Τρίτη, 29 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


The thin-crusted US Sierra Nevada Mountains: Where did the Earth go?

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 12:58 PM PDT

Scientist have examined the seismological study of the entire extent of the Sierra Nevada range using seismograms collected in the Sierra Nevada EarthScope field experiment from 2005 to 2007. The southern Sierra Nevada is known to have unusually thin crust for mountains with such high elevations (peaks higher than 4 km/14,000 ft, and average elevations near 3 km/10,000 ft). Scientists have used measurements of the arrival times of seismic waves (called P-waves) from earthquakes around the globe to image the earth under the Sierra Nevada and neighboring locations.

Genetic mutations involved in human blood diseases identified

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Mutations that could have a major impact on the future diagnosis and treatment of many human diseases have been revealed through new research. Through an international collaboration, researchers were able to identify a dozen mutations in the human genome that are involved in significant changes in complete blood counts and that explain the onset of sometimes severe biological disorders.

Wetlands likely to blame for atmospheric methane increases: Study

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

A surprising recent rise in atmospheric methane likely stems from wetland emissions, suggesting that much more of the potent greenhouse gas will be pumped into the atmosphere as northern wetlands continue to thaw and tropical ones to warm, according to a new international study. The study supports calls for improved monitoring of wetlands and human changes to those ecosystems.

Breast cancer patients place huge emphasis on gene expression profiling test

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

Gene expression profiling tests play a critical role when women with early-stage breast cancer decide whether to have chemotherapy, but many of them do not fully understand what some of the test results mean, new research suggests. Current guidelines for treating early-stage breast cancer result in thousands of women receiving chemotherapy without benefitting from it. A gene expression profiling test can help differentiate women who might benefit from chemotherapy versus those that might not.

Mechanism of cancer caused by loss of BRCA1, BRCA2 gene function identified

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tumor suppressor genes are by far the most frequent contributors of hereditary cancer risk in the human population, often causing breast or ovarian cancer in young women of child-bearing age. Now investigators report a new mechanism by which BRCA gene loss may accelerate cancer-promoting chromosome rearrangements.

Impact of pelargonic acid for weed control in yellow squash

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

The impact of pelargonic acid -- a fatty acid that occurs naturally in plants and animals and is found in many foods -- on weed control efficacy, crop injury, and squash yields of yellow squash has been the focus of a new study. "This research determined that a sequential postdirected application of pelargonic acid at 10-lb/acre in 40-gal/acre can consistently produce satisfactory weed control with low crop injury to produce weed-free equivalent squash yields," the lead author said.

Urbanization, higher temperatures can influence butterfly emergence patterns

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Researchers have found that a subset of common butterfly species are emerging later than usual in urban areas located in warmer regions, raising questions about how the insects respond to significant increases in temperature.

Extremes in wet, dry spells increasing for South Asian monsoons, scholars say

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Climate scientists and statisticians have found changing patterns in South Asian monsoons since 1980: more extreme wet and dry spells. In particular, the researchers observed increases in the intensity of wet spells and in the frequency of dry spells. The discoveries are the result of a new collaboration between climate scientists and statisticians that focused on utilizing statistical methods for analyzing rare geophysical events.

Loss of Y chromosome can explain shorter life expectancy, higher cancer risk for men

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

It is generally well known that men have an overall shorter life expectancy compared to women. A recent study shows a correlation between a loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells and both a shorter life span and higher mortality from cancer in other organs.

First disease-specific human embryonic stem cell line by nuclear transfer

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:11 AM PDT

Using somatic cell nuclear transfer, a team of scientists has created the first disease-specific embryonic stem cell line with two sets of chromosomes. "From the start, the goal of this work has been to make patient-specific stem cells from an adult human subject with type 1 diabetes that can give rise to the cells lost in the disease," said the leader of the research. "By reprograming cells to a pluripotent state and making beta cells, we are now one step closer to being able to treat diabetic patients with their own insulin-producing cells."

Fungus implicated in potato blight

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:11 AM PDT

For the first time, scientists have identified the existence in Álava-Araba of the two sexual types A1 and A2 of the fungus Phytophthora infestans, responsible for potato blight. Plant lesions become visible on day five following an attack by the fungus. The symptoms can be seen firstly on the lower leaves where a light-green or yellow spot can be seen on the tips and edges of the leaves. This spot separates healthy tissue from dead tissue. The lesions then spread across the remaining surface of the leaf and can be seen in the form of dark green, grey-brown or black patches.

Egyptologists identify tomb of royal children

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Who had the privilege to spend eternal life next to the pharaoh?  Close to the royal tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, excavations by Egyptologists have identified the burial place of several children as well as other family members of two pharaohs.

New method to analyze how cancer cells die

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

The number of cells within tissue is controlled through apoptosis -- a process where cells shrink and their components break up, also known as programmed cell death. Cancer is often characterized by a disruption to the normal process of this cell death. Being able to study this process accurately would allow doctors to more effectively diagnose and monitor cancer and to test and develop new treatments designed to kill cancer cells. Thanks to new research, scientists are a step closer to this.

Water test for the world: Simple pill brings lab to water to test for contamination

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:07 AM PDT

The problem of cumbersome, painfully slow water-testing has been solved by researchers who have turned the process upside-down by creating a way to take the lab to the water, putting potentially life-saving technology into a tiny pill. The team has reduced the sophisticated chemistry required for testing water safety to a simple pill, by adapting technology found in a dissolving breath strip. Want to know if a well is contaminated? Drop a pill in a vial of water and shake vigorously. If the color changes, there's the answer.

The scent of a man: Gender of experimenter has big impact on rats' stress levels, explains lack of replication of some findings

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:06 AM PDT

Scientists' inability to replicate research findings using mice and rats has contributed to mounting concern over the reliability of such studies. Pain researchers have now found that the gender of experimenters has a big impact on the stress levels of rodents used in research. The presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain.

Crabs killing Northeast saltmarshes, study confirms

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:43 AM PDT

Ample new evidence has been provided that the reason coastal saltmarshes are dying from Long Island to Cape Cod is that hungry crabs, left unchecked by a lack of predators, are eating the cordgrass. Long-held beliefs that physical forces, rather than disrupted food webs, are killing the marshes just aren't true, experts say. It's a problem that, properly understood, must now be managed.

Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:43 AM PDT

A study assessed material and energy inputs required to produce a petunia plant from propagation to delivery. Impacts were expressed in terms of the contribution to the carbon footprint (global warming potential) of a single finished plant. Although traditional plastic containers were 'significant contributors' to global warming potential, electrical consumption for supplemental lighting and irrigation during plug production was found to be the leading source of CO2e emissions in the model.

Optimizing sweetpotato production

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:43 AM PDT

The yield increase and grade proportions for 'Beauregard' and 'Evangeline' sweetpotato have been evaluated in a new study, with regard to plant spacing and extension of growing periods. Treatments were a combination of early and late planting date and delay in harvest, in-row plant spacing, and row width. Marketable yield was consistently greater in early plantings than late plantings. Assessments of delaying harvest in early plantings indicated gains in net benefit for both hand harvesting and bulk harvesting.

Irrigation, soil management strategies investigated for cold climate sweet cherry

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:43 AM PDT

A study investigated growth, yield, and fruit quality response of sweet cherry to water and soil management over three successive fruiting seasons in a cold climate production area. Soil moisture content during the growing season was often higher in soils that received high-frequency irrigation compared with low-frequency irrigation. Study results suggested that variations in cropload can make an important contribution to year-to-year variation in sweet cherry fruit quality and response to treatments.

18 new species of molluscs identified

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:42 AM PDT

A researcher has reviewed, from a molecular and morphological point of view, a family of marine gastropod molluscs, the Aeolidiidae nudibranch, and discovered eighteen new species. Molluscs are invertebrates that make up one of the most numerous groups in the animal kingdom. They are everywhere, from great heights of over 3,000 meters above sea level to ocean profundities of over 5,000 meters deep, in polar and tropical waters and they tend to be common elements on coastlines around the world.

Weekly emails to hospital C-suite halt two decades of superbug outbreak

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:42 AM PDT

Efforts to reduce and stop the spread of infections caused by a highly resistant organism, carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, at a large hospital proved ineffective until they added another weapon: weekly emails from the medical director of Infection Control to hospital leadership, according to a study. Prior to this, endemic rates of A. baumannii had been present at the institution for nearly two decades.

Collagen for the knee: Gel-like implant invented

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Millions of people suffer cartilage damage to the knee every year. Cartilage injuries are not only painful; they can lead to osteoarthritis decades later. In the course of the disease, the protective shock absorbing cartilage that covers the bone within the joint slowly is removed until the bone is finally exposed, typically requiring an artificial joint replacement. A biotechnology company has developed a one-step minimally-invasive surgical procedure for the treatment of cartilage defects: a gel-like implant.

Whitefly confused by cacophony of smells

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Bombarding pests with smells from many different plants temporarily confuses them and hinders their ability to feed, new research has shown. Exposing the whitefly to a heady aroma of cucumber, courgette, watercress, watermelon, cabbage and bean, the team found the insects became temporarily disorientated. Weaving their way between the plant cells to reach the sap is technically challenging and the team found the whiteflies failed to feed while they were being bombarded with the different plant chemicals.

Green clouds on the horizon for computing

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Small businesses could save up to 62% of energy costs by switching to a cloud computing system for their invoicing, according to research. The approach of integrating cloud computing and a more environmentally-aware approach to information technology also cuts carbon emissions, the team reports, and could work with many other services.

Development in the womb: New insight on epigenetic influence on baby

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Scientists have performed an analysis of epigenetic marks on DNA to measure how much a baby's development in the womb is determined by the genes inherited from the parents, as compared with the mother's nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. The baby's epigenetic profile was determined using infinium array technology and a million potential inherited genetic polymorphisms were measured. Epigenetics refers to the complex set of reactions that control the development and maintenance of plants and animals by switching parts of the DNA on and off at strategic times and locations.

Variable gene expression in zebrafish

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:44 AM PDT

Early embryonic development of vertebrates is controlled by the genes and their "grammar." Decoding this grammar might help understand the formation of abnormalities or cancer or develop new medical drugs. For the first time, it is now found by a study that various mechanisms of transcribing DNA into RNA exist during gene expression in the different development phases of zebrafish.

Climate change: risks to well-being of nature, people, ways to mitigate exist, experts say

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:44 AM PDT

From food shortages to global weather changes, there are ways to mitigate the risks of climate change, experts say. A new muli-national report outlines what we can expect as the planet continues to change with regard to climate patterns, and offers recommendations that focus on strategies from adaptation to mitigation.

The Moroccan flic-flac spider: A gymnast among the arachnids

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:44 AM PDT

A spider expert has described a new species: Cebrennus rechenbergi. It is the only spider that is able to move by means of flic-flac jumps. The flic-flac spider uses its legs to create a rolling motion. Like a gymnast, it propels itself off the ground, followed by a series of rapid flic-flac movements of its legs.

Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:13 PM PDT

Sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behavior and reproductive productivity of burying beetles, new research shows. These beetles have surprisingly complex parental care, similar in form to that provided by birds such as robins or blackbirds, with offspring begging to be fed by touching parents, who respond by regurgitating partially digested food. Both males and females provide parental care, but females are the primary care givers, as in humans. So anything that affects the ability of females to provide parental care, such as costly mating, is likely to reduce overall reproductive productivity.

Mite sets new record as world's fastest land animal

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:11 PM PDT

A Southern California mite far outpaces the Australian tiger beetle, the current record-holder for running speed as measured in body lengths per second. By this measure, the mite runs 20 times faster than a cheetah and the equivalent of a person running 1300 miles per hour. The discovery is exciting not only because it sets a new world record, but also for what it reveals about the physiology of movement and the physical limitations of living structures, the researcher says.

Antibiotics from mangroves?

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:07 PM PDT

A study on the mangrove ecosystem has focused on the search for actinomycetes bacteria. The mangrove ecosystem is known as a highly productive habitat for isolating actinomycetes, which has the potential of producing biologically active secondary metabolites. The study took samples from eight different mangrove sites in Malaysia, which were chosen at random to isolate and screen actinomycetes from soil samples.

Zinc supplementation shows promise in reducing cell stress after blasts

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

Supplementation with zinc might reduce cell stress after the type of blast injury soldiers experience from IEDs, researchers say. Each year, approximately 2 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur in the USA, including with soldiers, with little more than ibuprofen to treat them. Results of a new study suggest that zinc supplementation reduces blast-induced cell stress.

Cartilage, made to order: Living human cartilage grown on lab chip

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

The first example of living human cartilage grown on a laboratory chip has been created by scientists. The researchers ultimately aim to use their innovative 3-D printing approach to create replacement cartilage for patients with osteoarthritis or soldiers with battlefield injuries. Osteoarthritis is marked by a gradual disintegration of cartilage, a flexible tissue that provides padding where bones come together in a joint. Causing severe pain and loss of mobility in joints such as knees and fingers, osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of physical disability in the United States.

Diet can predict cognitive decline, researchers say

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 09:10 AM PDT

Lower dietary consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) might be risk factors for cognitive decline, researchers say. There is growing evidence that very long chain omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for maintaining cognitive health. "While more research is needed to determine whether intake of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout can help prevent against cognitive decline, our preliminary data support previous research showing that intake of these types of fish have health benefits," one researcher said.

New sensor molecules have potential for early cancer detection

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:50 AM PDT

A new water-soluble fluorescent detection system that is extremely sensitive to pyrophosphate (PPi) has been discovered by researchers. Pyrophosphate has a key role in energy transduction, DNA replication and other metabolic processes that are dysregulated in cancer cells. The discovery might lead to the development of a method for early detection of cancer cells.

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