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Saturday, January 3, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Plant genetic advance could lead to more efficient conversion of plant biomass to biofuels

Posted: 02 Jan 2015 02:27 PM PST

Plant geneticists have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that control cell wall thickening by the synthesis of the three polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The advance may help manipulate the polymer-forming processes to improve the efficiency of biofuel production.

New information on environmental impacts of stump wood energy through 3D modelling

Posted: 02 Jan 2015 08:33 AM PST

Tree stumps and root systems are a significant but controversial source of bioenergy in Finland due to their environmental impacts. Now Finnish and Norwegian researchers have developed a new method that can produce accurate three-dimensional (3D) models of recovered stumps and root systems. These models provide new information on the impacts of stump wood energy on the carbon sink capacity of forests, the biodiversity of forest nature and the soil structure of recovery areas. Tree stumps and root systems account for approximately 15% of the energy wood harvested from Finnish forests. Tree stumps are recovered from one in every ten clearcutting areas, totalling some 10,000–20,000 hectares annually, which is, at its highest, equivalent to an area the size of Helsinki.

HIV vaccines should avoid viral target cells, primate model study suggests

Posted: 02 Jan 2015 08:33 AM PST

Vaccines designed to protect against HIV have backfired in clinical trials. Non-human primate model studies suggest an explanation: vaccination may increase the number of immune cells that serve as viral targets. In a nonhuman primate model of HIV transmission, higher levels of viral target cells in gateway mucosal tissues were associated with an increased risk of infection.

NASA finds good news on forests and carbon dioxide

Posted: 02 Jan 2015 05:47 AM PST

A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion -- more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests.

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