Selasa, 01 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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Low-energy remediation with patented microbes: Naturally occurring microbes break down chlorinated solvents (February 1, 2011) -- Scientists have patented a consortium of microbes that have an appetite for chlorinated volatile organic compounds, similar to dry-cleaning fluid. ... > full story

New appreciation of the ecology-evolution dynamic (January 31, 2011) -- Ecology drives evolution. Scientists now describe a growing evidence that the reverse is also true, and explores what that might mean to our understanding of how environmental change affects species and vice-versa. ... > full story

Secrets in stone: Rare archaeological find in Norway (January 31, 2011) -- It looked to be a routine excavation of what was thought to be a burial mound. But beneath the mound, archaeologists from Norway found something more: unusual Bronze Age petroglyphs. ... > full story

Plants can adapt genetically to survive harsh environments (January 31, 2011) -- Scientist have found genetic evidence of how some plants adapt to live in unfavorable conditions, a finding he believes could one day be used to help food crops survive in new or changing environments. ... > full story

New African wolf discovered (January 31, 2011) -- Scientists studying genetic evidence have discovered a new species of wolf living in Africa. The researchers have proved that the mysterious animal, known as the 'Egyptian jackal' and often confused with the golden jackal, is not a sub-species of jackal but a gray wolf. ... > full story

Plankton inspires creation of stealth armor for slow-release microscopic drug vehicles (January 31, 2011) -- The ability of some plankton and bacteria to build an extra natural layer of nanoparticle-like armor has inspired chemists to devise a startlingly simple way to give drug bearing polymer vesicles (microscopic polymer based sacs of liquid) their own armored protection, and in some cases provide "stealth" capabilities which can avoid the body's defenses while releasing the drug. ... > full story

Young rats given polyphenols show less endothelial function deterioration with aging (January 31, 2011) -- A new study examined whether intake of red wine polyphenols, a rich source of natural antioxidants, prevents aging-related impairment of vascular function and physical exercise capacity. ... > full story

Surf's up: New research provides precise way to monitor ocean wave behavior, shore impacts (January 31, 2011) -- Engineers have created a new type of "stereo vision" to use in studying ocean waves as they pound against the shore, providing a better way to understand and monitor this violent, ever-changing environment. ... > full story

Mussel power: Universal solvent no match for new self-healing sticky gel (January 31, 2011) -- Scientists can now manufacture a synthetic version of the self-healing sticky substance that mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks in pounding ocean surf and surging tidal basins. Potential applications include use as an adhesive or coating for underwater machinery or in biomedical settings as a surgical adhesive or bonding agent for implants. ... > full story

War, plague no match for deforestation in driving CO<sub>2</sub> buildup (January 31, 2011) -- Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had an impact on the global carbon cycle as big as today's annual demand for gasoline. The Black Death, on the other hand, came and went too quickly for it to cause much of a blip in the global carbon budget. Dwarfing both of these events, however, has been the historical trend towards increasing deforestation as crop and pasture lands expanded to feed growing human populations. ... > full story

Shape-shifting sugars pinned down (January 31, 2011) -- Scientists have solved a 50-year-old puzzle about how, why or indeed if, sugar molecules change their shape. ... > full story

Antibiotic offers potential for anti-cancer activity (January 31, 2011) -- An antibiotic known for its immunosuppressive functions could also point the way to the development of new anti-cancer agents. ... > full story

Nerve cell molecule has antidepressant effect; animal study may lead to more effective treatments for depression (January 31, 2011) -- Mice that lack a molecule involved in regulating nerve cell signaling are more active and resilient to stressful situations, a new study shows. Mice lacking the molecule -- known as Cdk5 -- exhibited the same behaviors seen in mice given antidepressant drugs. ... > full story

Sprouts? Supplements? Team them up to boost broccoli's cancer-fighting power (January 31, 2011) -- A new study provides convincing evidence that the way you prepare and consume your broccoli matters, and also suggests that teaming broccoli with broccoli sprouts may make the vegetable's anti-cancer effect almost twice as powerful. ... > full story

Stem cell marker regulates synapse formation (January 31, 2011) -- Among stem cell biologists there are few better-known proteins than nestin, whose very presence in an immature cell identifies it as a "stem cell," such as a neural stem cell. As helpful as this is to researchers, until now no one knew which purpose nestin serves in a cell. ... > full story

'Old' information theory makes it easier to predict flooding (January 31, 2011) -- Many different aspects are involved in predicting high water and floods, such as the type of precipitation, wind, buildings and vegetation. The greater the number of variables included in predictive models, the better the prediction will be. However, the models will inevitably become increasingly more complex. Researchers use basic insight from the information theory (Shannon's Information Theory) to demonstrate the cohesion between this added complexity, the information from observational data and the uncertainty of predictions. ... > full story

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

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