Παρασκευή, 2 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Scientists recommend further research, delay in destruction of last stocks of smallpox

Posted: 01 May 2014 04:28 PM PDT

Variola, the virus that causes smallpox, is on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization. The body will decide whether the last known remaining live strains of the virus should be destroyed. An international group of scientists from the US CDC, argue that the WHA should not choose destruction, because crucial scientific questions remain unanswered and important public health goals unmet.

New insights into bacterial substitute for sex

Posted: 01 May 2014 04:26 PM PDT

Bacteria don't have sex as such, but they can mix their genetic material by pulling in DNA from dead bacterial cells and inserting these into their own genome. New research has found that this process -- called recombination -- is more complex than was first thought. The findings could help us understand why bacteria which cause serious diseases are able to evade vaccines and rapidly become drug-resistant.

Missing piece of biogeochemical puzzle in aquifers discovered

Posted: 01 May 2014 01:56 PM PDT

New research may dramatically shift our understanding of the complex dance of microbes and minerals that takes place in aquifers deep underground. This dance affects groundwater quality, the fate of contaminants in the ground and the emerging science of carbon sequestration.

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents

Posted: 01 May 2014 12:10 PM PDT

More than a mile beneath the ocean's surface, as dark clouds of mineral-rich water billow from seafloor hot springs called hydrothermal vents, unseen armies of viruses and bacteria wage war.

Whales hear us more than we realize: Sonar signal 'leaks' likely audible to some marine mammals

Posted: 01 May 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Killer whales and other marine mammals likely hear sonar signals more than we've known. That's because commercially available sonar systems, which are designed to create signals beyond the range of hearing of such animals, also emit signals known to be within their hearing range, scientists have discovered.

Increased drought portends lower future Midwestern U.S. crop yields

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Increasingly harsh drought conditions in the US Midwest's Corn Belt may take a serious toll on corn and soybean yields over the next half-century, according to new research. Corn yields could drop by 15 to 30 percent, according to the paper's estimates.

Climate change study reveals unappreciated impacts on biodiversity

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

The tropics ill be highly affected by local changes in temperature and precipitation, leading to novel climates with no current analogues in the planet. These results expose the complexities of climate change effects on biodiversity and the challenges in predicting and preserving natural ecosystems in a changing Earth.

Decoding the chemical vocabulary of plants

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Plants spend their entire lifetime rooted to one spot. When faced with a bad situation, such as a swarm of hungry herbivores or a viral outbreak, they have no option to flee but instead must fight to survive. What is the key to their defense? Chemistry. Understanding how plants evolved this prodigious chemical vocabulary has been a longstanding goal in plant biology.

'Remodelling' damaged nuclei: Discovery could lead to new treatments for accelerated aging disease

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Scientists have identified a key chemical that can repair the damage to cells which causes a rare but devastating disease involving accelerated aging. As well as offering a promising new way of treating the condition, known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, the discovery could help in the development of drugs against cancer and other genetic diseases and might also suggest ways to alleviate diseases that we associate with normal aging.

Compounds that control hemorrhagic viruses identified

Posted: 01 May 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Compounds that could reduce the ability of viruses that cause diseases such as Ebola, rabies, HIV and Lassa fever to spread infection have been identified and developed by veterinarian scientists. People fear diseases such as Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever, rabies and HIV for good reason; they have high mortality rates and few, if any, possible treatments. As many as 90 percent of people who contract Ebola, for instance, die of the disease. These new prototypic compounds have the potential to one day serve as broad-spectrum anti-viral drugs.

Shabby, urban neighborhoods wisest choice for investors

Posted: 01 May 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Researchers find that investing in real estate located in run-down, urban neighborhoods that border tony areas is wise choice. The most promising urban real estate can be found in run-down neighborhoods that border tony, upper-class areas.

Small changes could save structures, lives during tornadoes: Safe rooms, quality garage doors critical

Posted: 01 May 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Surviving a tornado in a wood-frame residential home is enhanced by an intact roof and standing walls, but light-weight garage doors can be the weak link to allowing high winds and pressure changes into a home that can lead to the removal of the roof and collapsed walls, according to a study of damage left behind by a powerful tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013.

Stem cells from some infertile men form germ cells when transplanted into mice

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:34 AM PDT

Stem cells made from the skin of adult, infertile men yield primordial germ cells -- cells that normally become sperm -- when transplanted into the reproductive system of mice, according to new research.

Malnutrition during pregnancy may affect the health of future generations

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:34 AM PDT

New research reveals how environmental factors in the womb can predispose not only the mother's own offspring but also the grand-offspring to metabolic disorders like liver disease. Researchers found for pregnant mice that are malnourished that their offspring are at first growth restricted and have low birth weight but then go on to become obese and diabetic as they age. Strikingly, the offspring of the growth-restricted males are predisposed to metabolic abnormalities.

Staying power of HIV-fighting enzyme figured out

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:34 AM PDT

Biochemists have figured out what is needed to activate and sustain the virus-fighting activity of an enzyme found in CD4+ T cells, the human immune cells infected by HIV. The discovery could launch a more effective strategy for preventing the spread of HIV.

Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Scientists newly identified a protein's key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed an experimental drug that inhibits the protein's effect and quadrupled the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. Their lungs and vascular system were protected from rapid aging. The experimental drug could potentially be used to treat human diseases that cause accelerated aging such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes and HIV infection and even extend someone's healthy life.

Antimicrobial edible films inhibit pathogens in meat

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Antimicrobial agents incorporated into edible films applied to foods to seal in flavor, freshness and color can improve the microbiological safety of meats, according to new research.

Killing Kindlin-3 to cure breast cancer: 'Blood' protein implicated

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

A protein believed to be limited to the hematopoietic system, called Kindlin-3, has been identified as a major player in both the formation and spread of breast cancer to other organs. This discovery could open the door to an entirely new class of breast cancer drugs that targets this protein's newly found activity.

Climate change to intensify important African weather systems

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Climate change could strengthen African easterly waves, which could in turn have consequences for rainfall in the Sahel region of northern Africa, formation of Atlantic hurricanes and dust transport across the Atlantic Ocean.

Playing outside could make kids more spiritual

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Children who spend significant time outdoors could have a stronger sense of self-fulfillment and purpose than those who don't, according to new research linking children's experiences in nature with how they define spirituality. "These values are incredibly important to human development and well-being," said a co-author. "We were surprised by the results. Before we did the study, we asked, 'Is it just a myth that children have this deep connection with nature?' But we found it to be true in pretty profound ways."

China study improves understanding of disease spread

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:11 AM PDT

The travel and socialization patterns of people in Southern China can give greater insight into how new diseases such as bird flu may spread between populations. "The next flu pandemic may well come from Asia so the more we know now about how flu and other infections may spread in this region, the better prepared we are to limit them and save lives," authors concluded at the end of their study

Australian tsunami database reveals threat to continent

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Australia's coastline has been struck by up to 145 possible tsunamis since prehistoric times, triple the previously estimated number, a new study reveals. The largest recorded inundation event in Australia was caused by an earthquake off Java in 2006. The continent was also the site of the oldest known tsunami in the world -- an asteroid impact 3.47 billion years ago. Details of the 145 modern day and prehistoric events are outlined in a revised tsunami database.

Tree rings reveal nightmare droughts in Western U.S.

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Scientists extended Utah's climate record back to 1429 using tree rings. They found Utah's climate has seen extreme droughts, including one that lasted 16 years. If history is repeated in the rapidly growing Western states, the water supply would run out based on current consumption.

Low-fat diet helps fatigue in people with MS, study shows

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:11 AM PDT

People with multiple sclerosis who for one year followed a plant-based diet very low in saturated fat had much less MS-related fatigue at the end of that year -- and significantly less fatigue than a control group of people with MS who didn't follow the diet, according to a study. "Fatigue can be a debilitating problem for many people living with relapsing-remitting MS," said one researcher. "So this study's results -- showing some notable improvement in fatigue for people who follow this diet -- are a hopeful hint of something that could help many people with MS."

Amphibians in a vice: Climate change robs frogs, salamanders of refuge

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:09 AM PDT

Amphibians in the West's high-mountain areas find themselves caught between climate-induced habitat loss and predation from introduced fish. A novel combination of tools could help weigh where amphibians are in the most need of help.

Crocodile tears please thirsty butterflies and bees

Posted: 01 May 2014 04:59 AM PDT

A butterfly and bee were most likely seeking scarce minerals and an extra boost of protein. On a beautiful December day in 2013, they found the precious nutrients in the tears of a spectacled caiman relaxing on the banks of the Río Puerto Viejo in northeastern Costa Rica.

Network for tracking earthquakes exposes glacier activity: Accidental find offers big potential for research on Alaska's glaciers

Posted: 01 May 2014 04:59 AM PDT

Alaska's seismic network records thousands of quakes produced by glaciers, capturing valuable data that scientists could use to better understand their behavior, but instead their seismic signals are set aside as oddities. The current earthquake monitoring system could be 'tweaked' to target the dynamic movement of the state's glaciers.

New tool to aid in dolphin strandings

Posted: 01 May 2014 04:50 AM PDT

The cause of dolphin strandings has long been a mystery but a new study shows that clues about survival rates after release may be found in the sea mammal's blood. The study analyzed blood work and body condition values from stranded common dolphins and compared them with survival rates after release. Responders in the field are now using the blood and health data to make better release decisions and predict survival outcomes. "The establishment of these blood values provides a window into the overall health of the dolphin," said the paper's lead author. "Now we have a way to predict which stranded dolphins have a better chance of survival after release and this can help triage care."

Simple sequence repeats for population-level studies of pines

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 01:13 PM PDT

Scientists have compared a set of plastid simple sequence repeat loci across over 100 pine species and tested them in groups of Ponderosa pine. The results of this study will be useful in delimiting species complexes in Pinus, and the demonstrated multiplex method can be easily applied to other plant groups.

Regenerative medicine approach improves muscle strength, function in leg injuries: Derived from pig bladder

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 11:30 AM PDT

Damaged leg muscles grew stronger and showed signs of regeneration in three out of five men whose old injuries were surgically implanted with extracellular matrix derived from pig bladder, according to a new study. Early findings are from a human trial of the process as well as from animal studies.

New experimental vaccine produces immune response against MERS virus

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 08:22 AM PDT

An investigational vaccine candidate against the recently emerged Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus blocked infection in laboratory studies. Researchers have also reported that a vaccine candidate against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus on a similar platform also inhibited virus infection.

Protecting crops from pests, disease

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 08:22 AM PDT

A key receptor binding BABA chemical boosting plant immunity has been identified by researchers. BABA has been known for protecting plants against disease, but has so far not been widely used because of side effects. Findings from this study have the potential to offer more durable crop protection.

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