Referral Banners

Friday, January 9, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Common human protein linked to adverse parasitic worm infections

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 11:47 AM PST

Worm infections represent a major global public health problem, leading to a variety of debilitating diseases and conditions. Scientists have made a discovery that could lead to more effective diagnostic and treatment strategies for worm infections and their symptoms. The researchers found that resistin, an immune protein commonly found in human serum, instigates an inappropriate inflammatory response to worm infections, impairing the clearance of the worm.

Malassezia yeasts, everywhere and sometimes dangerous

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 11:47 AM PST

Malassezia yeasts have been found in human dandruff, deep-sea vents, and pretty much everywhere in between. The skin of most if not all warm-blooded animals is covered with these microbes, and while they mostly live in peaceful co-existence with their hosts, they can cause serious diseases in humans and other animals.

Scientists explain spread of chikungunya vector

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 11:47 AM PST

The tropical disease chikungunya began twisting Western tongues in July when the first locally transmitted case was reported in Florida. Spotted in the Caribbean just last year, the disease spread explosively throughout the Americas in 2014. Chikungunya's arrival in Panama prompted Smithsonian scientists to examine how human activity spreads its mosquito vector and the serious implications this has for disease ecology everywhere.

Deworming programs in animal, human populations may have unwanted impacts

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 11:47 AM PST

A study of the effects of worming medications on infectious disease in wildlife herds showed an unexpected and alarming result -- it helped reduce individual deaths from a bovine tuberculosis infection, but hugely increased the potential for spread of the disease to other animals. The findings suggest that some treatments may increase problems with diseases they were meant to reduce.

Scientists illuminate mysterious molecular mechanism powering cells in most forms of life

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 11:13 AM PST

Scientists have taken a big step toward understanding the intricate molecular mechanism of a metabolic enzyme produced in most forms of life on Earth. The finding concerns nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase (TH), an ancient evolutionary enzyme found throughout the animal kingdom as well as in plants and many simpler species. The enzyme is part of a process key to maintaining healthy cells and has also recently been linked to diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Ecological rule about pigmentation for animals applies to flowers

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 10:01 AM PST

Flower pigmentation evolves in response to ultraviolet light -- and may be a bellwether of climate disruption, researchers suggest. One might predict that as Earth receives more ultraviolet light at extreme northern and southern climes due to depletion of the ozone layer, flowers farther from the equator are likely to begin to evolve traits, such as larger ultraviolet light-absorbing bull's-eyes. However, this may come at a cost as bigger bull's-eyes obscure the 'sweet center' of the flower where pollen and nectar rewards are found, thus making poorer targets for pollinators.

To trigger energy-burning brown fat, just chill

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 10:00 AM PST

Researchers found that exposure to cold increases levels of a newly discovered protein that is critical for the formation of brown fat, the type of fat in our bodies that burns energy and generates heat. Mice with increased levels of this protein gained less weight than control mice after a month of eating a high-fat diet.

Facial motion activates a dedicated network within the brain

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 10:00 AM PST

Like humans, rhesus macaque monkeys have a network of small areas within their brains that respond to images of faces. But it hasn't been clear if these same areas in the monkey's brain are responsible for processing changing expressions and other facial movements. New research confirms that they are.

Hunting bats rely on 'bag of chips effect'

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 10:00 AM PST

When bats hunt in groups at night, they rely on the sounds of their fellow bats to tip them off on the best places to a grab a good meal. Researchers reporting their findings are calling this behavior the 'bag of chips effect.'

Monkeys can learn to see themselves in the mirror

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 10:00 AM PST

Unlike humans and great apes, rhesus monkeys don't realize when they look in a mirror that it is their own face looking back at them. But, according to a new report, that doesn't mean they can't learn. What's more, once rhesus monkeys in the study developed mirror self-recognition, they continued to use mirrors spontaneously to explore parts of their bodies they normally don't see.

Emissions-free cars get closer

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

Hydrogen fuel cells -- possibly the best option for emission-free vehicles -- require costly platinum. Nickel and other metals work but aren't nearly as efficient. New findings help pin down the basic mechanisms of the fuel-cell reaction on platinum, which will help researchers create alternative electrocatalysts.

Could gut microbes help treat brain disorders? Mounting research tightens their connection with the brain

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

The community of microbes that inhabits the body, known as the microbiome, has a powerful influence on the brain and may offer a pathway to new therapies for psychiatric and neurological disorders, according to researchers.

Newly discovered antibiotic kills pathogens without resistance

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 09:48 AM PST

For years, pathogens' resis­tance to antibi­otics has put them one step ahead of researchers, which is causing a public health crisis. But now scientists have discovered a new antibi­otic that elim­i­nates pathogens without encoun­tering any detectable resistance -- a finding that chal­lenges long-held sci­en­tific beliefs and holds great promise for treating chronic infec­tions like tuber­cu­losis and those caused by MRSA.

Focusing on lasting legacy prompts environmental action

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Prompting people to think about the legacy they want to leave for future generations can boost their desire and intention to take action on climate change, according to new research.

Mapping snake venom variety reveals unexpected evolutionary pattern

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Venom from an eastern diamondback rattlesnake in the Everglades is distinct from the cocktail of toxins delivered by the same species in the Florida panhandle area, some 500 miles away. But no matter where you go in the Southeastern United States, the venom of the eastern coral snake is always the same. The results challenge common assumptions in venom evolution research, provide crucial information for rattlesnake conservation, and will help coral snake antivenom development.

Blueberries may help reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 08:35 AM PST

Just one cup of blueberries per day could be the key to reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness, both of which are associated with cardiovascular disease.

Regional patterns of soot, dirt on North American snow discovered

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 07:06 AM PST

A first large-scale survey of snow in the US and Canada finds that disturbed soil often darkens the snow as much as air pollution. The new readings complement recent snow surveys in the Arctic and Northern China.

Longest-ever case of sperm storage in sharks documented

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 07:06 AM PST

Biologists were taken aback when a shark egg case dropped by an adult bamboo shark, who spent nearly 4 years isolated from males, showed signs of healthy development. Their results mark the longest documented case of sperm storage in any species of shark, and highlight a bright bit of news for the future of wild sharks threatened by overfishing and habitat loss.

Algae use same molecular machinery as land plants to respond to a plant hormone

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:49 AM PST

Land-based plants -- including the fruits and vegetables in your kitchen -- produce and respond to hormones in order to survive. Scientists once believed that hormone signaling machinery only existed in these relatively complex plants. But new research shows that some types of freshwater algae can also detect ethylene gas -- the same stress hormone found in land plants -- and might use these signals to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Ancient maize followed two paths into Southwest

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:49 AM PST

DNA from archaeological samples and traditional maize varieties indicate that ancient maize moved from Mexico into the Southwest US by a highland route and later a coastal lowland route, settling a long debate over its path.

Pathogen strains competing for same host plant change disease dynamics

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:49 AM PST

The epidemics caused by co-infection of several pathogen strains in a plant population is more severe than epidemics caused by single strains, researchers have discovered.

Algae blooms create their own favorable conditions

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:48 AM PST

Fertilizers are known to promote the growth of toxic cyanobacterial blooms in freshwater and oceans worldwide, but a new multi-institution study shows the aquatic microbes themselves can drive nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in a combined one-two punch in lakes.

Sophisticated system prevents self-fertilization in petunias

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:44 AM PST

Plants use genetic mechanisms to prevent inbreeding by recognizing self and non-self pollen. Researchers have now found evidence that a group of 18 male proteins recognize 40 female proteins between them -- in contrast to one-to-one relationships studied to date. The self-recognition mechanism in petunia shows similarities to the immune defense in vertebrates. 

Marine life in deep-sea canyon more varied than expected

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:44 AM PST

Research into the sediment-dwelling marine life in deep-sea canyons may help to predict how marine ecosystems will respond to human disturbance of the ocean, such as deep-sea mining and trawling. By studying the density and composition of groups of small marine animals, such as; small crustaceans, bivalves and worms, within this highly disturbed environment, researchers have gained a better idea of how marine ecosystems may respond to disturbances created by human intervention.

How plankton survives typhoons

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 05:44 AM PST

It is no secret that typhoons are capable of churning the seas and wreaking destruction. But it is tough to examine what exactly happens during a typhoon, particularly in the ocean. An underwater observatory has now been created to monitor what happens in the ocean over long periods of time, specifically observing what happens to plankton during a typhoon.

No comments: