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Saturday, October 11, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Pneumococcal vaccine reduces antibiotic-resistant infections in children by 62 percent

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 10:43 AM PDT

The pneumococcal vaccine recommended for young children not only prevents illness and death, but also has dramatically reduced severe antibiotic-resistant infections, suggests American nationwide research. Pneumococcal infection -- which can cause everything from ear infections to pneumonia and meningitis -- is the most common vaccine-preventable bacterial cause of death.

Physics determined ammonite shell shape

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 10:43 AM PDT

Ammonites are a group of extinct cephalopod mollusks with ribbed spiral shells. They are exceptionally diverse and well known to fossil lovers. Researchers have developed the first biomechanical model explaining how these shells form and why they are so diverse. Their approach provides new paths for interpreting the evolution of ammonites and nautili, their smooth-shelled distant "cousins" that still populate the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Mineralization of sand particles boosts microbial water filtration

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Mineral coatings on sand particles actually encourage microbial activity in the rapid sand filters that are used to treat groundwater for drinking, according to a paper. These findings resoundingly refute, for the first time, the conventional wisdom that the mineral deposits interfere with microbial colonization of the sand particles.

Potential of autochthonous bacteria for use as biofertilizers

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 07:08 AM PDT

Scientists are working to select autochthonous bacteria with a biofertilizing potential as a result of the stimulating effect they have on the take-up of nutrients by plants, phytohormone production and phytopathogen control. The research is of great interest for farmers because bacteria-based biofertilizers constitute an alternative to conventional chemical fertilizers that are expensive and less sustainable from an environmental point of view.

All the cell's a stage: One protein directs epigenetic players

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 07:08 AM PDT

One gene-regulating protein called Bre1 must be maintained in the proper amount for other epigenetic players to do their jobs properly, researchers have found. It's a key coordinator in the sort of cellular scenes that can turn a healthy cell into a cancer cell.

Flying robots to save lives in the Alps

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:40 AM PDT

Scientists at the University of Twente are working on robots that are expected to save lives in calamity situations in the Alps. The emphasis within this SHERPA project is on cooperation between human rescue workers, the ground robot ('ground rover') with a robotic arm and flying robots.

Sustainable city concepts going into action

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:40 AM PDT

Researchers are starting work on a Smart Cities and Communities initiative. This project will transform designated urban districts into smart quarters in three forerunner cities and then transfer the concepts to three further cities.

Fast, simple diagnostic test specific to 2014 Ebola outbreak

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:40 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a fast and simple diagnostic test solution specific to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. With the current epidemic of Ebola virus in West Africa, scientists are racing to provide an easy-to-use, affordable solution for screening suspect Ebola patients.

Middle Eastern vegetation resistant to climate change: Ecosystems withstand more than seven lean years

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:40 AM PDT

Ecosystems in the Middle East are home to a wealth of unique species -- including the ancestors of many of our staple crops. Yet the climate scenario in this dry region is alarming. Already, the region has a relatively small amount of water available for every person living there -- and it is predicted that in the future, there will be even less rain. New research shows that Middle Eastern ecosystems might be more resilient than previously thought.

Taxonomy: Recommendations on researching biodiversity

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:39 AM PDT

Taxonomy, the science of identifying, describing and classifying life forms, is currently experiencing a technological revolution. As a result, the goal of collecting data on the Earth's entire biological diversity is becoming achievable. At the same time, the importance of taxonomy is growing in many fields, such as medicine, the food industry, and agriculture.

Fish moving poleward at rate of 26 kilometres per decade

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:38 AM PDT

Large numbers of fish will disappear from the tropics by 2050, finds a new study that examined the impact of climate change on fish stocks. The study identified ocean hotspots for local fish extinction but also found that changing temperatures will drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters.

Inner workings of powerful biochemical switch revealed

Posted: 10 Oct 2014 05:37 AM PDT

Using X-rays and neutron beams, a new study has revealed the inner workings of a master switch that regulates basic cellular functions, but that also, when mutated, contributes to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other deadly disorders.

Electrically conductive plastics promising for batteries, transparent solar cells

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 06:04 PM PDT

An emerging class of electrically conductive plastics called 'radical polymers' may bring low-cost, transparent solar cells, flexible and lightweight batteries and ultra-thin antistatic coatings for consumer electronics and aircraft.

Ebola research shows rapid control interventions key factor in preventing spread

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 01:37 PM PDT

New Ebola research demonstrates that quick and forceful implementation of control interventions are necessary to control outbreaks and avoid far worse scenarios. Researchers analyzed up-to-date epidemiological data of Ebola cases in Nigeria as of Oct. 1, 2014, in order to estimate the case fatality rate, proportion of health care workers infected, transmission progression and impact of control interventions on the size of the epidemic.

'Sepsis sniffer' generates faster sepsis care, suggests reduced mortality

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 01:33 PM PDT

An automated early warning and response system for sepsis has resulted in a marked increase in sepsis identification and care, transfer to the ICU, and an indication of fewer deaths due to sepsis, scientists report.

DNA nano-foundries cast custom-shaped metal nanoparticles

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 12:41 PM PDT

Researchers have unveiled a new method to form tiny 3-D metal nanoparticles in prescribed shapes and dimensions using DNA, nature's building block, as a construction mold. The ability to mold inorganic nanoparticles out of materials such as gold and silver in precisely designed 3D shapes is a significant breakthrough that has the potential to advance laser technology, microscopy, solar cells, electronics, environmental testing, disease detection and more.

Entire female reproductive tract susceptible to HIV infection in macaque model

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 12:40 PM PDT

Most women are infected with HIV through vaginal intercourse, and without effective vaccines or microbicides, women who cannot negotiate condom use by their partners remain vulnerable. How exactly the virus establishes infection in the female reproductive tract remains poorly understood. A new study reports surprising results from a study of HIV transmission in the FRT of rhesus macaques.

Embryos receive parent-specific layers of information, study shows

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 12:40 PM PDT

The information that interprets the genetic code in a new embryo differs depending on whether it comes from the father or mother, researchers have found. This parent specific information is contained within modified histone proteins, also called 'epigenetic marks,' which influence the development plan of new embryos. The research opens up new avenues of study for scientists exploring the process of how genetic information is passed from parents to offspring.

Mouse version of an autism spectrum disorder improves when diet includes a synthetic oil

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 11:14 AM PDT

When young mice with the rodent equivalent of a rare autism spectrum disorder, called Rett syndrome, were fed a diet supplemented with the synthetic oil triheptanoin, they lived longer than mice on regular diets. Importantly, their physical and behavioral symptoms were also less severe after being on the diet.

Thanks, fruit flies, for that pleasing beer scent

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 09:55 AM PDT

The familiar smell of beer is due in part to aroma compounds produced by common brewer's yeast. Now, researchers have discovered why the yeast (formally known as S. cerevisiae) make that smell: the scent attracts fruit flies, which repay the yeast by dispersing their cells in the environment.

Special chromosomal structures control key genes

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 09:49 AM PDT

Scientists have long theorized that the way in which the roughly three meters of DNA in a human cell is packaged to fit within a nuclear space just six microns wide, affects gene expression. Now, researchers present the first evidence that DNA structure does indeed have such effects -— in this case finding a link between chromosome structure and the expression and repression of key genes.

All that glitters is... slimy? Gold nanoparticles measure stickiness of mucus in airways

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 08:27 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a way to use gold nanoparticles and light to measure the stickiness of mucus in the airways. Their research could help doctors better monitor and treat lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

College athletes in contact sports more likely to carry MRSA, study finds

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 08:27 AM PDT

Even if they don't show signs of infection, college athletes who play football, soccer and other contact sports are more likely to carry the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This puts them at higher risk for infection and increases the likelihood of spreading the bug, which can cause serious and even fatal infections.

Coastal living boosts physical activity, study shows

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 07:09 AM PDT

People who live close to the coast are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than inland dwellers, finds a new study. The research involved participants from across England and describes a particularly noticeable effect on western -- but unexpectedly not eastern -- coasts of the nation.

The mathematics behind the Ebola epidemic

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 07:09 AM PDT

Researchers have calculated new benchmark figures to precisely describe the Ebola epidemic in West Africa from a mathematical perspective. Their results may help health authorities to contain the epidemic.

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