to their advantage,” Goldberg says. “The insertion of new DNA into genomes is a major mode of evolution.” The disappearance of viruses, in other words, would impact the evolutionary potential for all life on the planet – including Homo sapiens.


Viral elements account for an estimated 8% of the human genome, and mammalian genomes in general are peppered with around 100,000 remnants of genes originating from viruses. Viral code often manifests as inert pieces of DNA, but sometimes it confers new and useful – even essential – functions. In 2018, for example, two research teams independently made a fascinating discovery. A gene of viral origin encodes for a protein that plays a key role in long-term memory formation by moving information between cells in the nervous system.


The most striking example, though, relates to the evolution of the mammalian placenta and the timing of gene expression in human pregnancy. Evidence indicates that we owe our ability to have live births to a bit of genetic code that was co-opted from ancient retroviruses that infected our ancestors more than 130 million years ago. As the authors of that 2018 discovery wrote in PLOS Biology: “It is tempting to speculate that human pregnancy would be very different – perhaps even nonexistent – were it not for eons of retroviral pandemics afflicting our evolutionary ancestors.”

然而,最惊人的例子与哺乳动物胎盘的进化和人类怀孕时基因表达的时间有关。有证据表明,人类之所以能活下来,是因为人类的遗传密码来自于1.3亿年前感染人类祖先的古逆转录病毒。2018年这一发现的作者们在《公共科学图书馆·生物学》(PLOS Biology)杂志上写道:“令人震惊的是,如果不是逆转录病毒大流行折磨着我们进化的祖先,人类的怀孕将会非常不同,甚至可能不存在。”

Experts believe that such signatures occur throughout all forms of multi-cellular life. “There are likely many functions that remain unknown,” Suttle says.


Scientists have only just begun to discover the ways that viruses help to sustain life, because they have only just begun to look. Ultimately, though, the more we learn about all viruses, not just the pathogens, the better equipped we will be to harness certain viruses for good and to develop defenses against others that could lead to the next pandemic.


More than that, learning more about the wealth of viral diversity will help us unlock a deeper understanding of how our planet, ecosystems and very bodies work. As Suttle says, “We need to invest some effort in trying to figure out what’s out there, just for our own good.”


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      华商报记者 黄涛



China firmly opposes discussions about Taiwan's participation in UN activities******

China firmly opposes discussions about Taiwan's participation in United Nations activities, a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the United States said here on Monday.

"The Chinese side is gravely concerned about and firmly opposed to the action of the U.S. side, and has lodged a solemn representation with it," the spokesperson said in a statement.

The remarks were in response to a recent U.S.-Taiwan virtual forum, at which participants from the U.S. Department of State and the Taiwan authorities discussed "supporting Taiwan's ability to participate meaningfully at the UN."

The UN is an intergovernmental international organization composed of sovereign states, and Resolution 2758 adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1971 has solved once and for all the issue of the People's Republic of China's representation in the UN in political, legal and procedural terms, according to the statement.

The system, agencies, and the Secretariat of the UN should abide by the one-China principle and UNGA Resolution 2758 when dealing with Taiwan-related affairs, the statement read.

"A vast number of UN member states, including the U.S., recognize that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory," the spokesperson said. "The participation of the Taiwan region in activities of international organizations must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle."

The Taiwan authorities' attempt to expand the so-called "international space" by brownnosing foreign forces, the spokesperson pointed out, is in essence trying to expand the room for "Taiwan independence" and separatism, and will only prove to be a failure.

"We urge the U.S. to abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three Sino-U.S. Joint Communiques, observe UNGA Resolution 2758, stop official contact with Taiwan, stop making irresponsible remarks, refrain from sending wrong signals to the 'Taiwan independence' forces in any form, avoid emboldening or supporting the Taiwan authorities in expanding the room for 'Taiwan independence,' and stop doing things that undermine China-U.S. relations and damage peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," the spokesperson added.

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