Πέμπτη, 12 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Gum disease bacteria selectively disarm immune system, study finds

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

Bacteria responsible for many cases of periodontitis cause an imbalance in the microbial community in the gums, with a sophisticated, two-prong manipulation of the human immune system, research shows. Not only does the team's discovery open up new targets for periodontitis treatment, it also suggests a bacterial strategy that could be at play in other diseases involving dysbiosis.

New fossil find pinpoints the origin of jaws in vertebrates

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:17 AM PDT

A major fossil discovery in Canada sheds new light on the development of the earliest vertebrates, including the origin of jaws, the first time this feature has been seen so early in the fossil record.

White bread helps boost some of the gut's 'good' microbes

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 08:28 AM PDT

White-bread lovers take heart. Scientists are now reporting that this much-maligned food seems to encourage the growth of some of our most helpful inhabitants -- beneficial gut bacteria. In addition to this surprising find, a new study also revealed that when looking at effects of food on our 'microbiomes,' considering the whole diet, not just individual ingredients, is critical.

Gauging local illicit drug use in real time could help police fight abuse

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 08:28 AM PDT

The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study could help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots and monitor whether anti-drug measures are working.

Humans climb like geckos using bio-inspired climbing technology

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 08:21 AM PDT

DARPA's Z-Man program has demonstrated the first known human climbing of a glass wall using climbing devices inspired by geckos. The historic ascent involved a 218-pound climber ascending and descending 25 feet of glass, while also carrying an additional 50-pound load in one trial, with no climbing equipment other than a pair of hand-held, gecko-inspired paddles. A novel polymer microstructure technology was used in those paddles.

Human language's deep origins appear to have come directly from birds, primates

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 07:22 AM PDT

Human language builds on birdsong and speech forms of other primates, researchers hypothesize in new research. From birds, the researchers say, we derived the melodic part of our language, and from other primates, the pragmatic, content-carrying parts of speech. Sometime within the last 100,000 years, those capacities fused into roughly the form of human language that we know today.

Making new species without sex: Plants can transfer their entire genetic material to a partner in an asexual manner

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 07:22 AM PDT

Plants can transfer their entire genetic material to a partner in an asexual manner, researchers report. Occasionally, two different plant species interbreed with each other in nature. This usually causes problems since the genetic information of both parents does not match. But sometimes, instead of passing on only half of each parent's genetic material, both plants transmit the complete information to the next generation. This means that the chromosome sets are totted up. The chromosomes are then able to find their suitable partner during meiosis, allowing the plants to stay fertile and a new species is generated.

Eye evolution: From dark light to detailed eyesight

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 07:21 AM PDT

The visual system of marine annelids has been studied to gain insights into the evolution of eyes. The researchers have concluded that the first simple eyes in evolution could probably merely discriminate a bright from a dark field. Such eyes might nonetheless represent the starting point for the evolution of more complex visual systems, as for example the human eyes.

Somatic embryogenesis system to propagate pine hybrids able to tolerate water stress

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 07:21 AM PDT

The high water stress tolerance of hybrids of the Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata X Pinus attenuata) has been under study by researchers, who note that these trees appear to be a very interesting alternative for the forestry sector in view of the modifications ecosystems are undergoing and will be undergoing as a result of climate change.

NASA announces two upcoming undersea missions

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:59 AM PDT

NASA is returning to the bottom of the ocean. Twice this summer, aquanauts participating in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) will conduct activities on the ocean floor that will inform future International Space Station and exploration activities. These studies provide information that correlates directly to life aboard the space station, where crew members must frequently perform critical tasks that present constraining factors similar to those experienced in an undersea environment.

Newly discovered paddle prints show how ancient sea reptiles swam

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:36 AM PDT

Trackways formed on an ancient seabed have shed new light on how nothosaurs, ancient marine reptiles that lived during the age of the dinosaurs, propelled themselves through water.

Reduced sea ice area also noted in winter

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:34 AM PDT

Warmer Atlantic water has caused a retreat of the ice edge north of Svalbard during the last decades, researchers report. In contrast to other areas of the Arctic Ocean, the largest ice loss north of Svalbard occurred during winter. The Arctic sea ice area has been measured, using satellites, since 1979.

Elucidating optimal biological tissue shape during growth

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:34 AM PDT

The role of cells' alignment in shaping biological tissue has been the focus of recent research. This study's hypothesis is that if the cells that constitute a tissue are organized and aligned collectively in the same direction, the force produced by each individual cell division event builds up. The authors show that the accumulation of forces may be sufficient to shape the biological tissue by elongating it.

Infection prevention implanted directly into bones

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Hospital germs can be fatal, since they are resistant to antibiotics. As a result, alternative methods of defense against bacteria are in demand. A research team has been able to develop bone implants that keep the germs at bay. At first glance, the fine-grained implant looks like flour. Only under the microscope can one see what is inside: The individual grains of the granules consist of apatite crystals.

Mechanism explains complex brain wiring

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

How neurons are created and integrate with each other is one of biology's greatest riddles. Now, a researcher unravels a part of the mystery by describing a mechanism that explains novel aspects of how the wiring of highly branched neurons in the brain works. These new insights into how complex neural networks are formed are very important for understanding and treating neurological diseases.

Foaling mares are totally relaxed, stress free, study finds

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Foaling in horses is extremely fast. Labor and the active part of foaling, resulting in delivery of the foal, take 10 to 20 minutes and are considerably shorter than giving birth in humans or in cows. Is this brief period stressful for the animals, or are horses more relaxed than humans when giving birth? Researchers also took samples of saliva and blood and analyzed the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, and have concluded that "normal foaling appears to cause just the opposite of a stress response."

Infant nutrition, development of type 1 diabetes: Is it possible to prevent the illness by splitting the proteins of cow's milk?

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Splitting the cow's milk proteins in a formula doesn't prevent the start-up of the disease process of type 1 diabetes in predisposed children, shows a large international study. However, these results do not exclude the possibility that the early dietary modification may affect the latter phase in the disease process and so prevent the actual illness.

Costs and benefits of compliance with renewable portfolio standards estimated

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 05:55 PM PDT

A new report reviews estimates of the costs and benefits of compliance with Renewable Portfolio Standards in the United States and explores how costs and benefits may evolve over time. Based on a review and analysis of data from state compliance filings and other sources, the report finds that the estimated incremental RPS cost over the 2010-2012 period -- the cost above and beyond what would have been incurred absent the RPS -- was less than 1 percent of retail electricity rates on average.

Up to 6-cent per kilowatt-hour extra value with concentrated solar power

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 05:55 PM PDT

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) projects would add additional value of 5 or 6 cents per kilowatt hour to utility-scale solar energy in California where 33 percent renewables will be mandated in six years, a new report has found.

Colonial-era dams trigger parallel evolution of Connecticut fish

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 05:53 PM PDT

Decisions made by Colonial era settlers to dam Connecticut waterways triggered sudden and parallel evolutionary changes in two species of fish competing for food, a new study shows. Earlier studies documented the decrease in size and changes in gill structure of members of the alewife species cut off from access to the sea in newly dammed lakes. The new study found similar changes in feeding habits of the bluegill, which also showed greater ability to feed on smaller zooplankton found in landlocked lakes the species shared with the alewife.

High Tibet was cradle of evolution for cold-adapted mammals

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 05:53 PM PDT

A new study identifies a newly discovered 3- to 5- million-year-old Tibetan fox from the Himalayan Mountains, Vulpes qiuzhudingi, as the likely ancestor of the living Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), lending support to the idea that the evolution of present-day animals in the Arctic region is intimately connected to ancestors that first became adapted for life in cold regions in the high altitude environments of the Tibetan Plateau.

Herpes infected humans before they were human

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 05:49 PM PDT

Researchers have identified the evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 and -2, reporting that the former infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago while the latter jumped from ancient chimpanzees to ancestors of modern humans -- Homo erectus -- approximately 1.6 million years ago.

Evolution and venomous snakes: Diet distinguishes look-alikes on two continents

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 05:48 PM PDT

On opposite sides of the globe over millions of years, the snakes of North America and Australia independently evolved similar body types that helped them move and capture prey more efficiently. Snakes on both continents include stout-bodied, highly camouflaged ambush predators, such as rattlesnakes in North America and death adders in Australia. There are slender, fast-moving foragers on both continents, as well as small burrowing snakes. This independent evolution of similar body forms in response to analogous ecological conditions is a striking example of a phenomenon called convergence.

Coho salmon: Pinks' and chums' eating cousin

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:47 AM PDT

Juvenile coho salmon benefit from dining on the distant remains of their spawning pink and chum cousins. While juvenile coho salmon feed directly on spawning pink and chum salmon carcasses and eggs, even coho with no direct contact with spawning pink and chum benefit from their nutrient contributions to stream ecosystems.

New formula assigns dollar value to natural resources

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:43 AM PDT

A first-of-its-kind, interdisciplinary equation to measure the monetary value of natural resources has been developed by researchers. The equation uses principles commonly used to value other capital assets. In assigning natural capital monetary value, the approach will have widespread implications for policymakers and various stakeholders, and will also advocate for the creation of robust asset markets for natural capital, a much-needed advance.

How to check for bedbugs

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:02 AM PDT

The United States is experiencing an alarming increase in the number of bedbug populations. In addition to being found in private residences, such as apartments and single-family homes, bedbugs are increasingly affecting restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and schools and day care centers. To help find bedbugs before they find you (and your belongings), dermatologists share their tips for checking near places where you sleep.

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