Kamis, 17 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Thursday, March 17, 2011

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Rare Andean cat no longer exclusive to the Andes (March 17, 2011) -- Once thought to exclusively inhabit its namesake mountain range, the threatened Andean cat -- a house cat-sized feline that resembles a small snow leopard in both appearance and habitat -- also frequents the Patagonian steppe at much lower elevations, according to a new study. ... > full story

Omalizumab relieves seasonal asthma attacks in youth, study finds (March 17, 2011) -- A drug that targets the antibody immunoglobulin E, a key player in asthma, nearly eliminated seasonal increases in asthma attacks and decreased asthma symptoms among young people living in inner city environments, a clinical trial has found. ... > full story

NASA's Aqua satellite spies a '3-leaf Clover' view of Ireland for St. Patrick's Day (March 17, 2011) -- Typical clovers have three leaves, unless you happen to be lucky, and NASA's Aqua satellite has provided three different views of Ireland to mark Saint Patrick's Day on March 17, 2011. With the luck o' the Irish, NASA's Aqua satellite was fortunate to capture mostly clear views of the Emerald Isle in these near-infrared/visible, infrared and microwave light views acquired by Aqua's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on March 3, 2011, at 13:11 UTC. ... > full story

Plasticity of plants helps them adapt to climate change (March 17, 2011) -- The phenotypic plasticity of plants, which enables them to change their structure and function, helps them to adapt to environmental change, according to new research. This research will make it easier to anticipate plants' response to current climate change. ... > full story

Northern peatlands a misunderstood player in climate change (March 17, 2011) -- Researchers have determined that the influence of northern peatlands on the prehistorical record of climate change has been over estimated, but the vast northern wetlands must still be watched closely as the planet grapples with its current global warming trend. ... > full story

Ancient 'hyperthermals' serve as guide to anticipated climate changes; Sudden global warming events more frequent? (March 16, 2011) -- Bursts of intense global warming that have lasted tens of thousands of years have taken place more frequently throughout Earth's history than previously believe, according to new evidence. ... > full story

High-tech concrete technology has a famous past (March 16, 2011) -- Almost 1,900 years ago, the Romans built what continues to be the world's largest unreinforced solid concrete dome in the world-the Pantheon. The secret is in the light-weight concrete used to build the dome and a process called internal curing. A new paper reviews the status of modern improvements on this ancient material. ... > full story

Zooming in on the weapons of Salmonella (March 16, 2011) -- Bacteria like salmonellae infect their host cells by needle-shaped extensions which they create in large numbers during an attack. Scientists have now employed recently developed methods of cryo-electron microscopy and have been able to clarify the structure of this infection apparatus on the near-atomic scale. The exact knowledge of the needles' building plan may help to develop substances that interfere with its function and thus prevent infection. ... > full story

Viscous cycle: Quartz is key to plate tectonics (March 16, 2011) -- More than 40 years ago, pioneering tectonic geophysicist J. Tuzo Wilson described how ocean basins opened and closed along North America's eastern seaboard. His observations, dubbed "The Wilson Tectonic Cycle," suggested the process occurred many times during Earth's long history, most recently causing the giant supercontinent Pangaea to split into today's seven continents. Now, new findings shed surprising light on these restless rock cycles. ... > full story

Pig model of cystic fibrosis improves understanding of disease (March 16, 2011) -- Using a newly created pig model that genetically replicates the most common form of cystic fibrosis, researchers have now shown that the CF protein is "misprocessed" in the pigs and does not end up in the correct cellular location. This glitch leads to disease symptoms, including gastrointestinal abnormalities and lung disease in the pigs, which mimic CF in humans. ... > full story

Japan earthquake disaster: Geophysicists create animation showing sequence of quakes (March 16, 2011) -- The earthquake disaster on March 11, 2011 was an event of the century not only for Japan. With a magnitude of Mw = 8.9, it was one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded worldwide. Two days before, a strong foreshock with a magnitude Mw = 7.2 took place almost exactly at the breaking point of the tsunami-earthquake. Geophysicists in Germany have now created an animation that shows the sequence of quakes since March 9. ... > full story

Why some microbial genes are more promiscuous than others (March 16, 2011) -- While most organisms get their genes from their parents, bacteria also regularly pick up genes from more distant relatives. This ability to "steal" snippets of DNA from other species is responsible for the rapid spread of drug resistance among disease-causing bacteria. A new study of more than three dozen species - including the microbes responsible for pneumonia, ulcers and plague -- settles a longstanding debate about why bacteria are more likely to steal some genes than others. Bacteria are more likely to adopt 'loner' genes than genes that are well-connected, the study finds. ... > full story

Naval sonar exercises linked to whale strandings, according to new report (March 16, 2011) -- An international team of researchers reports the first data on how beaked whales respond to naval sonar exercises. Their results suggest that sonar indeed affects the behavior and movement of whales. ... > full story

New 'dissolvable tobacco' products may increase risk of mouth disease (March 16, 2011) -- The first study to analyze the complex ingredients in the new genre of dissolvable tobacco products has concluded that these pop-into-the-mouth replacements for cigarettes in places where smoking is banned have the potential to cause mouth diseases and other problems. ... > full story

Earthquake could mean major shortage of some Japanese cars in US (March 16, 2011) -- American consumers thinking about buying a car made by Toyota, Nissan or Honda might want to make their decisions quickly. That's because work at Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other auto plants in Japan has been interrupted following the historic earthquake, resulting in a loss of 10,000 vehicles per day for Toyota alone. ... > full story

NASA satellite sees area affected by Japan tsunami (March 16, 2011) -- A new before-and-after image pair from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft shows a region of Japan's northeastern coast, northeast of the city of Sendai, which was affected by the March 11, 2011 tsunami. ... > full story

How chickens keep their cool: Mutation explains odd look of Transylvanian naked neck chicken (March 16, 2011) -- Its head looks like a turkey's, its body resembles a chicken's -- now scientists can explain why one of the poultry world's most curious specimens has developed such a distinctive look. The Transylvanian naked neck chicken -- once dubbed a Churkey or a Turken because of its hybrid appearance -- has developed its defining feature because of a complex genetic mutation. ... > full story

Gene modification: Leaf beetle larvae attacking birch trees produce toxic cocktails that differ from the ones produced by conspecifics living on willows (March 16, 2011) -- Larvae of the leaf beetle Chrysomela lapponica attack two tree species: willow and birch. To fend off predator attacks, their larvae produce toxic butyric acid esters or salicylaldehyde, whose precursors they ingest with their leafy food. Scientists found that a change in the genome has emerged in beetles specialized on birch: The activity of the salicylaldehyde producing enzyme salicyl alcohol oxidase is missing in these populations, whereas it is present in willow feeders. ... > full story

Proteins may affect behavior and physiology of female mosquitoes (March 16, 2011) -- Researchers have identified 93 seminal fluid proteins and 52 sperm male-derived proteins that include candidates likely to affect the behavior and physiology of female mosquitoes of the species, Aedes aegypti. ... > full story

The development of better biotech enzymes (March 16, 2011) -- Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions, such as laundry detergent digesting protein stains, which are otherwise very difficult to remove. Scientists have now demonstrated a fundamental principle in changing the activity of enzymes by means of protein engineering. ... > full story

Malaria drug slows pancreatic cancer growth in mouse models (March 16, 2011) -- Scientists report they have used hydroxychloroquine, a drug routinely prescribed for malaria and rheumatoid arthritis, to shrink or slow the growth of notoriously resistant pancreatic tumors in mice. ... > full story

Unprecedented view of protein folding may help develop brain disease therapies (March 16, 2011) -- When vital proteins in our bodies are misfolded, debilitating diseases can result. If researchers could see the folding happen, they might be able to design treatments for some of these diseases. But many of our most critical proteins are folded, hidden from sight, inside tiny molecular chambers. Now researchers have gotten the first-ever peek inside one of these protein-folding chambers as the folding happened, and the folding mechanism they saw surprised them. ... > full story

Scientists fly through the clouds to piece together climate puzzle (March 16, 2011) -- As scientists try to better understand and put together the puzzle of Earth's climate, the role of clouds remains one of the most important missing pieces. Researchers from four NASA centers, other U.S. agencies and several colleges and universities are set to participate in the Mid-latitude Airborne Cirrus Properties Experiment (MACPEX), an airborne field campaign based at Ellington Field, Texas, that aims to answer some major questions about clouds. ... > full story

New study predicts cholera epidemic in Haiti will far exceed UN projections (March 16, 2011) -- A new study predicts that the cholera epidemic in Haiti this year will be far worse than United Nations' projections, which had estimated 400,000 cases of the diarrheal disease over the course of the epidemic. ... > full story

New vaccine candidate shows strong potential to prevent highly contagious norovirus (March 16, 2011) -- Scientists have found that an experimental vaccine against human norovirus -- the bug behind 90 percent of highly contagious nonbacterial illnesses causing diarrhea and vomiting -- generates a strong immune response in mice without causing the animals any harm. Using a novel viral vector-based method to grow and deliver the vaccine that has shown promise in other agents designed to fight such infections as HIV and hepatitis C, they are the first to test this vaccine design method's effectiveness against the human norovirus. ... > full story

Dairy farmer finds unusual forage grass (March 16, 2011) -- A grass breeder has rediscovered a forage grass that seems just right for today's intensive rotational grazing. ... > full story

Wheels up for NASA mission's most extensive Arctic ice survey (March 16, 2011) -- Researchers and flight crew arrived in Thule, Greenland, on March 14 for the start of NASA's 2011 Operation IceBridge, an airborne mission to study changes in Arctic polar ice. This year's plans include surveys of Canadian ice caps and expanded international collaboration. ... > full story

How tuberculosis bacteria manage to survive inside body’s macrophage cells (March 15, 2011) -- Tuberculosis kills two million people each year. Researchers in Sweden are now presenting new findings that show how the bacterium that causes the disease manages to survive inside the body’s macrophage cells in order eventually to blow them up and spread their infection. ... > full story

Seedlings thrive with distant relatives, seeds with close family (March 15, 2011) -- A variety of angiosperm seedlings suffered from competition when planted with near relatives in home soils and fared best with distant relatives. But, seeds did just the opposite in a new study. And seedlings in potting soil also grew best with near relatives, raising the question of why soils affect competition outcomes. ... > full story

Potentially pathogenic microbes growing on at least half of all orthodontic retainers, study suggests (March 15, 2011) -- Insufficient cleaning could allow build-up of microbes on orthodontic retainers, researchers have found. Researchers looked at the types of microbes which live on retainers. This study found potentially pathogenic microbes growing on at least 50% of the retainers. ... > full story

How pathogenic E. coli bacterium causes illness (March 15, 2011) -- Scientists have shown how the O157:H7 strain of Escherichia coli causes infection and thrives by manipulating the host immune response. The bacterium secretes a protein called NleH1 that directs the host immune enzyme IKK-beta to alter specific immune responses. This process not only helps the bacterium evade elimination by the immune system, it also works to prolong the survival of the infected host, enabling the bacterium to persist and ultimately spread to unaffected individuals. ... > full story

Genetic analysis reveals history, evolution of an ancient delicacy -- morels (March 15, 2011) -- Scientists have completed one of the most detailed genetic analyses ever done on morels, to help identify their ancestry, show how they evolved and what conservation policies may be needed to manage and protect this valuable resource. ... > full story

Best possible night light: Researchers study how light cycles impact zoo animals (March 15, 2011) -- A doctoral student reaches across a Cleveland Metroparks Zoo exhibit with a long pole tipped with a synthetic swab soaked in honey water. A pygmy slow loris, a big-eyed nocturnal primate, climbs down a branch and begins licking and chewing the swab. Something as seemingly innocuous as incorrect lighting may negatively impact the health and reproduction of lorises, pottos and their kin, researchers say. ... > full story

Old-growth tree stumps tell the story of fire in the upper Midwest (March 15, 2011) -- Researchers have constructed a 226-year history of fire in southern Illinois by looking at fire scars in tree stumps. Their study, the most in-depth fire history reported for the upper Midwest, reveals that changes in the frequency of fires dating back to the time of early European settlement permanently altered the ecology of the region. ... > full story

Orchid lures flies with scent of rotting flesh (March 15, 2011) -- Sex and violence, or at least death, are the key to reproduction for the orchid Satyrium pumilum. The orchid lures flies into its flowers by mimicking the smell of rotting flesh. A new study compares the scent of the orchids with that of roadkill. ... > full story

U.S. Geological Survey updates magnitude of Japan’s 2011 Tohoku earthquake to 9.0 (March 15, 2011) -- The U.S. Geological Survey has updated the magnitude of the March 11, 2011, Tohoku earthquake in northern Honshu, Japan, to 9.0 from the previous estimate of 8.9. Independently, Japanese seismologists have also updated their estimate of the earthquake's magnitude to 9.0. This magnitude places the earthquake as the fourth largest in the world since 1900 and the largest in Japan since modern instrumental recordings began 130 years ago. ... > full story

Japan quake may have slightly shortened Earth days, moved axis, theoretical calculations suggest (March 15, 2011) -- The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan March 11, 2011 may have slightly shortened the length of each Earth day and shifted its axis. Using a U.S. Geological Survey estimate for how the fault responsible for the earthquake slipped, a NASA research scientist applied a complex model to perform a preliminary theoretical calculation of how the Japan earthquake -- the fifth largest since 1900 -- affected Earth's rotation. The calculations indicate that by changing the distribution of Earth's mass, the Japanese earthquake should have caused Earth to rotate a bit faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds. ... > full story

Seedless cherimoya, the next banana? (March 15, 2011) -- Mark Twain called it "the most delicious fruit known to man." But the cherimoya, or custard apple, and its close relations the sugar apple and soursop, also have lots of big, awkward seeds. Now new research by plant scientists in the United States and Spain could show how to make this and other fruits seedless. ... > full story

Neanderthals were nifty at controlling fire (March 15, 2011) -- A new study shows clear evidence of the continuous control of fire by Neanderthals in Europe dating back roughly 400,000 years, yet another indication that they weren't dimwitted brutes as often portrayed. But Neanderthal predecessors pushed into cold regions of Europe at least 800,000 years ago without the use of fire. ... > full story

Extent and speed of lionfish spread unprecedented; Invasive marine fish may stress reefs (March 15, 2011) -- The rapid spread of lionfishes along the U.S. eastern seaboard, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean is the first documented case of a non-native marine fish establishing a self-sustaining population in the region, according to recent studies. ... > full story

Hawaii: New high-resolution carbon mapping techniques provide more accurate results (March 15, 2011) -- Scientists have developed new, more accurate methods for mapping carbon in Hawaii's forests. ... > full story

Native trout fare best when dams use natural stream flow management practices (March 15, 2011) -- Natural stream flow suits native trout populations best, according to a new study that is the first to examine the impacts of dam operations on threatened freshwater trout. ... > full story

How the slime mold gets organized (March 15, 2011) -- The so-called cellular slime mold, a unicellular organism that may transition into a multicellular organism under stress, has just been found to have a tissue structure that was previously thought to exist only in more sophisticated animals. What's more, two proteins that are needed by the slime mold to form this structure are similar to those that perform the same function in more sophistical animals. ... > full story

New desalination process developed using carbon nanotubes (March 15, 2011) -- A faster, better and cheaper desalination process enhanced by carbon nanotubes has just been developed. The process creates a unique new architecture for the membrane distillation process by immobilizing carbon nanotubes in the membrane pores. Conventional approaches to desalination are thermal distillation and reverse osmosis. ... > full story

Gulf oil spill: Airborne chemistry measurements assess flow rate, fate of spilled gases and oil (March 15, 2011) -- Scientists have found a way to use air chemistry measurements taken hundreds of feet above last year's BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to estimate how fast gases and oil were leaking from the reservoir thousands of feet underwater. The scientists also determined the fate of most of those gas and oil compounds using atmospheric chemistry data collected from the NOAA WP-3D research aircraft overflights in June. ... > full story

'Fly tree of life' mapped, adds big branch of evolutionary knowledge (March 14, 2011) -- Calling it the "new periodic table for flies," researchers around the globe have mapped the evolutionary history of flies, providing a framework for further comparative studies on the insects that comprise more than 10 percent of all life on Earth. ... > full story

Lessons from Japan's earthquake (March 14, 2011) -- While Japan's 8.9-magnitude earthquake and accompanying tsunami represent a devastating natural disaster for the country's residents, scientists should also seize upon the massive temblor as an important learning tool for future quakes around the world, including the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States, according to U.S. experts. ... > full story

Toxoplasmosis: The strain explains severity of infection (March 14, 2011) -- Providing clues into why the severity of a common parasitic infection can vary greatly from person to person, a new study shows that each one of three strains of the cat-borne parasite Toxoplasma gondii sets off a unique reaction in the nerve cells it invades. ... > full story

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