Jumat, 28 Januari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Friday, January 28, 2011

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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

World can be powered by alternative energy, using today's technology, in 20-40 years, experts say (January 27, 2011) -- A new study analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen. ... > full story

Gender and hygiene: Could cleanliness be hurting girls? (January 27, 2011) -- Little girls growing up in western society are expected to be neat and tidy -- "all ribbon and curls" -- and one researcher who studies science and gender differences thinks that emphasis may contribute to higher rates of certain diseases in adult women. ... > full story

Natural growth factor enhances memory, prevents forgetting in rats (January 27, 2011) -- A naturally occurring growth factor significantly boosted retention and prevented forgetting of a fear memory when injected into rats' memory circuitry during time-limited windows when memories become fragile and changeable. In a new study, animals treated with insulin-like growth factor excelled at remembering to avoid a location where they had previously experienced a mild shock. The researchers say IGF-II could become a potential drug target for enhancing memory. ... > full story

Nervous system as a 3-D map: First complete map of special connections of nerve cells in zebrafish (January 27, 2011) -- Researchers have succeeded in creating the first complete map of all axons which use dopamine as a messenger in a vertebrate, namely in the model organism zebrafish. ... > full story

Hungry chicks have unique calls to their parents (January 27, 2011) -- It can be hard to get noticed when you're a little chick in a big colony, but new research reveals that baby birds in need of a feed have individual ways of letting their parents know. ... > full story

'Hidden plumbing' helps slow Greenland ice flow: Hotter summers may actually slow down flow of glaciers (January 27, 2011) -- Hotter summers may not be as catastrophic for the Greenland ice sheet as previously feared and may actually slow down the flow of glaciers, according to new research. ... > full story

Chemists turn gold to purple -- on purpose: Color change confirms a new way to harvest energy from sunlight (January 27, 2011) -- Chemists suspected that a common protein could potentially react with sunlight and harvest its energy -- similar to what chlorophyll does during photosynthesis. ... > full story

How pathogenic bacteria hide inside host cells (January 27, 2011) -- A new study into Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium which is responsible for severe chronic infections worldwide, reveals how the bacteria have developed a strategy of hiding within host cells to escape the immune system as well as many antibacterial treatments. The research demonstrates how 'phenotype switching' enables bacteria to adapt to their environmental conditions, lie dormant inside host cells and become a reservoir for relapsing infections. ... > full story

Waterhemp rears its ugly head ... again (January 27, 2011) -- Waterhemp has done it again. Researchers have just confirmed that waterhemp is the first weed to evolve resistance to HPPD-inhibiting herbicides. ... > full story

Organic food in pregnancy (January 27, 2011) -- Who eats organic food when they are pregnant? Is it just certain groups? What kind of organic foods are most popular? A recent study provides some answers. ... > full story

No leftovers for Tyrannosaurus rex: New evidence that T. rex was hunter, not scavenger (January 26, 2011) -- Tyrannosaurus rex hunted like a lion, rather than regularly scavenging like a hyena, new research reveals. The findings end a long-running debate about the hunting behavior of this awesome predator. ... > full story

Food-borne bacteria causes potentially fatal heart infection (January 26, 2011) -- Researchers have found that particular strains of a food-borne bacteria are able to invade the heart, leading to serious and difficult to treat heart infections. ... > full story

Fishy consequences of transplanting trout, salmon, whitefishes: Some fish do not respond well to relocation (January 26, 2011) -- Not all trout are created equal. Those swimming up the streams of the United States might resemble their cousins from Canada, yet their genetic makeup is regionally affected and has an impact on how they reproduce, grow and react to environmental stressors. ... > full story

Eating poorly can make you blue: Trans-fats increase risk of depression, while olive oil helps avoid risk (January 26, 2011) -- Researchers have shown that trans-fats increase the risk of depression, and that olive oil helps avoid this risk. ... > full story

Discovery of a biochemical basis for broccoli's cancer-fighting ability (January 26, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential biochemical basis for the apparent cancer-fighting ability of broccoli and its veggie cousins. They found for the first time that certain substances in the vegetables appear to target and block a defective gene associated with cancer. ... > full story

Genetic archaeology finds parts of human genome more closely related to orangutans than chimps (January 26, 2011) -- In a new study, in coordination with the publication of the orangutan genome sequence, scientists have presented the surprising finding that although orangutans and humans are more distantly related, some regions of our genomes are more alike than those of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. ... > full story

Orangutan DNA more diverse than human's, remarkably stable through the ages (January 26, 2011) -- Scientists have decoded the DNA of a Sumatran orangutan. With this genome as a reference, the scientists then sequenced the genomes of five additional Sumatran and five Bornean orangutans. The research reveals intriguing clues about the evolution of great apes, including humans, and showcases the immense genetic diversity across and within Sumatran and Bornean orangutans. ... > full story

First study of dispersants in Gulf spill suggests a prolonged deepwater fate (January 26, 2011) -- To combat last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nearly 800,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were injected directly into the oil and gas flow coming out of the wellhead nearly one mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, chemists report that a major component of the dispersant itself was contained within an oil-gas-laden plume in the deep ocean and had still not degraded some three months after it was applied. ... > full story

'Undead' may influence biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions (January 26, 2011) -- Dormant microbes are less like zombies and more like hibernating bears. What isn't known, however, is how large numbers of dormant microorganisms affect the natural environments when they act as microbial seed banks. A new review examines the cellular mechanisms that allow microbes to hibernate and addresses the implications they can have on larger ecosystems such as soil, oceans, lakes and the human body. ... > full story

Centuries of sailors weren't wrong: Looking at the horizon stabilizes posture (January 26, 2011) -- Everybody who has been aboard a ship has heard the advice: if you feel unsteady, look at the horizon. For a new study, researchers measured how much people sway on land and at sea and found there's truth in that advice; people aboard a ship are steadier if they fix their eyes on the horizon. ... > full story

Evolution by mistake: Major driving force comes from how organisms cope with errors at cellular level (January 26, 2011) -- A major driving force of evolution comes from mistakes made by cells and how organisms cope with the consequences, biologists have found. Their discoveries offer lessons for creating innovation in economics and society. ... > full story

Mathematical model could help predict and prevent future extinctions (January 26, 2011) -- In an effort to better understand the dynamics of complex networks, scientists have developed a mathematical model to describe interactions within ecological food webs. The work illustrates how human intervention may effectively aid species conservation efforts. ... > full story

New method attacks bacterial infections on contact lenses (January 26, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered a new method to fight bacterial infections associated with contact lenses. The method may also have applications for bacterial infections associated with severe burns and cystic fibrosis. ... > full story

Genetic origin of cultivated citrus determined: Researchers find evidence of origins of orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, other citrus species (January 26, 2011) -- Even with a documented history of cultivation spanning more than 4,000 years, the exact genetic origins of cultivated Citrus species such as sweet orange, lemon, and grapefruit have remained obscure. Chinese researchers used a combination of analyzed amplified fragment length polymorphism and Chloroplast DNA data to identify the exact genetic origin of cultivated citrus. The molecular evidence presented the most convincing data to date in support the origin of lime. ... > full story

Mercury in Bay Area fish a legacy of California mining (January 26, 2011) -- Mercury contamination, a worldwide environmental problem, has been called "public enemy No. 1" in California's San Francisco Bay. ... > full story

Chemists document workings of key staph enzyme -- and how to block it (January 26, 2011) -- Researchers have determined the structure and mechanism of dehydrosqualene synthase (CrtM), an enzyme that performs the crucial first step in the formation of cholesterol and a key virulence factor in staph bacteria. The researchers already knew what CrtM looked like and its end product, but they didn't know how the enzyme did its job. Uncovering the mechanism of action will enable scientists to design better inhibitors, and even tailor them to other targets. ... > full story

Shining new light on air pollutants using entangled porous frameworks (January 26, 2011) -- Certain types of pollution monitoring may soon become considerably easier. Scientists have shown that a newly-formulated entangled framework of porous crystals (porous coordination polymers, or PCPs) can not only capture a variety of common air pollutants, but that the mixtures then glow in specific, easily-detected colors. ... > full story

Biologists' favorite worm gets viruses: Finding means C. elegans may aid studies of human infections (January 26, 2011) -- A workhorse of modern biology is sick, and scientists couldn't be happier. Researchers have found that the nematode C. elegans, a millimeter-long worm used extensively for decades to study many aspects of biology, gets naturally occurring viral infections. The discovery means C. elegans is likely to help scientists study the way viruses and their hosts interact. ... > full story

'Green' chemistry extraction method developed for hot capsicum fruit (January 26, 2011) -- Used in processed foods and cosmetics, the red pigments in Capsicum (chile pepper) are important sources of non-toxic red dyes. The common method for extracting pigments from dried Capsicum uses hexane as the extraction solvent. Researchers have now developed a "green chemistry" process for extracting red pigments that recovers 85 percent or greater of the pigmented carotenoids from dried Capsicum and reduces hazardous waste and environmental risks associated with traditional extraction methods. ... > full story

Alternative energy use at forward operating bases can save dollars, lives, say US military researchers (January 26, 2011) -- To cut down on convoys trucking fuel to forward operating bases, as well as implement the Department of the Navy's vision for energy efficiency, the Office of Naval Research and elements within the Marine Corps have successfully demonstrated their goal to reduce petroleum and energy usage in remote locations in Afghanistan. ... > full story

Genome analysis outlines variations in orangutans of Borneo, Sumatra (January 26, 2011) -- In the forests of Borneo and Sumatra orangutans are an endangered primate population so similar and yet different from man and each other, according to a recently published genome analysis of the two populations of orangutans still existing in the world. The multi-national study defines many of the similarities between the two populations and the differences between these members of the Great Ape family and humans. ... > full story

Human-made DNA sequences made easy: New method for rapidly producing protein-polymers (January 25, 2011) -- Bioengineers have developed a new method for rapidly producing an almost unlimited variety of human-made DNA sequences. ... > full story

Time machine for climate scientists: Earth's extreme weather events since 1871 reanalyzed (January 25, 2011) -- From the hurricane that smashed into New York in 1938 to the impact of the Krakatoa eruption of 1883, the late 19th and 20th centuries are rich with examples of extreme weather. Now an international team of climatologists have created a comprehensive reanalysis of all global weather events from 1871 to the present day, and from Earth's surface to the jet stream level. ... > full story

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