Vibrant cities around the world are made up of a unique blend of cultures, languages, cuisines, and – as scientists recently revealed – microbes. Nearly 1,000 scientists from around the world, including three from Berkeley Lab, collected and analyzed microbial samples from public transit stations across 60 global cities. They probed ticket kiosks, benches, and rails to see what tiny organisms like bacteria, viruses, and archaea were in residence.
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, scientists are still working to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 strain evolved, and how it became so much more dangerous than other coronaviruses, which humans have been living alongside for millennia. Virologists and epidemiologists worldwide have speculated for months that a protein called ORF8 likely holds the answer, and a recent study by Berkeley Lab scientists has helped confirm this hypothesis.