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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Salmonella-infected mice that were given antibiotics became superspreaders

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:29 PM PDT

Some people infected with pathogens spread their germs to others while remaining symptom-free themselves. Now, investigators believe they may know why. In a new study, Salmonella-infected mice that were given antibiotics became sicker and began shedding far more bacteria in their feces than they had before.

Built-in billboards: Male bluefin killifish signal different things with different fins

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:29 PM PDT

They help fish swim, but fins also advertise a fish's social standing and health. In a new study, researchers report that for the male bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei), each colorful fin presents its own messages to other fish.

Untangling the biological effects of blue light

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:27 PM PDT

Blue light can both set the mood and set in motion important biological responses. Researchers have teased apart the separate biological responses of the human eye to blue light, revealing an unexpected contest for control.

Three people infected with Ebola predicted to fly from West Africa every month if no exit screening takes place

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:24 PM PDT

Three Ebola-infected travelers are predicted to depart on an international flight every month from any of the three countries in West Africa currently experiencing widespread Ebola virus outbreaks (Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone), if no exit screening were to take place, according to new modeling research.

Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, pointing way to new therapies

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:23 PM PDT

Scientists have restored the hearing of mice partly deafened by noise, using advanced tools to boost the production of a key protein in their ears. By demonstrating the importance of the protein, called NT3, in maintaining communication between the ears and brain, these new findings pave the way for research in humans that could improve treatment of hearing loss caused by noise exposure and normal aging.

New study charts the fate of chemicals affecting health, environment

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 11:52 AM PDT

The trajectory of chemicals appearing as emergent threats to human or environmental health has been recently studied through a meta-analysis of 143,000 peer-reviewed research papers. The work tracks the progress of these chemicals of emerging concern, revealing patters of emergence from obscurity to peak concern and eventual decline, over a span of 30 years.

New study examines web-based biosurveillance systems in identifying disease outbreaks

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 11:51 AM PDT

Little quantitative evidence exists to show that electronic event-based biosurveillance systems that gather near real-time information to identify infectious disease outbreaks have led to specific health policy actions, decisions or outcomes, according a new study.

Robots recognize humans in disaster environments

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 11:15 AM PDT

Through a computational algorithm, a team of researchers has developed a neural network that allows a small robot to detect different patterns, such as images, fingerprints, handwriting, faces, bodies, voice frequencies and DNA sequences.

Fish tale: New study evaluates antibiotic content in farm-raised fish

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 10:49 AM PDT

Antibiotic use in the rapidly expanding world of global aquaculture has been examined in a new study. Results of the research evaluated the presence of antibiotics in shrimp, salmon, catfish, trout, tilapia and swai, originating from 11 countries. Data showed traces of 5 of the 47 antibiotics evaluated.

Children who drink non-cow's milk are twice as likely to have low vitamin D

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 10:49 AM PDT

Children who drink non-cow's milk such as rice, almond, soy or goat's milk, have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood than those who drink cow's milk, according to a new study.

Secrets of dinosaur ecology found in fragile amber

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 10:39 AM PDT

Ryan McKellar's research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, he uses the tiny pieces of fossilized tree resin to study the world in which the now-extinct behemoths lived. New techniques for investigating very tiny pieces of fragile amber buried in dinosaur bonebeds could close the gaps in knowledge about the ecology of the dinosaurs.

Massive debris pile reveals risk of huge tsunamis in Hawaii

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 09:15 AM PDT

A mass of marine debris discovered in a giant sinkhole in the Hawaiian islands provides evidence that at least one mammoth tsunami, larger than any in Hawaii's recorded history, has struck the islands, and that a similar disaster could happen again, new research finds. Scientists are reporting that a wall of water up to nine meters (30 feet) high surged onto Hawaiian shores about 500 years ago. A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of the Aleutian Islands triggered the mighty wave, which left behind up to nine shipping containers worth of ocean sediment in a sinkhole on the island of Kauai.

Mediterranean, semi-arid ecosystems prove resistant to climate change

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 09:15 AM PDT

Climate change predictions for the Middle East, like other arid regions of the world, are alarming. But in testing these dire predictions, ecologists found that, contrary to expectations, no measurable changes in annual vegetation could be seen. None of the crucial vegetation characteristics -- neither species richness and composition, nor density and biomass -- had changed appreciably in the course of the rainfall manipulations.

Fish just want to have fun, according to a new study that finds even fish 'play'

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 09:14 AM PDT

Biologists have documented fish playing with a bottom-weighted thermometer and other objects. Play, like much of animals' psychology including emotions, motivations, perceptions and intellect, is part of their evolutionary history and not just random, meaningless behavior.

Why your brain makes you reach for junk food

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Will that be a pizza for you or will you go for a salad? Choosing what you eat is not simply a matter of taste, conclude scientists in a new study. As you glance over a menu or peruse the shelves in a supermarket, your brain is making decisions based more on a food's caloric content.

John Lennon commemorated by naming a new tarantula species from South America after him

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 07:55 AM PDT

A newly described tarantula species from Western Brazilian Amazonia was named Bumba lennoni in honor of John Lennon, a founder member of the legendary band the Beatles. The new species is part of the tarantula family Theraphosidae which comprises the largest sized spider species in the world.

Breathing sand: New measurement technique detects oxygen supply to bottom of North Sea

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 07:53 AM PDT

New analytical methods show for the first time, how the permeable, sandy sediment at the bottom of the North Sea is supplied with oxygen and which factors determine the exchange. Based on the detailed investigation and new measurement technology, the turnover of organic matter and nutrients at the sea floor as well as future changes within the dynamic ecosystem can be better assessed.

Protocells and information strings: Self-organizing autocatalytic network created in computer model

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 07:50 AM PDT

Protocells are the simplest, most primitive living systems, you can think of. However, creating an artificial protocell is far from simple. One of the challenges is to create the information strings that can be inherited by cell offspring, including protocells. Such information strings are like modern DNA or RNA strings, and they are needed to control cell metabolism and provide the cell with instructions about how to divide. Now using a a virtual computer experiment, researchers in Denmark have discovered information strings with peculiar properties.

Winning the war against Human parainfluenza virus

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 07:50 AM PDT

Researchers have moved a step closer to identifying a treatment for the dreaded Human parainfluenza virus. These highly-infectious viruses are the leading cause of upper and lower respiratory tract disease in young children, including Croup, responsible for thousands of hospitalizations in the developed world, and hundreds of thousands of deaths each year in developing countries.

Earthquakes in the ocean: Towards a better understanding of their precursors

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 07:49 AM PDT

New research offers the first theoretical model that, based on fluid-related processes, explains the seismic precursors of an underwater earthquake. Using quantitative measurements, this innovative model established a link between observed precursors and the mainshock of an earthquake. The results open a promising avenue of research for guiding future investigations on detecting earthquakes before they strike.

Origins of sex discovered: Side-by-side copulation in distant ancestors

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 07:38 AM PDT

A palaeontologist has revealed how the intimate act of sexual intercourse first evolved in our deep distant ancestors. In one of the biggest discoveries in the evolutionary history of sexual reproduction, scientists have found that internal fertilization and copulation appeared in ancient armored fishes, called placoderms, about 385 million years ago in what is now Scotland.

Blind cave fish may provide insight on eye disease, other human health issues

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Blind cave fish may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to understanding human sight, but recent research indicates they may have quite a bit to teach us about the causes of many human ailments, including those that result in loss of sight. A team of researchers is looking to the tiny eyeless fish for clues about the underpinnings of degenerative eye disease and more.

New tracers can identify frack fluids in the environment

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Scientists have developed geochemical tracers to identify hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids that have been spilled or released into the environment. The tracers have been field-tested at two sites and can distinguish fracking fluids from wastewater versus conventional wells or other sources. They give scientists new forensic tools to detect if fracking fluids are escaping into water supplies and what risks, if any, they might pose.

Fish intake associated with boost to antidepressant response

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Up to half of patients who suffer from major depression do not respond to treatment with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Now a group of researchers has carried out a study that shows that increasing fatty fish intake appears to increase the response rate in patients who do not respond to antidepressants.

Group B streptococcus incidence rises significantly among newborns despite widespread adoption of prevention initiatives

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Group B streptococcus, a major cause of serious infectious diseases including sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia, has increased by about 60% among infants younger than 3 months in the Netherlands over the past 25 years despite the widespread use of prevention strategies, new research has found.

Later supper for blackbirds in the city: Artificial light gives birds longer to forage for food

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Artificial light increases foraging time in blackbirds. Birds in city centers are active not just considerably earlier, but also for longer than their relatives in darker parts of the city. The study showed that artificial light has a considerable influence on the activity times of blackbirds in the city and therefore on their natural cycles.

In between red light and blue light: New functionality of molecular light switches

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Diatoms play an important role in water quality and in the global climate. They generate about one fourth of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere and perform around one-quarter of the global carbon dioxide assimilation, i.e. they convert carbon dioxide into organic substances. Their light receptors are a crucial factor in this process. Researchers have now discovered that blue and red light sensing photoreceptors control the carbon flow in these algae.

Pediatric allergology: Fresh milk keeps infections at bay

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Infants fed on fresh rather than UHT cow's milk are less prone to infection, new research suggests. The authors recommend the use of alternative processing methods to preserve the protectants found in the natural product.

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealed

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Iron is the most abundant trace element in humans. As a cofactor of certain proteins, it plays an essential role in oxygen transport and metabolism. Due to the major importance of iron in a wide variety of cellular processes, and the harm caused by its uncontrolled accumulation in the body, its uptake and storage is strictly regulated. In mammals, iron is imported into cells by the membrane transport protein DMT1. Mutations of DMT1, which affect its transport properties, lead to iron-related metabolic disorders such as anemia and the iron storage disease hemochromatosis.

New molecule from herb discovered, potential for drug development

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

A new molecule that can join together chains of amino acids -- the building blocks of protein -- has been discovered by researchers. Only three other known molecules have been discovered to be able to perform this function, which is an important process in the development of new drugs. The new molecule is able to do the same process 10,000 times faster than the other three and "cleanly" without leaving any residue behind, scientists report.

Roman Gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank a tonic of ashes after training

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Roman gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank ashes after training as a tonic. These are the findings of anthropological investigations carried out on bones of warriors found during excavations in the ancient city of Ephesos.

Mummy remains refute antiquity of ankylosing spondylitis

Posted: 20 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease that causes inflammation in the spinal joints and was thought to have affected members of the ancient Egyptian royal families. Now a new study refutes that claim, finding instead a degenerative spinal condition called diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) in royal Egyptian mummies from the 18th to early 20th Dynasties.

Crystallizing the DNA nanotechnology dream

Posted: 19 Oct 2014 12:18 PM PDT

For the last 20 years, scientists have tried to design large DNA crystals with precisely prescribed depth and complex features -- a design quest just fulfilled by scientists. The team built 32 DNA crystals with precisely-defined depth and an assortment of sophisticated three-dimensional features.

Lab-developed intestinal organoids form mature human tissue in mice

Posted: 19 Oct 2014 12:18 PM PDT

Researchers have successfully transplanted 'organoids' of functioning human intestinal tissue grown from pluripotent stem cells in a lab dish into mice -- creating an unprecedented model for studying diseases of the intestine. Scientists said that, through additional translational research, the findings could eventually lead to bioengineering personalized human intestinal tissue to treat gastrointestinal diseases.

Gene duplications associated with autism evolved recently in human history

Posted: 19 Oct 2014 06:46 AM PDT

Human geneticists have discovered that a region of the genome associated with autism contains genetic variation that evolved in the last 250,000 years, after the divergence of humans from ancient hominids, and likely plays an important role in disease.

Study examines type of exome sequencing, molecular diagnostic yield

Posted: 18 Oct 2014 09:28 AM PDT

In a sample of patients with undiagnosed, suspected genetic conditions, a certain type of exome sequencing method was associated with a higher molecular diagnostic yield than traditional molecular diagnostic methods, according to a study.

Artificial light, biological clock disruptions, increase breast cancer risk, study finds

Posted: 17 Oct 2014 03:37 PM PDT

The disruption of a person's circadian rhythm -- their 24-hour biological clock -- has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, according to new research. The culprit, in this study in particular, is artificial light. 'Exposure to artificial light leads to a significantly higher risk for developing breast cancer,' said one investigator.

Breeding soybeans that can tolerate heat, drought

Posted: 17 Oct 2014 03:34 PM PDT

Hot, dry conditions can wreak havoc on a field of soybeans. Now research is uncovering the molecular mechanisms that lead to drought and heat tolerance. This will help breeders develop soybean varieties that can survive heat and drought.

Divide and conquer: Novel trick helps rare pathogen infect healthy people

Posted: 17 Oct 2014 06:31 AM PDT

New research into a rare pathogen has shown how a unique evolutionary trait allows it to infect even the healthiest of hosts through a smart solution to the body's immune response against it, scientists report.

First step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagus

Posted: 17 Oct 2014 06:26 AM PDT

In a first step toward future human therapies, researchers have shown that esophageal tissue can be grown in vivo from both human and mouse cells.

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