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Thursday, October 9, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Plant scientist discovers basis of 'evolution' in violins

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:40 PM PDT

A scientist has quantified the refined shapes of violins allowing us to hone our skills to describe the complexity and diversity among plant species, and to use its genetic basis for crop improvement.

Designing rivers: Environmental flows for ecosystem services in rivers natural and novel

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:39 PM PDT

Authors discuss different approaches to achieving 'environmental flows' of water to sustain river ecosystems, from controlled releases designed with specific objectives for ecology and ecosystem services in mind, like the recent experiment on the Colorado River, to hands-off policies that minimize or reverse alterations to the natural flow of the river, like the recent demolition of dams on the Elwha River in Washington State.

Reproducibility score for SNPs associated with human disease in GWAS

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 12:36 PM PDT

Nine traits that are not dependent on P values to predict single nucleotide polymorphisms reproducibility in genome-wide association studies and reduce false positives have been identified by researchers. Te empirical model can be used to select SNPs for validation and prioritization, one expert said.

Grapefruit juice stems weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet, study finds

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 12:36 PM PDT

Mice fed a high-fat diet gained 18 percent less weight when they drank clarified, no-pulp grapefruit juice compared with a control group of mice that drank water, a new study demonstrated. Juice-drinking mice also showed improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol compared with their water-drinking counterparts.

Ancient rhino-relatives were water-loving

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 12:36 PM PDT

The discovery of new bones from a large land mammal that lived about 48 million years ago has led scientists to identify a new branch of mammals closely related to modern horses, rhinos, and tapirs.

Rivers recover natural conditions quickly following dam removal

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 11:11 AM PDT

A study of the removal of two dams in Oregon suggests that rivers can return surprisingly fast to a condition close to their natural state, both physically and biologically, and that the biological recovery might outpace the physical recovery. In the end, the large pulse of sediment from dam removal simply isn't that big a problem.

Price gap between more and less healthy foods grows

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 11:11 AM PDT

Novel use of UK national data finds a growing gap between the prices of more and less healthy foods between 2002 and 2012. Healthy foods in 2012 are three times more expensive per calorie than less healthy foods.

Penguins Use Their Personalities to Prepare for Climate Change

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Birds' individual personalities may be among the factors that could improve its chances of successfully coping with environmental stressors.

Making sure antibiotics work as they should

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:17 AM PDT

Researchers are decoding the structure of the large ribosomal subunit of the mitochondria at an atomic level, thereby providing insight into the molecular architecture of this ribosome with implications for a better understanding of the mode of action of antibiotics.

Epigenetic changes caused by binge drinking: Overconsumption of alcohol triggers inflammatory response in the liver

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Researchers have identified epigenetic protein changes caused by binge drinking, a discovery that could lead to treatments for alcohol-related liver diseases.

Fundamental theory about education of immune police questioned by researchers

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

A fundamental theory about how our thymus educates our immune police appears to be wrong, scientists say. The finding provides more insight into immunity that could one day enable a new approach to vaccines that steer the thymus to produce more of whatever T cell type a patient needs: more effector cells if they have a bad infection or cancer, more regulatory T cells if they are experiencing autoimmune diseases like arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

In a battle of brains, bigger isn't always better: Rats and mice perform similarly in cognitive tests

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

It's one of those ideas that seems to make perfect sense: the bigger the brain, the more intelligent the creature. Exceptions are becoming increasingly common, yet the belief persists even among scientists. Most biologists, for example, assume that rats are smarter than mice. Scientists now challenge this belief. They compared mice and rats and found very similar levels of intelligence, a result that could have powerful implications for researchers studying complex behaviors and learning.

Mangroves protecting corals from climate change

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Corals are finding refuge within the red mangroves at Hurricane Hole, a mangrove habitat in the US Virgin Islands, from threats such as warming ocean temperatures, solar radiation and increased ocean acidification.

Dynamic motion of HIV as it readies an attack: Seen in real time, for the first time

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Technologies that allow investigators, for the first time, to watch what they call the 'dance' of HIV proteins on the virus' surface, which may contribute to how the virus infects human immune cells, have been developed by scientists. The new technology platform opens new possibilities for devising an approach to prevent HIV infection, note researchers

Strengths and weaknesses for adaptation to climate change

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Despite a plenitude of general advice for land managers facing climate change, few studies have examined what might be practical for conservation reserves. The US Fish and Wildlife Service's comprehensive conservation plans for national wildlife refuges show that it is possible to incorporate many ideas into practice. But wider use of emerging decision-support tools and regional-level coordination could help managers better prepare for coming landscape-scale changes.

Invasive plant wins competition against its native cousin

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:13 AM PDT

Because of its aggressive behavior and its harmful effects, the invasive prairie plant Lespedeza cuneata has been added to several noxious weed lists. Research on how soil bacteria interact with the plants' roots to form nodules that fix nitrogen demonstrated that the invasive variety had superior performance when pitted against the native plant variety Lespedeza virginica.

Fusion reactor concept could be cheaper than coal

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 10:11 AM PDT

Engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.

Slime-producing molecules help spread disease from cats to endangered sea otters

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 09:21 AM PDT

Sticky polymers that form slimy biofilms and large, waterborne particles speed the transmission of a parasitic disease from cats to marine snails to endangered sea otters in California's coastal waters, this study finds.

Antarctic sea ice reaches new record maximum

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 09:21 AM PDT

Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map the extent in the late 1970s.

Did fruit contribute to Apple's success?

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 07:39 AM PDT

Steve Jobs swore by a fruit diet, as he believed it improved his ideas. And he wasn't wrong: food with high levels of tyrosine, like bananas, peaches and almonds, allow us to think harder and more creatively.

Bronze age palace and grave goods discovered at the archaeological site of La Almoloya in Pliego, Murcia

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Archaeologists have discovered a palatial construction with an audience hall which makes up the first specifically political precincts built in continental Europe. A prince's tomb in the subsoil contains the largest amount of grave goods from the Bronze Age existing in the Iberian Peninsula. Some of the most outstanding items include a silver diadem of great scientific and patrimonial value, the only one conserved from that era in Spain, as well as four golden and silver ear dilators.

Smoking cannabis doesn't make you more creative, study suggests

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Some people think that smoking cannabis makes them more creative. However, new research shows that the opposite is true. Smokers who ingested a low dose of THC, or none at all (they were given a placebo), performed best in the thinking tasks that the test candidates had to carry out.

Flies with colon cancer help unravel genetic keys to disease in humans

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 07:14 AM PDT

A fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) model has been developed that reproduces human colon cancer. Through their work, the scientists have identified a human gene that favors the proliferation of tumour cells in early stages of colon cancer. Flies, it turns out, are useful for faster and more economic drug screening.

Gluing chromosomes at the right place

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:36 AM PDT

During cell division, chromosomes acquire a characteristic X-shape with the two DNA molecules (sister chromatids) linked at a central "connection region" that contains highly compacted DNA. It was unknown if rearrangements in this typical X-shape architecture could disrupt the correct separation of chromosomes. A recent study now shows that the dislocation of particular DNA segments perturbs proper chromosome separation. The results of this study raise the possibility that chromosome rearrangements involving these regions, often seen in many cancers, can induce additional errors in cell division and thereby compromise genetic stability.

'Superglue' for the atmosphere: How sulfuric acid increases cloud formation

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:36 AM PDT

It has been known for several years that sulfuric acid contributes to the formation of tiny aerosol particles, which play an important role in the formation of clouds. A new study shows that dimethylamine can tremendously enhance new particle formation. The formation of neutral (i.e. uncharged) nucleating clusters of sulfuric acid and dimethylamine was observed for the first time.

Cost-sensitive bushmeat hunters: Expensive ammunition may help with conservation

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:36 AM PDT

Hunting of bushmeat is one major cause of biodiversity loss in tropical countries. Research has shown that consumers of wildlife are price sensitive and that the quantity of meat purchased is influenced by the cost of bushmeat and its substitutes. The rising costs of ammunition could potentially help conserving wild animals.

Smallest world record has ‘endless possibilities’ for bio-nanotechnology

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:35 AM PDT

Scientists have taken a crucial step forward in bio-nanotechnology, a field that uses biology to develop new tools for science, technology and medicine. The new study demonstrates how stable 'lipid membranes' -- the thin 'skin' that surrounds all biological cells -- can be applied to synthetic surfaces. Importantly, the new technique can use these lipid membranes to 'draw' -- akin to using them like a biological ink -- with a resolution of 6 nanometres (6 billionths of a meter), which is much smaller than scientists had previously thought was possible.

Food, fuel and more will be produced in sea farms of future

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 05:35 AM PDT

Meet the farm of the future, where common seaweed is being upgraded from an environmental problem to a valuable natural resource and raw material. 

How dinosaurs divided their meals at the Jurassic dinner table

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 06:29 PM PDT

How the largest animals to have ever walked on Earth fed, and how this allowed them to live alongside one another in prehistoric ecosystems, is the subject of new research.

Candidate H7N9 avian flu vaccine works better with adjuvant

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 01:17 PM PDT

An experimental vaccine to protect people against H7N9 avian influenza prompted immune responses in 59 percent of volunteers who received two injections at the lowest dosage tested, but only if the vaccine was mixed with adjuvant -- substance that boosts the body's response to vaccination. Without adjuvant, immune responses produced by the investigational vaccine were minimal regardless of vaccine dosage, according to findings from a clinical trial.

It's time to fight sepsis like we fight heart attack, researchers say

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 01:14 PM PDT

A decade ago, America's health care community took on heart attacks with gusto, harnessing the power of research and data to make sure that every patient got the best possible care. It worked. Now, say a pair of experts, it's time to do the same for sepsis.

E. coli outbreak at hospital in Illinois associated with contaminated specialized gastrointestinal endoscopes

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 01:14 PM PDT

Despite no lapses in the disinfection process recommended by the manufacturer being identified, specialized gastrointestinal endoscopes called duodenoscopes had bacterial contamination associated with an outbreak of a highly resistant strain of E coli at a hospital in Illinois, according to a study.

Studies examine vaccination strategies for prevention, control of avian flu

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 01:14 PM PDT

New vaccination strategies for the prevention and control of avian influenza, often referred to as "bird flu," have been examined by two randomized trials, scientists report.

Antimicrobial use in hospitals appears to be common

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 01:14 PM PDT

A one-day prevalence survey of 183 hospitals found that approximately 50 percent of hospitalized patients included in the survey were receiving antimicrobial drugs, and that about half of these patients were receiving 2 or more antimicrobial drugs. Most antimicrobial use was for infection treatment.

Researchers pump up oil accumulation in plant leaves

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 01:14 PM PDT

A series of detailed genetic studies points scientists to a new way to dramatically increase the accumulation of oil in plant leaves, an abundant source of biomass for fuel production.

How female flies know when to say 'yes'

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 11:45 AM PDT

A fundamental question in neurobiology is how animals, including humans, make decisions. A new study reveals how fruit fly females make a very important decision: to either accept or reject male courtship. This decision appears to be generated by a very small number of excitatory neurons that use acetylcholine as their neurotransmitter located in three brain regions. This study provides the framework to understand how decisions are generated.

Oral chelation for environmental lead toxicity

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 11:45 AM PDT

Treatment with dimercaptosuccinic acid, an oral chelation agent, was linked to reductions in the amount of lead in blood in young children in Zamfara State, Nigeria following environmental lead contamination, according to a new study.

Even motivated dieters need close access to healthy food

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Not having close access to healthy foods can discourage even the most motivated dieters. "The findings of this study support a cornerstone theory of the Mass in Motion program that supportive environments can facilitate behavior change and ultimately improve health," said a co-author.

New 'lab-on-a-chip' could revolutionize early diagnosis of cancer

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:14 AM PDT

A breakthrough paper has been published describing researchers' invention of a miniaturized biomedical testing device for exosomes. "Exosomes are minuscule membrane vesicles -- or sacs -- released from most, if not all, cell types, including cancer cells," said one chemist. "They were once thought to be trash bags containing unwanted cellular contents. However, in the past decade scientists realized that exosomes play important roles in many biological functions through capsuling and delivering molecular messages in the form of nucleic acids and proteins from the donor cells to affect the functions of nearby or distant cells."

'Cyberwar' against cancer gets a boost from intelligent nanocarriers

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Cancer possesses special traits for cooperative behavior and uses intricate communication to distribute tasks, share resources, and make decisions. New research now offers additional insight into the lethal interaction between cancer cells and the immune system's communications network.

Students' religiosity more influential than education in views on evolution

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:12 AM PDT

College students' views on evolution are shaped significantly more by religiosity than education, according to a survey of Southern U.S. students. The study is said to be the first in-depth analysis on the acceptance of evolution in this region.

Live and let-7: microRNA plays surprising role in cell survival

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:12 AM PDT

A microRNA molecule has been identified as a surprisingly crucial player in managing cell survival and growth. The findings underscore the emerging recognition that non-coding RNAs help regulate basic cellular processes and may be key to developing new drugs and therapies.

Very low concentrations of heavy metals, antibiotics contribute to resistance

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Plasmids containing genes that confer resistance to antibiotics can be enriched by very low concentrations of antibiotics and heavy metals, new researchs shows. These results strengthen the suspicion that the antibiotic residues and heavy metals, such as arsenic, silver and copper, that are spread in the environment are contributing to the problems of resistance.

Sugar linked to memory problems in adolescent rats

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Sugar consumption affected memory and was linked to brain inflammation in juvenile rats, researchers report. "The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence," remarked a corresponding author of the study. "Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability."

Anorexia/bulimia: Bacterial protein implicated

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 07:33 AM PDT

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder affect approximately 5-10 percent of the general population. Researchers have demonstrated the involvement of a protein produced by some intestinal bacteria that may be the source of these disorders. Antibodies produced by the body against this protein also react with the main satiety hormone, which is similar in structure. According to the researchers, it may ultimately be possible to correct this mechanism that causes variations in food intake.

Small spills at gas stations could cause significant public health risks over time

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 07:31 AM PDT

A new study suggests that drops of fuel spilled at gas stations — which occur frequently with fill-ups — could cumulatively be causing long-term environmental damage to soil and groundwater in residential areas in close proximity to the stations.

Testosterone promotes prostate cancer in rats

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 07:31 AM PDT

A researcher who found that testosterone raised the risk of prostate tumors and exacerbated the effects of carcinogenic chemical exposure in rats is urging caution in prescribing testosterone therapy to men who have not been diagnosed with hypogonadism, according to a new study.

Sandwiches a major contributor to dietary sodium intake

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 06:24 AM PDT

Sandwiches make up a substantial part of the American diet and are a significant contributor to daily energy and sodium intake. By closely analyzing data from an American nationwide dietary intake survey, a team of researchers found that on any given day 49 percent of US adults eat at least one sandwich, and sandwiches account for one-fifth of total daily sodium intake.

Probiotics protect children, pregnant women against heavy metal poisoning

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 06:23 AM PDT

Yogurt containing probiotic bacteria successfully protected children and pregnant women against heavy metal exposure in a recent study. Canadian and Tanzanian researchers created and distributed a special yogurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria and observed the outcomes against a control group.

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