Kamis, 24 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Thursday, February 24, 2011

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Virus-mimicking nanoparticles can stimulate long-lasting immunity (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists have designed tiny nanoparticles that resemble viruses in size and immunological composition and that induce lifelong immunity in mice. They designed the particles to mimic the immune-stimulating effects of one of the most successful vaccines ever developed -- the yellow fever vaccine. The particles, made of biodegradable polymers, have components that activate two different parts of the innate immune system and can be used interchangeably with material from many different bacteria or viruses. ... > full story

New vaccine technology protects mice from hepatitis C virus (February 24, 2011) -- HCV mutates so strongly that traditional vaccines are useless. However, researchers have now developed a vaccine, which provides future hope for medical protection from the hepatitis C virus. ... > full story

High vitamin-D bread could help solve widespread insufficiency problem (February 24, 2011) -- With most people unable to get enough vitamin D from sunlight or foods, scientists are suggesting that a new vitamin D-fortified food -- bread made with high-vitamin D yeast -- could fill that gap. The new study confirms that the approach works in laboratory tests. ... > full story

A semantic sommelier: Wine application highlights the power of Web 3.0 (February 24, 2011) -- In the restaurant of the future, you will always enjoy the perfect meal with that full-bodied 2006 cabernet sauvignon, you will always know your dinner companions' favorite merlot, and you will be able to check if the sommelier's cellar contains your favorite pinot grigio before you even check your coat. These feats of classic cuisine will come to the modern dinner through the power of Semantic Web technology. ... > full story

Microbes help children breathe easily? Bacteria and fungi may offer protection against asthma, study suggests (February 24, 2011) -- Children who grow up on farms are less likely to suffer from asthma than other rural children. A large-scale study indicates that this may be due to differences in the spectrum of microbes the two groups are likely to encounter. This findings suggest that certain microorganisms may protect against the disease. ... > full story

New England, Mid-Atlantic beaches eroding, losing 1. 6 feet per year on average (February 23, 2011) -- An assessment of coastal change over the past 150 years has found 68 percent of beaches in the New England and Mid-Atlantic region are eroding, according to a new report. Scientists studied 650 miles of the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts and found the average rate of coastal change was negative 1.6 feet per year. Of those beaches eroding, the most extreme case exceeded 60 feet per year. ... > full story

Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives' evolutionary fitness, scientists say (February 23, 2011) -- Polygamy practiced by some 19th century Mormon men had the curious effect of suppressing the overall offspring numbers of Mormon women in plural marriages, say scientists in a new article. Simply put, the more sister-wives a Mormon woman had, the fewer children she was likely to produce. ... > full story

3-D structure required for function of some vital cell transporters resolved (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have completed the 3-D structural sequence adopted by several essential proteins in the exchange of substances between the extra and intracellular milieu. This finding provides a global perspective of the structural changes that occur in these relevant proteins during basic cell processes, such as protein synthesis, the regulation of metabolism and cell volume, and nerve transmission, and will contribute to understanding some of the functional disruptions caused by human diseases. ... > full story

Bacteria living on old-growth trees (February 23, 2011) -- By collecting mosses on the forest floor and then at 15 and 30 meters up into the forest canopy, researchers were able to show both that the cyanobacteria are more abundant in mosses high above the ground, and that they "fix" twice as much nitrogen as those associated with mosses on the forest floor. ... > full story

Paper archives reveal pollution's history (February 23, 2011) -- A new source of climate records is as close as the nearest university library: Back issues of magazines reveal the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. ... > full story

Pump that bacteria use to resist drugs described (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists have identified the structure of pumps that allow bacteria to resist toxins. ... > full story

'Thunder-thighs' dinosaur discovered: Brontomerus may have used powerful thigh muscles to kick predators (February 23, 2011) -- A new dinosaur named Brontomerus mcintoshi, or "thunder-thighs" after its enormously powerful thigh muscles, has been discovered in Utah. Brontomerus may have used its powerful thighs as a weapon to kick predators, or to help travel over rough, hilly terrain. Brontomerus lived about 110 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous Period, and probably had to contend with fierce "raptors" such as Deinonychus and Utahraptor. ... > full story

Vaccine made with synthetic gene protects against deadly pneumonia (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine with a synthetic gene that appears to protect against an increasingly common and particularly deadly form of pneumococcal pneumonia. ... > full story

6,000-year climate record suggests longer droughts, drier climate for Pacific Northwest (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers extracted a 6,000-year climate record from a Washington state lake showing that the American Pacific Northwest could not only be in for longer dry seasons, but also is unlikely to see a period as wet as the 20th century any time soon and will likely suffer severe water shortages. ... > full story

Organic vs. conventional farming: No clear answers from nitrogen fixing bacteria counts (February 23, 2011) -- The population and diversity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in agricultural soils varies more according to what crop was previously farmed than with whether those soils are organically or conventionally farmed, according to new research. ... > full story

New report lists 25 most endangered turtle species; Some turtle species number less than 5 individuals (February 23, 2011) -- A new report lists the 25 most endangered turtle species from around the world -- some of which currently number less than five individuals. ... > full story

New marine mollusk -- oldest in its genus -- discovered in Iberian Peninsula (February 23, 2011) -- An international research team has discovered a new species of mollusk, Polyconites hadriani, in various parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The researchers say this species, which is the oldest in its genus, adapted to the acidification of the oceans that took place while it was in existence. This process could now determine the evolution of modern marine systems. ... > full story

Texas leafcutter ants aided, but also limited, by cold-tolerant fungus crops, research shows (February 23, 2011) -- Texas leafcutter ants farm crops of fungus that evolved cold tolerance to Texas winters, just as northern farmers cultivate cold weather crops, researchers show. ... > full story

'Climategate' undermined belief in global warming among many TV meteorologists, study shows (February 23, 2011) -- 'Climategate' -- the unauthorized release in late 2009 of stolen e-mails between climate scientists in the US and United Kingdom -- undermined belief in global warming and possibly also trust in climate scientists among TV meteorologists in the United States, at least temporarily. Doubts were most pronounced among politically conservative weathercasters and those who either do not believe in global warming or do not yet know. ... > full story

Old folk remedy revived: How tansy may be a treatment for herpes (February 23, 2011) -- For centuries, tansy has been used as a folk remedy, but now scientists from Britain and Spain believe the plant may have medical benefits after all, as a treatment for herpes. The team's findings are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines. ... > full story

Proteins find their way with address label and guide (February 23, 2011) -- Most newly produced proteins in a cell need to be transported to the proper place before they can be put to work. For proteins to find their way, they have a built-in signal linked to them, a kind of address label. Moreover, they are helped by a particle that guides them to the cell membrane. In a new study, researchers in Sweden show how this interaction works. ... > full story

Transitioning to organic farming (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists conducted a four-year study examining the impact of reduced-tillage and cover crops managed for hay and forage production on the agronomic and economic performance of feed grain production. ... > full story

Even in a crowd, individuals remain unique, rodent vocalization study finds (February 22, 2011) -- Paradoxically, being part of a crowd is what makes you unique, life scientists report. Researchers examined the evolution of individuality -- personal uniqueness -- by recording alarm-call vocalizations in eight species of rodents that live in social groups of various sizes. They found that the size of the groups strongly predicted the individual uniqueness in the animals' voices: The bigger the group, the more unique each animal's voice typically was and the easier it was to tell individuals apart. ... > full story

Cold winters mean more pollution, Swedish study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- Differences in air pressure over the North Atlantic have meant that the last two winters in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been extremely cold. This has led to the air in Gothenburg being more polluted with nitrogen oxides than ever before. A new study shows that there is a strong link between climate and air pollution. ... > full story

Satellite to examine how sun's brightness impacts climate change (February 22, 2011) -- A new instrument developed to study changes in the sun's brightness and its impact on Earth's climate is one of two primary payloads on NASA's Glory mission set to launch on Feb. 23. ... > full story

Researchers map out ice sheets shrinking during Ice Age (February 22, 2011) -- A set of maps has illustrated, for the first time, how the last British ice sheet shrunk during the Ice Age. Experts developed the maps to understand what effect the current shrinking of ice sheets in parts of the Antarctic and Greenland will have on the speed of sea level rise. ... > full story

Earth's core rotation faster than rest of the planet, but slower than previously believed (February 22, 2011) -- New research gives the first accurate estimate of how much faster Earth's core is rotating compared to the rest of the planet. Previous research had shown that Earth's core rotates faster than the rest of the planet. However, scientists have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed -- approximately 1 degree every million years. ... > full story

First identification of endocrine disruptors in algae blooms (February 22, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting for the first time that previously unrecognized substances released by algae blooms have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the normal activity of reproductive hormones. The effect is not caused by microcystin toxins, long recognized as potentially harmful to humans and aquatic animals, but as yet unidentified substances. As a result, the scientists are calling for a revision of environmental monitoring programs to watch for these new substances. ... > full story

New Zealand earthquake damage illustrates risks posed by shallow crustal faults (February 22, 2011) -- The terribly destructive earthquake that just hit Christchurch, New Zealand, was only a moderate 6.3 magnitude, but had certain characteristics that offer an important lesson to cities up and down the West Coast of North America that face similar risks, experts say. ... > full story

T. rex more hyena than lion: Tyrannosaurus rex was opportunistic feeder, not top predator, paleontologists say (February 22, 2011) -- Was T. rex really the king of the forest? A new census of dinosaurs in Montana's Hell Creek Formation shows that T. rex was far too abundant to be a top predator. Paleontologists argue that T. rex probably subsisted on a broad variety of dead as well as live animals, much like today's hyena. ... > full story

Unraveling how prion proteins move along axons in the brain (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers have identified the motors that move non-infectious prion proteins -- found within many mammalian cells -- up and down long, neuronal transport pathways. Identifying normal movement mechanisms of PrPC may help researchers understand the spread of infectious prions within and between neurons to reach the brain, and aid in development of therapies to halt the transport. ... > full story

What a rat can tell us about touch (February 22, 2011) -- One scientist uses the rat whisker system as a model to understand how the brain seamlessly integrates the sense of touch with movement. ... > full story

Plankton key to origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers studying the origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere have zeroed in on the major role played by some very unassuming creatures: plankton. Scientists have now shown how plankton provided a critical link between the atmosphere and chemical isotopes stored in rocks 500 million years ago. ... > full story

How disordered proteins spread from cell to cell, potentially spreading disease (February 22, 2011) -- Misfolded proteins can get into cells and form large aggregates by recruiting normal proteins. These aggregates are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. A new study finds that the protein linked to Huntington's can spread from one cell to another. The research may explain how these diseases spread through our brains, an understanding that might lead to the development of drugs to target the misfolded proteins. ... > full story

Reprogrammed stem cells hit a roadblock: Reprogramming cells leads to genomic aberrations (February 22, 2011) -- Is there a future for stem cell therapies that don't use embryonic stem cells? An international study has raised doubts, by showing that "reprogramming" adult stem cells leads to genetic aberrations. ... > full story

Pollution with antibiotics leads to resistant bacteria, scientists find (February 22, 2011) -- Many of the substances in our most common medicines are manufactured in India. Some of these factories release huge quantities of drugs to the environment. Swedish scientists now show that bacteria in polluted rivers become resistant to a range of antibiotics. International experts fear that this may contribute to the development of untreatable infectious diseases worldwide. ... > full story

Brown tide culprit sequenced: Genome of the first of algal bloom species (February 22, 2011) -- Some algal species can bloom and discolor coastal waters and reduce the amount of light and oxygen available in the ecosystem. Previously known as "red tide," the term "harmful algal blooms" now denotes accumulation of algal biomass that can sometimes turn the ocean waters brown or green and disrupt an ecosystem. The first species of these algae has now been sequenced, analyzed and published. ... > full story

Dry copper kills bacteria on contact (February 22, 2011) -- Metallic copper surfaces kill microbes on contact, decimating their populations, according to new research. They do so literally in minutes, by causing massive membrane damage after about a minute's exposure, says the study's corresponding author, Gregor Grass of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This is the first study to demonstrate this mechanism of bacteriocide. ... > full story

Carbon sink at South Pole has grown recently, historical collections reveal (February 22, 2011) -- By studying collections of a marine bryozoan that date back to a famous 1901 expedition to the South Pole, researchers have found that those organisms were growing steadily up until 1990, when their growth more than doubled. The data provide the highest-latitude record of a century of growth and some of the first evidence that polar carbon sinks may be increasing. ... > full story

Careful cleaning of children's skin wounds key to healing, regardless of antibiotic choice (February 22, 2011) -- When it comes to curing skin infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), timely and proper wound cleaning and draining may be more important than the choice of antibiotic, according to a new study. ... > full story

Antifungal compound found on tropical seaweed has promising antimalarial properties (February 22, 2011) -- A group of chemical compounds used by a species of tropical seaweed to ward off fungus attacks may have promising antimalarial properties for humans. The compounds are part of a unique chemical signaling system that seaweeds use to battle enemies -- and that may provide a wealth of potential new pharmaceutical compounds. ... > full story

Poor park planning drives kids indoors (February 22, 2011) -- What does it take to keep children active when they get home from school? It seems that what your neighborhood offers in terms of parks and playgrounds has a lot to do with it. In a study looking at the links between the quality of outdoor public spaces, parents' perception of them, and children's sedentary behavior, researchers in Australia, show that neighborhood features do influence whether or not children watch less television and play fewer computer games after school. ... > full story

Climate and aerosols: NASA's Glory satellite promises new view of perplexing particles (February 22, 2011) -- Climatologists have known for decades that airborne particles called aerosols can have a powerful impact on the climate. However, pinpointing the magnitude of the effect has proven challenging because of difficulties associated with measuring the particles on a global scale. Soon a new NASA satellite -- Glory -- should help scientists collect the data needed to provide firmer answers about the important particles. In California, engineers and technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base are currently prepping Glory for a Feb. 23 launch. ... > full story

Climate change affecting food safety (February 22, 2011) -- Climate change is already having an effect on the safety of the world's food supplies and unless action is taken it's only going to get worse, a group of experts has warned. ... > full story

Capacity of developing country NRAs key to accelerated introduction of upcoming dengue vaccines (February 22, 2011) -- At least one dengue vaccine could be licensed within the next 4 years, as manufacturers are speeding up the development process for multiple dengue vaccine candidates in collaboration with health authorities and developing countries to expedite the necessary testing, clinical trial design, and licensure, a team of leading scientists said. ... > full story

New face of sleeping sickness epidemiology highlights need for new tools (February 22, 2011) -- Recent developments have rekindled hopes of eliminating human African trypanosomiasis, more familiarly known as sleeping sickness, as a public health problem in those areas of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is endemic. ... > full story

Plants cloned as seeds: Hybrids that breed true would be major advance for crop plants (February 21, 2011) -- Plants have for the first time been cloned as seeds. The research is a major step towards making hybrid crop plants that can retain favorable traits from generation to generation. ... > full story

Better way to diagnose pneumonia (February 21, 2011) -- Researchers have created a new sampling device that could prevent thousands of people worldwide from dying of pneumonia each year. ... > full story

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