Kamis, 06 Januari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Thursday, January 6, 2011

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Where MRSA colonizes on the human body: Study identifies quantity and locations of MRSA colonization (January 6, 2011) -- When methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is carried in the nares, it is a risk factor for an invasive infection, including a surgical site infection. Some studies have found that the heavier the carriage of MRSA in the nose, the greater the risk of transmission to others and the greater risk of infection to the patient. A new study now sheds light on both the quantity of MRSA at different body sites and the relationship between the quantities. ... > full story

Filtering kitchen wastewater for plants (January 6, 2011) -- Water is a precious commodity, so finding ways to re-use waste water, especially in arid regions is essential to sustainability. Researchers in India have now carried out a study of various waste-water filtration systems for kitchen wastewater and found that even the most poorly performing can produce water clean enough for horticultural or agricultural use. ... > full story

Call for truth in trans fats labeling by US FDA: Study shows how deceptive food labels lead to increased risk of deadly diseases (January 6, 2011) -- A new article reveals that misleading labeling practices can result in medically significant intake of harmful trans fat, despite what you read on U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved labels. ... > full story

Time running out to save climate record held in unique eastern European Alps glacier (January 6, 2011) -- A preliminary look at an ice field atop the highest mountain in the eastern European Alps suggests that the glacier may hold records of ancient climate extending back as much as a thousand years. Researchers warn, however, that the record may soon be lost as global warming takes its toll on these high-altitude sites. ... > full story

Vaccine blocks cocaine high in mice: Approach could also stop addiction to other drugs, including heroin and nicotine (January 5, 2011) -- Researchers have produced a lasting anti-cocaine immunity in mice by giving them a safe vaccine that combines bits of the common cold virus with a particle that mimics cocaine. ... > full story

Birch bark ingredient comes with many metabolic benefits (January 5, 2011) -- An ingredient found in abundance in birch bark appears to have an array of metabolic benefits. In mice, the compound known as betulin lowered cholesterol, helped prevent diet-induced obesity, and improved insulin sensitivity. Betulin-treated mice were also more resistant to developing atherosclerotic plaques in their arteries. ... > full story

Recycled Haitian concrete can be safe, strong and less expensive, researchers say (January 5, 2011) -- Nearly one year after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the Republic of Haiti, engineering and concrete experts report that concrete and other debris in Port-au-Prince could be safely and inexpensively recycled into strong new construction material. ... > full story

Infant hydrocephalus, seasonal and linked to farm animals in Uganda (January 5, 2011) -- Hydrocephalus in Ugandan children and other developing countries is seasonal, linked to farm animals and in part, caused by previous bacterial infection, according to an international team of researchers from Uganda and the United States, who believe that the best approach to this problem is prevention. ... > full story

Prehistoric bird used club-like wings as weapon (January 5, 2011) -- Paleontologists have discovered that Xenicibis, a member of the ibis family that lived about ten thousand years ago and was found only in Jamaica, most likely used its specialized wings like a flail, swinging its upper arm and striking its enemies with its thick hand bones. ... > full story

Fueling the body on fat: Critical tuning dial for controlling energy found (January 5, 2011) -- Researchers have found what appears to be a critical tuning dial for controlling whole body energy. When energy levels within cells drop, it sets off a series of events designed to increase the amount of calorie-rich dietary fat that the body will absorb. ... > full story

On the trail of a stealthy parasite Biologist shows why some strains of Toxoplasma are more dangerous than others (January 5, 2011) -- About one-third of the human population is infected with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, but most of them don't know it. Though Toxoplasma causes no symptoms in most people, it can be harmful to individuals with suppressed immune systems, and to fetuses whose mothers become infected during pregnancy. Toxoplasma spores are found in dirt and easily infect farm animals such as cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. Humans can be infected by eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables. ... > full story

Corals provide evidence of changes to oceanic currents (January 5, 2011) -- Examination of deep sea corals reveals that there have been drastic changes to oceanic currents in the western North Atlantic since the 1970s. The influence of the cold water Labrador Current, which is in periodic interchange with the warm Gulf Stream, has been decreasing continually since the 1970s. Occurring at the same time as Global Warming this phenomenon is unique in the past 2000 years. ... > full story

Large-scale study reveals major decline in bumble bees in US (January 5, 2011) -- The first in-depth national study of wild bees in the US has uncovered major losses in the relative abundance of several bumble bee species and declines in their geographic range since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. ... > full story

Pregnant, constipated and bloated? Fly poo may tell you why (January 5, 2011) -- Clues about how the human gut helps regulate our appetite have come from a most unusual source -- fruit fly feces. Scientists are using the fruit fly to help understand aspects of human metabolism, including why pregnant women suffer from bloating and constipation, and even the link between a low calorie diet and longevity. ... > full story

A toast to history: 500 years of wine-drinking cups mark social shifts in ancient Greece (January 5, 2011) -- New research examines a timeline of wine-drinking cups over a 500-year period in ancient Athens. Changes in cup form and design point to political, social and economic shifts. ... > full story

Oceanic 'garbage patch' not nearly as big as portrayed in media (January 5, 2011) -- There is a lot of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean, but claims that the "Great Garbage Patch" between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas are grossly exaggerated, according to a new analysis. ... > full story

US does not have infrastructure to consume more ethanol, study finds (January 5, 2011) -- The United States doesn't have the infrastructure to meet the federal mandate for renewable fuel use with ethanol but could meet the standard with significant increases in cellulosic and next-generation biofuels, according to a new study. ... > full story

Even healthy cats act sick when their routine is disrupted (January 4, 2011) -- A cat regularly vomiting hairballs or refusing to eat probably isn't being finicky or otherwise "cat-like," despite what conventional wisdom might say. There is a good chance that the cat is acting sick because of the stress caused by changes in its environment, new research suggests. Healthy cats were just as likely as chronically ill cats to refuse food, vomit frequently and leave waste outside their litter box in response to changes in their routine. ... > full story

The ecosystem engineer: Research looks at beavers' role in river restoration (January 4, 2011) -- When engineers restore rivers, one professor hopes they'll keep a smaller engineer in mind: the North American beaver. ... > full story

Peptide delivers one-two punch to breast cancer in pre-clinical study (January 4, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered what may become a new weapon in the fight against breast cancer. For the first time, a peptide found in blood and tissue has been shown to inhibit the growth of human breast tumors in mice. ... > full story

Parallels between cancers, infection suppression: Same proteins involved, but cancer takes hold when response gets out of control (January 4, 2011) -- Tiny parasitoid wasps can play an important role in controlling the populations of other insect species by laying their eggs inside the larvae of these species. A newly hatched wasp gradually eats the host alive and takes over its body. The host insect is far from defenseless, however. In fruit flies, larvae activate humoral immunity in the fat body and mount a robust cellular response that encapsulates and chokes off the wasp egg. New research reveals parallels between how this mechanism fights the wasp infection and the way blood cancer develops. ... > full story

Clostridium bacteria infecting increasing numbers of hospitalized children (January 4, 2011) -- Hospitalized children in the United States are more frequently becoming infected with the bacteria Clostridium difficile, according to a new study. ... > full story

Eating low-fat, thanks to lupin proteins (January 4, 2011) -- Food should be delicious, healthy and sustainably produced. Researchers are working on new methods to use as many parts of plants as possible for nutrition. In the future, vegetable ingredients could replace animal raw materials. Lupin seeds, for instance, can be used to produce low-fat, exquisite sausage products. ... > full story

The movement of tree sap analyzed (January 4, 2011) -- Scientists have used 3D modeling to analyze the mechanisms used to by trees to transport water in their interior. The objective: to discover the keys to the movement of sap in order to apply these advances to new hydraulic systems or to suction pumps. ... > full story

Food bioterrorism: Safety precautions used by country club restaurants to protect food and beverages studied (January 4, 2011) -- A graduate student examined current safety precautions used by country club restaurants to protect food and beverages, as well as how often those practices were put into effect. ... > full story

Not so bird-brained: 3D X-rays piece together the evolution of flight from fossils (January 3, 2011) -- Three-dimensional X-ray scanning equipment is being used to help chart the evolution of flight in birds, by digitally reconstructing the size of bird brains using ancient fossils and modern bird skulls. ... > full story

Firefly protein lights pathway to improved detection of blood clots (January 3, 2011) -- The enzyme that makes fireflies glow is lighting up the scientific path toward a long-sought new medical imaging agent to better monitor treatment with heparin, the blood thinner that millions of people take to prevent or treat blood clots, scientists are reporting. ... > full story

Hair color of unknown offenders is no longer a secret (January 3, 2011) -- The hair color of an unknown perpetrator who has committed a crime will soon no longer be a secret for forensic investigators. Scientists have discovered that DNA can be used to predict people's probable hair color. ... > full story

Even molds can suffer jet lag: Simple organisms shed light on inner clock (January 3, 2011) -- Humans are not the only species ruled by a circadian rhythm. Even simple organisms like molds are governed by an inner clock. ... > full story

How cells export and embed proteins in the membrane (January 3, 2011) -- Scientists have determined the structure of a ribosome-protein complex involved in carrying nascent proteins out of the cell. Their work could increase understanding of illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and some forms of Parkinson's disease. ... > full story

How does your green roof garden grow? (January 3, 2011) -- Growing plants on rooftops is an old concept that has evolved from simple sod roofing to lightweight "extensive green roofs". Researchers have evaluated the influence of substrate type and depth on establishment of five common green roof plants. A standout performer was saxifrage pink, which had an attractive appearance and persistent flowering habit, making it an excellent choice as a green roof plant. ... > full story

Humans helped vultures colonize the Canary Islands (January 3, 2011) -- The Egyptian vulture population of the Canary Islands was established following the arrival of the first human settlers who brought livestock to the islands. A genetic comparison of Iberian and Canarian birds found that the Egyptian vulture population in the Canary Islands was likely established around 2500 years ago -- around the same time as humans began to colonize the islands. ... > full story

Bizarre bioluminescent snail: Secrets of strange mollusk and its use of light as a possible defense mechanism revealed (January 2, 2011) -- Two scientists have provided the first details about the mysterious flashes of dazzling bioluminescent light produced by a little-known sea snail. ... > full story

Calculating tidal energy turbines' effects on sediments and fish (January 2, 2011) -- Engineers are developing computer models to study how changes in water pressure and current speed around tidal turbines affect sediment buildup and fish health. ... > full story

Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process (January 2, 2011) -- Conversion of biomass to fuel requires several steps: chemical pretreatment to break up the biomass, detoxification to remove the toxic chemicals required in pretreatment, and microbial fermentation to convert the soluble sugars to fuels. Researchers have discovered an enzyme mixture that works in the presence of the toxic infused liquid biomass (hydrolysate), meaning that the detoxification step is unnecessary. ... > full story

Neandertals’ extinction not caused by deficient diets, tooth analysis shows (January 1, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered evidence to debunk the theory that Neandertals' disappearance was caused in part by a deficient diet -- one that lacked variety and was overly reliant on meat. After discovering starch granules from plant food trapped in the dental calculus on 40-thousand-year-old Neandertal teeth, the scientists believe that Neandertals ate a wide variety of plants and included cooked grains as part of a more sophisticated, diverse diet similar to early modern humans. ... > full story

Budding research links climate change and earlier flowering plants (January 1, 2011) -- New research shows that global warming may be impacting the blooming cycle of plants. ... > full story

Cloud atlas: Scientist maps the meaning of mid-level clouds (January 1, 2011) -- Clouds play a major role in the climate-change equation, but they are the least-understood variable in the sky, observes a geoscientist, who says mid-level clouds are especially understudied. ... > full story

What triggers mass extinctions? Study shows how invasive species stop new life (December 31, 2010) -- An influx of invasive species can stop the dominant natural process of new species formation and trigger mass extinction events, according to new research. The study of the collapse of Earth's marine life 378 to 375 million years ago suggests that the planet's current ecosystems, which are struggling with biodiversity loss, could meet a similar fate. ... > full story

Was Israel the birthplace of modern humans? (December 31, 2010) -- Archaeologists have discovered evidence that places Homo sapiens in Israel as early as 400,000 years ago -- the earliest evidence for the existence of modern humans anywhere in the world. ... > full story

New technology to speed cleanup of nuclear contaminated sites (December 31, 2010) -- Engineers have invented a new type of radiation detection and measurement device that will be particularly useful for cleanup of sites with radioactive contamination, making the process faster, more accurate and less expensive. ... > full story

Key role for a protein in cell division described (December 31, 2010) -- Just before a cell divides into two -- the basic act of reproducing life -- the cellular environment must be exquisitely prepared. The exact timing and localization of the vast array of molecules and processes involved in duplicating chromosomes and separating the offspring from the parent is one of the basic wonders of biology and is at the core of both healthy living and diseases such as cancer, which arise when the process goes awry. Now scientists have detailed the role of one protein, PRC1, that acts in the penultimate stage of cell division, helping to form the architectural structures, called central spindles, needed before the cell splits in two. ... > full story

System for detecting noise pollution in the sea and its impact on cetaceans (December 31, 2010) -- Researchers have developed the first system equipped with hydrophones able to record sounds on the seafloor in real time over the Internet. The system detects the presence of cetaceans and makes it possible to analyze how noise caused by human activity can affect the natural habitat of these animals and the natural balance of oceans. A new EU directive on the sea has ruled that all member states must comply with a set of indicators for measuring marine noise pollution before 2012. ... > full story

When their tools get dull, leaf-cutters switch jobs (December 31, 2010) -- When their razor-sharp mandibles wear out, leaf-cutter ants change jobs, remaining productive while letting their more efficient sisters take over cutting, say researchers. Their study provides a glimpse of nature's way of providing for its displaced workers. ... > full story

Study classifies and uses artificial proteins to analyze protein-protein interfaces (December 31, 2010) -- A new study suggests that there may be roughly a thousand structurally distinct protein-protein interfaces -- and that their structures depend largely on the simple physics of the proteins. ... > full story

Evolutionary arms race between smut fungi and maize plants (December 31, 2010) -- Fungi are a major cause of plant diseases and are responsible for large-scale harvest failure in crops like maize and other cereals all over the world. Scientists have now analyzed the genetic make-up of Sporisorium reilianum, an important maize parasite. ... > full story

Crops: Improving nitrogen use efficiency lessens environmental impact (December 31, 2010) -- Most agricultural crops require large quantities of nitrate-rich fertilizer to realize optimal yields. Increased interest in environmentally beneficial "low-input" approaches is challenging researchers to identify genotypes that have a characteristic called "high nutrient use efficiency", or NUE. Using vegetable types with high NUE could help growers lessen environmental impacts while maintaining high crop yields. A new study reported on improved NUE traits that resulted from grafting melon plants onto commercial rootstocks. ... > full story

New imaging advance illuminates immune response in breathing lung (December 30, 2010) -- In a recent study in mice, researchers developed a method to stabilize living lung tissue for imaging without disrupting the normal function of the organ. The method allowed the team to observe, for the first time, both the live interaction of living cells in the context of their environment and the unfolding of events in the immune response to lung injury. ... > full story

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