Kamis, 10 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Thursday, March 10, 2011

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Foundations of empathy in chickens? Avian maternal response to chick distress studied (March 10, 2011) -- Researchers in the UK have gained new insight into the minds of domestic hens, discovering, for the first time, that domestic hens show a clear physiological and behavioral response when their chicks are mildly distressed. ... > full story

New mouse models generated for MYH9 genetic disorders (March 10, 2011) -- Researchers have created the first mouse models of human MYH9 genetic disorders, which cause several problems -- including enlarged platelets and sometimes fatal kidney disease. ... > full story

Model organisms? Broadening the biological lexicon to bolster translational research (March 10, 2011) -- So-called model organisms have long been at the core of biomedical research, allowing scientists to study the ins and outs of human disorders in non-human subjects. In the ideal, such models accurately recapitulate a human disorder so that, for example, the Parkinson's disease observed in a rat model would be virtually indistinguishable from that in a human patient. The reality, of course, is that rats aren't human, and few models actually faithfully reflect the phenotype of the disease in question. Thus, in the strictest sense of the word, many "models" aren't truly models at all. To developmental biologist, this is no small matter. ... > full story

Intelligent microscopy: Software runs experiments on its own (March 10, 2011) -- Scientists in Germany have created new software that rapidly learns what researchers are looking for and automatically performs complex microscopy experiments. ... > full story

'Singing' mice: The ongoing debate of nature vs. Nurture (March 9, 2011) -- What happened to being "quiet as a mouse"? Researchers have recently shown that, rather than being the silent creatures of popular belief, mice emit ultrasonic calls in a variety of social contexts, and these calls have song-like characteristics. So if mice sing, where do they get their music? ... > full story

New biomarker for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease identified (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers have identified the first disease-specific biomarker for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), a universally fatal, degenerative brain disease for which there is no cure. sCJD is one of the causes of dementia and typically leads to death within a year of disease onset. ... > full story

Synthetic biology: Novel kind of fluorescent protein developed (March 9, 2011) -- Since the 1990s a green fluorescent protein known as GFP has been used in research labs worldwide. Protein designers have now taken it a step further: They have managed to incorporate a synthetic amino acid into the natural GFP and thus to create a new kind of chimeric fluorescent bio-molecule by means of synthetic biology. By exploiting a special physical effect, the fluorescent protein glows in turquoise and displays unmatched properties. ... > full story

Deforestation's impact on Mount Kilimanjaro calculated (March 9, 2011) -- The impact that local deforestation might have on the snowcap and glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro are being calculated using regional climate models and data from NASA satellites. ... > full story

New type of secretory cell in the intestine (March 9, 2011) -- The intestinal epithelium consists of four main specialized cell lineages: absorptive enterocytes and three secretory cell types known as enteroendocrine, Paneth, and goblet cells. But a rare, fifth type of intestinal cell called tuft cells also exists. Defined by the thick brush of long microvilli that project from their apical surface, tuft cells are seen in several epithelial tissues, yet little is known about their function due to a lack of tuft cell-specific markers. ... > full story

Missing DNA helps make us human (March 9, 2011) -- Specific traits that distinguish humans from their closest living relatives -- chimpanzees, with whom we share 96 percent of our DNA -- can be attributed to the loss of chunks of DNA that control when and where certain genes are turned on. ... > full story

Newly identified spider toxin may help uncover novel ways of treating pain and human diseases (March 9, 2011) -- Spider venom toxins are useful tools for exploring how ion channels operate in the body. These channels control the flow of ions across cell membranes, and are key components in a wide variety of biological processes and human diseases. ... > full story

Fossil bird study describes ripple effect of extinction in animal kingdom (March 9, 2011) -- A new study demonstrates extinction's ripple effect through the animal kingdom, including how the demise of large mammals 20,000 years ago led to the disappearance of one species of cowbird. ... > full story

The science behind the cape: How one physiology researcher is using batman to put some POW! Into physiology studies (March 9, 2011) -- What do you have when you line up a martial artist, acrobatic gymnast, police officer, firefighter, NASCAR driver, and NFL running back? "Watson," the IBM super-computer that recently routed humanity's best on Jeopardy might have guessed the answer was "the Village People," to which host Alex Trebek could have replied, "Sorry. The answer we were looking for is 'Batman'." ... > full story

Great tits also have age-related defects (March 9, 2011) -- The offspring of older great tit females are much less successful than those of younger mothers. Things mainly go wrong in the later stages of the upbringing, concludes an evolutionary biologist. For great tit females, it turns out to be a good idea to invest in generating offspring in the first years of life. ... > full story

New instrument for analyzing viruses: Sensitive 'PING' device (March 9, 2011) -- Scientists in Israel and California have developed an instrument for rapidly analyzing molecular interactions that take place viruses and the cells they infect. By helping to identify interactions between proteins made by viruses like HIV and hepatitis and proteins made by the human cells these viruses infect, the device may help scientists develop new ways of disrupting these interactions and find new drugs for treating those infections. ... > full story

It's all in a name: 'Global warming' vs. 'climate change' (March 9, 2011) -- Many Americans are skeptical about whether the world's weather is changing, but apparently the degree of skepticism varies systematically depending on what that change is called. ... > full story

Evolution drives many plants and animals to be bigger, faster (March 9, 2011) -- For the vast majority of plants and animals, the 'bigger is better' view of evolution may not be far off the mark, says a new broad-scale study of natural selection. Organisms with bigger bodies or faster growth rates tend to live longer, mate more and produce more offspring, whether they are deer or damselflies, the authors report. ... > full story

Why poor diet during pregnancy negatively affects offspring's long-term health (March 9, 2011) -- Poor diet during pregnancy increases offspring's vulnerability to the effects of aging, new research has shown for the first time. ... > full story

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy plan for life (March 9, 2011) -- The Mediterranean diet has proven beneficial effects not only regarding metabolic syndrome, but also on its individual components including waist circumference, HDL-cholesterol levels, triglycerides levels, blood pressure levels and glucose metabolism, according to a new study. The study is a meta-analysis, including results of 50 studies on the Mediterranean diet, with an overall studied population of about half a million subjects. ... > full story

Engineers demonstrate use of proteins as raw material for biofuels, biorefining (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of using proteins, one of the most abundant biomolecules on earth, as a significant raw material for biorefinery and biofuel production. ... > full story

Enzymes from garden compost could favour bioethanol production (March 9, 2011) -- Today, bioethanol is primarily made from glucose. If xylose – which is found in straw, willow and other fast-growing plant species – could also be used efficiently, then ethanol production could increase significantly. A researcher in applied microbiology is well on the way to making this a reality. ... > full story

NASA develops light microscope for International Space Station (March 9, 2011) -- NASA has begun testing a new multi-capability microscope on the International Space Station. It will help scientists study the effects of the space environment on physics and biology aboard the orbiting laboratory. The microscope is isolated from vibrations on the station, allowing it to obtain clear, high-resolution images. Using high-resolution magnification, scientists can examine microorganisms and individual cells of plants and animals, including humans. ... > full story

New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers have made a remarkable new discovery regarding humpback whale wintering grounds. The primary breeding ground for the North Pacific was always thought to be the main Hawaiian Islands. However, a new study has shown that these grounds extend all the way throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago and into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. ... > full story

Function of 'junk DNA' in human genes (March 8, 2011) -- Part of the answer to how and why humans differ from other primates may lie in the repetitive stretches of the genome that were once considered "junk." A new study finds that when a particular type of repetitive DNA segment, known as an Alu element, inserts into existing genes, they can alter the rate of protein production -- a mechanism that could contribute to the evolution of different biological characteristics in different species. ... > full story

For birds, the suburbs may not be an ideal place to raise a family (March 8, 2011) -- There comes a time in life for every bird to spread its wings and leave the nest, but for gray catbirds, that might be the beginning of the end. Scientists report fledgling catbirds in suburban habitats are at their most vulnerable stage of life, with almost 80 percent killed by predators before they reach adulthood. Almost half of the deaths were linked to domestic cats. ... > full story

Melting ice sheets now largest contributor to sea level rise (March 8, 2011) -- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new satellite study. The findings of the study -- the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass -- suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth's mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted. ... > full story

Malaria’s weakest link: Class of chemotherapy drugs also kills the parasite that causes malaria (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers in Europe have discovered that a class of chemotherapy drugs originally designed to inhibit key signaling pathways in cancer cells also kills the parasite that causes malaria. The discovery could quickly open up a whole new strategy for combating this deadly disease. ... > full story

DNA better than eyes when counting endangered species (March 8, 2011) -- Using genetic methods to count endangered eagles, a group of scientists showed that traditional counting methods can lead to significantly incorrect totals that they believe could adversely affect conservation efforts. ... > full story

Stone tools influenced hand evolution in human ancestors, anthropologists say (March 8, 2011) -- Anthropologists have confirmed Charles Darwin's speculation that the evolution of unique features in the human hand was influenced by increased tool use in our ancestors. ... > full story

Researchers hunt for green catalysts (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are looking for cleaner, greener and cheaper catalysts. They are turning to biology for some ideas. And they're developing high-throughput approaches to quickly test a reaction using up to a hundred trillion different catalysts. ... > full story

California superstorm would be costliest US disaster (March 8, 2011) -- A hurricane-like superstorm expected to hit California once every 200 years would cause devastation to the state's businesses unheard of even in the Great Recession, an economist warns. ... > full story

Eating apples extends lifespan of test animals by 10 percent (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting the first evidence that consumption of a healthful antioxidant substance in apples extends the average lifespan of test animals, and does so by 10 percent. The new results, obtained with fruit flies -- stand-ins for humans in hundreds of research projects each year -- bolster similar findings on apple antioxidants in other animal tests. ... > full story

Peanut worms are annelids (March 8, 2011) -- Recent molecular phylogenetic analysis has shown that the marine animals known as peanut worms are not a separate phylum, but are definitely part of the family of annelids, also known as segmented worms. This is a classification that seemed questionable in the past in view of the fact that peanut worms -- or the Sipunculidae, to give them their scientific name -- have neither segments nor bristles. The latter are considered typical characteristics of annelids, which include more than 16,500 identified species and to which our common earthworm belongs. ... > full story

Surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation (March 8, 2011) -- Biologists look at cells in bulk, taking the average behavior as the norm and assuming that identical cells behave the same. Biomedical engineers now show a surprising variation in how cells behave during formation of a blood vessel. They have now characterized, for the first time, what happens when endothelial cells move from an initial dispersed state to capillary-like structures. ... > full story

New interpretation of Antarctic ice cores: Prevailing theory on climate history expanded (March 8, 2011) -- Climate researchers have expanded a prevalent theory regarding the development of ice ages. Physicists have completed new calculations on the connection between natural insulation and long-term changes in global climate activity. Up to now the presumption was that temperature fluctuations in Antarctica, which have been reconstructed for the last million years on the basis of ice cores, were triggered by the global effect of climate changes in the northern hemisphere. The new study shows, however, that major portions of the temperature fluctuations can be explained equally well by local climate changes in the southern hemisphere. ... > full story

Sea sponges: Tweak of nature in fight against cancer (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists in London are turning to sea sponges to help them learn more about anti-cancer drugs. ... > full story

Preparing for the unexpected (March 8, 2011) -- How can you plan for an emergency the nature of which you don't know? Researchers in Germany are working on strategies and technologies that would help to predict and improve the response to crises. ... > full story

Internet catches updated butterfly and moth website (March 8, 2011) -- Why should we care about butterflies and moths? Thanks to butterflies, bees, birds, and other animal pollinators, the world's flowering plants are able to reproduce and bear fruit. That very basic capability is at the root of many of the foods we eat. And, not least, pollination adds to the beauty we see around us. ... > full story

ChesapeakeView: Everything you need to know about the bay (March 8, 2011) -- Crabs, fishing, land use and pollution sources are frequently hot topics for researchers in the Chesapeake Bay area, but finding all the available information, especially remote sensing data, is frequently a chore. Now, ChesapeakeView, a project of the AmericaView consortium, brings together a variety of datasets and makes them available to anyone who needs them for research, planning or other studies. ... > full story

NASA studies the body's ability to fight infection (March 7, 2011) -- Why do some people get sick while others stay healthy? Since space shuttle Discovery launched into orbit Feb. 24, 2011, it has brought NASA scientists one step closer to helping astronauts and the public discover ways to battle and prevent serious illness and infection. ... > full story

Health benefits of eating tomatoes emerge (March 7, 2011) -- Eating more tomatoes and tomato products can make people healthier and decrease the risk of conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, according to a review article. ... > full story

Abundant ammonia aids life's origins (March 7, 2011) -- An important discovery has been made with respect to the possible inventory of molecules available to early Earth. Scientists found large amounts of ammonia in a primitive Antarctic asteroid. This high concentration of ammonia could account for a sustained source of reduced nitrogen essential to the chemistry of life. ... > full story

Solving a traditional Chinese medicine mystery: Discovery of molecular mechanism reveals antitumor possibilities (March 7, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered that a natural product isolated from a traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng, and used for hundreds of years to treat many conditions including rheumatoid arthritis works by blocking gene control machinery in the cell. The report suggests that the natural product could be a starting point for developing new anticancer drugs. ... > full story

Enzyme enhances, erases long-term memories in rats; Can restore even old, fading memories, say scientists (March 7, 2011) -- Even long after it is formed, a memory in rats can be enhanced or erased by increasing or decreasing the activity of a brain enzyme. For the first time, a study in behaving animals with functioning brains has found that a single molecule, PKMzeta, is both necessary and sufficient for maintaining long-term memory. ... > full story

Food science challenges for NASA missions to Mars (March 7, 2011) -- Space food for astronauts tastes better and is now healthier than ever before due to significant food science developments. However, a new study highlights the challenges that need to be addressed so that astronauts can travel to Mars and beyond. ... > full story

Noise distracts fish from their dinner (March 7, 2011) -- We all struggle to concentrate when there are roadworks taking place outside our window. New research demonstrates that fish suffer the same problem, becoming distracted from normal feeding behavior when noise is added to their environment. ... > full story

NASA light technology successfully reduces cancer patients painful side effects from radiation and chemotherapy (March 7, 2011) -- A NASA technology originally developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions has successfully reduced the painful side effects resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatment in bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients. ... > full story

Brazilian beef: Greater impact on the environment than we realize (March 7, 2011) -- Increased export of Brazilian beef indirectly leads to deforestation in the Amazon. New research shows that impact on the climate is much greater than current estimates indicate. The researchers are now demanding that indirect effect on land be included when determining a product’s carbon footprint. ... > full story

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