Τρίτη, 1 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death by 42 percent

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 04:40 PM PDT

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42 percent compared to eating less than one portion, reports a new study. This is the first study to link fruit and vegetable consumption with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths in a nationally-representative population, the first to quantify health benefits per-portion, and the first to identify the types of fruit and vegetable with the most benefit.

Arctic melt season lengthening, ocean rapidly warming

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 03:06 PM PDT

The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap's thickness, according to a new study.

Using more wood for construction can slash global reliance on fossil fuels

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 02:06 PM PDT

Increasing the wood harvest to the equivalent of 34 percent or more of annual wood growth to meet construction demands worldwide could drastically reduce the global reliance on fossil fuels while protecting biodiversity and carbon storage capacity, according to a new study.

Oxygen depletion in the Baltic Sea is ten times worse than a century ago

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 12:36 PM PDT

The Baltic Sea is suffering from a lack of oxygen. Poor oxygen conditions on the seabed are killing animals and plants, and experts are now sounding the alarm -- releasing fewer nutrients into the Baltic Sea is absolutely necessary. The deepest areas of the Baltic Sea have always had a low oxygen content. The inflow of fresh water is actually limited by low thresholds at the entrance to the Baltic Sea. At the same time, there is a relatively fresh layer above the denser and saltier water in the deep layer of the sea. This results in an effective stratification of the water column, which prevents the mixing of water masses necessary to transfer oxygen to the water at the bottom.

Ancient whodunit may be solved: Methane-producing microbes did it!

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 12:36 PM PDT

Methane-producing microbes may be responsible for the largest mass extinction in Earth's history. Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out -- by far the largest of this planet's five known mass extinctions. It turns out that Methanosarcina had acquired a particularly fast means of making methane, and the team's detailed mapping of the organism's history now shows that this transfer happened at about the time of the end-Permian extinction.

Self-healing engineered muscle grown in the laboratory

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 12:36 PM PDT

Living skeletal muscle that contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates quickly into mice, and for the first time, demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal has been grown in the lab by biomedical engineers. "The muscle we have made represents an important advance for the field," an author said. "It's the first time engineered muscle has been created that contracts as strongly as native neonatal skeletal muscle."

Warming climate may spread drying to a third of earth: Heat, not just rainfall, plays into new projections

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 11:41 AM PDT

A new study estimates that 12 percent of land will be subject to drought by 2100 through rainfall changes alone; but the drying will spread to 30 percent of land if higher evaporation rates are considered. An increase in evaporative drying means that even regions expected to get more rain, including important wheat, corn and rice belts in the western United States and southeastern China, will be at risk of drought.

Proteins discovered in gonorrhea may offer new approach to treatment

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 10:10 AM PDT

Novel proteins in, or on the surface of the bacteria that causes gonorrhea, have been discovered by scientists. These offer a promising new avenue of attack against a venereal disease that is showing increased resistance to the antibiotics used to treat it. Only a single, third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic still shows good efficacy against gonorrhea, creating a race against time to find some alternative way to treat this disease that can have serious health effects. It's the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States.

Satellite shows high productivity from US corn belt

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 10:10 AM PDT

Data from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to scientists. Healthy plants convert light to energy via photosynthesis, but chlorophyll also emits a fraction of absorbed light as fluorescent glow that is invisible to the naked eye. The magnitude of the glow is an excellent indicator of the amount of photosynthesis, or gross productivity, of plants in a given region.

Genetic cause of heart valve defects revealed

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 10:06 AM PDT

Heart valve defects are a common cause of death in newborns. Scientists have discovered "Creld1" is a key gene for the development of heart valves in mice. The researchers were able to show that a similar Creld1 gene found in humans functions via the same signaling pathway as in the mouse. This discovery is an important step forward in the molecular understanding of the pathogenesis of heart valve defects.

Temperature fluctuations: Atlantic Ocean dances with the sun and volcanoes

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 08:45 AM PDT

Natural fluctuations in the ocean temperature in the North Atlantic have a significant impact on the climate in the northern hemisphere. These fluctuations are the result of a complex dance between the forces of nature, but researchers can now show that solar activity and the impact of volcanic eruptions have led this dance during the last two centuries.

Two new genes linked to intellectual disability discovered

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 08:43 AM PDT

Two new genes linked to intellectual disability have been discovered, according to two research studies. About one per cent of children worldwide are affected by non-syndromic (i.e., the absence of any other clinical features) intellectual disability, a condition characterized by an impaired capacity to learn and process new or complex information, leading to decreased cognitive functioning and social adjustment. Although trauma, infection and external damage to the unborn fetus can lead to an intellectual disability, genetic defects are a principal cause.

Tamiflu-resistant influenza related to mutations in genome

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 08:42 AM PDT

It doesn't take long for the flu virus to outsmart Tamiflu. Scientists have developed a tool that reveals the mutations that make the virus resistant, and they have identified new mutations that may render ineffective one of the few treatments currently available on the market.

What will climate policy mean for coal?

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 08:42 AM PDT

Limiting climate change to 2 degrees C means shutting down coal power plants -- an unpopular proposition for coal power companies. But a new study shows that delaying climate policies could prove even worse for power plant owners.

Major breakthrough in stem cell manufacturing technology

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 08:38 AM PDT

A new substance that could simplify the manufacture of cell therapy in the pioneering world of regenerative medicine has been developed. Cell therapy is an exciting and rapidly developing area of medicine in which stem cells have the potential to repair human tissue and maintain organ function in chronic disease and age-related illnesses. But a major problem with translating current successful research into actual products and treatments is how to mass-produce such a complex living material.

Hormones in action: It's all about the right partner

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 08:38 AM PDT

Thousands of regulatory regions on the genomic DNA determine which part of a cell's genetic information is expressed and which is silent. Researchers analyzed such control-regions and the changes in activity that follow treatment with a hormone. They showed that -- depending on the cell type -- a single hormone can influence different regions.

Changing climate creates pervasive risks, but opportunities exist for effective responses: IPCC report

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 07:06 AM PDT

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a report that says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. The world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.

Childhood virus may increase type 1 diabetes risk

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 07:04 AM PDT

The most common cause of severe diarrhea in children, the rotavirus infection, has been shown to accelerate the development of type 1 diabetes in mice. The research found that it may be the "bystander effect" that causes the rotavirus infection to accelerate the onset of type 1 diabetes. The "bystander effect" suggests that the virus provokes a strong activation of the immune system, which then spills over, allowing the immune system to attack not only the viral intruder but some of the body's own cells, in this case the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Can vitamin A turn back the clock on breast cancer?

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 06:55 AM PDT

A derivative of vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, found abundantly in sweet potato and carrots, helps turn pre-cancer cells back to normal healthy breast cells, which may help explain why some clinical studies have been unable to see a benefit of vitamin A on cancer: the vitamin doesn't appear to change the course of full-blown cancer, only pre-cancerous cells, and only works at a very narrow dose.

New pathway revealed through sodium pump

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 06:55 AM PDT

In addition to its role as a sodium and potassium ion transporter, the ubiquitous sodium pump displays "hybrid" function by simultaneously importing protons into the cell. Proton inflow might play a role in certain pathologies, including heart attack and stroke.

Nano-paper filter removes viruses

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 05:37 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a paper filter, which can remove virus particles with the efficiency matching that of the best industrial virus filters. The paper filter consists of 100 percent high purity cellulose nanofibers, directly derived from nature. Cellulose is one of the most common materials to produce various types of filters because it is inexpensive, disposable, inert and non-toxic.

Plants use different scents to attract or repel insects

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 05:37 AM PDT

Flowering plants attract pollinating insects with scent from their flowers and bright colors. If they have become infested with herbivores like caterpillars, they attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps with the help of scent signals from their leaves. The wasps then lay their eggs in the caterpillars and kill the parasites. Floral and foliar scents can, however, mutually reduce their attractiveness. That's why flowering plants face a dilemma: should they use their resources to attract pollinating insects and, by extension, for reproduction or should they invest in defense against herbivores?

Meeting climate targets may require reducing meat, dairy consumption

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 04:37 PM PDT

Greenhouse gas emissions from food production may threaten the United Nations climate target of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, according to research. Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and transportation sectors currently account for the largest share of climate pollution. However, a study now shows that eliminating these emissions would not guarantee staying below the UN limit. Emissions from agriculture threaten to keep increasing as global meat and dairy consumption increases.

Effect of important air pollutants may be absent from key precipitation observations

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 12:16 PM PDT

Pioneering new research could have a major impact on climate and environmental science by drastically transforming the perceived reliability of key observations of precipitation, which includes rain, sleet and snow. The ground breaking study examines the effect that increased aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere, emitted as a result of burning fossil fuels, had on regional temperature and precipitation levels.

Secrets of a mollusk's unique bioceramic armor

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 12:15 PM PDT

The secrets behind a marine creature's defensive armor -- one that is exceptionally tough, yet optically clear -- have been revealed by scientists. The shells' unique properties emerge from a specialized nanostructure that allows optical clarity, as well as efficient energy dissipation and the ability to localize deformation, the researchers found.

Carbohydrate digestion and obesity strongly linked

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 12:13 PM PDT

New research indicates that obesity in the general population may be genetically linked to how our bodies digest carbohydrates. People usually have two copies of the gene AMY1, but in some regions of our DNA there can be variability in the number of copies a person carries, which is known as copy number variation. The number of copies of AMY1 can be highly variable between people, and it is believed that higher numbers of copies of the salivary amylase gene have evolved in response to a shift towards diets containing more starch since prehistoric times.

'Best practices' nutrition measurement for researchers

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 12:12 PM PDT

Scientists have developed what amounts to a best practices guide to the most accurate way of measuring fruit fly food consumption. "While our study isn't the final technical reference on measuring fly food consumption, it will help guide researchers to think more carefully about nutrition and nutrient intake in their own studies," said the study's leader.

Too many diet drinks may spell heart trouble for older women, study suggests

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 02:51 PM PDT

It appears healthy postmenopausal women who drink two or more diet drinks a day may be more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems, according to research. In fact, compared to women who never or only rarely consume diet drinks, those who consumed two or more a day were 30 percent more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die from related disease.

Daylight saving impacts timing of heart attacks

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 02:51 PM PDT

Still feeling the residual effects of springing ahead for daylight saving time? The hour of sleep lost -- or gained -- may play a bigger, perhaps more dangerous role in our body's natural rhythm than we think. It seems moving the clock forward or backward may alter the timing of when heart attacks occur in the week following these time changes, according to research.

Long-standing theory disproved: Fingerprint of dissolved glycine in the terahertz range explained

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 04:58 AM PDT

Chemists have, for the first time, completely analyzed the fingerprint region of the terahertz spectrum of a biologically relevant molecule in water, in this case, an amino acid. By combining spectroscopy and molecular-dynamics simulations, they rendered the motion of the most basic amino acid, glycine, visible in an aqueous solution. Their results have disproved the long-standing theory that frequencies in the terahertz range provide no information regarding the amino acid's motion.

How rotavirus infection accelerates autoimmune diabetes in a mouse model

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:23 PM PDT

A combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors is believed to cause autoimmune (type 1) diabetes. A new study gets at the mechanisms by which rotavirus infection contributes to autoimmune diabetes in a mouse model of the disease.

Largest developmental proteomic data set for any animal developed

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 02:00 PM PDT

Now that the human genome is sequenced, researchers are focusing on the study of the proteome, which is the protein content of an organism, tissue or cell. They have successfully tracked the changing patterns of protein expression during early development of Xenopus laevis, or African clawed frog, embryos. The largest data set on developmental proteomics for any organism has been developed by scientists, and have included the single-cell zygote.

First functional 'designer' chromosome in yeast synthesized by scientists

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:24 AM PDT

The first functional chromosome in yeast has been synthesized by an international research group, an important step in the emerging field of synthetic biology, designing microorganisms to produce novel medicines, raw materials for food, and biofuels. "Our research moves the needle in synthetic biology from theory to reality," remarked a pioneer in synthetic biology, who was a part of the research team.

Key regulator of colon cancer discovered

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:37 AM PDT

P38 is required for the survival and proliferation of colon cancer cells, thus favoring tumor growth, researchers have discovered. The study demonstrates that, on the one hand, p38 is important for the optimal maintenance of the epithelial barrier that protects the intestine against toxic agents, thus contributing to decreased tumor development. Intriguingly, on the other hand, once a tumor has formed, p38 is required for the survival and proliferation of colon cancer cells, thus favoring tumor growth.

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