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Friday, October 3, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Boosting biofuel: Yeast made to tolerate high levels of ethanol, making them more productive

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 11:18 AM PDT

Yeast are commonly used to transform corn and other plant materials into biofuels such as ethanol. However, large concentrations of ethanol can be toxic to yeast, which has limited the production capacity of many yeast strains used in industry.

Previously unseen details of seafloor exposed in new map

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 11:18 AM PDT

A new map of the world's seafloor has been created. Twice as accurate as the previous version, the new map features a much more vivid picture of seafloor structures, including thousands of previously uncharted mountains.

In-depth analysis of bat influenza viruses concludes they pose low risk to humans

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Zoonosis -- transmission of infections from other vertebrates to humans -- causes regular and sometimes serious disease outbreaks. Bats are a well-known vertebrate reservoir of viruses like rabies and Ebola. Recent discovery of sequences in bats that are resemble influenza virus genes raised the question of whether bat flu viruses exist and could pose a threat to humans.

Humans to blame for plummeting numbers of cheetahs

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 11:17 AM PDT

A new study into how cheetahs burn energy suggests that human activity, rather than larger predators, may force them to expend more energy and thus be the major cause of their decline.

Ebola genome browser now online to aid researchers' response to crisis

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:53 AM PDT

The UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute has just released a new Ebola genome browser to assist global efforts to develop a vaccine and antiserum to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus.

Herbivores play important role in protecting habitats from invasive species

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:37 AM PDT

Herbivores consume more non-native oak leaf material in areas with diverse native plant communities than in less diverse communities. Why diverse plant communities tend to resist invasion by non-native plants, remains uncertain. Researchers have been examining the potential role of herbivores on the invasion of non-native plant species in diverse plant communities.

How giant clams harness the sun by growing algae as a source of food

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:37 AM PDT

Beneath the waves, many creatures sport iridescent structures that rival what materials scientists can make in the laboratory. Researchers have now shown how giant clams use these structures to thrive, operating as exceedingly efficient, living greenhouses that grow symbiotic algae as a source of food. This understanding could have implications for alternative energy research, paving the way for new types of solar panels.

Creepy crawlers play key role in structure of grasslands

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:37 AM PDT

The critical importance of earthworms, beetles, and other tiny creatures to the structure of grasslands and the valuable ecosystem services they provide has been outlined by researchers. "These findings emphasize how interconnected the belowground and aboveground components of ecosystems are and that different ecosystem processes respond in different ways to the management of grasslands," said a co-author of the study.

CDC team assisting Ebola response in Dallas, Texas; Investigation of first U.S. Ebola case underway

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:37 AM PDT

Ten experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- supported 24/7 by the CDC's full Emergency Operations Center and Ebola experts in CDC's Atlanta headquarters -- have arrived in Texas and are working closely with Texas state and local health departments to investigate the first Ebola case in the United States. Nine members of the CDC team arrived last night and one arrived Oct. 1, 2014.

DNA 'bias' may keep some diseases in circulation, biologists show

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

The process known as gene conversion has been studied in the context of the evolution of human populations. Researchers found that a bias toward certain types of DNA sequences during gene conversion may be an important factor in why certain heritable diseases persist in populations around the world.

52-million-year-old amber preserves 'ant-loving' beetle

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Scientists have uncovered the fossil of a 52-million-year old beetle that likely was able to live alongside ants -- preying on their eggs and usurping resources -- within the comfort of their nest. The fossil, encased in a piece of amber from India, is the oldest-known example of this kind of social parasitism, known as 'myrmecophily.' The research also shows that the diversification of these stealth beetles, which infiltrate ant nests world-wide today, correlates with the ecological rise of modern ants.

Unexpectedly speedy expansion of human, ape cerebellum

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

A new study could rewrite the story of ape and human brain evolution. While the neocortex of the brain has been called 'the crowning achievement of evolution and the biological substrate of human mental prowess,' newly reported evolutionary rate comparisons show that the cerebellum expanded up to six times faster than anticipated throughout the evolution of apes, including humans.

Underwater landslide doubled size of 2011 Japanese tsunami

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:32 AM PDT

An ocean engineer has found that a massive underwater landslide, not just the 9.0 earthquake, was responsible for triggering the deadly tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011.

Dog's epigenome gives clues to human cancer

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 07:11 AM PDT

The dog's epigenome has been characterized by researchers who transferred the results to human cancer to understand the changes in appearance of tumors. Study results suggest that act pharmacological action on these epigenetic alterations may be helpful in slowing disease progression.

Plant DNA isolation: Twice the DNA yield in less time

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 07:11 AM PDT

A new DNA isolation technique based on MagnaCel paramagnetic cellulose particles (PMC), originally designed and developed for forensic applications, was evaluated by researchers to determine its efficacy in extracting DNA from a wide range of plant species. Compared to other popular DNA extraction methods for plants, PMC was found to be more efficient and produced double the DNA yield.

On invasive species, Darwin had it right all along, study shows

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Based on insights first articulated by Charles Darwin, researchers have developed and tested the 'evolutionary imbalance hypothesis' to help predict species invasiveness in ecosystems. The results suggest the importance of accounting for the evolutionary histories of the donor and recipient regions in invasions.

New study first to document the voices of fish larvae

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 06:24 AM PDT

A new study has documented that fish larvae produce sound. These 'knock' and 'growl' sounds may help small larvae maintain group cohesion in the dark.

Sharks have personalities, study shows

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 05:43 AM PDT

Some sharks are 'gregarious' and have strong social connections, whilst others are more solitary and prefer to remain inconspicuous, according to a new study which is the first to show that the notorious predators have personality traits.

Novel phenolic compounds discovered in barley, beer

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 05:43 AM PDT

Novel forms of phenolic compounds have been discovered from barley and beer. The results will open new interesting possibilities for evaluation of possible health benefits of barley and beer. The study shows that the diversity of chemical defense compounds typical to barley, namely hordatines and their precursors, is much larger than previously thought. These compounds are found in barley grains, but also in beers brewed from barley malts.

Space not only rules genes, but mind as well

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 05:41 AM PDT

Changes in spatial distribution of genetic material can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders, as discovered recently by researchers. The investigation of the genetically modified laboratory mice define new directions in the fight against neuropsychiatric disorders in humans; they also suggest that the results of some previous studies of mouse behavior might be misinterpreted.

Adult vendace, Britain's rarest freshwater fish, found in Bassenthwaite Lake

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 05:41 AM PDT

Two adult vendace, Britain's rarest freshwater fish and a relic of the last ice age, were found in Bassenthwaite Lake in north-West England last month, more than a decade after being declared 'locally extinct.' Last year, a single young vendace was recorded during the annual fish survey.

New molecule fights oxidative stress; May lead to therapies for cancer and Alzheimer's

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:59 PM PDT

Breathing oxygen helps the body create energy for its cells. As a result of the breathing process, reactive molecules called 'free radicals' are produced that often cause damage to proteins and genes found in cells. This damage is known as oxidative stress. Free radicals also have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Now, investigators have discovered a molecule that treats oxidative stress.

Wintertime ozone pollution in Utah oil and gas fields explained

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Chemicals released into the air by oil and gas exploration, extraction and related activities can spark reactions that lead to high levels of ozone in wintertime, high enough to exceed federal health standards, according to new research.

Deconstruction of avant-garde cuisine could lead to even more fanciful dishes

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

One of the most iconic forms of avant-garde cuisine, also known as molecular gastronomy, involves the presentation of flavorful, edible liquids -- like cocktails or olive oil -- packaged into spheres. Now a team of scientists is getting to the bottom of what makes these delectable morsels possible.

Nanoparticles accumulate quickly in wetlands: Aquatic food chains might be harmed by molecules 'piggybacking' on carbon nanoparticles

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

Using mesocosms that closely approximate wetland ecosystems, researchers show carbon nanotubes accumulate quickly in sediments -- a tendency that could indirectly damage aquatic food chains by piggybacking harmful molecules.

Biodiversity in the Mediterranean is threatened by alien species

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:15 PM PDT

Humans have introduced nearly a thousand species from other seas into the Mediterranean with very serious impact on its unique flora and fauna, finds a new study.

Antioxidant found in grapes uncorks new targets for acne treatment

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Resveratrol, an antioxidant derived from grapes and found in wine, works to inhibit growth of the bacteria that causes acne, researchers have found. The team also found that combining resveratrol with a common acne medication, benzoyl peroxide, may enhance the drug's ability to kill the bacteria and could translate into new treatments.

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