Τετάρτη, 21 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


Vitamin E in canola, other oils hurts lungs

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:04 PM PDT

A large new study advances our understanding of vitamin E and ties increasing consumption of supposedly healthy, vitamin E-rich oils -- canola, soybean and corn -- to the rising incidence of lung inflammation and, possibly, asthma. The good news: vitamin E in olive and sunflower oils improves lungs. The study shows drastically different health effects of vitamin E depending on its form: gamma-tocopherol in soybean, canola and corn oil and alpha-tocopherol in olive and sunflower oils.

Humpback whale subspecies revealed by genetic study

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:04 PM PDT

A new genetic study has revealed that populations of humpback whales in the oceans of the North Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere are much more distinct from each other than previously thought, and should be recognized as separate subspecies. Understanding how connected these populations are has important implications for the recovery of these charismatic animals that were once devastated by hunting.

Red queen hypothesis: Does exposure to parasites makes species resilient?

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:46 PM PDT

In a new study, researchers addressed whether a particular prediction of the Red Queen hypothesis was met -— that exposure to parasites increases multiple mating in New Zealand freshwater snails. The conclusion? One researcher speculates that multiple mating could increase genetic diversity among offspring, thereby making them more resistant to the risk of infection from parasites found in nature.

Intake of dietary prenatal folate and other methyl donors in first trimester of pregnancy affects asthma risk in children at age 7

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:46 PM PDT

Maternal intake of dietary methyl donors during the first trimester of pregnancy modulates the risk of developing childhood asthma at age 7, according to a new study. Methyl donors are nutrients involved in a biochemical process called methylation, in which chemicals are linked to proteins, DNA, or other molecules in the body.

Public interest in climate change unshaken by scandal, but unstirred by science

Posted: 20 May 2014 01:30 PM PDT

Researchers found that negative media reports seem to have only a passing effect on public opinion, but that positive stories don't appear to possess much staying power, either. This dynamic suggests that climate scientists should reexamine how to effectively and more regularly engage the public.

Central Valley sees big drop in wintertime fog needed for fruit, nut crops

Posted: 20 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

California's winter tule fog has declined dramatically over the past three decades, raising a red flag for the state's multibillion dollar agricultural industry, according to researchers. The fog, a menace to drivers as it descends upon the state's Central Valley between early November and late February, is needed by fruit and nut trees to stay cool during their winter dormant period.

With climate changing, Southern plants outperform Northern

Posted: 20 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

Can plants and animals evolve to keep pace with climate change? A new study shows that for at least one widely-studied plant, the European climate is changing fast enough that strains from Southern Europe already grow better in the north than established local varieties.

Added value of local food hubs

Posted: 20 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

As the largest purchaser of wholesale produce in Santa Barbara County, UC Santa Barbara's residential dining services provided the perfect avenue for a pilot project incorporating local pesticide-free or certified organic produce into an institutional setting. Residential dining services at UCSB provide about 10,000 meals a day -- 2.5 million meals a year -- so the task could have been daunting. Instead, the organizers started small, adding five or six local and organic items to the salad bar. Scaling up slowly turned out to be key to the project's success.

Shrub growth decreases as winter temperatures fluctuate, triggering premature spring growth

Posted: 20 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Many have assumed that warmer winters as a result of climate change would increase the growth of trees and shrubs because the growing season would be longer. But shrubs achieve less yearly growth when cold winter temperatures are interrupted by temperatures warm enough to trigger growth.

Best way to rid a garden of pesky snails? Use your strong throwing arm

Posted: 20 May 2014 11:12 AM PDT

The new study has used statistical models to show that simply killing the snails you find in your garden offers little advantage if you want to remove them completely. According to the researchers gardeners should revert to damage limitation, as their results proved that snails are part of larger colonies that live in the garden and come and go as they please using a homing instinct. A total of 416 snails were marked and thrown over the wall 1385 times during the study.

Screen of existing drugs finds compounds active against MERS coronavirus

Posted: 20 May 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Clinicians treating patients suffering from Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) currently have no drugs specifically targeted to the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a virus first detected in humans in 2012. To address the urgent need for therapies, screened a set of 290 compounds already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or far advanced in clinical development for other indications to determine if any might also show potential for working against MERS-CoV.

Understanding biomechanics behind amazing ant strength opens door to advanced robotics

Posted: 20 May 2014 10:32 AM PDT

A recent study into the biomechanics of the necks of ants -- a common insect that can amazingly lift objects many times heavier than its own body -- might unlock one of nature's little mysteries and, quite possibly, open the door to advancements in robotic engineering.

Full serving of protein at each meal needed for maximum muscle health

Posted: 20 May 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Most Americans eat a diet that consists of little to no protein for breakfast, a bit of protein at lunch and an overabundance of protein at dinner. As long as they get their recommended dietary allowance of about 60 grams, it's all good, right? Not according to new research from a team of scientists led by a muscle metabolism expert.

Termite genome lays roadmap for 'greener' control measures

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:34 AM PDT

A team of international researchers has sequenced the genome of the Nevada dampwood termite, providing an inside look into the biology of the social insect and uncovering new genetic targets for pest control. The genome could help researchers develop control strategies that are more specific than the broad-spectrum chemicals conventionally used to treat termite infestations.

Is there really cash in your company's trash?

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:34 AM PDT

One company's trash can be another's treasure. Take Marmite. Made from a by-product of commercial beer production, the yeast-based spread has topped toast throughout the Commonwealth for decades. By recuperating the waste product from one company, another was able to thrive.

Stem cells as future source for eco-friendly meat

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:34 AM PDT

The scientific progress that has made it possible to dream of a future in which faulty organs could be regrown from stem cells also holds potential as an ethical and greener source for meat. So say scientists who suggest that every town or village could one day have its very own small-scale, cultured meat factory.

Better bedbug trap: Made from household items for about $1

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:30 AM PDT

The contraption seems so simple, yet so clever, like something The Professor might have concocted on "Gilligan's Island." Researchers have devised a bedbug trap that can be built with household items. All you need are two disposable plastic containers, masking tape and glue, said an urban entomology professor. The traps catch and collect the bugs when they try to travel between people and the places where bedbugs hide, he said.

Next wave of research: Ecology, super-sized

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:29 AM PDT

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, home of pioneering ecologists who studied lakes, forests, wetlands and prairies, is playing a key role in the next wave of ecological research: large teams of scientists confronting the dilemma of a changing climate on a shrinking planet.

Climate change brings mostly bad news for Ohio: Big algae bloom in Lake Erie, very dry 2015 forecast

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:01 AM PDT

Scientists delivered a mostly negative forecast for how climate change will affect Ohioans during the next year or so, and well beyond. But Ohio may fare better than its neighbors in one respect: its farmers will likely suffer less than those in the rest of the Corn Belt.

Pine bark substance could be potent melanoma drug

Posted: 20 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A substance that comes from pine bark is a potential source for a new treatment of melanoma, according to researchers. Current melanoma drugs targeting single proteins can initially be effective, but resistance develops relatively quickly and the disease recurs. In those instances, resistance usually develops when the cancer cell's circuitry bypasses the protein that the drug acts on, or when the cell uses other pathways to avoid the point on which the drug acts.

Student discovers new praying mantis species in Rwanda: Female bush tiger mantis hunts prey on ground and underbrush

Posted: 20 May 2014 08:59 AM PDT

A student has discovered the bush tiger mantis, a new species, in Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda. The species is named for the female who hunts on the ground and undergrowth. The male flies.

Bacteria and fungi from 1,500-year-old feces support archeological theories of Caribbean cultures

Posted: 20 May 2014 08:59 AM PDT

By evaluating the bacteria and fungi found in fossilized feces, microbiologists are providing evidence to help support archeologists' hypotheses regarding cultures living in the Caribbean over 1,500 years ago.

More than two-thirds of healthy Americans are infected with human papilloma viruses

Posted: 20 May 2014 08:55 AM PDT

69 percent of healthy American adults are infected with one or more of 109 strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the conclusion of a study that is believed to be the largest and most detailed genetic analysis of its kind. Researchers say that while most of the viral strains so far appear to be harmless and can remain dormant for years, their overwhelming presence suggests a delicate balancing act for HPV infection in the body, in which many viral strains keep each other in check, preventing other strains from spreading out of control.

Power plant emissions verified remotely at Four Corners sites, largest point source pollution in U.S.

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:05 AM PDT

Air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from two coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners area of northwest New Mexico, the largest point source of pollution in America, were measured remotely. The study is the first to show that space-based techniques can successfully verify international regulations on fossil energy emissions.

Environmental strategies on livestock farms: Results obtained after evaluation

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:04 AM PDT

The effectiveness of technologies and practices used on livestock farms in the European Atlantic region are being evaluated in order to reduce their environmental impact on the air, water and soil. In connection with the environmental problems involved in livestock production, the EU 2010/75/EC Directive seeks to regulate all forms of emission into the atmosphere, water and soil coming from intensive livestock farms (farms with a population of over 40,000 hens, 2,000 fattening pigs or 750 sows), and makes the obtaining of comprehensive environmental authorization compulsory.

Harmful bacteria can linger on airplane seat-back pockets, armrests for days

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:04 AM PDT

Disease-causing bacteria can linger on surfaces commonly found in airplane cabins for days, even up to a week, according to research. In order for disease-causing bacteria to be transmitted from a cabin surface to a person, it must survive the environmental conditions in the airplane. In this study, MRSA lasted longest (168 hours) on material from the seat-back pocket while E. coli O157:H7 survived longest (96 hours) on the material from the armrest.

Fossils prove useful in analyzing million year old cyclical phenomena

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:52 AM PDT

Analysing palaeontological data helps characterize irregular paleoenvironmental cycles, lasting between less than 1 day and more than millions of years. Scientists have shown that the cyclical phenomena that affect the environment, like climate change, in the atmosphere-ocean dynamic and, even, disturbances to planetary orbits, have existed since hundreds of millions of year ago and can be studied by analyzing fossils.

Planting the 'seeds' of solar technology in the home

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:49 AM PDT

In an effort to better understand what persuades people to buy photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes, researchers are gathering data on consumer motivations that can feed sophisticated computer models and thus lead to greater use of solar energy.

Testing paleo diet hypothesis in test tubes: Surprising relationships between diet and hormones that suppress eating

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:35 AM PDT

By comparing how gut microbes from human vegetarians and grass-grazing baboons digest different diets, researchers have shown that ancestral human diets, so called 'paleo' diets, did not necessarily result in better appetite suppression. The study reveals surprising relationships between diet and the release of hormones that suppress eating.

Fairy circles apparently not created by termites after all

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:35 AM PDT

For several decades scientists have been trying to come up with an explanation for the formation of the enigmatic, vegetation-free circles frequently found in certain African grassland regions. Now researchers have tested different prevailing hypotheses as to their respective plausibility. For the first time they have carried out a detailed analysis of the spatial distribution of these fairy circles – and discovered a remarkably regular and spatially comprehensive homogenous distribution pattern. This may best be explained by way of reference to local resource-competition for water among plants and vegetation, the team now reports.

Symbiosis in Fungi: Enforced surrender?

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:34 AM PDT

A key mechanism in the symbiosis between fungi and trees has been uncovered by researchers. During this mutually beneficial interaction, the fungus takes control of its host plant by injecting a small protein that neutralizes its immune defenses thereby allowing the fungus to colonize the plant. This finding is a major advance in our understanding of the evolution and functioning of symbiotic interactions between fungi and plants - relationships that play a significant role in supporting the health and sustainability of our natural ecosystems.

Limited connectivity among brown bear populations in Northern Europe

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:34 AM PDT

Brown bear samples from across Northern Europe have been collected and analyzed in a new study. The estimation of gene flow points to a connectivity of the bears between Southern Finland and Western Russia, while migration between Scandinavia and Northern Finland appears to be limited. Brown bears have been persecuted to near extinction for centuries. In recent years, however, the brown bear population has been increasing, especially in Northern and Eastern Europe.

Ocean fishing: Bottom trawling causes deep-sea biological desertification

Posted: 20 May 2014 06:34 AM PDT

Scientists have determined that fishing trawling causes intensive, long-term biological desertification of the sedimentary seabed ecosystems, diminishing their content in organic carbon and threatening their biodiversity. Trawling is the most commonly used extraction methods of sea living resources used around the world, but at the same time, it is also one of the main causes of degradation of the seabed. This fishing practice originated in the second half of the fourteenth century, and in the last thirty years has grown exponentially.

Border collies chase away beach contamination by chasing away gulls

Posted: 19 May 2014 10:48 AM PDT

Border collies are effective at reducing gull congregation on recreational beaches, resulting in lower E. coli abundance in the sand. Gull droppings may be one source of the indicator bacterium Escherichia coli to beach water, which can lead to swim advisories and beach closings. In addition, gull droppings may contain bacteria with the potential to cause human disease, according to a researcher.

Exposure to air pollution during second trimester of pregnancy may be associated with increased asthma risk in children

Posted: 19 May 2014 08:42 AM PDT

Children who are exposed in utero to high levels of particulate air pollution during the second trimester of pregnancy may be at greater risk of developing asthma in early childhood, according to a new study. The study included 430 full-term children followed to age 7 years and their mothers. Daily exposure to air pollution from sources including traffic, power plants, and other industrial sources consisting of fine particles in the prenatal period was estimated based on where these mothers lived.

Young sperm, poised for greatness, but are they under-achievers?

Posted: 19 May 2014 07:47 AM PDT

It was long assumed that the joining of egg and sperm launched a dramatic change in how and which genes were expressed. Instead, new research shows that totipotency is a step-wise process, manifesting as early as in precursors to sperm, called adult germline stem cells (AGSCs), which reside in the testes.

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