Δευτέρα, 2 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Subtle change in DNA, protein levels determines blond or brunette tresses, study finds

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 12:09 PM PDT

A molecule critical to stem cell function plays a major role in determining human hair color, according to a new study. The study describes for the first time the molecular basis for one of our most noticeable traits. It also outlines how tiny DNA changes can reverberate through our genome in ways that may affect evolution, migration and even human history.

Poor coverage of specific gene sets in exome sequencing gives cause for concern

Posted: 31 May 2014 06:35 PM PDT

Researchers have analyzed 44 exome datasets from four different testing kits and shown that they missed a high proportion of clinically relevant regions. At least one gene in each exome method was missing more than 40 percent of disease-causing genetic variants, and the worst-performing method missed more than 90 percent of such variants. This means that there is a  substantial possibility of reporting false negative results, they say.

There may be multiple paths to fuel reduction in the wildland-urban interface

Posted: 30 May 2014 04:05 PM PDT

Conservative fuel treatments designed to reduce fire severity while still providing forest cover and wildlife habitat worked equally as well as more intensive treatments in allowing for the protection of homes during the 2011 Wallow Fire, a study has found. The distance into the treated area where fire severity was reduced varied, however, between these different thinning approaches where fuels were reduced.

Genetically identical ants help unlock the secrets of larval fate

Posted: 30 May 2014 01:10 PM PDT

A young animal's genes are not the only genes that determine its fate. The genetic identity of its caretakers matters too. Researchers suspect the interaction between the two can sway the fate of the young animal, but this complex dynamic is difficult to pin down in lab experiments. However, social insect researchers have found a solution and are developing a species of small raider ants as a model organism in order to ask questions about the relationships between genes, social behavior and evolution.

New method of wormlike motion lets gels wiggle through water

Posted: 30 May 2014 01:03 PM PDT

A special hydrogel substance has been developed that can be equipped to detect bacteria, carry cargo and deliver medicine. A researcher used a worm's contracting and expanding motion to provide a way for gels to swim in water. He explains, "Using a hand-held laser, we were able to selectively and quickly shrink the hydrogel (a hydrophilic polymer gel comprised mostly of water) in desired areas. By inducing a shrinking/swelling cycle down the length of a hydrogel, we were able to successfully mimic peristaltic, or earthworm-inspired, locomotion in water."

Urbanization, future heat-related mortality linked

Posted: 30 May 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Phoenix stands at a parched crossroads. Global scale climate change is forecast to bring hotter summers and more extreme heat to the Valley, but regional urbanization also will impact temperatures experienced by residents. So how should Phoenix grow knowing that such growth could cause temperatures to increase in the future and bring added health risks? Should the city deploy mitigating technologies to help fight summer's heat? Would adopting a low-growth strategy reduce the adverse health consequences of hot weather?

Novel laser system mimics sunlight to test solar cell efficiency

Posted: 30 May 2014 09:44 AM PDT

A laser-based instrument that generates artificial sunlight to help test solar cell properties, and find ways to boost their efficiency, has been developed by researchers. The novel system simulates sunlight well across a broad spectrum of visible to infrared light. More flexible than conventional solar simulators such as xenon arc-lamps or light-emitting diodes, the laser instrument can be focused down to a small beam spot -- with resolution approaching the theoretical limit -- and shaped to match any desired spectral profile.

Genome sequences show how lemurs fight infection

Posted: 30 May 2014 09:44 AM PDT

Next-generation genome sequencing technology is enabling researchers to catalog 150,000 antibodies found in a single species of lemur that seems uniquely susceptible to cryptosproridium infection. This is a new approach to disease detection and monitoring in a critically endangered species that could aid conservation efforts and surveillance for zoonoses.

Compact, extremely small-scale incubator microscope to examine cells in time lapse

Posted: 30 May 2014 06:26 AM PDT

Biologists and doctors rely heavily on incubators and microscopes. Now researchers have come up with a novel solution that combines the functions of both these tools in a compact and extremely small-scale system. It is ideally suited for time-lapse examination over a number of weeks and for automatic observation of cell cultures. The incubator microscope is no bigger than a soda can and costs 30 times less than buying an incubator and a microscope separately.

Environmental influences may cause autism in some cases, study shows

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:16 PM PDT

Some cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can result from environmental influences rather than gene mutations, research has shown. The findings shed light on why older mothers are at increased risk for having children with ASD, and could pave the way for more research into the role of environment on ASD.

New test measuring cell bioenergetic health could become key tool in personalized medicine

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

An experimental blood test that, for the first time, determines a Bioenergetic Health Index by gauging the performance of mitochondria, the cell's energy powerhouses, has been developed by researchers. Until now, a test of mitochondrial health has been elusive, experts say; but it could prove to be a significant early warning system for people with chronic diseases known to damage the mitochondria, such as HIV, alcoholic hepatitis, age-related diseases and more.

Engineering professor hopes to improve carbon-capture with patented technology

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Less than a year after patenting a process that could improve stripping greenhouse gasses from industrial emissions, a professor was recently granted another patent with a different solvent to accomplish the same goal. The newest method uses a form of liquid salt that could be swapped with chemicals currently used to scrub harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide, or CO2, from industrial emissions.

How misfolded proteins are selected for disposal

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:20 AM PDT

A protein recycling pathway in mammalian cells that removes misfolded proteins has been discovered by researchers. They also demonstrated this pathway's role in protecting against neurodegenerative diseases in an animal model. Proteins are the work horses of the cells. They are the most abundant macromolecules, extremely versatile in their functions and critically important for virtually all biological processes. However, proteins are also highly prone to misfolding due to genetic mutations, synthetic inaccuracies, and irreparable damages.

Vaccine candidate using genetically engineered malaria parasite developed

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:22 AM PDT

A next generation genetically attenuated parasite (GAP) that might constitute the path to a highly protective malaria vaccine has been developed by scientists. Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to humans by a mosquito bite, leading to 219 million documented cases and 627,000 deaths worldwide in 2012. While control measures, such as bed nets, are increasingly implemented, there remains no effective vaccine capable of eradicating malaria.

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