Jumat, 24 Desember 2010

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Friday, December 24, 2010

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You are what your father ate, too: Paternal diet affects lipid metabolizing genes in offspring, research suggests (December 24, 2010) -- We aren't just what we eat; we are what our parents ate, too. That's an emerging idea that is bolstered by a new study showing that mice sired by fathers fed on a low-protein diet show distinct and reproducible changes in the activity of key metabolic genes in their livers. Those changes occurred despite the fact that the fathers never saw their offspring. ... > full story

Weird and wonderful plant and fungal discoveries of 2010 (December 24, 2010) -- Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are celebrating the diversity of the planet's plant and fungal life by highlighting some of the weird, wonderful and stunning discoveries they've made this year from the rainforests of Cameroon to the UK's North Pennines. But it's not just about the new -- in some cases species long thought to be extinct in the wild have been rediscovered. ... > full story

Learning from leftovers: A history drawn from turkey bones (December 24, 2010) -- Brooklynne Fothergill will have a very different view of Christmas dinner from most people, because the doctoral student is researching the history of turkey domestication by examining old turkey bones. ... > full story

Growing hypoxic zones reduce habitat for billfish and tuna (December 23, 2010) -- Billfish and tuna, important commercial and recreational fish species, may be more vulnerable to fishing pressure because of shrinking habitat, according to a new study. An expanding zone of low oxygen, known as a hypoxic zone, in the Atlantic Ocean is encroaching upon these species' preferred oxygen-abundant habitat, forcing them into shallower waters where they are more likely to be caught. ... > full story

Designer probiotics could reduce obesity (December 23, 2010) -- Specially designed probiotics can modulate the physiology of host fat cells say scientists. The findings could lead to specialized probiotics that have a role in the prevention or treatment of conditions such as obesity. ... > full story

How cells running on empty trigger fuel recycling (December 23, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered how AMPK, a metabolic master switch that springs into gear when cells run low on energy, revs up a cellular recycling program to free up essential molecular building blocks in times of need. ... > full story

Simple screen can help isolate virulent parts of pathogenic bacteria gene structures (December 23, 2010) -- Researchers have developed a new approach to studying potentially deadly disease-causing bacteria which could help speed up the process of finding vaccines. The scientists have pioneered a simple screen which can help isolate the virulent parts of the gene structures of pathogenic bacteria. The screen allows researchers to simultaneously run thousands of tests where genes from the pathogen are pitted against the human blood cells that normally attack them. ... > full story

'Un-growth hormone' increases longevity, researchers find (December 23, 2010) -- A compound which acts in the opposite way as growth hormone can reverse some of the signs of aging, a research team has shown. The finding may be counter-intuitive to some older adults who take growth hormone, thinking it will help revitalize them. ... > full story

A methane-metal marriage: Scientists insert metal atoms into methane gas molecules (December 23, 2010) -- Scientists have inserted metal atoms into methane gas molecules and obtained a detailed structure of the resulting molecule. The discovery could be a key step in making hydrocarbons available to chemical production and broadening our understanding of how nature uses metals in the molecules of living organisms. ... > full story

Researchers train software to help monitor climate change (December 23, 2010) -- A computer program that automatically analyzes mounds of satellite images and other data could help climate scientists keep track of complex, constantly changing environmental conditions. ... > full story

New fossil site in China shows long recovery of life from the largest extinction in Earth's history (December 23, 2010) -- A major new fossil site in south-west China has filled in a sizable gap in our understanding of how life on this planet recovered from the greatest mass extinction of all time, according to researchers. ... > full story

Eating less healthy fish may contribute to America's stroke belt (December 23, 2010) -- People living in the "stroke belt" states eat more fried fish than people living in the rest of the country, which may contribute to the high rate of death from stroke in those states, according to a new study. ... > full story

Scientist uncovers switch controlling protein production (December 23, 2010) -- Scientist have discovered a molecular switch that controls the synthesis of ribosomes. Ribosomes are the large machineries inside all living cells that produce proteins, the basic working units of any cell. These new findings offer a novel target for potential treatments for a range of diseases, including cancer. ... > full story

Component in common dairy foods may cut diabetes risk, study suggests (December 23, 2010) -- Scientists have identified a natural substance in dairy fat that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. ... > full story

New annotated database sifts through mountains of sequencing data to find gene promoters (December 23, 2010) -- Researchers announce the release of an online tool that will help scientists find "gene promoters" -- regions along a DNA strand that tell a cell's transcription machinery where to start reading in order to create a particular protein. The Mammalian Promoter Database (MPromDb) integrates sequencing data generated at Wistar with publicly available data on human and mouse genomics. MPromDb pinpoints known promoters and predicts where new ones are likely to be found. ... > full story

Young female chimpanzees treat sticks as dolls: Growing evidence of biological basis for gender-specific play in humans (December 22, 2010) -- Researchers have reported some of the first evidence that chimpanzee youngsters in the wild may tend to play differently depending on their sex, just as human children around the world do. Scientists say female chimpanzees appear to treat sticks as dolls, carrying them around until they have offspring of their own. Young males engage in such behavior much less frequently. ... > full story

Immunity in emerging species of a major mosquito carrer of malaria (December 22, 2010) -- A new study suggests that the mosquitoes' immune response to malaria parasites, mediated by a gene called TEP1, is one of the traits that differ between two evolving species of Anopheles gambiae. ... > full story

Climbing Mount Everest: Noble adventure or selfish pursuit? (December 22, 2010) -- Adventure seekers are plunking down more than ,000 to climb Mount Everest, but a new study finds that people who pay for transformative experiences often lack the communitarian spirit that usually defines such activities. ... > full story

Sex reversal gene: Male mice can be created without Y chromosome via ancient brain gene (December 22, 2010) -- Researchers in Australia are a step closer to unraveling the mysteries of human sexual development, following genetic studies that show male mice can be created without a Y chromosome -- through the activation of an ancient brain gene. ... > full story

Blue-green algae tested for treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (December 22, 2010) -- Spirulina, a nutrient-rich, blue-green algae, an ancient food source used by the Aztecs, may have a dual antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on motor neurons. Spirulina appeared to provide neuroprotective support for dying motor neurons in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ... > full story

New ideas enhance efficiency of wind turbines (December 22, 2010) -- One issue confronting the efficiency of wind as a promising renewable energy source is the wind itself -- specifically, its changeability. While the aerodynamic performance of a wind turbine is best under steady wind flow, the efficiency of the blades degrades when exposed to conditions such as wind gusts, turbulent flow, upstream turbine wakes and wind shear. Now, a new type of air-flow technology may soon increase the efficiency of large wind turbines under many different wind conditions. ... > full story

Fossil finger bone yields genome of a previously unknown human relative (December 22, 2010) -- A 30,000-year-old finger bone found in a cave in southern Siberia came from a young girl who belonged to a previously unknown group of human relatives who may have lived throughout much of Asia. Although the fossil evidence consists of just a bone fragment and one tooth, DNA extracted from the bone has yielded a genome sequence that leads to some startling conclusions about this extinct branch of the human family tree. ... > full story

Toxin-laden nectar poses problems for honeybees (December 22, 2010) -- Researchers in the UK have shown for the first time that chemical seratonin enables the honeybee to learn to avoid nectar containing toxins. ... > full story

Stress can enhance ordinary, unrelated memories (December 22, 2010) -- Stress can enhance ordinary, unrelated memories, a team of neuroscientists has found in a study of laboratory rats. Their results may bolster our understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and could offer a pathway for addressing PTSD and related afflictions. ... > full story

Africa has two elephant species, genetic analysis confirms (December 22, 2010) -- By comparing the DNA of modern elephants from Africa and Asia to DNA extracted from two extinct species, the woolly mammoth and the mastodon, researchers have concluded that Africa has two -- not one -- species of elephant. Since 1950, all African elephants have been conserved as one species. Now that we know the forest and savanna elephants are two very different animals, the forest elephant should become a bigger priority for conservation purposes. ... > full story

Long-lasting chemicals threaten the environment and human health (December 22, 2010) -- New research suggests that a number of high production volume chemicals are likely to become sequestered in post-treatment sludge and enter the environment when these biosolids are deposited on land. ... > full story

Singing fish: Choir of electric fish makes debut in interactive 'scale' exhibit at Netherlands festival (December 22, 2010) -- A neurobiologist, an artist, and a composer recently presented their collaborative "singing electric fish" installation to thousands of people attending the STRP Festival, one of the largest art and technology festival venues in Europe. Many visitors had the chance to grab a baton and direct the unusual choir. ... > full story

Natural supplement, echinacea, may reduce common-cold duration by only half a day (December 22, 2010) -- An over-the-counter herbal treatment believed to have medicinal benefits has minimal impact in relieving the common cold, according to new research. ... > full story

Sea-level study brings good and bad news to Chesapeake Bay (December 22, 2010) -- A study of sea-level trends brings both good and bad news to localities concerned with coastal inundation and flooding along the shores of Chesapeake Bay. Dr. John Boon, the study's lead author, says the good news is that "absolute sea level in Chesapeake Bay is rising only about half as fast as the global average rise rate." The bad news, says Boon, is that "local subsidence more than makes up for it." ... > full story

New Miscanthus hybrid discovery in Japan could open doors for biofuel industry (December 22, 2010) -- In the minds of many, Miscanthus x giganteus is the forerunner in the race of viable feedstock options for lignocellulosic bioenergy production. But researchers believe "putting all their eggs in one basket" could be a big mistake. Scientists recently reported the first natural occurrence in several decades of Miscanthus hybrid plants in Japan. ... > full story

Being good moms couldn't save the woolly mammoth (December 21, 2010) -- Woolly mammoths living north of the Arctic Circle during the Pleistocene Epoch (approx. 150,000 to 40,000 years ago) began weaning infants up to three years later than modern day African elephants due to prolonged hours of darkness, new research suggests. This adapted nursing pattern could have contributed to the prehistoric elephant's eventual extinction. ... > full story

Biomagnification of nanomaterials in simple food chain demonstrated (December 21, 2010) -- Researchers have produced a groundbreaking study of how nanoparticles are able to biomagnify in a simple microbial food chain. ... > full story

Fruit fly study digs deeper into poorly understood details of forming embryos (December 21, 2010) -- Using fruit flies as a model to study embryo formation, scientists report that molecular breakdown of a protein called Bicoid is vital to normal head-to-tail patterning of the insect's offspring. The study shows how Bicoid is targeted for molecular degradation by a newly identified protein the researchers named Fates-shifted (Fsd). Without the interaction between Bicoid and Fsd, fruit fly embryos are improperly formed. ... > full story

Meat-eating dinosaurs not so carnivorous after all (December 21, 2010) -- Scientists used statistical analyses to determine the diet of 90 species of theropod dinosaurs. Their results challenge the conventional view that nearly all theropods hunted prey, especially those closest to the ancestors of birds. ... > full story

Mexico quake studies uncover surprises for California (December 21, 2010) -- New technologies developed by NASA and other agencies are revealing surprising insights into a major earthquake that rocked parts of the American Southwest and Mexico in April, including increased potential for more large earthquakes in Southern California. ... > full story

Raindrops reveal how a wave of mountains moved south across the country (December 21, 2010) -- Analyzing the isotope ratios of ancient raindrops preserved in soils and lake sediments, researchers have shown that a wave of mountain building began in British Columbia, Canada about 49 million years ago and rolled south to Mexico. The finding helps put to rest the idea that there was once a Tibet-like plateau across the western US that collapsed and eroded into the mountains we see today. ... > full story

Link between depression and inflammatory response found in mice: New treatments for mood disorders? (December 21, 2010) -- Researchers may have found a clue to the blues that can come with the flu -- depression may be triggered by the same mechanisms that enable the immune system to respond to infection. In a new study, scientists activated the immune system in mice to produce "despair-like" behavior that has similarities to depression in humans. ... > full story

Novel weight-loss therapies? Scientists identify cells in mice that can transform into energy-burning brown fat (December 21, 2010) -- In some adults, the white fat cells that we all stockpile so readily are supplemented by a very different form of fat -- brown fat cells, which can offer the neat trick of burning energy rather than storing it. Researchers have now have identified progenitor cells in mouse white fat tissue and skeletal muscle that can be transformed into brown fat cells. ... > full story

Globalization burdens future generations with biological invasions, study finds (December 21, 2010) -- The consequences of the current high levels of socio-economic activity on the extent of biological invasions will probably not be completely realized until decades into the future, according to new research. ... > full story

Ocean acidification changes nitrogen cycling in world seas (December 21, 2010) -- Increasing acidity in the sea's waters may fundamentally change how nitrogen is cycled in them, say marine scientists. Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients in the oceans. All organisms, from tiny microbes to blue whales, use nitrogen to make proteins and other important compounds. ... > full story

Comprehensive wind info collected to improve renewable energy (December 21, 2010) -- Scientists are researching how radar weather instruments can help improve predictions on when and how strongly winds will blow. They're testing the instruments from a working wind farm in southeastern Washington State with the goal of helping power grid operators better manage the intermittent stress that spinning wind turbines put on the electrical grid. ... > full story

Free radicals good for you? Banned herbicide makes worms live longer (December 20, 2010) -- It sounds like science fiction -- scientists tested the current "free radical theory of aging" by creating mutant worms that had increased production of free radicals, predicting they would be short-lived. But they lived even longer than regular worms! Moreover, their enhanced longevity was abolished when they were treated with antioxidants such as vitamin C. ... > full story

Water pathways from the deep sea to volcanoes (December 20, 2010) -- Oceanic plates take up a lot of water when submerged into the Earths' interior at continental margins. This water plays a central role in plate boundary volcanism. Scientists have, for the first time, tracked the pathway of the water up to 120 kilometers in depth. This is an important piece in the puzzle to understand the highly active volcanoes in Pacific "ring of fire". ... > full story

Satellites give an eagle eye on thunderstorms (December 20, 2010) -- It's one of the more frustrating parts of summer. You check the weather forecast, see nothing dramatic, and go hiking or biking. Then, four hours later, a thunderstorm appears out of nowhere and ruins your afternoon. Additional data, taken from a satellite, could greatly improve the accuracy of thunderstorm prediction a few hours out. ... > full story

Genetic basis of brain diseases: Set of proteins account for over 130 brain diseases (December 20, 2010) -- Scientists have isolated a set of proteins that accounts for over 130 brain diseases, including diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, epilepsies and forms of autism and learning disability. They showed that the protein machinery has changed relatively little during evolution, suggesting that the behaviors governed by and the diseases associated with these proteins have not changed significantly over many millions of years. The findings open several new paths toward tackling these diseases. ... > full story

Study supports gluten-free diet in potential celiac disease patients (December 20, 2010) -- Findings from a new study of 141 adults add to an ongoing medical debate over which patients with symptoms of celiac disease should go on a gluten-free diet. The study concludes that people currently diagnosed as "potential" celiac disease patients and not advised to follow a gluten-free diet may not be "potential" patients at all. Rather, the scientists found that these patients have the same distinctive metabolic fingerprint as patients with full-blown disease who do benefit from gluten-free diets. ... > full story

Warning lights mark shellfish that aren't safe to eat (December 20, 2010) -- Red tides and similar blooms can render some seafood unsafe to eat, though it can be difficult to tell whether a particular batch harbors toxins that cause food poisoning. A new kind of marker makes it easier to see if shellfish are filled with toxin-producing organisms. ... > full story

Zebrafish provide new hope for cancer treatment (December 20, 2010) -- The imaging of tumor growth in zebrafish has revealed for the first time how newly formed cancer cells have the capacity to co-opt the immune system into spreading the disease, leading the way for investigations into potential therapies for eliminating early stage cancer in humans. ... > full story

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