Rabu, 17 November 2010

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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Damaged organs linked to change in biochemical wave patterns (November 17, 2010) -- By examining the distinct wave patterns formed from complex biochemical reactions within the human body, diseased organs may be more effectively identified, says a researcher who has developed a model that simulates how these wave patterns are generated. ... > full story

Landing lights for bumblebees (November 17, 2010) -- Gardeners could help maintain bumblebee populations by growing plants with red flowers or flowers with stripes along the veins, according to field observations of the common snapdragon. Bees are important pollinators of crops as well as the plants in our gardens. ... > full story

Species, rather than diet, has greatest effect on gut bacteria diversity (November 17, 2010) -- The types of gut bacteria that populate the guts of primates depend on the species of the host as well as where the host lives and what they eat. A new study examines the gut microbial communities in great apes, showing that a host's species, rather than their diet, has the greatest effect on gut bacteria diversity. ... > full story

Cancer drug target is promising lead for new TB treatments (November 17, 2010) -- A key enzyme in Mycobacterium tuberculosis that enables the microbe to reproduce rapidly could be a golden target for new drugs against tuberculosis, according to a new study. The human equivalent of this enzyme has been targeted in some cancer treatments as well as in immunosuppressive chemotherapies. Scientists have now shown that inhibiting the same enzyme in M. tuberculosis effectively kills the bacterial cells. ... > full story

New device detects insects in stored wheat (November 17, 2010) -- A laboratory milling device for improving stored grain management has been developed by agricultural scientists. The system, called the "insect-o-graph," can detect internal insects in wheat that are not visible to the eye or that cannot be detected by usual grading methods. ... > full story

Using plants against soils contaminated with arsenic (November 17, 2010) -- Two essential genes that control the accumulation and detoxification of arsenic in plant cells have been identified. The results presented are a promising basis for reducing the accumulation of arsenic in crops from regions in Asia that are polluted by this toxic metalloid, as well as for the cleanup of soils contaminated by heavy metals. ... > full story

Heat stress to Caribbean corals in 2005 worst on record; Caribbean reef ecosystems may not survive repeated stress (November 16, 2010) -- Coral reefs suffered record losses as a consequence of high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean in 2005 according to the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date. Collaborators from 22 countries report that more than 80 percent of surveyed corals bleached and over 40 percent of the total surveyed died, making this the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. ... > full story

One of France's largest dinosaur fossil deposits found in the Charente region (November 16, 2010) -- The first excavations at the Audoin quarries in the town of Angeac, in the Charente region of south-western France, have confirmed that the site is one of the richest dinosaur fossil deposits in the country. With more than 400 bones brought to light, this site is remarkable both for the quantity of discoveries and their state of preservation. ... > full story

How do folded structures form? (November 16, 2010) -- What do the convolutions of the brain, the emergence of wrinkles, the formation of mountain chains, and fingerprints have in common? All these structures, albeit very different, result from the same process: the compression of a 'rigid membrane'. Scientists have now shed light on one of the mysteries underlying the formation of such folded structures. This work will make it possible to better understand and thus predict their emergence. ... > full story

Binge drinking in adolescence changes stress response in adulthood (November 16, 2010) -- Alcohol exposure during adolescence alters the body's ability to respond to stress in adulthood, according to new animal research. Because problems regulating stress are associated with behavioral and mood disorders, the findings may indicate that binge drinking in adolescence leads to increased risk of anxiety or depression in adulthood. ... > full story

Sunburnt whales: Three species show signs of sun damage to skin (November 16, 2010) -- Whales exhibit skin damage consistent with acute sunburn in humans, and it seems to be getting worse over time, reveals new research. ... > full story

Teenage amphetamine abuse affects adult brain cell function (November 16, 2010) -- Amphetamine abuse during adolescence permanently changes brain cells, according to new animal research. The study shows drug exposure during adolescence, but not young adulthood, altered electrical properties of brain cells in the cortex. ... > full story

How the songbird's brain controls timing during singing (November 16, 2010) -- New research that reveals the activity of nerve cells in a songbird's brain as the bird sings a specific song is helping scientists to understand how birds string together sets of syllables -- and it also may provide insight into how the human brain learns language and produces speech. ... > full story

Newly discovered drumlin field provides answers about glaciation and climate (November 16, 2010) -- The landform known as a drumlin, created when the ice advanced during the Ice Age, can also be produced by today's glaciers, researchers in Sweden have discovered. ... > full story

Adolescent rats more vulnerable to drug addiction than adults; younger animals consumed more cocaine and worked harder for it than did adults (November 16, 2010) -- Adolescent rats take cocaine more readily than adults, are sensitive to lower doses, and work harder for access to the drug, according to new research. The findings suggest that adolescence is a period of increased vulnerability to drug abuse and addiction. ... > full story

Earth's lower atmosphere is warming, review of four decades of scientific literature concludes (November 16, 2010) -- The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and this warming is broadly consistent with both theoretical expectations and climate models, according to a new scientific study that reviews the history of understanding of temperature changes and their causes in this key atmospheric layer. ... > full story

Artificial retina more capable of restoring normal vision; animal study shows including retina’s neural 'code' improved prosthetic (November 16, 2010) -- Researchers have developed an artificial retina that has the capacity to reproduce normal vision in mice. While other prosthetic strategies mainly increase the number of electrodes in an eye to capture more information, this study concentrated on incorporating the eye's neural "code" that converts pictures into signals the brain can understand. ... > full story

New species of carnivorous plant discovered in Cambodia (November 16, 2010) -- A new species of carnivorous pitcher plant has been found in Cambodia's remote Cardamom Mountains. The discovery of Nepenthes holdenii is an indicator of both the stunning diversity and lack of research in the forests of the Cardamom Mountains. ... > full story

Cilantro ingredient can remove foul odor of 'chitlins' (November 16, 2010) -- With chitlins about to make their annual appearance on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day menus, scientists have good news for millions of people who love that delicacy of down-home southern cooking, but hate the smell. They are reporting the first identification of an ingredient in cilantro that quashes the notoriously foul odor of chitlins. ... > full story

T. rex's big tail was its key to speed and hunting prowess (November 16, 2010) -- Tyrannosaurus rex was far from a plodding Cretaceous era scavenger whose long tail only served to counterbalance the up-front weight of its freakishly big head. T. rex's athleticism (and its rear end) has now been given a makeover. New research shows that powerful tail muscles made the giant carnivore one of the fastest moving hunters of its time. ... > full story

Ancient African dust caused red soil in Southern Europe, new research reveals (November 16, 2010) -- Spanish and American researchers have conducted a mineralogical and chemical analysis to ascertain the origin of "terra rossa" soil in the Mediterranean. The results of the study reveal that mineral dust from the African regions of the Sahara and Sahel, which emit between 600 and 700 tonnes of dust a year, brought about the reddish soil in Mediterranean regions such as Majorca (Mallorca) and Sardinia between 12,000 and 25,000 years ago. ... > full story

Gene discovery suggests way to engineer fast-growing plants (November 16, 2010) -- Tinkering with a single gene may give perennial grasses more robust roots and speed up the timeline for creating biofuels, according to researchers. ... > full story

Novel ocean-crust mechanism could affect world's carbon budget and climate (November 16, 2010) -- Earth is constantly manufacturing new crust, spewing molten magma up along undersea ridges at the boundaries of tectonic plates. Now, scientists have observed ocean crust forming in an entirely unexpected way -- one that may influence those cycles of life and carbon and, in turn, affect the much-discussed future of the world's climate. ... > full story

Microsensors offer first look at whether cell mass affects growth rate (November 15, 2010) -- Researchers are using a new kind of microsensor to answer one of the weightiest questions in biology -- the relationship between cell mass and growth rate. Each microsensor is a small, suspended platform with a resonance frequency that changes as the cells on it grow heavier. Researchers tacked individual cells' masses and divisions over time and found that the cells they studied did grow faster as they grew heavier, rather than growing at the same rate throughout the cell cycle. ... > full story

Modern humans mature more slowly than Neanderthals did, analysis of teeth suggests (November 15, 2010) -- A sophisticated new examination of teeth from 11 Neanderthal and early human fossils shows that modern humans are slower than our ancestors to reach full maturity. The finding suggests that our characteristically slow development and long childhood are recent and unique to our own species, and may have given early humans an evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals. ... > full story

Stomach hormone can fuel or suppress rats’ sugar cravings: Chemical associated with appetite also activates the brain’s pleasure center (November 15, 2010) -- Researchers have found that rats either seek out sweets or lose interest, depending on the action of a stomach hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is one of many chemicals in the body that tell the brain when to trigger hunger or fullness. ... > full story

New large squid found in southern Indian Ocean (November 15, 2010) -- A new species of squid has been discovered by scientists analyzing 7,000 samples gathered during a seamounts cruise in the southern Indian Ocean last year. ... > full story

Oxytocin and social contact reduce anxiety: Hormone may be less effective at relieving stress for isolated animals (November 15, 2010) -- Oxytocin reduces anxiety in stressed animals, according to new research, but only if they recover in the presence of a friend. ... > full story

Prehistoric winged reptiles 'pole-vaulted' into flight (November 15, 2010) -- Controversial claims that enormous prehistoric winged beasts could not fly have been refuted by the most comprehensive study to date which asserts that giant pterosaurs were skilled in flight. The study contradicts recent assertions that the creatures were flightless and explains how they took to the air. ... > full story

New DNA sequencing reveals hidden communities (November 15, 2010) -- A mug full of sand from an unassuming beach in Scotland has revealed a far richer and more complex web of microscopic creatures living within the tiny 'ecosystem' than have previously been identified. A new study shows how this was achieved using a new method that allows DNA sequencing for large samples of meiofaunal (small animals living in marine sediments). ... > full story

Bat brains offer clues as to how we focus on some sounds and not others (November 15, 2010) -- How do you know what to listen to? In the middle of a noisy party, how does a mother suddenly focus on a child's cry, even if it isn't her own? One researcher is turning to mustached bats to help her solve this puzzle. ... > full story

A new read on DNA sequencing (November 15, 2010) -- A new technique for reading the DNA code relies on a fundamental property of matter known as quantum tunneling, which operates at the subatomic scale. Single bases inside a DNA chain can indeed be read with tunneling, without interference from neighboring bases, pointing the way to low cost, rapid DNA sequencing, according to new research. ... > full story

Less salt in teenagers' diet may improve heart health in adulthood (November 15, 2010) -- Small decreases in salt consumption among teens could reduce high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke in adulthood. Processed foods and fast foods, pose high salt hazards to families and teens. Researchers say food manufacturers should continue to reduce salt levels in their products. ... > full story

Embryonic stem cell culturing grows from art to science (November 15, 2010) -- Scientists have developed a fully defined culture system that promises a more uniform and, for cells destined for therapy, safer product. ... > full story

How diving leatherback turtles regulate buoyancy (November 15, 2010) -- Virtually nothing has been known about leatherback turtle diving strategies, but now scientists have discovered that leatherbacks regulate their buoyancy by varying the amount of air they inhale before they dive. Fitting nesting leatherbacks with triaxial accelerometers, temperature and pressure gauges, the team was able to make the first detailed recordings of leatherback turtle diving behavior. ... > full story

Satellites provide up-to-date information on snow cover (November 15, 2010) -- The European Space Agency's GlobSnow project, led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, uses satellites to produce up-to-date information on global snow cover. The new database gives fresh information on the snow situation right after a snowfall. Gathering this kind of information was not previously possible when only land-based observations were available. ... > full story

Extensive natural recovery after spinal cord injury uncovered in primate study (November 15, 2010) -- A new study shows unexpected and extensive natural recovery after spinal cord injury in primates. The findings may one day lead to the development of new treatments for patients with spinal cord injuries. ... > full story

Rare cold water coral ecosystem discovered off coast of Mauritania (November 15, 2010) -- A rare cold water coral reef with living animals has been discovered off the coast of Mauritania. In the middle of the enormous rock formation of the undersea canyon area, scientists also stumbled across the giant deep sea oyster, a Methuselah among sea creatures. ... > full story

Researchers develop light technology to combat hospital infections (November 15, 2010) -- A pioneering lighting system that can kill hospital superbugs -- including MRSA and C. difficile -- has been developed by researchers in Scotland. The technology decontaminates the air and exposed surfaces by bathing them in a narrow spectrum of visible-light wavelengths, known as HINS-light. ... > full story

Invasive species pose major threat to fish in Mediterranean basin, large-scale study finds (November 15, 2010) -- An international team has carried out the first large-scale study of the threats facing freshwater fish in the Mediterranean basin. Invasive species, along with over-exploitation of water resources, are the most important pressures, and those that expose fish to the greatest risk of extinction. ... > full story

Proteins in motion: World’s largest video database of proteins for the pharmaceutical industry published (November 15, 2010) -- After four years of conducting intensive supercomputer calculations, scientists in Spain have presented the world’s largest database of protein motions. Called MoDEL, this new database holds more than 1,700 proteins and is partially accessible through the Internet to researchers worldwide. MoDEL has been developed to study the basic biology of proteins and to accelerate and facilitate the design of new pharmaceutical agents. ... > full story

Synchrotron reveals human children outpaced Neanderthals by slowing down (November 15, 2010) -- Human childhood is considerably longer than chimpanzees, our closest-living ape relatives. A multinational team of specialists, applied cutting-edge synchrotron X-ray imaging to resolve microscopic growth in 10 young Neanderthal and Homo sapiens fossils. ... > full story

Redeeming role for a common virus: Ability to kill cancer (November 14, 2010) -- A common virus that can cause coughing and mild diarrhea appears to have a major redemptive quality: the ability to kill cancer. Harnessing that power, researchers are conducting a clinical trial to see if the virus can target and kill certain tumor types. ... > full story

Seeing meat makes people significantly less aggressive (November 14, 2010) -- Seeing meat appears to make human beings significantly less aggressive, contrary to what researchers expected. ... > full story

Genomes of lyme disease bacteria sequenced (November 14, 2010) -- Scientists have determined the complete genetic blueprints for 13 different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The achievement should lead to a better understanding of how genetic variations among strains may result in different courses of illness in people with Lyme disease, the most common tickborne disease in North America. The wealth of new genetic data will also help scientists develop improved ways to diagnose, treat and prevent Lyme disease. ... > full story

Mathematical equation calculates cost of walking for first time (November 14, 2010) -- Why do tall people burn less energy per kilogram when walking than shorter ones do, and how much energy does walking require? These are basic questions that doctors, trainers, fitness buffs and weight-watchers would all like to have answered, and now researchers from Texas have derived a fundamental equation to calculate how much energy walkers use, based simply on height and weight, which has direct applications across all walks of life. ... > full story

Catastrophic drought looms for capital city of Bolivia (November 14, 2010) -- Catastrophic drought is on the near-term horizon for the capital city of Bolivia, according to new research into the historical ecology of the Andes. If temperatures rise more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius (3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above those of modern times, parts of Peru and Bolivia will become a desert-like setting. ... > full story

Natural selection on not-so-natural plants (November 14, 2010) -- New research shows that while a genetically modified squash plant may be resistant to common virus transmitted by aphids, it's no match for bacteria transmitted by beetles. ... > full story

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