Πέμπτη, 1 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


Cutting cancer to pieces: New research on bleomycin

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 04:27 PM PDT

Bleomycin's ability to cut through double-stranded DNA in cancerous cells, like a pair of scissors, has been described in a new article. Such DNA cleavage often leads to cell death in particular types of cancer cells. Bleomycin is part of a family of structurally related antibiotics produced by the bacterium, Streptomyces verticillus. Three potent versions of the drug, labeled A2 , A5 and B2 are the primary forms in clinical use against cancer.

Ground breaking technique offers DNA GPS direct to your ancestor's home 1,000 years ago

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 04:27 PM PDT

Tracing where your DNA was formed over 1,000 years ago is now possible due to a revolutionary technique. The ground breaking Geographic Population Structure tool works similarly to a satellite navigation system as it helps you to find your way home, but not the one you currently live in -- but rather your actual ancestor's home from 1,000 years ago.

European seafloor survey reveals depth of marine litter problem

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 04:27 PM PDT

A major new survey of the seafloor has found that even in the deepest ocean depths you can find bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other types of human litter. The litter was found throughout the Mediterranean, and all the way from the continental shelf of Europe to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge 2,000 kilometers from land. Litter is a problem in the marine environment as it can be mistaken for food and eaten by some animals or can entangle coral and fish -- a process known as "ghost fishing."

Sample of a frog's slimy skin predicts susceptibility to disease

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 04:27 PM PDT

A simple sample of the protective mucus layer that coats a frog's skin can now be analyzed to determine how susceptible the frog is to disease, thanks to a new technique.

Seeing the bedrock through the trees: Bottom-up model predicts depth to fresh bedrock under hillslopes

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 12:17 PM PDT

When estimating runoff and erosion on hillslopes, most scientists consider only the soil. But the weathered bedrock underneath may plan an equally important role in channeling water, nourishing plants and shaping the landscape, according to UC Berkeley geologists. William Dietrich and Daniella Rempe propose a model to predict the depth of weathered bedrock from easily measured parameters, providing a bottom-up approach to predicting topography and improving climate models that now take only soil into account.

Multiple consecutive days of tornado activity spawn worst events

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 11:30 AM PDT

Significant tornado outbreaks and especially strong tornadoes are more likely occur within periods of activity lasting three or more days, according to a tornado expert. An examination of 30 years of US weather records found that an outbreak of 20 or more reported tornadoes had a 74 percent probability of occurring during a period of tornado activity lasting three or more days. During those same periods, a tornado rated three or higher on the Enhanced Fujita scale had a 60 percent probability of hitting.

Engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 11:28 AM PDT

Engineers have successfully grown -- for the first time -- fully functional human cartilage in vitro from human stem cells derived from bone marrow tissue. Their study demonstrates new ways to better mimic the enormous complexity of tissue development, regeneration, and disease.

Fattening gene discovered by researchers

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:31 AM PDT

The long-term consumption of too much high-energy and high-fat food leads to overweight. Behind this trivial statement lies the extremely complex regulation of lipid metabolism. Now, a gene that controls fat metabolism has been discovered by researchers who hope that their study will provide the basis for new therapeutic approaches.

Involvement of gene in lentivirus infections of sheep, goats has been established

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:31 AM PDT

The mechanism of the action of the small ruminant lentivirus, a type of virus in the same family as HIV and which infects sheep and goat species, has been studied in a new doctoral thesis. Lentiviruses are viruses responsible for slow infections that damage the immune system and which cause a range of clinical symptoms (nervous, pulmonary, arthritic and mammary).

Predators predict longevity of birds, study concludes

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Aging inevitably occurs both in humans and in other animals. However, life-span varies widely across species. Researchers have now found a possible general mechanism explaining differences in longevity. They investigated life history data of nearly 1400 bird species and found that avian life span varies considerably across the entire Earth, and that much of this variation can be explained by the species' body mass and clutch size and by the local diversity of predator species. The researchers were able to confirm a key prediction of the classical evolutionary theory of aging that had been proposed more than 50 years ago.

Frog eggs help researchers find new information on grapevine disease

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Vitis vinifera are common grapevines and are the world's favorite wine-producing varietal. However, research has shown that grapevines are susceptible to powdery mildew, a plant disease, which contributes to significant crop loss for most commercial wine varietals that are cultivated each year. Now, researchers have used frog eggs to determine the cause of this disease, and have found that a specific gene in the varietal Cabernet Sauvingon, contributes to its susceptibility.

Should the EU ban on the import of seal products stand?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Next month, following an appeal by Canada and Norway to overturn the EU ban on the import of seal products, the World Trade Organization is expected to announce whether the 2013 decision will be upheld. One academic whose research on the animal welfare of the seal hunt has been used in the case, explains why the ban should stand.

Stem cell therapy regenerates heart muscle damaged from heart attacks in primates

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Heart cells created from human embryonic stem cells successfully restored damaged heart muscles in monkeys, researchers report. Stem-cell derived heart muscle cells infiltrated into damaged heart tissue, assembled muscle fibers and began to beat in synchrony with macaque heart cells. Scientists are working to reduce the risk of heart rhythm problems and to see if pumping action improves.

Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, study finds

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:30 AM PDT

If you think Neanderthals were stupid and primitive, it's time to think again. The widely held notion that Neanderthals were dimwitted and that their inferior intelligence allowed them to be driven to extinction by the much brighter ancestors of modern humans is not supported by scientific evidence.

Putting the endoparasitic plants Apodanthaceae on the map

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:11 AM PDT

The Apodanthaceae are small parasitic plants living almost entirely inside other plants. They occur in Africa, Iran, Australia, and the New World. Bellot and Renner propose the first revision of the species relationships in the family based on combined molecular and anatomical data. They show that Apodanthaceae comprise 10 species, which are specialized to parasitize either legumes or species in the willow family.

Water-based 'engine' propels tumor cells through tight spaces in body

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:10 AM PDT

Researchers have discovered how cancer cells spread through extremely narrow three-dimensional spaces in the body, identifying a propulsion system based on water and charged particles. The finding uncovers a novel method the deadly cells use to migrate through a cancer patient's body. The discovery may lead to new treatments that help keep the disease in check. The work also points to the growing importance of studying how cells behave in three dimensions, not just atop flat two-dimensional lab dishes.

Sustainable barnacle-repelling paint could help the shipping industry and the environment

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Barnacles might seem like a given part of a seasoned ship's hull, but they're literally quite a drag and cause a ship to burn more fuel. To prevent these and other hangers-on from slowing ships down, scientists are developing a sustainable paint ingredient from plants that can repel clingy sea critters without killing them.

Whey beneficially affects diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in obese adults

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 08:22 AM PDT

New evidence shores up findings that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes. The study examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.

Potentially powerful tool for treating damaged hearts identified in mouse study

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 08:22 AM PDT

A type of cell that builds mouse hearts can renew itself, researchers report. They say the discovery, which likely applies to such cells in humans as well, may pave the way to using them to repair hearts damaged by disease -- or even grow new heart tissue for transplantation. "Eventually, we might even be able to deliver cells to damaged hearts to repair heart disease," one researchers says.

Deep origins to the behavior of Hawaiian volcanoes

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 07:20 AM PDT

What causes different eruption styles from one volcano? Kīlauea volcano typically has effusive eruptions, wherein magma flows to create ropy p hoehoe lava, for example. However, occasionally the Kīlauea volcano erupts more violently. To explain the variability in Kīlauea volcano's eruption styles, scientists have analyzed 25 eruptions that have taken place over the past 600 years.

'Charismatic' organisms still dominating genomics research

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 07:20 AM PDT

Decades after the genomics revolution, half of known eukaryote lineages still remain unstudied at the genomic level -- with the field displaying a research bias against 'less popular', but potentially genetically rich, single-cell organisms. This lack of microbial representation leaves a world of untapped genetic potential undiscovered, according to an exhaustive survey of on-going genomics projects.

Ocean acidity is dissolving shells of tiny snails off U.S. West Coast

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 07:19 AM PDT

Biologists have found the first evidence that acidity of continental shelf waters off the U.S. West Coast is dissolving the shells of tiny free-swimming marine snails, called pteropods, which provide food for pink salmon, mackerel and herring, according to a new article.

Next green revolution? Converting bacteria from free living to nitrogen-fixing

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 06:14 AM PDT

Scientists are beginning to talk about re-engineering crop plants so that, like legumes, they will have on-site nitrogen-fixing systems, either in root nodules or in the plant cells themselves. The structure of a protein called NolR that acts as a master off-switch for the nodulation process brings them one step closer to this goal.

Magnitude of maximum earthquake scales with maturity of fault

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 05:31 AM PDT

The oldest sections of transform faults, such as the North Anatolian Fault Zone and the San Andreas Fault, produce the largest earthquakes, putting important limits on the potential seismic hazard for less mature parts of fault zones, according to a new study. The finding suggests that maximum earthquake magnitude scales with the maturity of the fault.

Gene that helps plant cells finding right direction

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 05:28 AM PDT

The SABRE gene is necessary for plants to coordinate the polarity of their cells, a plant physiologist shows in his doctoral thesis. The gene "tells" all cells in a certain region what is up and what is down and how they should modify their form accordingly. Plant cell growth is often coordinated within a tissue layer, a concept that researchers name planar polarity.

Effects of climate change on Tempranillo grape wines studied

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 05:28 AM PDT

Climate change is set to affect the quality of the wines of the Tempranillo grape variety, according to the conclusions of new research. Scientists have studied the behavior of the vines in conditions of climate change, finding that higher temperatures increased the presence of CO2 and greater environmental aridity. This results in grapes with lower anthocyanin content, which leads to wines with less color and therefore lower quality.

Bigger is not always better, but it helps, says new research on beetles

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 05:58 PM PDT

The probability of a burying beetle winning fights, for the small animal carcasses it needs, depends on a combination of early life experiences and the competition it faces as an adult. These beetles use small dead animals, such as mice and songbirds, to provide food for their young and competition for a carcass can be fierce.

Females prefer lovers not fighters, at least in beetles

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 05:58 PM PDT

It's official (in the horned beetle world at least), females prefer courtship over competitiveness -- and it doesn't matter about the size of your mandibles either. An international study investigated the complicated sexual conflict over mating in Gnatocerus cornutus, the horned flour-beetle. Female mate choice and male-male competition are the typical mechanisms of sexual selection. However, these two mechanisms do not always favor the same males, research showed.

Stem cells aid heart regeneration in salamanders

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 03:46 PM PDT

Imagine filling a hole in your heart by regrowing the tissue. While that possibility is still being explored in people, it is a reality in salamanders. A recent discovery that newt hearts can regenerate may pave the way to new therapies in people who need to have damaged tissue replaced with healthy tissue. Heart disease is the leading cause of deaths in the United States.

Saving lives following acetaminophen overdose: New approach could help

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:35 AM PDT

Mice have been cured of acute liver failure after an overdose of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, and one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States, by boosting the liver's ability to heal itself, researchers report. "Acetaminophen is a great drug when taken in appropriate doses; however, it's also known to quickly cause life-threatening liver injury when a person takes too much," said the study's lead investigator.

Breast cancer, brain tumors not caused by viruses, study finds

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:35 AM PDT

Breast cancer and brain tumors are not caused by viruses, according to a genetic analysis of more than 4,000 tumors that mapped the linkages between viruses and 19 different types of cancer. As such, this study calls into question some drug trial regimes. "In cancer research and treatment, there has been a lot of focus on associations that have not been proven, some of which have actually have been shown to be wrong," said one researcher. "Researchers are starting to realize that we need truly unbiased methods to uncover meaningful associations."

Vitamin D may raise survival rates among cancer patients

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Cancer patients who have higher levels of vitamin D when they are diagnosed tend to have better survival rates and remain in remission longer than patients who are vitamin D-deficient, according to a new study. The body naturally produces vitamin D after exposure to sunlight and absorbs it from certain foods. In addition to helping the body absorb the calcium and phosphorus needed for healthy bones, vitamin D affects a variety of biological processes by binding to a protein called a vitamin D receptor. This receptor is present in nearly every cell in the body.

Interactions between humans and scavengers have been decisive in human evolution

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 05:52 AM PDT

Scientists have concluded that the interactions that human have kept for millennia with scavengers like vultures, hyenas and lions, have been crucial in the evolution and welfare of humankind. The results of the study note that the extinction of large carnivorous mammals threatens to wipe out the many services that they provide us.

Stem cell therapies look promising for heart disease

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:04 PM PDT

Stem cell therapies work as a complement to standard treatments, potentially cutting the number of deaths after a year, suggests evidence from a recent review. Taking stem cells from a patient's bone marrow and injecting them into their damaged heart may be an effective way to treat heart disease.

Monkey model of hantavirus disease established

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 01:41 PM PDT

An animal model of human hantavirus pulmonary syndrome has been developed for rhesus macaques, an advance that may lead to treatments, vaccines and improved methods of diagnosing the disease. People become infected with hantaviruses by inhaling virus from the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. This infection can progress to HPS, a severe respiratory disease that was first identified in 1993 in the southwestern United States. HPS attained global attention in the summer of 2012 when physicians diagnosed 10 cases -- three of them fatal -- in Yosemite National Park in California.

Medical marijuana in treatment of certain brain diseases: Experts weigh in

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 01:36 PM PDT

A review of available scientific research on the use of medical marijuana in brain diseases finds certain forms of medical marijuana can help treat some symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), but do not appear to be helpful in treating drug-induced (levodopa) movements in Parkinson's disease. Not enough evidence was found to show if medical marijuana is helpful in treating motor problems in Huntington's disease, tics in Tourette syndrome, cervical dystonia and seizures in epilepsy.

How Brazilian cattle ranching policies can reduce deforestation

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 12:58 PM PDT

There is a higher cost to steaks and hamburgers than what is reflected on the price tags at grocery stores and restaurants. Producing food -- and beef, in particular -- is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, which are projected to grow as rising incomes in emerging economies lead to greater demands for meat. Policies to support sustainable cattle ranching practices in Brazil could reduce deforestation and the industry's greenhouse gas impact, research attests.

Mystery of the pandemic flu virus of 1918 solved

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 12:58 PM PDT

The mystery of the origin of the 1918 pandemic flu virus has been solved by researchers who found compelling evidence that its severity resulted from a mismatch between its surface proteins and prior immunity in certain age groups, which could inform future vaccine design and pandemic prevention. The results of the study suggest that the types of flu viruses to which people were exposed during childhood may predict how susceptible they are to future strains, which could inform vaccination strategies and pandemic prevention and preparedness.

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