Jumat, 14 Januari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Friday, January 14, 2011

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Virus might fight brain tumors better if armed with bacterial enzyme, study shows (January 14, 2011) -- New research shows that oncolytic viruses, which are engineered to destroy cancer cells, might be more effective in treating deadly brain tumors if equipped with an enzyme that helps them penetrate the tumor. The enzyme removes sugar chains that branch from proteins that fill the narrow spaces between cells. By cutting away these branches, the enzyme clears a path that enables the virus to spread through the tumor. ... > full story

Is 'breast only' for first six months best? (January 14, 2011) -- Current guidance advising mothers in the UK to exclusively breast feed for the first six months of their baby's life is being questioned by child health experts. ... > full story

Earth's hot past could be prologue to future climate (January 14, 2011) -- The magnitude of climate change during Earth's deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes. Building on recent research, the study examines the relationship between global temperatures and high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere tens of millions of years ago. ... > full story

Deep genomics: In the case of DNA, the package can be as important as its contents, new work with fruit flies reveals (January 14, 2011) -- The modENCODE project is a massive ongoing effort to map all the elements in model organisms that affect whether genes are silenced or expressed. The research is part of the burgeoning new field of epigenetics and the eventual goal in the words of the Washington University team leader is "to put flesh on the bones" of the Human Genome Project. ... > full story

Technique allows researchers to identify key maize genes for increased yield (January 14, 2011) -- Scientists have identified the genes related to leaf angle in corn (maize) -- a key trait for planting crops closer together, which has led to an eight-fold increase in yield since the early 1900s. ... > full story

What gives frogs a face? Zoologists clarify role of FOXN3 gene in development of clawed frog (January 13, 2011) -- Zoologists in Germany have analyzed the central factor for the development of morphologically distinctive features of tadpoles. The researchers were able to show that it is mostly the FOXN3 gene that influences the development of the cartilages in the oral region and the gills. These structures in particular belong to the evolutionary new developments typical of frogs. ... > full story

New way to calculate age of Earth's crust (January 13, 2011) -- A new way to calculate the age of Earth's crust has been developed by researchers in the UK. ... > full story

New predator 'dawn runner' discovered in early dinosaur graveyard (January 13, 2011) -- A team of paleontologists and geologists from Argentina and the United States have discovered a lanky dinosaur that roamed South America in search of prey as the age of dinosaurs began, approximately 230 million years ago. Sporting a long neck and tail and weighing only 10 to 15 pounds, the new dinosaur has been named Eodromaeus -- the "dawn runner." ... > full story

Courtship affects gene expression in flies, study finds (January 13, 2011) -- Biologists have made an important step toward understanding human mating behavior by showing that certain genes become activated in fruit flies when they interact with the opposite sex. Their research shows that courtship behaviors may be far more influenced by genetics than previously thought. In addition, this new understanding as to why and how these genes become activated within social contexts may also lead to insight into disorders such as autism. ... > full story

Measles virus, a weapon against cancer? (January 13, 2011) -- Scientists believe that modified measles viruses can be "re-targeted" to attack only tumor cells, and thus transformed into a powerful new therapy for cancer. ... > full story

Old-growth forests are what giant pandas need (January 13, 2011) -- A new study indicates that giant pandas need old-growth forests as much as bamboo forests. This work could assist conservationists in creating strategic plans that help conserve this critically endangered bear species. ... > full story

Biomedical breakthrough: Blood vessels for lab-grown tissues (January 13, 2011) -- Researchers have broken one of the major roadblocks on the path to growing transplantable tissue in the lab; they've found a way to grow the necessary blood vessels and capillaries needed to keep tissues alive. ... > full story

Engineers give solar power a boost (January 13, 2011) -- The growing popularity of solar photovoltaic systems across the United States has made it more important to maximize their power input. That's why environmental engineers are working on technologies and methods that will better predict how much power we can actually harness from the sun. ... > full story

Antifreeze proteins: How one gene becomes two (with different functions) (January 13, 2011) -- Researchers report that they are the first to show in molecular detail how one gene evolved two competing functions that eventually split up -- via gene duplication -- to pursue their separate destinies. The study validates a decades-old hypothesis about a key mechanism of evolution. The study also confirms the ancestry of a family of "antifreeze proteins" that helps the Antarctic eelpout survive in the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. ... > full story

How seabirds share their habitat (January 13, 2011) -- When different species of seabirds share a habitat with limited sources of food, they must differ in their feeding habits. This specialization is known by biologists as an “ecological niche”. Researchers have investigated how flexible these ecological niches really are. They discovered that the preying habits of diving seabirds are very different, both in location and timing, within species as well as between different species. ... > full story

Earth is twice as dusty as in 19th century, research shows (January 12, 2011) -- If the house seems dustier than it used to be, it may not be a reflection on your housekeeping skills. The amount of dust in the Earth's atmosphere has doubled over the last century, according to a new study; and the dramatic increase is influencing climate and ecology around the world. ... > full story

Under pressure: Stormy weather sensor for hurricane forecasting (January 12, 2011) -- It's hard to believe that, in this day and age, we don't have a way to measure sea-level air pressure during hurricanes. NASA researchers, however, are working on a system that will improve forecasting of severe ocean weather by doing just that. The device measures sea-level air pressure, a critical component of hurricane formation -- and one that has been extremely difficult to capture. ... > full story

Virus killer gets supercharged: Discovery greatly improves common disinfectant (January 12, 2011) -- Researchers report that adding silicone to titanium dioxide, a common disinfectant, dramatically increases its ability to degrade aerosol- and water-borne viruses. ... > full story

Chemical analysis confirms discovery of oldest wine-making equipment ever found (January 12, 2011) -- Scientists have discovered and dated the oldest complete wine production facility ever found, including grape seeds, withered grape vines, remains of pressed grapes, a rudimentary wine press, a clay vat apparently used for fermentation, wine-soaked potsherds and even cups. Dating 1,000 years before the earliest comparable find, the 4100 B.C. discovery was made in the same mysterious Armenian cave complex as an ancient leather shoe announced last summer. ... > full story

Parents give boys preferential treatment when there is a chronic food shortage (January 12, 2011) -- In situations of chronic food shortage, parents are inclined to give boys a preferential treatment, despite the fact that the health of their daughters suffers more from food insecurity, according to new research. ... > full story

Winter sports threaten indigenous European mountain birds, research finds (January 12, 2011) -- In the winter months, the mountain ranges of central Europe attract thousands of tourists for skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor sports, but conservationists fear this annual invasion may threaten indigenous bird species, including the Capercaillie. New research reveals how the growth of human recreation may be a key factor in the rapidly declining population of these iconic alpine birds. ... > full story

Wake up and smell the willow: 'Pre-roasted' plant matter could be burned in coal-fired power stations (January 12, 2011) -- More plant matter could be burned in coal-fired power stations if this "green" fuel was delivered pre-roasted like coffee beans, according to researchers from UK. ... > full story

New research aims to shut down viral assembly line (January 12, 2011) -- Scientists are studying the intricate formation of coronaviruses. The research may provide fresh insights leading to antiviral agents against viral pathogens like SARS. ... > full story

Study estimates land available for biofuel crops (January 12, 2011) -- Using detailed land analysis, researchers have found that biofuel crops cultivated on available land could produce up to half of the world's current fuel consumption -- without affecting food crops or pastureland. Focusing on marginal land, the team assessed land availability from a physical perspective to identify land around the globe available to produce grass crops for biofuels, with minimal impact on agriculture or the environment. ... > full story

Species loss tied to ecosystem collapse and recovery (January 12, 2011) -- Geologists have a cautionary tale: Lose enough species in the oceans, and the entire ecosystem could collapse. Looking at two of the greatest mass extinctions in Earth's history, the scientists attribute the ecosystems' collapse to a loss in the variety of species sharing the same space. It took up to 10 million years after the mass extinctions for the ecosystem to stabilize. ... > full story

NASA image shows La Niña-caused woes down under (January 12, 2011) -- The current La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, one of the strongest in the past 50 years, continues to exert a powerful influence on weather around the world, affecting rainfall and temperatures in varying ways in different locations. For Australia, La Niña typically means above-average rains, and the current La Niña is no exception. Heavy rains that began in late December led to the continent's worst flooding in nearly a half century, at its peak inundating an area the size of Germany and France combined. ... > full story

NASA's Fermi catches thunderstorms hurling antimatter into space (January 11, 2011) -- Scientists have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth -- a phenomenon never seen before. Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF), a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected. ... > full story

Wildlife biologists use dogs' scat-sniffing talents for good (January 11, 2011) -- Biologists have harnessed a dog's natural talent for sniffing out the scat of other animals for a good cause. Researchers are fine-tuning the use of dogs as a non-invasive tool for wildlife studies and management. ... > full story

Hard-to-find fish reveals shared developmental toolbox of evolution (January 11, 2011) -- A SCUBA expedition in Australia and New Zealand to find the rare embryos of an unusual shark cousin enabled American and British researchers to confirm new developmental similarities between fish and mammals. The study confirms that organisms separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution share similar genetic programs for body formation. ... > full story

Smoking around your kindergartner could raise their blood pressure (January 11, 2011) -- Kindergartners whose parents smoke have higher blood pressure than those with non-smoking parents, according to new research. The study of more than 4,000 pre-school children in Germany is the first to show that exposure to nicotine increases the blood pressure of children as young as 4 or 5. Since childhood blood pressure tracks into adult life, researchers said youngsters exposed to cigarette smoke could have a higher risk of heart disease later in life. ... > full story

Viral evasion gene reveals new targets for eliminating chronic infections (January 11, 2011) -- Researchers in Australia have discovered how a key viral gene helps viruses evade early detection by the immune system. Their finding is providing new insights into how viruses are able to establish chronic infections, leading scientists to reevaluate their approaches to viral vaccine development. ... > full story

Shellfish safer to eat, thanks to biosensor technology (January 11, 2011) -- New technology promises to make shellfish safer to eat. A new test not only ensures shellfish are free of toxins before they reach the food chain but is likely to revolutionize the global fishing industry. While the current process for monitoring potentially dangerous toxins in shellfish takes up to two days, the new test slashes the testing time to just 30 minutes using new biosensor technology and provides a much more reliable result. ... > full story

Mountain glacier melt to contribute 12 centimeters to world sea-level increases by 2100 (January 11, 2011) -- Melt off from small mountain glaciers and ice caps will contribute about 12 centimeters to world sea-level increases by 2100, according to new research. ... > full story

New drug target for prion diseases, 'mad cow' (January 11, 2011) -- Scientists have discovered that plasminogen, a protein used by the body to break up blood clots, speeds up the progress of prion diseases such as mad cow disease. ... > full story

Energy limits global economic growth, study finds (January 11, 2011) -- A new study establishes macroecological correlations across countries and over time between per capita gross domestic product and per capita energy use. The authors infer a causal linkage. Correlations between these same two measures and measures of lifestyle quality lead the authors to believe that energy production would have to increase several-fold to support a still-growing world population in the current US lifestyle. ... > full story

H1N1 pandemic flu points to vaccine strategy for multiple flu strains (January 11, 2011) -- Using blood samples from patients infected with the 2009 H1N1 strain, researchers developed antibodies that could bind H1N1 viruses from the last decade, as well as the 1918 flu virus and even H5N1. Some of the antibodies protected mice from a lethal viral dose, even 60 hours post-infection. The antibodies could help researchers in designing a vaccine against a wide spectrum of flu viruses. ... > full story

Catfish study reveals multiplicity of species (January 11, 2011) -- An extensive investigation of South American Corydoras catfish, reveals that catfish communities, although containing almost identically colored and patterned fish, could actually contain three or more different species. Establishing for the first time that many species are mimetic, this discovery suggests that in many cases the number of Corydoras catfish species may be higher than previously recognized, with consequent implications for environmentalists charged with protecting environmental diversity and safeguarding the species. ... > full story

Mosquito nets do not work everytime, researchers find (January 10, 2011) -- Long-lasting insecticidal nets have yielded an important breakthrough in malaria prevention, but this does not automatically mean they always work against diseases transmitted by insect bites. Against the transmission of kala-azar disease in India and Nepal, they did not have an effect, researchers have found. ... > full story

Cancer in a single catastrophe: Chromosome crisis common in cancer causation (January 10, 2011) -- Cancer is most often considered to be the result of accumulation of mutations over time -- often over years. Researchers have found that in one in 40 cases, chromosomes explode in a single event, creating hundreds of fragments and many mutations. The new process is particularly common in bone cancers. Although the cause of the shattered chromosomes is not known, the team suggest possible mechanisms to be studied. ... > full story

Induced pluripotent stem cells from fetal skin cells and embryonic stem cells display comparable potential for derivation of hepatocytes (January 10, 2011) -- Numerous patients suffering from chronic liver diseases are currently receiving inadequate treatment due to the lack of organs donated for transplantation. However, hepatocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could offer an alternative for the future. Scientists compared hepatocytes from embryonic stem cells with hepatocytes from iPS cells and found that their gene expression is very similar. ... > full story

Extreme obesity associated with higher risk of death for 2009 H1N1 patients (January 10, 2011) -- For those infected with the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus, extreme obesity was a powerful risk factor for death, according to an analysis of a public health surveillance database. In a new study, researchers associated extreme obesity with a nearly three-fold increased odds of death from 2009 H1N1 influenza. Half of Californians greater than 20 years of age hospitalized with 2009 H1N1 were obese. ... > full story

When less is more: How mitochondrial signals extend lifespan (January 10, 2011) -- In making your pro-longevity resolutions, like drinking more red wine and maintaining a vibrant social network, here's one you likely forgot: dialing down your mitochondria. It turns out that slowing the engines of these tiny cellular factories could extend your life-an observation relevant not only to aging research but to our understanding of how cells communicate with each another. ... > full story

Epic journeys of turtles revealed via satellite tracking (January 10, 2011) -- The epic ocean-spanning journeys of the gigantic leatherback turtle in the South Atlantic have been revealed for the first time thanks to groundbreaking research using satellite tracking. Experts in the UK led a five-year study to find out more about these increasingly rare creatures and inform conservation efforts. ... > full story

Atmosphere's self-cleaning capacity surprisingly stable (January 10, 2011) -- The atmosphere's capacity for cleansing itself of air pollutants is more stable than previously thought, according to a new study ... > full story

Double doses of chicken pox vaccine most effective, researchers find (January 10, 2011) -- When vaccinating children against varicella (chicken pox), researchers have found, two doses are better than one. In fact, the odds of developing chicken pox were 95 percent lower in children who had received two doses of the vaccine compared with those who had received only one dose. ... > full story

Antibiotic resistance is not just genetic (January 10, 2011) -- Genetic resistance to antibiotics is not the only trick bacteria use to resist eradication -- they also have a second defense strategy known as persistence that can kick in. Researchers have now demonstrated for the first time that interplay occurs between the two mechanisms to aid bacterial survival. The findings could lead to novel, effective approaches to treat multi-drug resistant infections. ... > full story

Blame the 'chaperone': Mutation in gene essential for correct protein-processing identified (January 10, 2011) -- Scientists have identified a mutation in a gene that's essential for correct protein-processing in cells. Defects in protein folding are associated with a variety of abnormalities and diseases. ... > full story

Grape ingredient resveratrol increases beneficial fat hormone (January 10, 2011) -- Researchers have identified a novel way in which resveratrol, a substance in grapes, exerts positive health effects. ... > full story

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