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Friday, October 17, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Cellular self-destruct program has deep roots throughout evolution

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 04:28 PM PDT

In what seems like a counter-intuitive move against survival, within animals, some cells are fated to die from the triggering of an elaborate cell death program, known as apoptosis. Now, researchers have honed in on understanding the evolution of caspase-8, a key cell death initiator molecule that was first identified in humans.

First detailed map of aboveground forest carbon stocks in Mexico unveiled

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 02:06 PM PDT

The first detailed map of aboveground forest carbon stocks of Mexico has been released by researchers. This carbon stock inventory is very valuable for Mexico, as one of the first tropical nations to voluntarily pledge to mitigation actions within the context of the United Nation's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation program.

Cells' powerhouses were once energy parasites: Study upends current theories of how mitochondria began

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 01:59 PM PDT

Parasitic bacteria were the first cousins of the mitochondria that power cells in animals and plants -- and first acted as energy parasites in those cells before becoming beneficial, according to a new study.

Sugared soda consumption, cell aging associated in new study

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 01:59 PM PDT

Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging.

Journey to the center of the Earth: Geochemist uses helium and lead isotopes to gain insight into makeup of planet’s deep interior

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:40 AM PDT

A geochemist studying Samoan volcanoes has found evidence of the planet's early formation still trapped inside Earth. Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years.

'Paradigm shift' in understanding of potassium channels

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:40 AM PDT

A new discovery relating to one of the most common processes in human cells is being described as a 'paradigm shift' in understanding. Researchers have observed ion permeation in potassium channels which does not follow previously predicted pathways.

Loss of big predators could leave herbivores in a thorny situation

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to new research published in Science.

To wilt or not to wilt: MicroRNAs determine tomato susceptibility to Fusarium fungus

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Plant breeders have long identified and cultivated disease-resistant varieties. A new study reveals the molecular basis for resistance and susceptibility to a common fungus that causes wilt in susceptible tomato plants.

Staph 'gangs' share nutrients during infection

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can share resources to cause chronic infections, investigators have discovered. Like the individual members of a gang who might be relatively harmless alone, they turn deadly when they get together with their 'friends.' The findings shed light on a long-standing question in infectious diseases and may inform new treatment strategies.

Resveratrol boosts spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Resveratrol, a natural compound found in red wine and grapes, increased spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome and could hold promise as a treatment for osteoporosis, according to a new study.

Mysterious Midcontinent Rift is a geological hybrid

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Geologists have a new explanation for the formation of the Midcontinent Rift, an ancient 2,000-mile-long underground crack that starts in Lake Superior and runs south. The rift is a geological hybrid, having formed in three stages: it started as an enormous narrow crack in the Earth's crust; that space then filled with an unusually large amount of volcanic rock; and, finally, the igneous rocks were forced to the surface, forming some of the Upper Midwest's beautiful scenery.

MicroRNA molecules serve as on/off switches for inflammation

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Two microRNA molecules that control chronic inflammation have been found by researchers, a discovery that one day may help researchers prevent certain fatal or debilitating conditions before they start.

That pregnant feeling makes a fly start nesting

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Across the animal kingdom, it's not uncommon for pregnancy to change an expectant mom's behavior. Even female flies have their own rudimentary way of 'nesting,' which appears to be brought on by the stretch of their egg-filled abdomens rather than the act of mating, according to a study.

Cell architecture: Finding common ground

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

When it comes to cellular architecture, function follows form. Plant cells contain a dynamic cytoskeleton, which is responsible for directing cell growth, development, movement, and division. Over time, changes in the cytoskeleton form the shape and behavior of cells and, ultimately, the structure and function of the organism. New work hones in on how one particular organizational protein influences cytoskeletal and cellular structure in plants, findings that may also have implications for animal cytoskeletal organization, scientists report.

Are male brains wired to ignore food for sex? Nematode study points to basic biological mechanisms

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Choosing between two good things can be tough. When animals must decide between feeding and mating, it can get even trickier. In a discovery that might ring true even for some humans, researchers have shown that male brains -- at least in nematodes -- will suppress the ability to locate food in order to instead focus on finding a mate.

Amphibian communities collapse in wake of viral outbreak

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Two closely related viruses that have been introduced to northern Spain in recent years have already led to the collapse of three different species of amphibian -- the common midwife toad, the common toad, and the alpine newt -- in the protected area of Picos de Europa National Park. In all, six amphibian species have suffered from severe disease and mass mortality and researchers say that the viruses appear to be on the move.

Male and female brains aren't equal when it comes to fat

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Researchers have found that male and female brains respond in remarkably different ways to high-fat meals. Those differences in the brain lead to greater inflammation and increased health risks in males that indulge on fatty foods in comparison to females, a new study in mice shows. The findings may help to explain observed differences in obesity outcomes between women and men and suggest that dietary advice should be made more sex-specific.

Human genetic research uncovers how omega-6 fatty acids lower bad cholesterol

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Research based on the genetic information from over 100,000 individuals of European ancestry has uncovered a gene that affects blood cholesterol levels through the generation of a compound from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, called lipoxins. The new study also provides additional evidence that aspirin assists in preventing heart attacks by promoting lipoxin production. These insights could change the way doctors care for patients at increased risk for heart disease.

Jet lag can cause obesity by disrupting the daily rhythms of gut microbes

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Organisms ranging from bacteria to humans have circadian clocks to help them synchronize their biological activities to the time of day. A study now reveals that gut microbes in mice and humans have circadian rhythms that are controlled by the biological clock of the host in which they reside. Disruption of the circadian clock in the host alters the rhythms and composition of the microbial community, leading to obesity and metabolic problems.

Trigger for crucial immune system cell identified

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:32 AM PDT

The long-sought activating molecules for a rare but crucial subset of immune system cells that help rally other white blood cells to fight infection have been identified by researchers.

Shrinking resource margins in Sahel region of Africa

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 08:19 AM PDT

The need for food, animal feed and fuel in the Sahel belt is growing year on year, but supply is not increasing at the same rate. New figures from 22 countries indicate falling availability of resources per capita and a continued risk of famine in areas with low 'primary production' from plants. Rising temperatures present an alarming prospect, according to a study.

Evidence for huge mountains that fed early life discovered

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Scientists have found evidence for a huge mountain range that existed in the supercontinent of Gondwana some 600 million years ago. It ran from modern west Africa to northeast Brazil, and as it eroded it fed the oceans with nutrients that fueled an explosion of early life on Earth.

Rivers flow differently over gravel beds

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

River beds, where flowing water meets silt, sand and gravel, are critical ecological zones. Yet how water flows in a river with a gravel bed is very different from the traditional model of a sandy river bed, according to a new study that compares their fluid dynamics. The findings establish new parameters for river modeling that better represent reality, with implications for field researchers and water resource managers.

Some rice-based foods for people with celiac disease contain relevant amounts of arsenic

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:57 AM PDT

Rice is one of the few cereal grains consumed by people with celiac disease, as it does not contain gluten. However, it can have high concentrations of a toxic substance - arsenic - as revealed by the analyses of flour, cakes, bread, pasta and other foods made with rice, research shows. This is important for those suffering from celiac disease, which affects almost 1% of the population of the western world. These people cannot tolerate gluten and are thus obliged to consume products without it, such as rice.

Resistance, rights and racism: Gypsies and travelers on the English green belt

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:56 AM PDT

The battle between Gypsies, Travelers and the settled community over how land can be used has moved to the Green Belt, observes a researcher.

Turning humble seaweed into biofuel

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:56 AM PDT

The sea has long been a source of Norway's riches, whether from cod, farmed salmon or oil. Now one researcher hopes to add seaweed to this list as he refines a way to produce "biocrude" from common kelp. "What we are trying to do is to mimic natural processes to produce oil," he said. "However, while petroleum oil is produced naturally on a geologic time scale, we can do it in minutes."

Plant communities produce greater yield than monocultures

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Diverse plant communities are more successful and enable higher crop yields than pure monocultures, a research team has discovered. The scientists are convinced that the cultivation of crop mixtures in agriculture and forestry will play a key role in food safety in the future.

Follow the leader: Insects benefit from good leadership too

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:09 PM PDT

When insect larvae follow a leader to forage for food, both leaders and followers benefit, growing much faster than if they are in a group of only leaders or only followers, scientists have shown for the first time. The work gives new insight into why such social relationships evolve in insects, and why they are maintained.

Microfossils reveal warm oceans had less oxygen

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 01:56 PM PDT

Researchers are pairing chemical analyses with micropaleontology -- the study of tiny fossilized organisms -- to better understand how global marine life was affected by a rapid warming event more than 55 million years ago. Their findings are the subject of an article in the journal Paleoceanography.

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