Rabu, 29 Desember 2010

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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Dust shatters like glass: Several times more dust particles in atmosphere than previously thought (December 29, 2010) -- Microscopic particles of dust, emitted into the atmosphere when dirt breaks apart, follow similar fragment patterns as broken glass and other brittle objects, according to new research. The research suggests there are several times more dust particles in the atmosphere than previously believed, since shattered dirt appears to produce an unexpectedly high number of large dust fragments. The finding has implications for understanding future climate change because dust plays a significant role in controlling the amount of solar energy in the atmosphere. ... > full story

Key interaction in hepatitis C virus identified (December 29, 2010) -- Scientists have identified a molecular interaction between a structural hepatitis C virus protein and a protein critical to viral replication. This new finding strongly suggests a novel method of inhibiting the production of the virus and a potential new therapeutic target for hepatitis C drug development. ... > full story

Environmental factors limit species diversity, lizard study finds (December 29, 2010) -- New research on lizards in the Caribbean demonstrates that species diversification is limited by the environment. The finding supports and extends the MacArthur-Wilson theory of island biogeography. ... > full story

Mechanism for signaling receptor recycling discovered (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which signaling receptors recycle, a critical piece in understanding signaling receptor function. Scientists describe how a signaling receptor travels back to the cell membrane after it has been activated and internalized. ... > full story

Virus previously linked to chronic fatigue syndrome was a lab contaminant, not cause of disease, new study shows (December 29, 2010) -- A virus previously thought to be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome is not the cause of the disease, a detailed study has shown. The research shows that cell samples used in previous research were contaminated with the virus identified as XMRV and that XMRV is present in the mouse genome. ... > full story

New technology improves greenhouse, plant microclimates (December 29, 2010) -- New technology improves greenhouse climates by reducing solar heat radiation and temperatures during the hot summer season. The study was the first investigation into the effects of application of the liquid foam technology as a shading method. Results showed that the technology improved greenhouse and plant microclimates and decreased air temperature more than conventional shading curtains traditionally used by greenhouse growers. ... > full story

Finest chocolate may get better: Cacao tree genome sequenced (December 28, 2010) -- The production of high quality chocolate, and the farmers who grow it, will benefit from the recent sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome. ... > full story

New clues uncover how 'starvation hormone' works (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers may solve a 17-year-old mystery about how the so-called "starvation hormone" affects multiple biological systems, including preventing insulin sensitivity and promoting cell survival. ... > full story

Mechanisms of juvenile hormone action in insects could help fine tune pesticides (December 28, 2010) -- Just as raging hormones are part of the process of a child's maturation through the teen years to adulthood, juvenile hormones, a group of insect isoprenoids, play an important role as butterflies, fruit flies and mosquitoes transform their body structures as they molt from larva to pupa and then adults. Researchers have discovered an important step in the activation of juvenile hormone target genes. ... > full story

Parents' social problems affect their children -- even in birds (December 28, 2010) -- The phrase "nature versus nurture" was coined in the mid-19th century by the English scientist Francis Galton and symbolizes the debate over the relative importance of inherited factors and the environment (or upbringing) in determining the behavior of offspring. The issue has been complicated by the discovery of "epigenetic" effects, by which especially mothers can alter the genetic material they pass on to their young. A further twist to the story is provided by the finding that female birds can affect their chicks by adding varying amounts of hormones to the eggs. And a recent study has revealed that the social environment of mother quails has a direct influence on the growth and the behaviour of their young. ... > full story

Woodland strawberry genome sequenced (December 28, 2010) -- The strawberry genome has been sequenced. The development is expected to yield tastier, hardier varieties of the berry and other crops in its family. ... > full story

Major obstacles to cellulosic biofuel production overcome with new yeast strain (December 28, 2010) -- A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The sugars are glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is relatively easy to ferment; and xylose, a five-carbon sugar that has been much more difficult to utilize in ethanol production. The new strain, made by combining, optimizing and adding to earlier advances, reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods. ... > full story

Bees one of many pollinators infected by virus implicated in colony collapse disorder (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers have found that native pollinators, like wild bees and wasps, are infected by the same viral diseases as honey bees and that these viruses are transmitted via pollen. This study provides new insights into viral infections in native pollinators, suggesting that viral diseases may be key factors impacting pollinator populations. ... > full story

Structure of key molecule in immune system provides clues for designing drugs (December 28, 2010) -- A research team has deciphered a key step in an evolutionarily old branch of the immune response. This system, called complement, comprises a network of proteins that "complement" the work of antibodies in destroying foreign invaders. Complement proteins mark both bacterial and dying host cells for elimination by the body's cellular cleanup services and have been implicated in at least 30 diseases. The findings provide a molecular scaffold for designing novel drug therapeutics. ... > full story

New cell biological mechanism that regulates protein stability in cells uncovered (December 28, 2010) -- The cell signaling pathway known as Wnt, commonly activated in cancers, causes internal membranes within a healthy cell to imprison an enzyme that is vital in degrading proteins, preventing the enzyme from doing its job and affecting the stability of many proteins within the cell, researchers have found. ... > full story

Sardine Run: Headlong race for survival of the species (December 28, 2010) -- Every year between May and July, enormous shoals of the sardine Sardinops sagax give a splendid show as they migrate off the coasts of South Africa, performing their Sardine Run. They are subjected to relentless attack by predators of all kinds -- sharks, dolphins, sea lions, whales, birds, fishermen. Although well known to the general public, this wholesale migration is still not well understood scientifically. Researchers have now examined the different hypotheses put forward to explain the event. ... > full story

In the evolutionary mating game, brawn and stealth rule, scientists find (December 27, 2010) -- When prowling for a hook up, it's not always the good-looker who gets the girl. In fact, in a certain species of South American fish, brawn and stealth beat out colorful and refined almost every time. ... > full story

Decline of West Coast fog brought higher coastal temperatures last 60 years (December 27, 2010) -- Summertime fog, a common feature along the West Coast, has decline since 1950 while coastal temperatures have increased slightly, new research shows. ... > full story

Learning to read the genome: Most detailed annotation of fruit-fly genome points way to understanding all organisms' genomes (December 27, 2010) -- Scientists have recently made major advances in understanding the complex relationships between the Drosophila genome, as recorded by DNA and RNA base pairs, and the patterns and physical organization of its chromosomes. These insights into reading the genome will apply to many organisms, including human beings. ... > full story

Adapting agriculture to climate change: New global search to save endangered crop wild relatives (December 27, 2010) -- The Global Crop Diversity Trust has announced a major global search to systematically find, gather, catalog, use and save the wild relatives of wheat, rice, beans, potato, barley, lentils, chickpea and other essential food crops, in order to help protect global food supplies against the imminent threat of climate change, and strengthen future food security. ... > full story

Unlocking the secrets of a plant’s light sensitivity (December 27, 2010) -- Plants are very sensitive to light conditions, in part due to a signal that activates special photoreceptors that regulate growth, metabolism, and physiological development. Scientists believe that these light signals control plant growth and development by activating or inhibiting plant hormones. New research has altered the prevailing theory on how light signals and hormones interact. The findings could have implications for food crop production. ... > full story

Global rivers emit three times IPCC estimates of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (December 27, 2010) -- Biologists have demonstrated that streams and rivers receiving nitrogen from urban and agricultural land uses are a significant source of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere. ... > full story

Ever-sharp urchin teeth may yield tools that never need honing (December 26, 2010) -- To survive in a tumultuous environment, sea urchins literally eat through stone, using their teeth to carve out nooks where the spiny creatures hide from predators and protect themselves from the crashing surf on the rocky shores and tide pools where they live. The rock-boring behavior is astonishing, scientists agree, but what is truly remarkable is that, despite constant grinding and scraping on stone, urchin teeth never, ever get dull. The secret of their ever-sharp qualities has puzzled scientists for decades, but now a new report by scientists has peeled back the toothy mystery. ... > full story

Mammalian aging process linked to overactive cellular pathway (December 26, 2010) -- Researchers have linked hyperactivity in the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 cellular pathway to reduced ketone production in the liver, which is a well-defined physiological trait of aging in mice. During sleep or other times of low carbohydrate intake, the liver converts fatty acids to ketones, which are vital sources of energy during fasting, especially for the heart and brain. As animals age, their ability to produce ketones in response to fasting declines. ... > full story

Sovereign's head identified after more than four centuries (December 26, 2010) -- The skeletons of kings and queens lying in mass graves in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris could finally have the solemn funeral ceremonies they deserve, say experts. ... > full story

Drifting fish larvae allow marine reserves to rebuild fisheries (December 26, 2010) -- Marine ecologists have shown for the first time that tiny fish larvae can drift with ocean currents and "re-seed" fish stocks significant distances away -- more than 100 miles in a new study from Hawaii. ... > full story

Preplay: How past experiences subconsciously influence behavior (December 24, 2010) -- Researchers report for the first time how animals' knowledge obtained through past experiences can subconsciously influence their behavior in new situations. ... > full story

Arsenic agent shuts down two hard-to-treat cancers in animal experiments (December 24, 2010) -- Researchers have found that an arsenic-based agent already FDA-approved for a type of leukemia may be helpful in another hard-to-treat cancer, Ewing's Sarcoma (ES). The research, based on animal studies, also suggests the drug might be beneficial in treating medulloblastoma, a highly malignant pediatric brain cancer. ... > full story

Heat shock protein drives yeast evolution (December 24, 2010) -- Researchers have determined that heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) can create diverse heritable traits in brewer's yeast by affecting a large portion of the yeast genome. The finding has led the researchers to conclude that Hsp90 has played a key role in shaping the evolutionary history of the yeast genome, and likely others as well. ... > full story

Most challenging Christmas plastic wrapping could be recycled with new technology (December 24, 2010) -- On average we each consume 120 grams of plastic wrapping on Christmas gifts most of which is of a type which almost impossible to recycle. Now researchers have devised a new technique which could process 100% of Christmas and other household plastic instead of the tiny fraction that currently actually gets processed. ... > full story

Pterygotid sea scorpions: No terror of the ancient seas? (December 24, 2010) -- New experiments have generated evidence that questions the common belief that the pterygotid eurypterids ("sea scorpions") were high-level predators in the Paleozoic oceans. ... > full story

Fast sepsis test can save lives (December 24, 2010) -- Blood poisoning can be fatal. If you suffer from sepsis, you used to have to wait as much as 48 hours for laboratory findings. A new diagnostic platform as big as a credit card will now supply the analysis after as little as an hour. This system is based on nanoparticles that are automatically guided by magnetic forces. ... > full story

Six years after the 2004 tsunami disaster, technical setup of the early warning sysem completed (December 24, 2010) -- Six years after the tsunami disaster of Dec. 26, 2004, the set-up of the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean (GITEWS) has been completed. ... > full story

How to delay Christmas tree needle loss (December 24, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered what causes Christmas tree needles to drop off, and how to double the lifespan of Christmas trees in homes. ... > full story

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

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