Jumat, 01 April 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Friday, April 1, 2011

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Economic importance of bats in the 'billions a year' range (April 1, 2011) -- Researchers analyzed the economic impact of the loss of bats in North America in agriculture and found it to be in the .7 to billion a year range. A single colony of 150 big brown bats eat nearly 1.3 million insects a year -- insects that could potentially be damaging to crops. ... > full story

Hidden elm population may hold genes to combat Dutch elm disease (April 1, 2011) -- Scientists may have discovered "the map to El Dorado" for the American elm -- a previously hidden population of elms that carry genes for resistance to Dutch elm disease. The disease kills individual branches and eventually the entire tree within one to several years. ... > full story

Scientists reach beyond the clouds with a mobile phone app to explore the outer atmosphere (April 1, 2011) -- Engineering scientists have reached above the clouds in a first-of-its-kind experiment to develop new technologies that probe the stratosphere using an unmanned vehicle. ... > full story

Advance toward making biodegradable plastics from waste chicken feathers (April 1, 2011) -- In a scientific advance literally plucked from the waste heap, scientists have described a key step toward using the billions of pounds of waste chicken feathers produced each year to make one of the more important kinds of plastic. ... > full story

First report on bioaccumulation and processing of antibacterial ingredient TCC in fish (April 1, 2011) -- In the first report on the uptake and internal processing of triclocarban (TCC) in fish, scientists have reported strong evidence that TCC -- the source of environmental health concerns because of its potential endocrine-disrupting effects -- has a "strong" tendency to bioaccumulate in fish. ... > full story

Insight into lignin biosynthesis (April 1, 2011) -- A new study furthers our understanding of lignin formation in the model plant Arabidopsis. Two laccase genes are shown to play a major role in lignin deposition. ... > full story

Fruit fly's response to starvation could help control human appetites (March 31, 2011) -- Biologists have identified the molecular mechanisms triggered by starvation in fruit flies that enhance the nervous system's response to smell, allowing these insects and presumably vertebrates -- including humans -- to become more efficient and voracious foragers when hungry. Their discovery of the neural changes that control odor-driven food searches in flies could provide a new way to potentially regulate human appetite. ... > full story

Aimless proteins may be crucial to disease (March 31, 2011) -- A supposedly inactive protein actually plays a crucial role in the ability of one the world's most prolific pathogens to cause disease and could also be important to other such pathogen-based diseases as malaria. ... > full story

Scat reveals an immigrant in Isle Royale wolves' gene pool (March 31, 2011) -- Until recently scientists studying the wolves of Isle Royale National Park thought they'd been totally isolated on the Lake Superior island for more than half a century. Now, by analyzing droppings, they've found the DNA of a fairly recent immigrant wolf from Canada. ... > full story

US troops exposed to polluted air in Iraq, researchers report (March 31, 2011) -- Military personnel and contractors stationed in Iraq risk not only enemy gunfire, suicide bombers, and roadside bombs, but the very air they breathe often is polluted with dust and other particles of a size and composition that could pose immediate and long-term health threats, scientists report. ... > full story

Fossil is best look yet at an ancestor of buttercups (March 31, 2011) -- Scientists from the United States and China have discovered the first intact fossil of a mature eudicot, a type of flowering plant whose membership includes buttercups, apple trees, maple trees, dandelions and proteas. The 125-million-year-old find reveals a remarkably developed species. ... > full story

Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs (March 31, 2011) -- Bed bugs are an increasingly common pest that necessitates extensive decontamination of homes. Researchers in Sweden have now discovered that young bed bugs produce a smell that repels other bed bugs. It is hoped that these findings could contribute to more effective control of the blood-sucking insects. ... > full story

Hands-free electronic water faucets found to be hindrance in infection control; Manual faucets work better, study shows (March 31, 2011) -- A study of newly installed, hands-free faucets at The Johns Hopkins Hospital shows they were more likely to be contaminated with one of the most common and hazardous bacteria in hospitals compared to old-style fixtures with separate handles for hot and cold water. ... > full story

Archaeologists explore Iraqi marshes for origins of urbanization (March 31, 2011) -- The first non-Iraqi archaeological investigation of the Tigris-Euphrates delta in 20 years was a preliminary foray by three women who began to explore the links between wetland resources and the emergence and growth of cities last year. ... > full story

Gesture-controlled microscope developed by Finnish researchers (March 31, 2011) -- Researchers in Finland have created a hand-and-finger gesture-controlled microscope. The method is a combination of two technologies: web-based virtual microscopy and a giant-size multitouch display. ... > full story

Common yellow lab dye profoundly extends lifespan in healthy nematodes (March 31, 2011) -- Basic Yellow 1, a dye used in neuroscience labs around the world to detect damaged protein in Alzheimer's disease, is a wonder drug for nematode worms. Thioflavin T extended lifespan in healthy worms by more than 50 percent and slowed the disease process in worms bred to mimic aspects of Alzheimer's. The research -- involving protein homeostasis -- could open new ways to intervene in aging and age-related disease. ... > full story

Vaccine to cure asthma brought on by house dust mite allergies? (March 31, 2011) -- Researchers are working on a vaccine that could completely cure asthma brought on by house dust mite allergies. ... > full story

Worm research defines role of multiple disease genes at base of cilia (March 31, 2011) -- An international collaboration has outlined how cilia disease gene products regulate important aspects of early cilium formation and the integrity of the ciliary transport gate. ... > full story

Open-source software designed to minimize synthetic biology risks (March 31, 2011) -- A software package designed to minimize the potential risks of synthetic biology for the nation's defense and security is now available to the gene synthesis industry and synthetic biology community in an open-source format. ... > full story

Sensory wiring for smells varies among individuals (March 31, 2011) -- If, as Shakespeare's Juliet declared, a rose by any other name smells as sweet -- to you and to me and to anyone else who sniffs it -- then one might assume that our odor-sensing nerve cells are all wired in the same way. Alas, they are not, according to a new study. ... > full story

How to make skinny worms fat and fat worms skinny (March 31, 2011) -- Researchers exploring human metabolism have uncovered a handful of chemical compounds that regulate fat storage in worms, offering a new tool for understanding obesity and finding future treatments for diseases associated with obesity. ... > full story

'Informant' jumping gene offers new method for studying how genes are regulated (March 31, 2011) -- Scientists have developed a new method for studying gene regulation, by employing a jumping gene as an informant. Called GROMIT, it allows scientists to also create mouse models for human diseases caused by chromosomal rearrangements, such as Down syndrome. ... > full story

New wind tunnel will evaluate wind effects and thermal situations to improve urban climate (March 31, 2011) -- On hot days it is often very still in cities because the high density of buildings prevents the air from circulating freely. In a newly commissioned wind tunnel, wind effects and thermal situations in towns and cities can be simulated and various scenarios tested, with the aim of improving urban climate in a natural way. ... > full story

Butterflies that explore and colonize new habitats are genetically different from cautious cousins (March 30, 2011) -- Descendants of "exploratory" butterflies that colonize new habitats differ genetically from their more cautious cousins, discovered scientists. The research has revealed some of the genetic bases for traits that provide an advantage to butterflies that found new populations in previously unoccupied habitat patches. The results have potentially broad importance in understanding natural selection. ... > full story

Blocking carbon dioxide fixation in bacteria increases biofuel production (March 30, 2011) -- Reducing the ability of certain bacteria to fix carbon dioxide can greatly increase their production of hydrogen gas that can be used as a biofuel, researchers report. ... > full story

Spiders target mate-luring signals from 'vibrating' insects (March 30, 2011) -- Insects using vibration to attract a mate are at risk of being eaten alive by killer spiders, scientists have discovered. ... > full story

Carbon labeling of products could help consumers make environmentally friendly choices (March 30, 2011) -- Labeling products with information on the size of the carbon footprint they leave behind could help both consumers and manufacturers make better, environmentally friendly choices. ... > full story

Newly discovered natural arch in Afghanistan one of world's largest (March 30, 2011) -- Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base. ... > full story

54 beneficial compounds discovered in pure maple syrup (March 30, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup and confirmed that 20 compounds discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health. ... > full story

US earthquake resilience needs strengthening, says new report (March 30, 2011) -- A new report presents a 20-year road map for increasing US resilience to earthquakes, including a major earthquake that could strike a highly populated area. The report was mostly written prior to the March 11 earthquake in Japan, but the committee of experts who authored it noted that the Japanese experience is a reminder of the devastation that can occur even in a country acknowledged as a leader in implementing earthquake-resilience measures. ... > full story

Warm water causes extra-cold winters in northeastern North America and northeastern Asia (March 30, 2011) -- Average winter temperatures in northern Europe are at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than similar latitudes on the northeastern coast of the United States and the eastern coast of Canada. The same phenomenon happens over the Pacific, where winters on the northeastern coast of Asia are colder than in the Pacific Northwest. Researchers have now found a mechanism that helps explain these chillier winters -- and the culprit is warm water off the eastern coasts of these continents. ... > full story

Physicists detect low-level radioactivity from Japan arriving in Seattle (March 30, 2011) -- Physicists are detecting radioactivity arriving in Seattle from Japanese nuclear reactors damaged in a tsunami following a mammoth earthquake, but the levels are far below what would pose a threat to human health. ... > full story

Updating the Mary Poppins solution with a better bitter blocker (March 30, 2011) -- With millions of adults and children avoiding nutritious foods because of the bitter taste, and gagging or vomiting when forced to take bitter liquid medicines, scientists have now reported an advance toward a high-tech version of Mary Poppins' solution. It's not a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, but a new and improved "bitterness blocker." ... > full story

River water and salty ocean water used to generate electricity (March 30, 2011) -- Researchers have developed a rechargeable battery that uses freshwater and seawater to create electricity. Aided by nanotechnology, the battery employs the difference in salinity between fresh and saltwater to generate a current. A power station might be built wherever a river flows into the ocean. ... > full story

Next-generation device developed to track world's air quality (March 30, 2011) -- A new air-quality measuring instrument that is more economical, more portable and more accurate than older technologies has just been developed. ... > full story

'Bacterial dirigibles' emerge as next-generation disease fighters (March 30, 2011) -- Scientists have developed bacteria that serve as mobile pharmaceutical factories, both producing disease-fighting substances and delivering the potentially life-saving cargo to diseased areas of the body. They reported on this new candidate for treating diseases ranging from food poisoning to cancer -- termed "bacterial dirigibles." ... > full story

Ocean circulation plays important role in transporting heat to Greenland glaciers (March 30, 2011) -- Warmer air is only part of the story when it comes to Greenland's rapidly melting ice sheet. New research highlights the role ocean circulation plays in transporting heat to glaciers. ... > full story

Measurements of winter Arctic sea ice shows continuing ice loss, study finds (March 30, 2011) -- The 2011 Arctic sea ice extent maximum that marks the beginning of the melt season appears to be tied for the lowest ever measured by satellites, say scientists. ... > full story

Like products, plants wait for optimal configuration before market success (March 30, 2011) -- Scientists have now amassed the largest evolutionary tree (phylogeny) for plants. They have learned that major groups of plants tinker with their design and performance before rapidly spinning off new species. The finding upends long-held thinking that plants' speciation rates are tied to the first development of a new physical trait or mechanism. ... > full story

New insight into how 'tidying up' enzymes work (March 29, 2011) -- New research sheds light on how molecules are broken down by the body -- a finding that promises to help pharmaceutical chemists design better drugs. ... > full story

Communicating uncertain climate risks (March 29, 2011) -- Despite much research that demonstrates potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing. ... > full story

Treadmill tests for poison frogs show toxic species are more physically fit (March 29, 2011) -- The most toxic, brightly colored members of the poison frog family may also be the best athletes, says a new study. ... > full story

Key plant traits yield more sugar for biofuels (March 29, 2011) -- New clues about plant structure are helping researchers narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production. ... > full story

Some ingredients in 'green' products come from petroleum rather than natural sources (March 29, 2011) -- With more and more environmentally conscious consumers choosing "green" products, scientists have now reported that the first reality check has revealed that the ingredients in those product may come from a surprising source -- petroleum, rather than natural plant-based sources. ... > full story

Satellites detect extensive drought impact on Amazon forests (March 29, 2011) -- A new study has revealed widespread reductions in the greenness of the forests in the vast Amazon basin in South America caused by the record-breaking drought of 2010. ... > full story

Chemists' biosensor may improve food, water safety and cancer detection (March 29, 2011) -- A new nanotechnology-based biosensor under development may allow early detection of both cancer cells and pathogens, leading to increased food safety and reduced health risks. ... > full story

Wind can keep mountains from growing (March 29, 2011) -- Wind is a much more powerful force in the evolution of mountains than previously thought, according to a new report. The researchers figured out wind's rock-sculpting abilities by studying gigantic wind-formed ridges of rock called yardangs that are found in Central Asia. Bedrock in the area that would have formed mountains instead was sand-blasted into dust. ... > full story

Next-generation chemical mapping on the nanoscale (March 29, 2011) -- Scientists have pioneered a new chemical mapping method that provides unprecedented insight into materials at the nanoscale. These new maps will guide researchers in deciphering molecular chemistry and interactions that are critical for artificial photosynthesis, biofuels production and light-harvesting applications such as solar cells. ... > full story

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