Jumat, 19 November 2010

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Friday, November 19, 2010

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Bees take the sting out of mouth ulcers (November 19, 2010) -- The healing properties of propolis -- a mixture of resin and wax made by honey bees to seal and sterilize their hives -- have been known for many years. But its use in medicine and food supplements has been limited because the sticky substance is not water soluble and has a strong, off-putting smell. Now researchers have developed a way of purifying propolis that retains its medicinal properties, but makes it dissolve in water and eliminates its pungent smell. ... > full story

Panama Canal, Panama City at risk of large earthquake, says new research (November 19, 2010) -- New data suggest that the Limon and Pedro Miguel faults in Central Panama have ruptured both independently and in unison over the past 1400 years, indicating a significant seismic risk for Panama City and the Panama Canal. ... > full story

Why so many antibodies fail to protect against HIV infection (November 19, 2010) -- Researchers have been stymied for years over the fact that people infected with the AIDS virus do indeed produce antibodies in response to the pathogen -- antibodies that turn out to be ineffective in blocking infection. Now, scientists can explain why: Some of the earliest and most abundant antibodies available to fight HIV can't actually "see" the virus until after it's already invaded a healthy cell. ... > full story

Defeating potato blight (November 19, 2010) -- Researchers have made a discovery that could instigate a paradigm shift in breeding resistance to late blight - a devastating disease of potatoes and tomatoes costing the industry £5-6 billion a year worldwide. ... > full story

Where's George? Researchers follow the money to define communities in US (November 19, 2010) -- When travel was local, borders and communities were easy to define, but now our connectivity is more complex. Researchers have taken a look at human mobility and redrawn the borders within the United States, showing the country's most connected areas. Some of the borders in this new map are familiar, but many are not. They used data generated by wheresgeorge.com, a website that tracks dollar bills spent across the country. ... > full story

Gangster birds running protection racket give insight into coevolution (November 18, 2010) -- Like gangsters running a protection racket, drongos in the Kalahari Desert act as lookouts for other birds in order to steal a cut of their food catch. The behavior may represent a rare example of two species evolving from a parasitic to a mutualistic relationship. ... > full story

Scientists announce new advance with potential for future cancer targeting (November 18, 2010) -- New research that provides potential for exciting new approaches to targeting diseases such as cancer has been announced by an international team of academics. They have also announced the potential for more targeted treatments following their identification of proteins that play a vital role in the life of a human cell. ... > full story

Estrogen concentrations in manure runoff: Pelletized manure reduces toxic runoff (November 18, 2010) -- Higher concentrations of hormones in waterways have been found to cause physiological and sexual impairment in fish. A new study examines estrogen concentrations in runoff from agricultural plots fertilized with chicken manure. ... > full story

For macaques, male bonding is a political move (November 18, 2010) -- Contrary to expectations, new evidence shows that unrelated male macaques in the wild form close and stable social partnerships with select males in their groups. Although the degree of emotional attachment obviously can't be measured, those relationships resemble human friendship. What's more, it appears the motivation for those males to maintain close ties with other males is political in nature. ... > full story

Multiple sclerosis drug serves as model for potential drugs to treat botulism poisoning (November 18, 2010) -- Scientists are reporting that variants of a drug already approved for treating multiple sclerosis show promise as a long sought treatment for victims of bioterrorist attack with botulinum neurotoxin -- which is 10,000 times deadlier than cyanide and the most poisonous substance known to man. The potential drugs also could be useful in treating other forms of botulism poisoning as well as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis, they say in a new article. ... > full story

One-touch make-up -- for our cells (November 18, 2010) -- A new technique enables scientists to introduce up to 15 fluorescent markers to a mammalian cell in one go, and could help speed up drug development and screening. ... > full story

Depression-like behavior identified in zebrafish; Inability to cope with stress may play role in depression (November 18, 2010) -- Disrupting the stress response in zebrafish generates behaviors that resemble depression, according to new research. Zebrafish are popular model systems in many areas of biomedical research, but this is the first discovery of a zebrafish mutant with an apparent psychiatric disorder. ... > full story

Mortal chemical combat typifies the world of bacteria (November 18, 2010) -- New complexities in the close chemical combat waged among bacteria have been detailed. The findings may have implications for human health and survival. ... > full story

Hearing loss study reveals role of bone hardness in tissue function (November 18, 2010) -- Scientists are reporting the first direct evidence that a subtle change in the physical properties of a tissue can affect its function. ... > full story

Months of geologic unrest signaled reawakening of Icelandic volcano (November 18, 2010) -- Months of volcanic restlessness preceded the eruptions this spring of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, providing insight into what roused it from centuries of slumber. ... > full story

Rare earth elements in US not so rare, report finds (November 18, 2010) -- Approximately 13 million metric tons of rare earth elements (REE) exist within known deposits in the United States, according to the first-ever nationwide estimate of these elements. ... > full story

Critically endangered tree frog bred for first time (November 18, 2010) -- As frogs around the world continue to disappear -- many killed by a rapidly spreading disease called chytridiomycosis, which attacks the skin cells of amphibians -- one critically endangered species has received an encouraging boost. Although the La Loma tree frog, Hyloscirtus colymba, is notoriously difficult to care for in captivity, researchers have now successfully bred this species. ... > full story

Structure of Lassa virus protein reveals viral thievery (November 18, 2010) -- Scientists have solved the structure of a key protein from Lassa virus, which is endemic to West Africa and can cause a deadly hemorrhagic fever. The structure reveals how the virus evades its host's immune system, and how it hijacks infected cells' vital machinery in a process scientists call "cap-stealing." Details of the structure could guide future efforts at antiviral drug discovery and vaccine development. ... > full story

Sonar inspired by dolphins: New kind of underwater device can detect objects through bubble clouds (November 18, 2010) -- Scientists have developed a new kind of underwater sonar device that can detect objects through bubble clouds that would effectively blind standard sonar. ... > full story

As Arctic temperatures rise, tundra fires increase (November 18, 2010) -- The Anaktuvuk River Fire in 2007 burned over 1,000 square kilometers of tundra on Alaska's North Slope, doubling the area burned in that region since record keeping began in 1950. A new analysis reveals that this was the most destructive tundra fire at that site for at least 5,000 years. Models built on 60 years of climate and fire data found that even moderate increases in warm-season temperatures in the region dramatically increase the likelihood of such fires. ... > full story

New technology gives on-site assessments in archaeology (November 18, 2010) -- The ability to tell the difference between crystals that formed naturally and those formed by human activity can be important to archaeologists in the field. This can be a crucial bit of information in determining the ancient activities that took place at a site, yet archaeologists often wait for months for the results of laboratory tests. ... > full story

Scientists identify antivirus system in host cells (November 18, 2010) -- Viruses have led scientists to the discovery of a security system in host cells. Viruses that cause disease in animals beat the security system millennia ago. But now that researchers are aware of it, they can explore the possibility of bringing the system back into play in the fight against diseases such as sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus, dengue and yellow fever. ... > full story

Scientists question widely adopted indicator of fisheries health and evidence for 'fishing down marine food webs' (November 18, 2010) -- The most widely adopted measure for assessing the state of the world's oceans and fisheries led to inaccurate conclusions in nearly half the ecosystems where it was applied according to a new analysis. ... > full story

Global warming could cool down northern temperatures in winter (November 17, 2010) -- The overall warming of Earth's northern half could result in cold winters, new research shows. The shrinking of sea-ice in the eastern Arctic causes some regional heating of the lower levels of air -- which may lead to strong anomalies in atmospheric airstreams, triggering an overall cooling of the northern continents, according to a new study. ... > full story

Broad new technique for screening proteins devised (November 17, 2010) -- Scientists have developed a powerful new method for detecting functional sites on proteins. The technique may have broad applications in basic research and drug development. ... > full story

Advance toward controlling fungus that caused Irish potato famine (November 17, 2010) -- Scientists are reporting a key advance toward development of a way to combat the terrible plant diseases that caused the Irish potato famine and still inflict billions of dollars of damage to crops each year around the world. ... > full story

Small clumps of tau protein disrupt memory; Animal study suggests possible target for Alzheimer’s disease therapies (November 17, 2010) -- Too many small aggregates of a protein called tau in the brain can directly interfere with memory, according to new animal research. ... > full story

Upending conventional wisdom, certain virus families are ancient (November 17, 2010) -- Certain families of single-stranded DNA virus are more than 40 to 50 million years old, according to new research. The investigators found remnants of circoviruses and parvoviruses in the genomes of diverse vertebrates from fishes to birds and mammals that had been integrated into their genomes at different times from the recent past to more than 50 million years ago. ... > full story

Low-allergenic wines could stifle sniffles and sneezes in millions of wine drinkers (November 17, 2010) -- Scientists have identified a mysterious culprit that threatens headaches, stuffy noses, skin rash and other allergy symptoms when more than 500 million people worldwide drink wine. The discovery could help winemakers in developing the first low allergenic vintages -- reds and whites with less potential to trigger allergy symptoms, they say. ... > full story

How anthrax bacteria impair immune response (November 17, 2010) -- Researchers have determined a key mechanism by which Bacillus anthracis bacteria initiate anthrax infection despite being greatly outnumbered by immune system scavenger cells. The finding, made by studying genetically modified mice, adds new detail to the picture of early-stage anthrax infection and supports efforts to develop vaccines and drugs that would block this part of the cycle. ... > full story

Deepwater Horizon: Not managing danger, not learning from 'near misses' (November 17, 2010) -- The numerous technical and operational breakdowns that contributed to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill from the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico suggest the lack of a suitable approach for managing the inherent risks, uncertainties, and dangers associated with deepwater drilling operations and a failure to learn from previous "near misses," says an interim report. ... > full story

Common strain of bacteria found in patients with cystic fibrosis in Canada; associated with greater risk of death (November 17, 2010) -- A common transmissible strain of the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been identified among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients in Canada, suggesting that cross-infection has occurred widely between CF centers in the United Kingdom and Canada, according to a new study. Infection with this strain among Canadian CF patients has been associated with an increased risk of death or lung transplantation. ... > full story

Feed likely source of salmonella contamination on pig farms (November 17, 2010) -- Commercial feed appears to be a source of Salmonella contamination in commercial swine production units, according to a new article. Moreover, nearly half of isolates found in pigs were multidrug resistant. The findings suggest that pork could be a source of human infection. They also strongly question the conventional wisdom that processed feed is not a source of contamination. Heat treatment during processing has been thought to kill any bacterial contaminants. ... > full story

Immune system involved in depression, animal study suggests (November 17, 2010) -- A new animal study suggests the immune system plays a role in depression. Activation of the immune system caused mice to learn to run less on wheels in their cages -- an activity they normally like. The mice resumed their normal activity when the action of interleukin-6, an immune hormone that carries "sickness" signals to the brain, was blocked. ... > full story

Baking soda dramatically boosts oil production in algae (November 17, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered that baking soda can dramatically increase algae's production of the key oil precursors for biodiesel. ... > full story

Why you can listen at cocktail parties: Songbirds' individual brain cells are tuned to particular sounds (November 17, 2010) -- Nerve cells in the brains of songbirds are sensitive to specific sounds, and only respond when those sounds occur during communication, a recent study shows. The finding helps explain people's ability to listen to a conversation while in a noisy environment -- the "cocktail party effect." ... > full story

Length of pregnancy influenced by placenta structure (November 17, 2010) -- The nine-month pregnancy in humans is influenced by the structure of the placenta, according to new research into the evolution of reproduction in mammals which ends a 100-year mystery. ... > full story

New 3-D model of RNA 'core domain' of enzyme telomerase may offer clues to cancer, aging (November 17, 2010) -- Biochemists have produced a three-dimensional structural model of telomerase's RNA "core domain." Telomerase is an enzyme that helps maintain telomere DNA -- the DNA found at the very ends of chromosomes -- and plays an important role in aging and cancer. ... > full story

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

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