Rabu, 13 Oktober 2010

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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Ocean acidification poses little threat to whales’ hearing, study suggests (October 13, 2010) -- Contrary to some previous, highly publicized, reports, ocean acidification is not likely to worsen the hearing of whales and other animals, according to a scientist who studies sound propagation in the ocean. ... > full story

Regional sea temperature rise and coral bleaching event in Western Caribbean (October 13, 2010) -- Researchers are reporting an anomalous sea temperature rise and a major coral bleaching event in the Western Caribbean. ... > full story

Better way to study proteins in the body: Could streamline development of drugs (October 13, 2010) -- Using a combination of high-powered computers and advanced experimental magnetic resonance data, a biophysical chemist has developed techniques that improve the way scientists can study and predict the structure and dynamics of proteins found in the human body. His innovations could ultimately shorten the time it takes researchers to develop new, more effective drugs and better understand biomedical processes that underlie a variety of health conditions. ... > full story

Prenatal treatment of congenital toxoplasmosis could reduce risk of brain damage (October 13, 2010) -- Prenatal treatment of congenital toxoplasmosis with antibiotics might substantially reduce the proportion of infected fetuses that develop serious neurological sequelae (brain damage, epilepsy, deafness, blindness or developmental problems) or die, according to new research. ... > full story

Monarch butterflies use medicinal plants to treat offspring for disease (October 12, 2010) -- Monarch butterflies appear to use medicinal plants to treat their offspring for disease, and that some species of milkweed, the larva's food plants, can reduce parasite infection in the monarchs. The research also found that infected female butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on plants that will make their offspring less sick, suggesting that monarchs have evolved the ability to medicate their offspring. ... > full story

Gene linked to drug resistance in malaria pinpointed (October 12, 2010) -- Scientists have shed light on how malaria is able to resist treatment with a leading drug. Researchers have identified a gene that enables the parasite that causes the infection to resist treatment with the plant-based remedy artemisinin. ... > full story

How immune response in pregnancy may lead to brain dysfunction in offspring (October 12, 2010) -- A pregnant woman's immune response to viral infections may induce subtle neurological changes in the unborn child that can lead to an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia and autism. Research provides new insights into how this may happen and suggests potential strategies for reducing this risk. ... > full story

Hope for a new treatment for bone cancer: Can 'friendly' bacteria kill cancer cells? (October 12, 2010) -- Children and young people who are diagnosed with bone cancer could benefit from better treatment in the future, thanks to new research that is testing a theory that 'friendly bacteria' can be used to kill bone cancer cells. ... > full story

Whale poop pumps up ocean health (October 12, 2010) -- Whales carry nutrients, especially nitrogen, from the depths where they feed back to the surface via their feces. This waste strongly enhances productivity of fisheries, scientists have found. They've called their discovery a "whale pump," reversing the assumption that whales accelerate loss of nutrients to the bottom. This nitrogen input in the Gulf of Maine is more than the input of all rivers combined, 23,000 metric tons annually. ... > full story

Bacteria grow electrical hair: Specialized bacterial filaments shown to conduct electricity (October 12, 2010) -- Some bacteria grow electrical hair that lets them link up in big biological circuits, according to a study in PNAS. The finding suggests that microbial colonies may survive, communicate and share energy in part through electrically conducting hairs known as bacterial nanowires. ... > full story

Neural pathways governing switching of fear responses in zebrafish identified (October 12, 2010) -- A new study on the behavior of the zebrafish has uncovered a key role for a region of the brain on the development of fear responses. The discovery provides valuable insights applicable to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses. ... > full story

Natural nano particles en route to 'sick cells' (October 12, 2010) -- A new and rapidly growing discipline called physical virology studies viruses, which can be viewed as 'natural nanoparticles', from a physics perspective. A new article reviews fundamental insights and sketches a picture of possible medicinal applications, such as viral transport of specific substances to cells. ... > full story

Dogs showing separation-related behavior exhibit a 'pessimistic mood' (October 12, 2010) -- Many dogs become distressed when left home alone, and they show it by barking, destroying things, or toileting indoors. Now, a new study suggests that this kind of separation anxiety occurs most often in dogs that also show "pessimistic"-like behavior. ... > full story

Scientists turn snails into slug-like creatures (October 12, 2010) -- Biologists have re-shaped the body design of snails. Exposure to platinum results in the formation of an internal shell instead of the normal external shell. During embryogenesis of the freshwater snail a time slot of just one or two days determines whether the animals form an outer shell or not. Reprogramming of the direction of growth of the molluscs´ shell-generating tissue during this sensitive phase prevents the development of the usual convoluted shell. In lieu thereof a small hollow cone grows inside the body -- similar to whats happens in squids. ... > full story

Population change: Another big influence on climate change (October 12, 2010) -- Changes in population, including aging and urbanization, could significantly affect global emissions of carbon dioxide over the next 40 years, according to a new study. ... > full story

Birds could signal mass extinction (October 12, 2010) -- The first detailed measurements of current extinction rates for a specific region have shown that birds are the best group to use to track the losses. The study also reveals Britain may be losing species over ten times faster than records suggest, and the speed of loss is probably increasing: the losses from England alone may exceed one species every two weeks. ... > full story

Invasive honeysuckle increase risk of tick-borne disease in suburbs (October 12, 2010) -- We often read about dreadful new zoonoses -- animal diseases that are now infecting people -- that have jumped species in distant parts of the world such as Asia or Africa and are now headed our way. But Missouri has its own new zoonoses, tick-borne diseases whose spread is encouraged by pest species such as white-tailed deer and invasive plants such as bush honeysuckle. In Missouri as in Africa or Asia, the loss of a biodiversity takes a toll in human health. ... > full story

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

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