Παρασκευή, 25 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Microscopic organism plays a big role in ocean carbon cycling

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 12:18 PM PDT

Scientists have taken a leap forward in understanding the microscopic underpinnings of the ocean carbon cycle by pinpointing a bacterium that appears to play a dominant role in carbon consumption.

Genomic diversity and admixture differs for stone-age Scandinavian foragers and farmers

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 12:18 PM PDT

Scientists report a breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans. A genomic analysis of eleven Stone-Age human remains from Scandinavia revealed that expanding Stone-age farmers assimilated local hunter-gatherers, and that the hunter-gatherers were historically in lower numbers than the farmers. The transition between a hunting-gathering lifestyle and a farming lifestyle has been debated for a century. As scientists learned to work with DNA from ancient human material, a complete new way to learn about the people in that period opened up.

Some corals adjusting to rising ocean temperatures

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Scientists have revealed how some corals can quickly switch on or off certain genes in order to survive in warmer-than-average tidal waters. To most people, 86-degree Fahrenheit water is pleasant for bathing and swimming. To most sea creatures, however, it's deadly. As climate change heats up ocean temperatures, the future of species such as coral, which provides sustenance and livelihoods to a billion people, is threatened.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity: One species, a few drops of seawater, hundreds of coexisting subpopulations

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:36 AM PDT

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live in the oceans, forming the base of the marine food chain and occupying a range of ecological niches based on temperature, light and chemical preferences, and interactions with other species. But the full extent and characteristics of diversity within this single species remains a puzzle.

Preserving endangered Middle East cultures, including early Christian

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:34 AM PDT

The cultural heritage of Syriac, an important language in the spread of early Christianity in the Middle East, is being preserved through the international collaboration.

Genome yields insights into golden eagle vision, smell

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:10 AM PDT

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the golden eagle, providing a bird's-eye view of eagle features that could lead to more effective conservation strategies.

Tsetse fly genome reveals weaknesses: International 10-year project unravels biology of disease-causing fly

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals. The tsetse fly spreads the parasitic diseases human African trypanosomiasis, known as sleeping sickness, and Nagana that infect humans and animals respectively. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, 70 million people are currently at risk of deadly infection.

Carbon loss from soil accelerating climate change

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:09 AM PDT

New research has found that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change. This research challenges our previous understanding about how carbon accumulates in soil.

Scientists build new 'off switch' to shut down neural activity

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Nearly a decade ago, the era of optogenetics was ushered in with the development of channelrhodopsins, light-activated ion channels that can, with the flick of a switch, instantaneously turn on neurons in which they are genetically expressed. What has lagged behind, however, is the ability to use light to inactivate neurons with an equal level of reliability and efficiency. Now, scientists have used an analysis of channelrhodopsin's molecular structure to guide a series of genetic mutations to the ion channel that grant the power to silence neurons with an unprecedented level of control.

You may have billions and billions of good reasons for being unfit

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Although our chromosomes are relatively stable within our lifetimes, the genetic material found in our mitochondria is highly variable across individuals and may impact upon human health, say researchers. Genomes are changing, not just from generation to generation, but even and in fact within our individual cells. The researchers are the first to identify the extent to which the editing processes of RNA code can vary across a large number of individuals.

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

Cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought, new research shows. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative way. In a new study, a team of researchers showed that cells can grow normally without a crucial component needed to duplicate their DNA.

Skin layer grown from human stem cells could replace animals in drug, cosmetics testing

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

The first lab-grown epidermis -- the outermost skin layer -- with a functional permeability barrier akin to real skin has been developed by scientists. The new epidermis, grown from human pluripotent stem cells, offers a cost-effective alternative lab model for testing drugs and cosmetics, and could also help to develop new therapies for rare and common skin disorders.

Large-scale identification, analysis of suppressive drug interactions

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

Cell analysis finds drug interactions to be startlingly common: baker's yeast is giving scientists a better understanding of drug interactions, which are a major cause of illness and hospitalization worldwide. When two or more medications are taken at the same time, one can suppress or enhance the effectiveness of the other. Similarly, one drug may magnify the toxicity of another. There are severe practical limits on the practical scope of drug studies in humans. Limits come in part from ethics and in part from the staggering expense.

Blood cells reprogrammed into blood stem cells in mice

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

Researchers have reprogrammed mature blood cells from mice into blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells, using a cocktail of eight genetic switches called transcription factors. The reprogrammed cells are able to self-renew like HSCs and can give rise to all of the cellular components of the blood like HSCs. The findings mark a significant step toward a major goal of regenerative medicine: the ability to produce HSCs suitable for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from other cell types.

New type of protein action found to regulate development

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:51 AM PDT

Researchers report they have figured out how the aptly named protein Botch blocks the signaling protein called Notch, which helps regulate development. In a report on the discovery, the scientists say they expect the work to lead to a better understanding of how a single protein, Notch, directs actions needed for the healthy development of organs as diverse as brains and kidneys.

Oxygen diminishes heart's ability to regenerate, researchers discover

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:49 AM PDT

Scientific research previously discovered that the newborn animal heart can heal itself completely, whereas the adult heart lacks this ability. New research by the same team today has revealed why the heart loses its incredible regenerative capability in adulthood, and the answer is quite simple -- oxygen.

New point of attack on HIV for vaccine development

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:47 AM PDT

A new vulnerable site on the HIV virus has been found, which may lead researchers closer to developing a vaccine for the illness. "HIV has very few known sites of vulnerability, but in this work we've described a new one, and we expect it will be useful in developing a vaccine," said one researcher.

Fruitfly study identifies brain circuit that drives daily cycles of rest, activity

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:46 AM PDT

Researchers describe a circuit in the brain of fruit flies that controls their daily, rhythmic behavior of rest and activity. They also found that the fly version of the human brain protein known as corticotrophin releasing factor is a major coordinating molecule in this circuit.

Oldest pterodactyloid species discovered: Primitive flying reptile took wing 163 million years ago

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:46 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered and named the earliest and most primitive pterodactyloid -- a group of flying reptiles that would go on to become the largest known flying creatures to have ever existed -- and established they flew above Earth some 163 million years ago, longer than previously known.

The blood preserved in the preserved relic pumpkin did not belong to Louis XVI

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

The results of an international study indicate that the DNA recovered from the inside of a pumpkin, attributed so far to the French King Louis XVI, does not actually belong to the monarch, guillotined in 1793. Complete genome sequencing suggests that blood remains correspond to a male with brown eyes, instead of blue as Louis XVI had, and shorter.

Spiders in space weave a web of scientific inspiration for Spider-Man fans

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 08:30 AM PDT

While spiders were busy spinning webs in space, researchers on Earth weaved their knowledge of this activity into educational materials to inspire and motivate students. Now, this free, Web-based guide is being re-released through Scholastic and Sony Pictures as curriculum for educators to leap on the excitement surrounding the release of the film, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

'Tis the season: Be on the lookout for brown recluse spiders

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 08:27 AM PDT

Warmer, spring weather has many of us getting out and becoming more active, and the brown recluse spider is no exception. Scientists shared 10 facts about the somewhat small, shy spider.

Hydrothermal vents: How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:26 AM PDT

Hydrothermal vents in the deep sea, the so-called 'black smokers,' are fascinating geological formations. They are home to unique ecosystems, but are also potential suppliers of raw materials for the future. They are driven by volcanic 'power plants' in the seafloor. But how exactly do they extract their energy from the volcanic rock?

Boring cells could hold the key to heart disease

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:24 AM PDT

Fibroblasts, cells long thought to be boring and irrelevant, could offer an alternative to heart transplants for patients with heart disease. "Heart disease is still one of the major killers in our society and so far no effective therapeutic options are available. Our laboratory aims to understand how the various cell types present in a heart can improve the outcome of heart failure,' said the lead researcher.

Asteroids made easy: 'Patch of asteroid' being built inside a satellite

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:21 AM PDT

A dozen astronauts have walked on the moon, and several rovers have been piloted on Mars, giving us a good understanding of these off-world environments. But when it comes to asteroids, scientists enter uncharted territory. Landing on an asteroid is notoriously difficult. Scientists are now looking to mitigate risk involved in landing on an asteroid by building a "patch of asteroid" inside of a small, spinning satellite.

How a plant beckons bacteria that will do it harm

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:20 AM PDT

A common plant puts out a welcome mat to bacteria seeking to invade, and scientists have discovered the mat's molecular mix. The team showed that the humble and oft-studied plant Arabidopsis puts out a molecular signal that invites an attack from a pathogen. The study reveals new targets during the battle between microbe and host.

Two new river turtle species described

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:20 AM PDT

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest river turtle in North America, weighing in at up to 200 pounds and living almost a century. Now researchers have discovered that it is not one species -- but three. By examining museum specimens and wild turtles, the scientists uncovered deep evolutionary divisions in this ancient reptile.

Microbes provide insights into evolution of human language

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:14 PM PDT

Research into Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria common in water and soil, shows that they can communicate in a way that was previously thought to be unique to humans and perhaps some other primates. The bacteria used combinatorial communication, in which two signals are used together to achieve an effect that is different to the sum of the effects of the component parts.

Genetics explain why some kids are bigger than others

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:14 PM PDT

The influence of genetic factors on differences between children's Body Mass Index increases from 43 percent at age four to 82 percent at age 10, reports a new study. The researchers studied 2,556 pairs of twins from the Twins Early Development Study. Data were collected in England and Wales in 1999 and 2005 when the twins were four and 10 years old respectively.

'Off-the-shelf' equipment used to digitize insects in 3-D: Model insects useful for studying, sharing specimens

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:14 PM PDT

Scientists have developed a cost-effective, off-the-shelf system to obtain natural-color 3-D models of insects. Scientists studying insects rely on collected specimens that are often shared between scientists through written descriptions, diagrams, and images. These 2D tools are important in understanding and sharing specimens, but they often lack the precise detail of the actual 3D specimen. The authors of this study, interested in understanding the feasibility of digitizing insects for research purposes, created a cost-effective prototype to produce 3D naturally colored digital models of medium-to-large insects (3 to 30mm in length), using off-the-shelf equipment and software.

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks: Dive guides monitoring sharks on coral reef at similar level to telemetry

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:14 PM PDT

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools. Shark populations are declining globally, and scientists lack data to estimate the conservation status of populations for many shark species. Citizen science may be a useful and cost-effective means to increase knowledge of shark populations on coral reefs, but scientists do not yet know enough about how data collected by untrained observers compares to results from traditional research methods. To better understand the reliability of datasets collected by citizen science initiatives, researchers in this study compared reef shark sightings counted by experienced dive guides (citizen scientists), with data collected from tagged reef sharks by an automated tracking tool (acoustic telemetry).

Vitamin D supplements have little effect on risk of falls in older people

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:12 PM PDT

A new meta-analysis concludes that there is no evidence to suggest that vitamin D supplements prevent falls, and that ongoing trials to test this theory are unlikely to change this result. Falls can be devastating for older people, and strategies to reduce fall risk are urgently needed as the global population ages. The results of trials that have investigated the ability of vitamin D to prevent falls -- and those of previous meta-analyses -- have been mixed. It is unclear how vitamin D supplements might prevent falls but, until now.

Stem cells in circulating blood affect cardiovascular health

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:11 PM PDT

New research suggests that attempts to isolate an elusive adult stem cell from blood to understand and potentially improve cardiovascular health -- a task considered possible but very difficult -- might not be necessary. Instead, scientists have found that multiple types of cells with primitive characteristics circulating in the blood appear to provide the same benefits expected from a stem cell, including the endothelial progenitor cell that is the subject of hot pursuit.

Fires in the Primorsky Province of Russia

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:21 AM PDT

The uncontrolled method of managing agricultural areas each year turns the entire southern tip of Primorsky Province into an enormous firebed, enveloping up to 40 percent of the entire territory.

Wind turbine movement can generate lightning

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 06:47 AM PDT

Under favorable atmospheric conditions any elevated structure can generate upward lightning flashes. Even aircraft can do so —- in fact, height and movement are two of the factors that contribute to this phenomenon. The tips of wind turbine blades move at speeds of several tens of meters per second. However, no one had previously demonstrated the relationship between this movement and the triggering of electrical discharges.

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