Kamis, 10 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Thursday, February 10, 2011

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Single-cell marine predator's unique survival mechanisms revealed (February 10, 2011) -- Researchers have uncovered the unique survival mechanisms of a marine organism that may be tiny, but in some ways has surpassed sharks in its predatory efficiency. ... > full story

Understanding patterns of seafloor biomass (February 10, 2011) -- Analysis of a comprehensive database has revealed strong links between biological productivity in the surface oceans and patterns of biomass and abundance at the seafloor, helping to explain large regional differences. ... > full story

Taurus XL ready to launch Glory spacecraft (February 10, 2011) -- The Glory spacecraft and its Taurus XL launch vehicle are coming together at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as NASA gets ready to launch its first Launch Services Program mission of 2011. Researchers are looking for more puzzle pieces to fill out the picture of Earth's climate and Glory was designed to give them the pieces relating to the role tiny particles known as aerosols play in the planet's weather. The spacecraft, about the size of a refrigerator, is also equipped with an instrument to measure the sun's impact on Earth's conditions. Glory is to lift off Feb. 23 at 5:09 a.m. EST. ... > full story

New solar cell self-repairs like natural plant systems (February 10, 2011) -- Researchers are creating a new type of solar cell designed to self-repair like natural photosynthetic systems in plants by using carbon nanotubes and DNA, an approach aimed at increasing service life and reducing cost. ... > full story

Invasive comb jellyfish pose no direct threat to Baltic cod eggs and larvae, Danish study finds (February 10, 2011) -- The direct threat from the killer warty comb jellyfish to the Baltic cod population has been shown not to be so serious after all, according to new research from Denmark. Even though the invasive killer jelly feeds constantly, cod eggs seem not to be on the menu. In fact, if they accidentally swallow an egg, they even throw it up again. ... > full story

Soil science: Healing our planet's ills from the ground up (February 9, 2011) -- Soil depletion hastened the collapse of at least one society, the Greeks, and contributed to economic hardship as recently as the last century in the Great Plains of the United States. With climate change and population growth affecting the services provided by soil, a team of scientists say more attention should be paid to protecting and rejuvenating soil. Strategies for doing so include refocusing and boosting research, and communicating its importance to the public. ... > full story

Microsponges from seaweed may save lives (February 9, 2011) -- Microsponges derived from seaweed may help diagnose heart disease, cancers, HIV and other diseases quickly and at far lower cost than current clinical methods. ... > full story

Stockpiled avian flu vaccine could protect against potential pandemic (February 9, 2011) -- A stockpiled vaccine designed to fight a strain of avian flu that circulated in 2004 can be combined with a vaccine that matches the current strain of bird flu to protect against a potential pandemic, researchers have found. The findings suggest public health officials can get a jump on fighting a pandemic caused by avian flu virus because they won't have to wait for a vaccine that exactly matches the current strain of bird flu to be manufactured. ... > full story

Western Australia's incredible underground orchid (February 9, 2011) -- Rhizanthella gardneri is a cute, quirky and critically endangered orchid that lives all its life underground. It even blooms underground, making it virtually unique amongst plants. Last year, using radioactive tracers, scientists showed that the orchid gets all its nutrients by parasitizing fungi associated with the roots of broom bush, a woody shrub of the Western Australia outback. Now, with less than 50 individuals left in the wild, scientists have made a timely and remarkable discovery about its genome. ... > full story

A green way to cap an old landfill (February 9, 2011) -- Researchers are researching alternative ways to cap landfills. One idea was to cap or seal the old landfill with trees and shrubs, planted in a mix of topsoil and compost, instead of the traditional clay caps. Vegetative caps are gaining acceptance from state agencies as a sustainable practice. ... > full story

Primates' unique gene regulation mechanism: Little-understood DNA elements serve important purpose (February 9, 2011) -- Scientists have discovered a new way genes are regulated that is unique to primates. Long-known, but little-understood DNA elements serve important purpose, according to new research. The newly identified mechanism involves Alu elements, repetitive DNA elements that spread throughout the genome as primates evolved. While scientists have known about the existence of Alu elements for many years, their function, if any, was largely unknown. This unique regulatory mechanism could prove to be a valuable treatment target as researchers seek to manipulate gene expression to improve human health. ... > full story

Greener process for key ingredient for everything from paint to diapers (February 9, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting discovery of an environmentally friendly way to make a key industrial material -- used in products ranging from paints to diapers -- from a renewable raw material without touching the traditional pricey and increasingly scarce petroleum-based starting material. ... > full story

Ancient teeth raise new questions about origins of modern humans (February 9, 2011) -- Eight small teeth found in a cave near Rosh Haain, central Israel, are raising big questions about the earliest existence of humans and where we may have originated, say anthropologists. ... > full story

Telomere length as an indicator of life expectancy for the southern giant petrel (February 9, 2011) -- The length of telomeres, the DNA fragments that protect the ends of chromosomes from deterioration, could be an indicator of life expectancy in the southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), an emblematic species of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions, according to a new article. ... > full story

Dramatic improvement in Parkinson disease symptoms following intranasal delivery of stem cells to rat brains (February 9, 2011) -- Successful intranasal delivery of stem cells to the brains of rats with Parkinson disease yielded significant improvement in motor function and reversed the dopamine deficiency characteristic of the disease. The promising findings highlight the potential for a noninvasive approach to cell therapy delivery in Parkinson disease -- a safer and effective alternative to surgical transplantation of stem cells. ... > full story

Next large central US earthquake may not be along New Madrid fault lines (February 9, 2011) -- This December marks the bicentennial of the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12, which are the biggest earthquakes known to have occurred in the central US. Now, based on the earthquake record in China, a researcher says that mid-continent earthquakes tend to move among fault systems, so the next big earthquake in the central US may actually occur someplace else other than along the New Madrid faults. ... > full story

Recognizing gibbons from their regional accents (February 9, 2011) -- Crested gibbons live in dense Asian rainforest, specifically in China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and, because of their environment, they communicate with other gibbons by singing. New research describes how gibbon song can be used to identify not only which species of gibbon is singing but the area it is from. ... > full story

New explanation for heart-healthy benefits of chocolate (February 9, 2011) -- In time for the chocolate-giving and chocolate-eating fest on Valentine's Day, scientists are reporting discovery of how this treat boosts the body's production of the "good" form of cholesterol that protects against heart disease. Polyphenols in chocolate rev up the activity of certain proteins, including proteins that attach to the genetic material DNA in ways that boost "good" cholesterol levels. ... > full story

Border patrol: Immune cells protect body from invaders (February 9, 2011) -- Barrier sites -- the skin, gut, lung -- limit the inner body's exposure to allergens, pollutants, viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Understanding how the immune system works in these external surfaces has implications for understanding such inflammatory diseases as asthma, psoriasis, IBD, and food allergies, all of which occur at the body's barriers. Researchers have identified an immune cell population that acts as the body's border patrol with the outside world. ... > full story

Jatropha: Green biodiesel from African tree (February 9, 2011) -- Jatropha has been championed as a major environmental opportunity for developing countries with a semi-arid climate and marginal soil. Scientists have been investigating whether this small, hardy and relatively pest-free tree lives up to its billing. ... > full story

Earth warming unevenly: Tropical Atlantic sees weaker trade winds and more rainfall (February 9, 2011) -- Earth is gradually warming, but not evenly. Efforts to pin down regional climate impacts of this warming have been hampered by biased wind observations over the oceans. Developing a new technique to remove the bias, scientists found that during the last 60 years the tropical Atlantic trade winds weakened, ocean temperature patterns shifted, and Amazon and Guinea Coast rainfall increased. ... > full story

Using mining by-products to reduce algal blooms (February 9, 2011) -- Researchers in Australia have shown that some mining by-products can be effective in preventing nutrients from entering river systems, thereby reducing the potential for algal blooms. ... > full story

Challenges for biofuels: New life cycle assessment report (February 9, 2011) -- A new report presents seven grand challenges for addressing the social, economic and environmental issues that must be confronted before advanced biofuels can replace gasoline on a widescale basis. ... > full story

Biogeochemistry at core of global environmental solutions: Coupled-cycles framework key to balancing human needs with Earth's health (February 9, 2011) -- If society wants to address big picture environmental problems, like global climate change, acid rain, and coastal dead zones, we need to pay closer attention to the Earth's coupled biogeochemical cycles, according to a new report. ... > full story

Turning bacteria against themselves (February 8, 2011) -- Bacteria often attack with toxins designed to hijack or even kill host cells. To avoid self-destruction, bacteria have ways of protecting themselves from their own toxins. Now, researchers have described one of these protective mechanisms, potentially paving the way for new classes of antibiotics that cause the bacteria's toxins to turn on themselves. ... > full story

Why leatherback turtles linger in South Pacific Gyre, and why it matters (February 8, 2011) -- Tagging and tracking leatherback sea turtles has produced new insights into the turtles' behavior in a part of the South Pacific Ocean long considered an oceanic desert. The new data will help researchers predict the turtles' movements in the ever-changing environment of the open ocean, with the goal of reducing the impact of fishing on the endangered leatherback population. ... > full story

Detecting pathogens in waterways: An improved approach (February 8, 2011) -- U.S. scientists have come up with a way to detect pathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella bacteria in waterways at lower levels than any previous method. Similar methods have been developed to detect pathogenic E. coli in meat products, but this latest approach represents a first for waterways. ... > full story

Tool makes search for Martian life easier: Red Planet a good fit for laser-ion funnel mass spectrometry (February 8, 2011) -- Newly developed ion funnel technology could make finding life on Mars's surface easier when coupled with a laser and a mass spectrometer that are placed directly on the robotic arm of a space rover. ... > full story

Figuring out fetal alcohol syndrome in fruit flies (February 8, 2011) -- Drinking excess alcohol while pregnant can harm an unborn baby, often causing fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or even death. FAS is the leading cause of congenital mental retardation in the Western world, resulting in severe behavioral problems and stunted growth. However, despite its harmful effects, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is common. Researchers now show that a simple experimental system -- the fruit fly -- can be used to study how alcohol causes damage during development. ... > full story

Home and away: How do invasive plant species dominate native species? (February 8, 2011) -- Invasive plant species present a serious environmental, economic and social problem worldwide as their abundance can lead to lost native biodiversity and ecosystem functions, such as nutrient cycling. Despite substantial research, little is known about why some species can dominate new habitats over native plants that technically should have the advantage. ... > full story

Polar bear births could plummet with climate change (February 8, 2011) -- Researchers have studied the reproductive ecology of polar bears in Hudson Bay and have linked declining litter sizes with loss of sea ice. ... > full story

Processed food diet in early childhood may lower subsequent IQ (February 8, 2011) -- A diet, high in fats, sugars and processed foods in early childhood may lower IQ, while a diet packed full of vitamins and nutrients may do the opposite, suggests new research. ... > full story

Secrets of dinosaur footprints revealed, thanks to 'Goldilocks' (February 8, 2011) -- Terrain thought to be ruled by only the largest dinosaurs to inhabit Earth could have in fact been home to dozens of other creatures, ground-breaking research has found. ... > full story

Conceptualizing cancer cells as ancient 'toolkit' (February 8, 2011) -- In a new paper, astrobiology researchers seek to explain why cancer cells deploy so many clever tricks in such a coherent and organized way. ... > full story

Change of heart keeps bears healthy while hibernating (February 8, 2011) -- Hibernating, it turns out, is much more complicated than one might think. New research illustrates a complex series of changes that occur in grizzly bears' hearts as they hibernate. The changes guard against complications that could arise from greatly reduced activity. ... > full story

Urine-sniffing dogs: Early detection of prostate cancer (February 8, 2011) -- Researchers report the evaluation of the efficacy of prostate cancer (PCa) detection by trained dogs on human urine samples. ... > full story

Unexpected exoskeleton remnants found in Paleozoic fossils (February 8, 2011) -- Surprising new research shows that, contrary to conventional belief, remains of chitin-protein complex -- structural materials containing protein and polysaccharide -- are present in abundance in fossils of arthropods from the Paleozoic era. Previously the oldest molecular signature of chitin-protein complex was discovered in 25-million-year-old Cenozoic fossils. Their findings could have major implications for our understanding of the organic fossil record. ... > full story

Evolution led to genetic variation that may affect diabetes, scientist says (February 8, 2011) -- The root causes of complex diseases such as type-2 diabetes and obesity have been difficult to identify because the diseases are, well, complex. They occur at the dicey biological intersection of genes and environment, and, because they arose in our relatively recent past, it's not easy to simply compare DNA sequences from "then" and "now" to pinpoint likely genetic culprits. Now researchers have identified genetic variations in a hormone involved in the secretion of insulin -- a molecule that regulates blood sugar levels -- that occur more frequently in some human populations than others. ... > full story

Giant whitefly: Presence of insect pest discovered in Indonesia (February 8, 2011) -- Scientists have discovered the presence of the giant whitefly in western Java, the first known infestation of this pest in Asia. The scientists fear an infestation could cause widespread destruction of crops in southeastern and South Asia. ... > full story

Air-conditioned greenhouse uses alternative energy (February 8, 2011) -- Scientists have created an air-conditioned greenhouse using alternative energy. ... > full story

Play was important -- even 4,000 years ago (February 8, 2011) -- Play was a central element of people’s lives as far back as 4,000 years ago, according to new research that investigates the social significance of the phenomenon of play and games in the Bronze Age Indus Valley in present-day Pakistan. ... > full story

Researchers turn Salmonella into antiviral gene therapy agent (February 8, 2011) -- Researchers have converted Salmonella bacteria from a food-borne pathogen into a safe delivery vehicle for antiviral agents. They inserted virus-stopping ribozymes into Salmonella that had its ability to cause disease disabled, and then used the bacteria to effectively treat mice infected with cytomegalovirus. It is the first time bacteria have been successfully engineered to treat a viral infection. ... > full story

Indoor coal use associated with possible impairment of early childhood growth (February 8, 2011) -- Children raised in homes using indoor coal for cooking or heating appear to be about a half-inch shorter at age 36 months than those in households using other fuel sources, according to a new study. ... > full story

The brain knows what the nose smells, but how? (February 7, 2011) -- Biologists have developed a new technique to trace neural pathways across the brain. They have mapped the path of odor signals as they travel to the higher centers of a mouse brain, illuminating the ways mammalian brains process smells. ... > full story

New findings in India's Bt cotton controversy: Good for the field, bad for the farm? (February 7, 2011) -- Crop yields from India's first genetically modified crop may have been overemphasized, as modest rises in crop yields may come at the expense of sustainable farm management, says a new study. ... > full story

X-rays reveal hidden leg of an ancient snake: New hints on how snakes were getting legless (February 7, 2011) -- Synchrotron X-ray investigation of a fossilized snake with legs is helping scientists better understand how in the course of evolution snakes have lost their legs, and whether they evolved from terrestrial lizards or from reptiles living in the oceans. New 3-D X-ray images reveal the internal architecture of an ancient snake's leg bones to resemble that of modern terrestrial lizard legs. ... > full story

When worms stick together and swim on thin water, what happens and why does it matter? (February 7, 2011) -- Nematodes, microscopic worms, are making engineers look twice at their ability to exhibit the "Cheerios effect" when they move in a collective motion. These parasites will actually stick together like Cheerios swimming in milk in a cereal bowl after a chance encounter "due to capillary force." This observation has made engineers speculate about the possible impacts on the study of biolocomotion. ... > full story

Can breastfeeding transmit yellow fever after maternal vaccination? (February 7, 2011) -- A five-week old infant most likely contracted a vaccine strain of yellow fever virus through breastfeeding, according to a case report from Canada. ... > full story

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