Selasa, 12 Oktober 2010

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Tuesday, October 12, 2010

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Global carbon cycle: Tiny creatures may play a crucial role in mixing ocean nutrients (October 12, 2010) -- Studies of microscopic swimming creatures show that the fluid flow they produce is much more complex than previously believed, and leads to large scale stirring of oceans and lakes that could affect the global carbon cycle. ... > full story

On the trail of the epigenetic code: Test system on Drosophila should provide the key to histone function (October 12, 2010) -- Test system on fruit flies should provide the key to histone function. The genetic inherited material DNA was long viewed as the sole bearer of hereditary information. The function of its packaging proteins, the histones, was believed to be exclusively structural. Additional genetic information can be stored, however, and passed on to subsequent generations through chemical changes in the DNA or histones. Scientists have succeeded in creating an experimental system for testing the function of such chemical histone modifications and their influence on the organism. ... > full story

Invisible world teeming with microscopic algae revealed (October 12, 2010) -- It just got easier to pinpoint biological hot spots in the world's oceans where some inhabitants are smaller than, well, a pinpoint. Tiny as they may be, communities of the phytoplankton south of Vancouver Island are big players when it comes to carbon: They take up 50 percent of the carbon dioxide going from the atmosphere into the oceans there. ... > full story

In elevated carbon dioxide, soybeans stumble but invasive cheatgrass keeps on truckin' (October 12, 2010) -- Scientists once thought the fertilization effect of rising carbon dioxide concentrations would offset factors such as higher temperatures or drier soils that would reduce crops yields. This view is turning out to be overly optimistic. A new study shows that soybeans switch into unproductive metabolic activity at higher carbon dioxide concentrations. The invasive cheatgrass, on the other hand, has no switch, or control, and continues to efficiently transport water and assimilate carbon. ... > full story

How voracious comb jellyfish makes itself 'invisible' to prey (October 11, 2010) -- Despite its primitive structure, the North American comb jellyfish can sneak up on its prey like a high-tech stealth submarine, making it a successful predator. Researchers have now been able to show how the jellyfish makes itself hydrodynamically 'invisible'. ... > full story

NASA partnership sends earth science data to Africa (October 11, 2010) -- A unique partnership between NASA and agencies in Africa and Europe has sent more than 30 terabytes of free Earth science satellite data to South African researchers to support sustainable development and environmental applications in Africa. ... > full story

New understanding of bizarre extinct mammal: Shares common ancestor with rodents, primates (October 11, 2010) -- Researchers presenting new fossil evidence of an exceptionally well-preserved 55-million-year-old North American mammal have found it shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans. ... > full story

Study details structure of potential target for HIV and cancer drugs (October 11, 2010) -- In a technical tour de force, structural biologists have determined the three-dimensional structure of a molecule involved in HIV infection and in many forms of cancer. The high-resolution structure sheds light on how the molecule functions and could point to ways to control its activity, potentially locking out HIV and stalling cancer's spread. ... > full story

Using buildings for flood protection (October 11, 2010) -- Buildings, car parks and roads could, alongside their 'regular' functions, have a role to play in protecting the rest of the city from flooding. This concept could be very useful for the Dutch cities along the River Rhine, for example. ... > full story

Huge parts of world are drying up: Land 'evapotranspiration' taking unexpected turn (October 11, 2010) -- The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa and South America, have been drying up in the past decade, a group of researchers conclude in the first major study to ever examine "evapotranspiration" on a global basis. ... > full story

High risk of acute mountain sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro (October 11, 2010) -- Climbers of high peaks such as Mount Kilimanjaro are at high risk for acute mountain sickness (AMS). Trekkers should not ignore AMS warning signs, which can progress to more serious medical outcomes. Mountain climbers can best minimize their risk for altitude sickness by becoming acclimatized to increased altitudes before an ascent, according to a new study. ... > full story

Efficient, inexpensive plastic solar cells coming soon (October 11, 2010) -- Physicists have discovered new properties in a material that could result in efficient and inexpensive plastic solar cells. The discovery reveals that excitons, or energy-carrying particles generated by photons, can travel on the order of a thousand times farther in organic semiconductors than scientists previously observed. This boosts scientists' hopes that organic solar cells may one day overtake silicon in cost and performance. ... > full story

New mongoose-like carnivorous mammal discovered in Madagascar (October 11, 2010) -- A new species of small carnivore, known as Durrell's vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) has been identified by researchers. The small, cat-sized, speckled brown carnivore from the marshes of the Lac Alaotra wetlands in central eastern Madagascar weighs just over half a kilogramme and belongs to a family of carnivores only known from Madagascar. It is likely to be one of the most threatened carnivores in the world. ... > full story

Better synchronization helps fish deal with predator threat (October 11, 2010) -- Fish alter their movements when under threat from predators to keep closer together and to help them to blend into the crowd, according to new research. Scientists used a combined computer simulation and experimental study of group behavior to discover that shoaling fish coordinate their movements more frequently when under threat. ... > full story

How marine animals survive stress: Findings indicate how wildlife responds to environmental and ecological disasters (October 11, 2010) -- Research of how Galapagos marine iguanas respond to El Niño could provide insight into how wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico will respond to the current oil spill. In emergencies, animals secrete corticosterone to help them cope. However, prolonged hormone production can also be lethal. ... > full story

Carbohydrate claims can mislead consumers, study finds (October 11, 2010) -- Food manufacturers advertise a variety of foods on grocery store shelves by using nutrient claims on the front of packaging. New research evaluates how consumers are interpreting certain carbohydrate-related content claims and the effects of claims on consumer perceptions of food products. Findings from the study reveal that consumers misinterpret low carbohydrate claims to have health benefits and weight loss qualities beyond their nutrition facts. ... > full story

Tsunami risk higher in Los Angeles, other major cities than thought, Haiti study suggests (October 11, 2010) -- Geologists studying the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake say the risk of destructive tsunamis is higher than expected in places such as Kingston, Istanbul, and Los Angeles. This latest research suggests even a moderate earthquake on a strike-slip fault can generate tsunamis through submarine landslides, raising the overall tsunami risk in these places. ... > full story

Fragrance exposure: New discovery on the causes of contact allergy (October 11, 2010) -- The fragrances used in many household and skincare products can cause contact allergy when exposed to oxygen in the air, new research from Sweden reveals. ... > full story

Intracellular express: Why transport protein molecules have brakes (October 11, 2010) -- Through single-molecule biomechanical experiments, researchers have revealed in unprecedented detail how an intracellular express delivery service works, and why it is so efficient. With tools including optical tweezers, they manipulated a special type of kinesins, transport proteins that "walk" along intracellular fibers carrying vital substances. They found that of the molecule's two "legs" -- made of two different protein chains -- one puts the brakes on its uninhibited partner when there's no cargo attached. ... > full story

Cell survival protein discovery rewrites immune system story (October 10, 2010) -- A discovery by researchers in Australia is set to rewrite a long-held belief about how the body's immune system establishes its memory. ... > full story

Deceitful lily fools flies: Solomon's lily imitates a yeasty odor to lure vinegar flies into a trap (October 10, 2010) -- Scientists in Germany have solved a case of fraud that has been pending for 40 million years. Arum palaestinum, called the Solomon's lily, attracts vinegar flies as pollinators by emitting odor molecules that resemble those produced during alcoholic fermentation of rotting fruit initiated by yeast. The plant accomplishes the illusion of yeast by producing specific chemicals that create the impression of fermentation in the fly brain. ... > full story

Environmental changes to blame for drop in yield of 'miracle rice' (October 10, 2010) -- Environmental changes are to blame for a 15 percent drop in the yield of "miracle rice" -- also known as rice variety IR8 -- since the 1960s when it was first released and lauded for its superior yields that helped avert famine across Asia at the time. ... > full story

Turtle, dugongs 'at risk under climate change' (October 10, 2010) -- The "turtle and dugong capital of the world", the northern Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait region, faces increased pressure under climate change from human actions such as fishing, hunting, onshore development and pollution. ... > full story

Bee colony collapse associated with viral, fungal infection, biologist says (October 10, 2010) -- The sudden death of bee colonies since late 2006 across North America has stumped scientists. But today, researchers may have a greater understanding of the mysterious colony collapse disorder. ... > full story

New bacterial foe in cystic fibrosis identified (October 10, 2010) -- Exacerbations in cystic fibrosis, or CF, may be linked to chronic infection with a bacterium called Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, which was previously thought to simply colonize the CF lung. The finding that chronic infection with S. maltophilia is independently linked with an increased risk of exacerbations gives clinicians and researchers a new potential measure of the health status of CF patients, as well as a new potential target in fighting their disease. ... > full story

Studying illnesses caused by worms: Scientists are learning how immune cells communicate (October 10, 2010) -- A billion people living in underdeveloped areas around the world are infected with parasitic helminthes, worms that survive by residing in and feeding on their hosts. Biomedical researchers are investigating illnesses caused by these gut-dwelling worms in an effort to decipher how immune cells send and receive signals that determine the specific immune response to mount. ... > full story

New deep-sea hot springs discovered in Atlantic: Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to oceans' thermal budget (October 9, 2010) -- Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed. Scientists on board the German research vessel Meteor have discovered a new hydrothermal vent 500 kilometres south-west of the Azores. ... > full story

Plants kick-started evolutionary drama of Earth's oxygenation (October 9, 2010) -- Scientists have taken a significant step toward unlocking the secrets of oxygenation of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere. The new research indicates that the appearance of large predatory fish as well as vascular plants approximately 400 million years ago coincided with an increase in oxygen, to levels comparable to those we experience today. If so, then animals from before that time appeared and evolved under markedly lower oxygen conditions than previously thought. ... > full story

Vaccinations should continue as influenza pandemics epidemics wane, experts urge (October 9, 2010) -- Influenza pandemics often come in multiple waves. As the one wave subsides, public health officials have to decide whether continuing vaccination programs is warranted to prevent or reduce a subsequent wave. Researchers now report on a new computer model that can be used to predict both subsequent-wave mechanisms and vaccination effectiveness. They conclude that additional waves in an epidemic can be mitigated by vaccination even when an epidemic appears to be waning. ... > full story

Haze on Saturn's moon Titan may hold ingredients for life (October 8, 2010) -- Simulating possible chemical processes in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, a planetary research team found amino acids and nucleotide bases in the mix -- the most important ingredients of life on Earth. ... > full story

Killer disease decimates UK frog populations (October 8, 2010) -- Common frog (Rana temporaria) populations across the UK are suffering dramatic population crashes due to infection from the emerging disease Ranavirus, new research reveals. ... > full story

Measurements of CO<sub>2</sub> and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency (October 8, 2010) -- A collaborative, six-year study of carbon dioxide levels in Beijing and surrounding provinces suggests that combustion efficiency, a component of overall energy efficiency, is improving in the region. The findings are generally consistent with official Chinese government statistics and could bolster their credibility as international negotiations proceed on commitments of China and other nations to combat climate change. ... > full story

Yersinia pestis bacteria confirmed as cause of Middle Ages 'Black Death' plague epidemic (October 8, 2010) -- The latest tests conducted by anthropologists in Germany have proven that the bacteria Yersinia pestis was indeed the causative agent behind the "Black Death" that raged across Europe in the Middle Ages. ... > full story

Scientists trick bacteria into embedding small molecules in cell wall (October 8, 2010) -- Scientists have engineered the cell wall of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, tricking it into incorporating foreign small molecules and embedding them within the cell wall. The discovery represents the first time scientists have engineered the cell wall of a "Gram-positive" bacteria, and could pave the way for new methods of combating the bacteria responsible for many of the most infectious diseases. ... > full story

Bacteria can stand-up and 'walk' (October 8, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered that bacteria are capable of "standing up" and moving while vertical. Apart from being an extraordinary insight into the behavior of bacteria, the findings have important biomedical implications. ... > full story

How bacteria become resistant to antibiotics (October 8, 2010) -- New research suggests that bacteria are remarkably resilient to toxic substances, such as antibiotics, because bacteria have the innate ability to produce a large variety of proteins. Those proteins then are able to do things such as pump toxins out or alter toxins so that they can no longer kill the bacteria. ... > full story

Female fish flaunt fins to attract a mate (October 8, 2010) -- For the first time, biologists have described the evolution of the size of a female trait which males use to choose a partner. The research shows that male cichlid fish prefer females with a larger pelvic fin and that this drives females to grow fins out of proportion with their body size. ... > full story

Chemists simplify biodiesel conversion (October 8, 2010) -- Chemists have streamlined the conversion of waste vegetable oil into biodiesel, eliminating the need for corrosive chemicals to perform the reactions. The researchers were able to pull off the waste vegetable oil-to-biodiesel conversion in a single reaction vessel using environmentally friendly catalysts and making the conversion six times faster than current methods. ... > full story

Transgenic corn suppresses European corn borer, saves farmers billions (October 8, 2010) -- Transgenic corn's suppression of the European corn borer has saved Midwest farmers billions of dollars in the past decade, reports a new study in Science. ... > full story

Can you analyze me now? Cell phones bring spectroscopy to the classroom (October 8, 2010) -- A chemistry professor has developed a method using a few basic, inexpensive supplies and a cell phone camera to build a spectrometer, an important analytical chemistry instrument, for high school classes. Students can see its workings and play with its components, encouraging critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. ... > full story

Family ties bind desert lizards in social groups (October 8, 2010) -- Researchers have found that a species of lizard in the Mojave Desert lives in family groups and shows patterns of social behavior more commonly associated with mammals and birds. Their investigation of the formation and stability of family groups in desert night lizards provides new insights into the evolution of cooperative behavior. ... > full story

Researchers find no visible oil sands off Florida Panhandle, Alabama beaches (October 8, 2010) -- A team of researchers studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on northern Gulf of Mexico beaches say areas just offshore from some of Florida's most heavily oiled beaches appear to be free of visible oil contamination in the sediments. ... > full story

Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells (October 8, 2010) -- Plants use specialized protein complexes to collect the light that drives photosynthesis. Researchers in Germany have now identified a protein that is necessary for the assembly of one such complex. The discovery could lead to improved crop yields and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells. ... > full story

Too much of a good thing: Human activities overload ecosystems with nitrogen (October 8, 2010) -- Humans are overloading ecosystems with nitrogen through the burning of fossil fuels and an increase in nitrogen-producing industrial and agricultural activities, according to a new study. While nitrogen is an element that is essential to life, it is an environmental scourge at high levels. ... > full story

New tool in the fight against tuberculosis: Algorithm enables cell-scale simulations (October 8, 2010) -- Researchers have developed a way to harness prodigious quantities of genomic and metabolic data by developing an algorithm that automatically integrates both data sets. The model, called probabilistic regulation of metabolism, enables researchers to perturb a regulatory gene or metabolic process and see how that affects the entire network. Although the researchers studied tuberculosis, the method holds promise for reconstructing network models for any organism with appropriate genomic data. ... > full story

Novel reference material to standardize gene therapy applications (October 8, 2010) -- The introduction of a new, fully characterized viral vector for use as reference material to help standardize gene therapy protocols in research applications and human clinical trials is described in a new article. ... > full story

Structure of plastic solar cells impedes their efficiency (October 8, 2010) -- Scientists have found that the low rate of energy conversion in all-polymer solar-cell technology is caused by the structure of the solar cells themselves. ... > full story

Virtual research institute needed to unlock RNA’s promise, say scientists (October 8, 2010) -- A Europe-wide network of labs focusing on RNA research is needed to make the most of RNA's high potential for treating a wide range of diseases. The recommendation for this virtual research institute comes from a panel of biologists at the European Science Foundation in a new report. ... > full story

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