Science and Nature Round-Up: Invasive species alert – The Post

Science and Nature Round-Up: Invasive species alert

In a waterhole near you (photo: Raver Duane, US Fish and Wildlife Service)
August 20th, 2019 9:36 am| by Ruchi Pujari

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of plant and animal species that are threatening to exterminate native species. The list includes the pumpkinseed fish (lepomis gibbosus) and the tree of heaven (ailanthus altissima).

An aquarium fish gone rogue
The pumpkinseed fish comes from North America and was first noticed in Denmark in the 1980s.

“It was probably imported as an aquarium fish before ending up in water holes around Denmark,” Anne-Marie Vægter Rasmussen, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, told DR.

The authorities do not know the exact distribution of the fish, but they do know that it can be found in waterholes and lakes around the country. The fish is known to transmit diseases to native species.

Tree of heaven can cause inflammation from hell
The tree of heaven were first introduced to Europe from China as an ornamental plant in the 18th century.

As the name suggests, these trees can grow quite tall – up to 30 metres high in some cases

The tree has allergenic toxins both on its bark and leaves. The juice from the plant can cause inflammation of the skin.

Currently, 66 invasive species at EU level
“Among other things, one must not import, sell or breed the banned items. And we as an authority must work to fight these species and, as far as possible, curb the spread of those that are widespread,” warned Rasmussen.

You can check the list of invasive species on the Danish EPA’s website and report any findings. Currently, there are 66 invasive species at EU level and 18 of the species on the EU list are found in Denmark.

More than half a million Danes unknowingly suffer from osteoporosis
A survey carried out by the Net Doctor and Osteoporosis Association has revealed that about half a million Danes suffer from the potentially life-threatening disease osteoporosis and are unaware of it. Osteoporosis weakens bones from the inside, resulting in decalcified bones that are so porous that they break easily. Osteoporosis sufferers run the risk of fracturing their wrists, spine, and hips easily. The situation is now so serious that Dr Bente Langdahl, a researcher and consultant at the Department of Diabetes and Hormone Diseases at Aarhus University, has urged the health minister, Magnus Heunicke, to intervene. She has proposed a national action plan that obliges all parts of the healthcare system to identify the Danes who are at risk.

Danish researchers successful at creating a vaccine against chlamydia
For the first time ever, Danish researchers have been successful in creating a vaccine against the venereal disease chlamydia – one of the most common STDs in Denmark. The Danish Serum Institute in collaboration with the Imperial College in London tested a Danish-developed vaccine on 35 British women and the results were more than successful. The vaccine worked as intended on all of the 35 women. Last year more than 30,000 Danes were found infected with chlamydia and worldwide chlamydia affects 131 million annually. Frank Follmann, who presented the findings on Tuesday in the acclaimed journal The Lancet Infectious Disease, called the results a breakthrough, but emphasised that there still might be some time before it gets to the market.

Startup to use gene-editing tech to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Every year, almost 100 Danes lose their lives due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Danish startup SniprBiome aims to solve this issue with the help of the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) gene-editing technology. CRISPR is a genetic scissor that can cut into bacteria and change its DNA so that it can kill multi-resistant bacteria without the use of antibiotics. SniprBiome has received an investment of 320 million kroner from a number of funds, making this the largest investment of its type in Denmark.

Danish farmers jailed for smuggling pig semen into Australia
According to the Guardian, two Danish farmers have been sentenced to two and three years in prison in Perth, Australia, after they were found guilty of smuggling pig semen in shampoo bottles. DG Pork in Western Australia, of which co-defendant Torben Sørensen is the co-owner, has been repeatedly smuggling pig semen from Denmark since 2009 to breed ‘super-sows’. The Australian minister of agriculture emphasised that smuggling had taken place in an attempt to gain an unfair competitive advantage over the other pig farmers in the country.