Senin, 31 Januari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Monday, January 31, 2011

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A clearer picture of how rivers and deltas develop (January 30, 2011) -- By adding information about the subsoil to an existing sedimentation and erosion model, researchers have obtained a clearer picture of how rivers and deltas develop over time. A better understanding of the interaction between the subsoil and flow processes in a river-delta system can play a key role in civil engineering (delta management), but also in geology (especially in the work of reservoir geologists). ... > full story

Gene 'relocation' key to most evolutionary change in bacteria (January 30, 2011) -- Scientists have now shown that bacteria evolve new abilities, such as antibiotic resistance, predominantly by acquiring genes from other bacteria. The researchers new insights into the evolution of bacteria partly contradict the widely accepted theory that new biological functions in bacteria and other microbes arise primarily through the process of gene duplication within the same organism. ... > full story

Regenerative medicine advance: New 'cocktails' support long-term maintenance of human embryonic stem cells (January 30, 2011) -- A team of stem cell biologists and engineers, using a feedback system control scheme, has innovatively and efficiently identified an optimal combination and concentration of small molecule inhibitors from a very large pool of possibilities to support the long-term maintenance of human embryonic stem cells. This is a major advancement towards the quest to broadly transition regenerative medicine from the bench top to the clinic. ... > full story

Wheat resistance genes failing, new approach needed to stop flies (January 30, 2011) -- Many of the genes that allow wheat to ward off Hessian flies are no longer effective in the southeastern United States, and care should be taken to ensure that resistance genes that so far haven't been utilized in commercial wheat lines are used prudently, according to scientists. ... > full story

Cocaine production increases destruction of Colombia’s rainforests (January 29, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting new evidence that cultivating coca bushes, the source of cocaine, is speeding up destruction of rainforests in Colombia and threatening the region's "hotspots" of plant and animal diversity. The findings underscore the need for establishing larger protected areas to help preserve biodiversity. ... > full story

DNA caught rock 'n rollin': On rare occasions DNA dances itself into a different shape (January 29, 2011) -- DNA, that marvelous, twisty molecule of life, has an alter ego, research reveals. On rare occasions, its building blocks "rock and roll," deforming the familiar double helix into a different shape. ... > full story

More frequent drought likely in eastern Africa (January 29, 2011) -- The increased frequency of drought observed in eastern Africa over the last 20 years is likely to continue as long as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research. This poses increased risk to the estimated 17.5 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa who currently face potential food shortages. ... > full story

Draft 'genetic road map' of biofuels crop (January 29, 2011) -- The first rough draft of a "genetic road map" of a biomass crop, prairie cordgrass, is giving scientists an inside look at the genes of one of the crops that may help produce the next generation of biofuels. ... > full story

Air above Dead Sea contains very high levels of oxidized mercury (January 28, 2011) -- Measurements show that the sea's salt has profound effects on the chemistry of the air above its surface. The atmosphere over the Dead Sea, researchers have found, is laden with oxidized mercury. Some of the highest levels of oxidized mercury ever observed outside the polar regions exist there. ... > full story

Cow rumen enzymes for better biofuels (January 28, 2011) -- When it comes to breaking down plant matter and converting it to energy, the cow has it all figured out. Its digestive system allows it to eat more than 150 pounds of plant matter every day. Now researchers report that they have found dozens of previously unknown microbial enzymes in the bovine rumen -- the cow's primary grass-digestion chamber -- that contribute to the breakdown of switchgrass, a renewable biofuel energy source. ... > full story

Exposure to worm infection in the womb may protect against eczema, study suggests (January 28, 2011) -- Exposure to worm infections in the womb may protect a newborn infant from developing eczema, a new study suggests. A large trial in Uganda showed that treating a pregnant woman for worm infections increased her child's chances of developing the allergic skin disease. This research supports the so-called 'hygiene hypothesis', which proposes that exposure to infections in early childhood can modify the immune system and protect the child from allergies later in life. ... > full story

Understanding the human neurosystem by researching locust brains (January 28, 2011) -- Scientists have successfully cultured brain cells taken from the desert locust to delve deeper into the workings of the mammalian neurosystem. Easier to work with than human neurons, the use of these insect neurons allow the team to observe the neurons form a network, providing enormous benefits to researchers. The cells are basic enough to be applicable to any system, including the human neurosystem, researchers say. ... > full story

Rivers cut deep notches in the Alps' broad glacial valleys (January 28, 2011) -- New research shows that notches carved by rivers at the bottom of glacial valleys in the Swiss Alps survive from one glacial episode to the next, protected in part by the glaciers themselves. ... > full story

Dinosaurs survived mass extinction by 700,000 years, fossil find suggests (January 28, 2011) -- Researchers have determined that a fossilized dinosaur bone found in New Mexico confounds the long established paradigm that the age of dinosaurs ended between 65.5 and 66 million years ago. ... > full story

Insects that deter predators produce fewer offspring (January 28, 2011) -- Insects that frequently use their defense mechanisms to deter predators could be reducing their lifespan and numbers of offspring, researchers have found. ... > full story

High school biology teachers in U.S. reluctant to endorse evolution in class, study finds (January 28, 2011) -- The majority of public high school biology teachers in the U.S. are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology, despite 40 years of court cases that have ruled teaching creationism or intelligent design violates the Constitution, according to political scientists. A mandatory undergraduate course in evolutionary biology for prospective teachers, and frequent refresher courses for current teachers, may be part of the solution, they say. ... > full story

A mix of tiny gold and viral particles, and the DNA ties that bind them (January 28, 2011) -- Scientists have created a diamond-like lattice composed of gold nanoparticles and viral particles, woven together and held in place by strands of DNA. The structure -- a distinctive mix of hard, metallic nanoparticles and organic viral pieces known as capsids, linked by the very stuff of life, DNA -- marks a remarkable step in scientists' ability to combine an assortment of materials to create infinitesimal devices. ... > full story

How bacteria keep ahead of vaccines and antibiotics (January 28, 2011) -- A new study has used DNA sequencing to provide the first detailed genetic picture of an evolutionary war between Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria and the vaccines and antibiotics used against it over recent decades. By looking at the genomes of 240 samples, the scientists could precisely describe the recent evolution and success of a drug-resistant lineage of the bacteria. They suggests that their technique could improve infection control measures against bacterial diseases in the future. ... > full story

Weighing the costs of disaster (January 28, 2011) -- Disasters -- both natural and humanmade -- can strike anywhere and they often hit without warning, so they can be difficult to prepare for. But what happens afterward? How do people cope following disasters? Researchers now review the psychological effects of disasters and why some individuals have a harder time recovering than do others. ... > full story

Warming North Atlantic water tied to heating Arctic (January 28, 2011) -- The temperatures of North Atlantic Ocean water flowing north into the Arctic Ocean adjacent to Greenland -- the warmest water in at least 2,000 years -- are likely related to the amplification of global warming in the Arctic, says a new study. ... > full story

Production of plant pollen is regulated by several signalling pathways (January 28, 2011) -- Plants producing flower pollen must not leave anything to chance. The model plant thale cress (Arabidopsis), for instance, uses three signaling pathways in concert with partially overlapping functions. The yield becomes the greatest when all three processes are active; however, two are sufficient to form an acceptable quantity of flower pollen. ... > full story

Brain 'GPS' illuminated in migratory monarch butterflies (January 27, 2011) -- A new study takes a close look at the brain of the migratory monarch butterfly to better understand how these remarkable insects use an internal compass and skylight cues to navigate from eastern North America to Mexico each fall. The research provides key insights into how ambiguous sensory signals can be integrated in the brain to guide complex navigation. ... > full story

Climatic fluctuations in last 2,500 years linked to social upheavals (January 27, 2011) -- Complete record of the Central European climate of the last 2,500 years reconstructed for the first time. It would seem that there are striking chronological parallels between significant variations of climate and major historical epochs, such as the Migration Period and the heyday of the Middle Ages. ... > full story

Origins of the pandemic: Lessons of H1N1 (January 27, 2011) -- As H1N1 "swine flu" returns to the national headlines, a new research paper reveals the key lessons about the origins of the 2009 pandemic. The article reveals how the pandemic challenges the traditional understanding of "antigenic shift", given that the virus emerged from an existing influenza subtype. ... > full story

Mass extinction linked to ancient climate change, new details reveal (January 27, 2011) -- About 450 million years ago, Earth suffered the second-largest mass extinction in its history -- the Late Ordovician mass extinction, during which more than 75 percent of marine species died. Exactly what caused this tremendous loss in biodiversity remains a mystery, but now scientists have discovered new details supporting the idea that the mass extinction was linked to a cooling climate. ... > full story

NSAID receptor responsible for olive oil's 'cough' and more (January 27, 2011) -- Scientists report that two structurally unrelated anti-inflammatory compounds both activate the TRPA1 receptor. One, oleocanthal, is found in extra virgin olive oil while ibuprofen is an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. The researchers also localized the TRPA1 receptor to the back of the throat, which is where the distinctive irritating sting from olive oil is felt. The findings may provide novel insights into anti-inflammatory pharmacology. ... > full story

Modern humans reached Arabia earlier than thought, new artifacts suggest (January 27, 2011) -- Artifacts unearthed in the United Arab Emirates date back 100,000 years and imply that modern humans first left Africa much earlier than researchers had expected, a new study reports. The timing and dispersal of modern humans out of Africa has been the source of long-standing debate, though most evidence has pointed to an exodus along the Mediterranean Sea or along the Arabian coast approximately 60,000 years ago. ... > full story

Fluorescent color of coral larvae predicts whether they'll settle or swim; Finding could help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming (January 27, 2011) -- Young staghorn coral that fluoresce redder are less likely to settle and develop into coral polyps than their greener peers, biologists have discovered. ... > full story

New lab-on-chip advance uses low-cost, disposable paper strips (January 27, 2011) -- Researchers have invented a technique that uses inexpensive paper to make "microfluidic" devices for rapid medical diagnostics and chemical analysis. The innovation represents a way to enhance commercially available diagnostic devices that use paper-strip assays. ... > full story

Agave fuels excitement as a bioenergy crop (January 27, 2011) -- Agave, currently known for its use in the production of alcoholic beverages and fibers, thrives in semi-arid regions where it is less likely to conflict with food and feed production. Agave is a unique feedstock because of its high water use efficiency and ability to survive without water between rainfalls. Scientists found that in 14 independent studies, the yields of two Agave species greatly exceeded the yields of other biofuel feedstocks, such as corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat. ... > full story

Ancient body clock discovered that helps keep all living things on time (January 27, 2011) -- The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by scientists. ... > full story

Household bugs: A risk to human health? (January 27, 2011) -- Superbugs are not just a problem in hospitals but could be also coming from our animal farms. New research indicates insects could be responsible for spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria from pigs to humans. ... > full story

World can be powered by alternative energy, using today's technology, in 20-40 years, experts say (January 27, 2011) -- A new study analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen. ... > full story

Gender and hygiene: Could cleanliness be hurting girls? (January 27, 2011) -- Little girls growing up in western society are expected to be neat and tidy -- "all ribbon and curls" -- and one researcher who studies science and gender differences thinks that emphasis may contribute to higher rates of certain diseases in adult women. ... > full story

Natural growth factor enhances memory, prevents forgetting in rats (January 27, 2011) -- A naturally occurring growth factor significantly boosted retention and prevented forgetting of a fear memory when injected into rats' memory circuitry during time-limited windows when memories become fragile and changeable. In a new study, animals treated with insulin-like growth factor excelled at remembering to avoid a location where they had previously experienced a mild shock. The researchers say IGF-II could become a potential drug target for enhancing memory. ... > full story

Nervous system as a 3-D map: First complete map of special connections of nerve cells in zebrafish (January 27, 2011) -- Researchers have succeeded in creating the first complete map of all axons which use dopamine as a messenger in a vertebrate, namely in the model organism zebrafish. ... > full story

Hungry chicks have unique calls to their parents (January 27, 2011) -- It can be hard to get noticed when you're a little chick in a big colony, but new research reveals that baby birds in need of a feed have individual ways of letting their parents know. ... > full story

'Hidden plumbing' helps slow Greenland ice flow: Hotter summers may actually slow down flow of glaciers (January 27, 2011) -- Hotter summers may not be as catastrophic for the Greenland ice sheet as previously feared and may actually slow down the flow of glaciers, according to new research. ... > full story

Chemists turn gold to purple -- on purpose: Color change confirms a new way to harvest energy from sunlight (January 27, 2011) -- Chemists suspected that a common protein could potentially react with sunlight and harvest its energy -- similar to what chlorophyll does during photosynthesis. ... > full story

How pathogenic bacteria hide inside host cells (January 27, 2011) -- A new study into Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium which is responsible for severe chronic infections worldwide, reveals how the bacteria have developed a strategy of hiding within host cells to escape the immune system as well as many antibacterial treatments. The research demonstrates how 'phenotype switching' enables bacteria to adapt to their environmental conditions, lie dormant inside host cells and become a reservoir for relapsing infections. ... > full story

Waterhemp rears its ugly head ... again (January 27, 2011) -- Waterhemp has done it again. Researchers have just confirmed that waterhemp is the first weed to evolve resistance to HPPD-inhibiting herbicides. ... > full story

Organic food in pregnancy (January 27, 2011) -- Who eats organic food when they are pregnant? Is it just certain groups? What kind of organic foods are most popular? A recent study provides some answers. ... > full story

No leftovers for Tyrannosaurus rex: New evidence that T. rex was hunter, not scavenger (January 26, 2011) -- Tyrannosaurus rex hunted like a lion, rather than regularly scavenging like a hyena, new research reveals. The findings end a long-running debate about the hunting behavior of this awesome predator. ... > full story

Food-borne bacteria causes potentially fatal heart infection (January 26, 2011) -- Researchers have found that particular strains of a food-borne bacteria are able to invade the heart, leading to serious and difficult to treat heart infections. ... > full story

Fishy consequences of transplanting trout, salmon, whitefishes: Some fish do not respond well to relocation (January 26, 2011) -- Not all trout are created equal. Those swimming up the streams of the United States might resemble their cousins from Canada, yet their genetic makeup is regionally affected and has an impact on how they reproduce, grow and react to environmental stressors. ... > full story

Eating poorly can make you blue: Trans-fats increase risk of depression, while olive oil helps avoid risk (January 26, 2011) -- Researchers have shown that trans-fats increase the risk of depression, and that olive oil helps avoid this risk. ... > full story

Discovery of a biochemical basis for broccoli's cancer-fighting ability (January 26, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential biochemical basis for the apparent cancer-fighting ability of broccoli and its veggie cousins. They found for the first time that certain substances in the vegetables appear to target and block a defective gene associated with cancer. ... > full story

Genetic archaeology finds parts of human genome more closely related to orangutans than chimps (January 26, 2011) -- In a new study, in coordination with the publication of the orangutan genome sequence, scientists have presented the surprising finding that although orangutans and humans are more distantly related, some regions of our genomes are more alike than those of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. ... > full story

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