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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Brain folding study defines two distinct groups of mammals

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:33 PM PST

Programs that control the production of neurons during brain development determine how the brain folds, researchers report. The researchers analyzed the gyrencephaly index, indicating the degree of cortical folding, of 100 mammalian brains and identified a threshold value that separates mammalian species into two distinct groups: Those above the threshold have highly folded brains, whereas those below it have only slightly folded or unfolded brains. The research team also found that differences in cortical folding did not evolve linearly across species.

Restrooms: Not as unhealthy as you might think

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 09:53 AM PST

Microbial succession in a sterilized restroom begins with bacteria from the gut and the vagina, and is followed shortly by microbes from the skin. Restrooms are dominated by a stable community structure of skin and outdoor associated bacteria, with few pathogenic bacteria making them similar to other built environments such as your home, researchers report.

Test for horse meat developed

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 09:53 AM PST

A fast, cheap alternative to DNA testing has been developed as a means of distinguishing horse meat from beef. Because horses and cattle have different digestive systems, the fat components of the two meats have different fatty acid compositions. The new method looks at differences in the chemical composition of the fat in the meats, using NMR-based technology.

Plant used in traditonal Chinese medicine may treat metabolic diseases and obesity

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 09:52 AM PST

New research shows that a component found in in the plant, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, may inhibit the development of metabolic disorders by stopping the activation of NLRP3, a protein involved in the disease process. Specifically, the researchers identified isoliquiritigenin as having the ability to attenuate high-fat, diet-induced obesity, type 2 diabetes and hepatic steatosis in mice.

Clue to why females live longer than males

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 09:51 AM PST

Male flies die earlier than their female counterparts when forced to evolve with the pressures of mate competition and juvenile survival. The results could help researchers understand the mechanisms involved in aging.

Ciliopathies lie behind many human diseases

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 09:51 AM PST

Growing interest in cilia, which are finger-like organelles that extend from the bodies of individual cells, has revealed their role in a number of human ailments. As a result of cilia's presence in a wide variety of cells, defects in them cause diverse human diseases that warrant further study.

Revolutionizing genome engineering

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 08:34 AM PST

Genome engineering with the RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas9 system in animals and plants is changing biology. It is easier to use and more efficient than other genetic engineering tools, thus it is already being applied in laboratories all over the world just a few years after its discovery. This rapid adoption and the history of the system are the core topics of a new review paper.

Duality in the human genome

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 08:34 AM PST

Human genomes are extraordinarily individual -- a challenge for personalized medicine. Results of a new study show that most genes can occur in many different forms within a population: On average, about 250 different forms of each gene exist. The researchers found around four million different gene forms just in the 400 or so genomes they analysed. This enormous diversity means that over half of all genes in an individual, around 9,000 of 17,500, occur uniquely in that one person -- and are therefore individual in the truest sense of the word.

Natural 'high' could avoid chronic marijuana use

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 08:32 AM PST

Replenishing the supply of a molecule that normally activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain could relieve mood and anxiety disorders and enable some people to quit using marijuana, a new study suggests.

Fighting malnutrition with 'stronger' chickpea

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 08:31 AM PST

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is considered an excellent whole food as source of dietary proteins, carbohydrates, micronutrients and vitamins. It is the world's second most important pulse crop after common bean, and historically is an important daily staple in the diet of millions of people, especially in developing countries. Chickpea is the subject of a new study.

Key role of ozone in climate change highlighted

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 08:31 AM PST

The models which are used to predict how climate change will occur could be much improved by including the key role of ozone, which is often overlooked in current models.

Research confirms how global warming links to carbon emissions

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 08:30 AM PST

Research has identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted. A team of researchers has derived the first theoretical equation to demonstrate that global warming is a direct result of the build-up of carbon emissions since the late 1800s when human-made carbon emissions began. The results are in accord with previous data from climate models.

Unravelling the complexity of proteins

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 07:03 AM PST

Knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of proteins is essential for understanding biological processes. Structures help to explain molecular and biochemical functions, visualize details of macromolecular interactions, facilitate understanding of underlying biochemical mechanisms and define biological concepts. A new article seeks to address the fundamental question of whether the three-dimensional structures of all proteins and all functional annotations can be determined using X-ray crystallography.

Politics, not severe weather, drive global-warming views

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 07:03 AM PST

Scientists have presented the most comprehensive evidence to date that climate extremes such as droughts and record temperatures are failing to change people's minds about global warming.

Baltic sea: Climate change counteracts decline in eutrophication

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 07:03 AM PST

Despite extensive measures to protect the Baltic Sea from anthropogenic activities since the late 1980s, oxygen concentrations continue to decrease. Rising temperatures in the bottom water layers could be the reason for the oxygen decline. A new paper reports on the first comprehensive analysis of measurement data from the Boknis Eck time series station.

Mass extinction led to many new species of bony fish

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 06:04 AM PST

Today, ray-finned fish, which belong to the bony fish, are by far the most biodiverse fish group in both salt- and freshwater. Their spectacular variety of forms ranges from eels, tuna, flounders and angler fish all the way to seahorses. With around 1,100 species, the second most biodiversegroup is the cartilaginous fish, which are almost exclusively marine and include sharks, rays and chimaeras. Exactly why bony fish managed to prevail in different habitats is the subject of debate: Do they have a better body plan, which is suited to more ecological niches than that of the cartilaginous fish? Or are other factors involved in their successful distribution? Paleontologists now reveal that climate catastrophes in the past played a crucial role in the dominance of ray-finned fish today.

Bitter food but good medicine from cucumber genetics

Posted: 27 Nov 2014 06:23 PM PST

High-tech genomics and traditional Chinese medicine come together as researchers identify the genes responsible for the intense bitter taste of wild cucumbers. Taming this bitterness made cucumber, pumpkin and their relatives into popular foods, but the same compounds also have potential to treat cancer and diabetes, researchers say.

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