Τετάρτη, 25 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Evidence that an Influenza A virus can jump from horses to camels

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 10:58 AM PDT

Evidence that an influenza A virus can jump from horses to camels has been found by scientists – and humans could be next. "Over the last 10 years, we've been amazed at all the cross-species jumps of influenza. Now we're finding yet another," said one researcher. Although there is no immediate risk, the inter-mammalian transmission of the virus is a major concern for public health researchers interested in controlling the threat of pandemic influenza.

Virus kills triple negative breast cancer cells, tumor cells in mice

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 08:07 AM PDT

A virus not known to cause disease kills triple-negative breast cancer cells and killed tumors grown from these cells in mice, according to researchers. Understanding how the virus kills cancer may lead to new treatments for breast cancer. "These results are significant, since tumor necrosis -- or death -- in response to therapy is also used as the measure of an effective chemotherapeutic," one researcher said.

Cell division discovery could optimize timing of chemotherapy, explain some cancers

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 08:07 AM PDT

A new study has been able to demonstrate how the cycle of cell division in mammalian cells synchronizes with the body's own daily rhythm, its circadian clock. The study not only helps to explain why people with sustained disrupted circadian rhythms can be more susceptible to cancer, it may also help establish the optimal time of day to administer chemotherapy.

Restricting competitors could help threatened species cope with climate change

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 08:06 AM PDT

Threatened animal species could cope better with the effects of climate change if competition from other animals for the same habitats is restricted, according to new research. Observing the goats in the Italian Alps during the summer, the researchers found that Chamois tended to move to higher altitudes where it is cooler on hotter days and in the middle of the day, but moved much higher when sheep were present. To their surprise, they discovered that competition with sheep had a far greater effect on Chamois than the predicted effects of future climate change.

Bizarre parasite from the Jurassic had mouthparts for sucking blood of salamanders

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:58 AM PDT

Around 165 million years ago, a spectacular parasite was at home in the freshwater lakes of present-day Inner Mongolia (China): A fly larva with a thorax formed entirely like a sucking plate. With it, the animal could adhere to salamanders and suck their blood with its mouthparts formed like a sting. To date no insect is known that is equipped with a similar specialized design.

Sweet, sweet straw: Scientists learn to produce sweetener from straw and fungi

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:58 AM PDT

The calorie free sweetener erythritol is widely used in Asia; it is also gaining popularity in Europe and America. Now, a new cheap method has been developed to produce erythritol from straw with the help of mould fungi. Erythritol has many great advantages: it does not make you fat, it does not cause tooth decay, it has no effect on the blood sugar and, unlike other sweeteners, it does not have a laxative effect.

The truth behind the '5-second rule': When in doubt, throw it out, expert says

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:57 AM PDT

The burger patty that slides off the plate, the ice cream treat that plops on the picnic table, the hot dog that rolls off the grill -- conventional wisdom has it that you have five seconds to pick it up before it is contaminated. Fact or folklore? "A dropped item is immediately contaminated and can't really be sanitized," explains one researcher. "When it comes to folklore, the 'five-second rule' should be replaced with 'When in doubt, throw it out.' "

Kids' risks from toxic metals in dirt downplayed when measured with standard tools

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:50 AM PDT

A new laboratory method may improve risk estimates of children's soil exposures. As the study explains, soil ingestion is one of the most important pathways through which children are exposed to toxic substances. Children have higher exposure rates from soil than adults because of their hand-to-mouth behavior. As they play outside in dirt mounds and playgrounds, there is a risk that children will ingest soil particles and heavy metals which may have been underestimated by researchers to date.

Schizophrenia and cannabis use may share common genes

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Genes that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia may also increase the likelihood of using cannabis, according to a new study. Previous studies have identified a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia, but it has remained unclear whether this association is due to cannabis directly increasing the risk of the disorder. The new results suggest that part of this association is due to common genes.

Cell phones reflect our personal microbiome

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Smartphones are everywhere, and they may be smarter than you think. Our cell phones actually reflect the personal microbial world of their owners, with potential implications for their use as bacterial and environmental sensors, according to new research. New research focused on the personal microbiome -- the collection of microorganisms on items regularly worn or carried by a person -- demonstrates the significant microbiological connection we share with our phones.

Carbon footprint of the Swedish information and communication technology sector mapped out

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

A unique study that maps out the climate impact of the Swedish Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector has been completed and published. Despite a rapid growth in the use of computers and mobile phones in Sweden, emissions per user are low. The Swedish ICT sector has grown significantly in the last ten years and now represents 1.2 percent of Sweden's total carbon footprint, according to the researchers' calculations.

Sleeping sickness: the tsetse fly genome decoded

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

The genome of the tsetse fly has been decoded at last. Ten years of work made it possible for a consortium of 145 scientists to publish the DNA sequence for the vector for sleeping sickness. This result is highly significant as the biology of the tsetse is unique. The information contained in its genome is fundamental for better understanding and controlling the fly. Vector control is still essential for controlling the disease without a vaccine and due to difficult treatments.

Amazon water comprehensively mapped from space

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Groundwater represents more than 96% of the fresh water on Earth. But these reservoirs under our feet remain very difficult to study. For humid regions such as the Amazon, researchers have refined a new method for measuring phreatic levels by satellite. Thus, they have created the first maps of ground water in the Amazon, which lies under the largest rivers in the world. The maps show the height of the aquifer during low water periods. They show the response of the ground water in particular to droughts, and help better characterize its role in the climate and the Amazon.

Chagas' disease: A return announced

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Despite deinsectization campaigns conducted in many Latin American countries, bugs called Triatoma infestans, the main vector species for Chagas' disease, are now reappearing in villages in several regions. Wild populations of Triatoma infestans are recolonizing dwellings. The latter seem very close genetically to their domestic congeners and therefore, like their domestic counterparts, are able to adapt to humans. These wild bugs thus represent a significant risk for the re-emergence of Chagas' disease, as one out of two has been shown to carry the parasite responsible for the infection.

Cancer 'as old as multi-cellular life on Earth': Researchers discover a primordial cancer in a primitive animal

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:25 AM PDT

Can cancer ever be completely defeated? Researchers have now reached a sobering conclusion: "cancer is as old as multi-cellular life on Earth and will probably never be completely eradicated," says one expert, following his latest research results. The researchers have now achieved an impressive understanding of the roots of cancer, providing proof that tumors indeed exist in primitive and evolutionary old animals.

How repeatable is evolutionary history? 'Weakness' in clover genome biases species to evolve same trait

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 07:50 PM PDT

Some clover species have two forms, one of which releases cyanide to discourage nibbling by snails and insects and the other of which does not. A scientist found that this 'polymorphism' has evolved independently in six different species of clover, each time by the wholesale deletion of a gene. The clover species are in a sense predisposed to develop this trait, suggesting that evolution is not entirely free form but instead bumps up against constraints.

Cocoa extract may counter specific mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 07:49 PM PDT

Insights into mechanisms behind cocoa's benefit may lead to new treatments or dietary regimens for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Lavado cocoa is primarily composed of polyphenols, antioxidants also found in fruits and vegetables, with past studies suggesting that they prevent degenerative diseases of the brain.

Ferroelectric switching seen in biological tissues

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

Researchers have shown that a favorable electrical property is present in a type of protein found in organs that repeatedly stretch and retract. These findings are the first that clearly track this phenomenon, called ferroelectricity, occurring at the molecular level in biological tissues.

Understanding the ocean's role in Greenland glacier melt

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a 1.7 million-square-kilometer, 2-mile thick layer of ice that covers Greenland. Its fate is inextricably linked to our global climate system.

The JBEI GT Collection: A new resource for advanced biofuels research

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

The JBEI GT Collection, the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, is expected to drive basic scientific understanding of GTs and better enable the manipulation of cell walls for the production of biofuels and other chemical products.

Emergence of bacterial vortex explained

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:47 PM PDT

When a bunch of B. subtilis bacteria are confined within a droplet of water, a very strange thing happens. The chaotic motion of individual swimmers spontaneously organizes into a swirling vortex, with bacteria on the outer edge of the droplet moving in one direction while those on the inside move the opposite direction. Researchers have now explained for the first time how that dual-motion vortex is generated.

Treading into gray area along spectrum of wood decay fungi

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:47 PM PDT

A fungus that can break down all the components of plant cell walls is considered a white rot fungus. If it can only break down cellulose and hemicellulose, it's a brown rot fungus. A research team suggests that categorizing wood-decaying fungi may be more complicated, broadening the range of fungal decay strategies to be explored for commercializing biofuels production.

Protecting and connecting the Flathead National Forest in Montana

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:44 PM PDT

A new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) calls for completing the legacy of Wilderness lands on the Flathead National Forest in Montana. The report identifies important, secure habitats and landscape connections for five species—bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, grizzly bears, wolverines, and mountain goats. These iconic species are vulnerable to loss of secure habitat from industrial land uses and/or climate change.

Scientists use X-rays to look at how DNA protects itself from UV light

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:20 AM PDT

The molecular building blocks that make up DNA absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them -- yet it does not. Now scientists have made detailed observations of a 'relaxation response' that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.

Gut microbe levels are linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:18 AM PDT

People with Type 2 diabetes or obesity have changes in the composition of their intestinal micro-organisms —- called the gut microbiota -— that healthy people do not have, researchers have found.

Young indoor tanning increases early risk of skin cancer

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:18 AM PDT

Early exposure to the ultraviolet radiation lamps used for indoor tanning is related to an increased risk of developing basal cell carcinomas (BCC) at a young age, researchers confirm. Since indoor tanning has become increasingly popular among adolescents and young adults, this research calls attention to the importance of counseling young people about the risk of indoor tanning. The study notes that indoor tanning products can produce 10 to 15 times as much UV radiation as the midday sun.

Offer kids whole grains; they'll eat them, study shows

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Most parents don't feed their kids whole grains under the assumption children will find them bland. But a new study shows if you offer the children whole grains, they will eat them. Eating whole grains, combined with a healthy diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease and help with weight management. Examples of whole-grain foods include popcorn, oats, whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Antibiotic developed 50 years ago may be the key to fighting 'superbugs'

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Novel dosing regimens for polymyxin combinations to maximize antibacterial activity and to minimize the emergence of resistance and toxicity -- this has been the focus of a recent research study. Developed more than 50 years ago, polymyxins were not subject to modern antibiotic drug development standards. And they have proved to be toxic to both the kidneys and nervous system.

Cancer chain in cell membrane seen with supercomputers

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Supercomputer simulations reveal clusters of a protein linked to cancer warp cell membranes -- findings could help design new anticancer drugs. Researchers used XSEDE/TACC supercomputers Lonestar and Stampede to simulate molecular dynamics of Ras protein clusters at the cell membrane. Simulations give greater understanding of Ras protein role in cancer and provide models for further experimental tests.

Africa's poison 'apple' provides common ground for saving elephants, raising livestock

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Certain wild African animals, particularly elephants, could be a boon to human-raised livestock because of their voracious appetite for the toxic and invasive plant Solanum campylacanthum, or the Sodom apple, a five-year stud suggests. Just as the governments of nations such as Kenya prepare to pour millions into eradicating the plant, the findings present a method for controlling the Sodom apple that is cost-effective for humans and beneficial for the survival of African elephants.

Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 10:13 AM PDT

An extraordinary double discovery has been made by researchers. First, they have identified thousands of novel long non-coding ribonucleic acid transcripts. Second, they have learned that some of them defy conventional wisdom regarding lncRNA transcripts, because they actually do direct the synthesis of proteins in cells.

Fungal infection control methods for lucky bamboo

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 10:13 AM PDT

Researchers studied methods for controlling Colletotrichum dracaenophilum on lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana). Traditional hot water treatments were not effective for controlling the latent fungus. However, application of the fungicide Azoxystrobin prevented new infections by the fungus and cured latent infections and anthracnose development on the plants.

Sharpening a test for tracing food-borne illness to source

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 10:11 AM PDT

Research could make it easier for public health investigators to determine if a case of food poisoning is an isolated incident or part of a larger outbreak. The study focuses on a test called multi-locus variable number tandem repeats variable analysis (MLVA). The test, which is increasingly used in the detection and investigation of foodborne outbreaks, analyzes specific sequences of DNA (called loci) that change rapidly enough over time to distinguish outbreak strains from other circulating strains of the bacteria but not so rapidly that connections could be masked by changes arising during the course of an outbreak.

BPA exposure during fetal development raises risk of precancerous prostate lesions later in life

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:19 AM PDT

The endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) reprograms the developing prostate, making the gland more susceptible to precancerous lesions and other diseases later in a man's life, a new study has found for the first time. BPA is a chemical used to manufacture certain plastics and is often found in water bottles, food storage containers and other consumer products. BPA disrupts the normal functioning of the body's hormones by mimicking the hormone estrogen.

Cold exposure stimulates beneficial brown fat growth

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:19 AM PDT

Long-term mild cold exposure can stimulate brown fat growth and activity in humans and may benefit glucose and energy metabolism, a new study finds. Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), is a special kind of fat that burns energy and glucose to generate heat. It keeps small animals and babies warm, and animals with abundant brown fat are protected from diabetes and obesity. How brown fat is regulated in humans and how it relates to metabolism, though, remain unclear.

Nutritional sports supplements sold in Australia test positive for banned androgens

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:19 AM PDT

Some nutritional sports supplements marketed to athletes -- claiming to help them build lean muscle, reduce body fat and enhance endurance -- are secretly fortified with androgens, which are banned from use in sports, a new study from Australia finds. "The presence of androgens in the supplements is concerning, given that the products do not declare their addition. We need to investigate further just what the androgens in these supplements are so we can better understand the implications for health and sports doping," the principle investigator said.

Exposure to fungicide, tolyfluanid, disrupts energy metabolism

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:18 AM PDT

Mice exposed to the fungicide tolyfluanid (TF) showed metabolic changes similar to those that signify the development of the metabolic syndrome, researchers report. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Together these conditions increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Protons power protein portal to push zinc out of cells

Posted: 22 Jun 2014 11:21 AM PDT

Researchers report that they have deciphered the inner workings of a protein called YiiP that prevents the lethal buildup of zinc inside bacteria. They say understanding YiiP's movements will help in the design of drugs aimed at modifying the behavior of ZnT proteins, eight human proteins that are similar to YiiP, which play important roles in hormone secretion and in signaling between neurons.

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