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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

What 'fecal prints' of microbes can tell us about Earth's evolution

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 10:28 AM PST

The distinctive "fecal prints" of microbes potentially provide a record of how Earth and life have co-evolved over the past 3.5 billion years as the planet's temperature, oxygen levels, and greenhouse gases have changed. But, despite more than 60 years of study, it has proved difficult, until now, to "read" much of the information contained in this record.

Genetic study sheds light on how mosquitoes transmit malaria

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 10:25 AM PST

The genetic sequencing of 16 mosquitoes (Anopheles genus) -- the sole carriers of human malaria -- has been determined by an international team of researchers, providing new insight into how they adapt to humans as primary hosts of the disease.

Dirty pool: Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

An increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet -- soil. Researchers developed the first computer model to show at a global scale the complex interaction between carbon, plants and soil.

Mechanics of cells' long-range communication modeled by researchers

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

Interdisciplinary research is showing how cells interact over long distances within fibrous tissue, like that associated with many diseases of the liver, lungs and other organs. By developing mathematical models of how the collagen matrix that connects cells in tissue stiffens, the researchers are providing insights into the pathology of fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver and certain cancers.

Bacteria could be rich source for making terpenes

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:40 AM PST

Bacteria could be a rich source of terpenes, the natural compounds common in plants and fungi that are used to make drugs, food additives, perfumes, and other products, a new study suggests. The work also suggests that there may be many new terpene products as yet undiscovered hiding in the genomes of bacteria.

Buffer zone guidelines may be inadequate to protect produce from feedlot contamination

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:40 AM PST

The pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 can spread, likely airborne, more than one tenth mile downwind from a cattle feedlot onto nearby produce, according to a new paper. "The high percentages of leafy greens contaminated with E. coli suggest great risk for planting fresh produce 180 m [590 feet] or less from a feedlot," the investigators write.

The business-minded veterinarian

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:38 AM PST

The interaction between animals and humans secures the continuous demand for practicing veterinarians, and the fewer veterinarians we have, the larger potential for catastrophic disease. But, newly practicing veterinarians are facing financial struggles today, due to high student loan debt and low starting salaries. Additionally, experts say some rural areas are in need of veterinarians but do not have enough animals to financially support a full-veterinarian for that particular area.

Oldest stone tool ever found in Turkey discovered

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:41 AM PST

Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, revealing that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe much earlier than previously thought, approximately 1.2 million years ago. The chance find of a humanly-worked quartzite flake, in ancient deposits of the river Gediz, in western Turkey, provides a major new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.

In search of the origin of our brain

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:41 AM PST

While searching for the origin of our brain, biologists have gained new insights into the evolution of the central nervous system and its highly developed biological structures. Nerve cell centralization does begin in multicellular animals, researchers have confirmed.

Newly discovered assassin bug was incognito, but now it's incognita

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:39 AM PST

A North American assassin bug that has remained hidden for over 100 years has been determined to be a new species. The new bug, Sinea incognita, is described in a new article.

Drought causes birds to nest later, reducing nesting success

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:55 PM PST

Drought conditions are delaying nesting by two weeks or more for some Sonoran Desert bird species, such as Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and Verdins, new research has found. Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions persist in much of the Southwestern US drought negatively impacts, many wildlife species, making it harder to maintain their numbers, even when adapted to a dry environment.

Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:55 PM PST

The period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948, research shows. During that time, wood harvests have shifted in years with more variability in freezing and thawing to red pine and jack pine -- species that grow in sandy, well-drained soil that can support trucks and heavy equipment when not frozen.

Shedding new light on diet of extinct animals

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:54 PM PST

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research. The researchers found that magnesium isotopes are particularly well suited to deciphering the diet of living mammals and, when used in conjunction with other methods such as carbon isotopes, they could open up new perspectives on the study of fossilized animals.

New knowledge about host-virus coevolution unmasked from the genomic record

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:50 PM PST

Retroviruses are important pathogens, which have attacked vertebrate hosts for millions of years. Researchers now provide new knowledge about the long-term interactions of retroviruses and their hosts by analyzing endogenous retroviruses , retroviruses whose genes have become part of the host organism's genome.

More knowledge needed to ensure safe use of botanicals in food

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

The challenges related to assessing the safety of botanicals in foods and food supplements and regulating their use has been the focus of recent study. Researchers have noted the need for more data to be generated on the risks botanicals pose to human health. Researchers also called for harmonization of approaches and systems between countries so that scientific information can be easily shared supporting the safe use of botanicals and paving the way for greater cross-agency cooperation.

More safety on thermal drying plants of sewage sludge

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

A series of trials have been carried out to study the explosiveness of sludge on thermal drying plants of sewage sludge. The obtained result will allow scientists to set protection and prevention measures on site in order to reduce or even eliminate explosion risks associated to handling, transport and storage of these materials.

Ecosystems need math not random nature to survive

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

A previously unknown mathematical property has been found to be behind one of nature's greatest mysteries – how ecosystems survive.

Intelligent façades generating electricity, heat and algae biomass

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

Windows that change their light permeability at the touch of a button, façades whose color can be changed according to the sunlight, façades and window parts in which transparent photovoltaic modules are integrated or in which microalgae are being bred to provide the house with its own biofuel: This is what the buildings of the future could feature, or at least something similar, experts say.

Average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

Over the past 166 years, the average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees. During the observation period, the average increase was 0.14 degrees per decade, which is nearly twice as much as the global average, experts report.

Ninety-eight new beetle species discovered in Indonesia

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:39 AM PST

Ninety-eight new species of the beetle genus Trigonopterus have been described from Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands. Scientists used an innovative approach for rapid collection of biodiversity data to beat the fast rates of extinction and disappearance of rainforests.

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