Unusual blue woodlice may help develop new antiviral materials

A team of experts who are looking to combat viruses are to make a plea to the general public to help them in a new research project by becoming garden detectives – and hunt for the humble woodlouse.

Materials and antiviral expert Dr Sam Jones, from The University of Manchester, is on a quest for blue coloured woodlice as they are actually infested with an insect virus called iridovirus – and isopods like woodlice serve as natural hosts. However, iridovirus poses no threat to humans.

The distinctive blue colour is, in fact, caused by a crystal forming within the diseased creature’s tissue – and from this biochemistry Dr Jones believes a new test could be developed to measure the effectiveness of a revolutionary antiviral material.

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