Τρίτη, 3 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Decomposing logs show local factors undervalued in climate change predictions

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 01:27 PM PDT

In a long-term analysis conducted across several sites in the eastern United States, a team of researchers found that local factors -- from levels of fungal colonization to the specific physical locations of the wood -- play a far greater role than climate in wood decomposition rates and the subsequent impacts on regional carbon cycling. Because decomposition of organic matter strongly influences the storage of carbon, or its release into the atmosphere, it is a major factor in potential changes to the climate.

Solving the puzzle of ice age climates: Southern Ocean and explanation for 'Last Glacial Maximum'

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 01:00 PM PDT

The paleoclimate record for the last ice age -- a time 21,000 years ago called the "Last Glacial Maximum" (LGM) -- tells of a cold Earth whose northern continents were covered by vast ice sheets. Chemical traces from plankton fossils in deep-sea sediments reveal rearranged ocean water masses, as well as extended sea ice coverage off Antarctica. Air bubbles in ice cores show that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was far below levels seen before the Industrial Revolution.

Like some happiness with that? Fast food cues hurt ability to savor experience

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:59 PM PDT

Want to be able to smell the roses? You might consider buying into a neighborhood where there are more sit-down restaurants than fast-food outlets, suggests a new article. The article looks at how exposure to fast food can push us to be more impatient and that this can undermine our ability to smell the proverbial roses.

Microbes engineered for direct conversion of biomass to fuel

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:58 PM PDT

The promise of affordable transportation fuels from biomass -- a sustainable, carbon neutral route to American energy independence -- has been left perpetually on hold by the economics of the conversion process. Researchers have overcome this hurdle allowing the direct conversion of switchgrass to fuel. The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents the direct conversion of biomass to biofuel without pre-treatment, using the engineered bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii.

Hurricanes with female names more deadly than male-named storms

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:58 PM PDT

In the coming Atlantic hurricane season, watch out for hurricanes with benign-sounding names like Dolly, Fay or Hanna. According to a new article, hurricanes with feminine names are likely to cause significantly more deaths than hurricanes with masculine names, apparently because storms with feminine names are perceived as less threatening.

Marijuana shows potential in treating autoimmune disease

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Researchers have discovered a novel pathway through which marijuana's main active constituent, THC, can suppress the body's immune functions. The recent findings show that THC can change critical molecules of epigenome called histones, leading to suppression of inflammation.

Humans' tiny cellular machines: Spliceosomes in detail

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:07 PM PDT

Like exploring the inner workings of a clock, researchers are digging into the inner workings of the tiny cellular machines called spliceosomes, which help make all of the proteins our bodies need to function. They have now captured images of this machine, revealing details never seen before.

Fishing vessels have big ecological footprint: Powerful seabird magnets

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Fishing vessels have a far bigger ecological footprint than previously thought, according to research which tracked the movement and behavior of seabirds using GPS devices. Scientists discovered that northern gannets change their behaviour in response to the presence of large vessels such as trawlers, suggesting each boat can significantly influence the distribution and foraging patterns of these and other marine predators.

Transforming undergraduate biology education

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:21 AM PDT

Researchers have collected feedback from more than 240 biologists in the U.S. and developed a new, detailed core concept template called BioCore Guide. The guide is intended to provide an updated blueprint for educators to help them clarify the learning outcomes for undergraduate students majoring in general biology.

Prenatal maternal stress predicts asthma and autism traits in 6 1/2-year-old children

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:48 AM PDT

A new study finds a link between prenatal maternal stress and the development of symptoms of asthma and autism in children. Scientists have been studying women who were pregnant during the January 1998 Quebec ice storm since June of that year and observing effects of their stress on their children's development (Project Ice Storm). The team examined the degree to which the mothers' objective degree of hardship from the storm and their subjective degree of distress explained differences among the women's children in asthma-like symptoms and in autism-like traits.

Blunting rice disease: Natural microbe inhibits rice blast fungus

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:48 AM PDT

A fungus that kills an estimated 30 percent of the world's rice crop may finally have met its match, thanks to a research discovery made by scientists. A naturally occurring microbe in soil that inhibits the rice blast fungus has been identified by a team of researchers. "Rice blast is a relentless killer, a force to be reckoned with, especially as rice is a staple in the daily diet of more than half the world's population -- that's over 3 billion people," says the study's leader.

Doing more with less: in cellulo structure determinations

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:47 AM PDT

Anyone involved in macromolecular crystallography will know that for many years scientists have had to rely on a multi-stage process utilizing protein, usually expressed in engineered cells, which is then extracted and purified before crystallization in vitro and finally prepared for analysis. As a counter to this time-consuming and substantial scientific effort, there are a number of examples of protein crystallization events occurring in vivo, with next to no human input. In a case presented in a recent paper, an insect virus exploits the phenomenon as part of its life cycle.

'Healthy' component of red wine, resveratrol, causes pancreatic abnormalities in fetuses

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:47 AM PDT

Here's more evidence that pregnant women should be careful about what they eat and drink: A new research report shows that when taken during pregnancy, resveratrol supplements led to developmental abnormalities in the fetal pancreas. This study has direct relevance to human health--Resveratrol is widely used for its recognized health benefits, and is readily available over the counter.

Marijuana use associated with impaired sleep quality

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:20 AM PDT

Marijuana use is associated with impaired sleep quality, research suggests. Results show that any history of cannabis use was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting difficulty falling asleep, struggling to maintain sleep, experiencing non-restorative sleep, and feeling daytime sleepiness. The strongest association was found in adults who started marijuana use before age 15; they were about twice as likely to have severe problems falling asleep, experiencing non-restorative sleep and feeling overly sleepy during the day.

New species from the past: Baltic amber deposits reveal a new species of flat bug from the genus Aradus

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:17 AM PDT

A piece of Eocene Baltic Amber of about 45 million years age contains a well preserved extinct flat bug, which turned out to be a new species to science. This exciting discovery is one of the many secrets that deposits of Baltic amber have revealed in the last years and are yet to come in the future.

A master of disguise: A new stick insect species from China

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:17 AM PDT

Many representatives of the fauna possess unique masking abilities but stick insects are among the masters of disguise within the animal world. During a field trip in Guangxi, China biologists discovered a new species from this enigmatic insect group, which he describes in a recent article.

Do your stomach bacteria protect you from obesity?

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:12 AM PDT

The germ Helicobacter pylori is the cause of most stomach ulcers. It is estimated that 50% of the global population may be infected with H. pylori; however, only 20% of infected people experience symptoms. New evidence suggests that patients treated for the infection developed significant weight gain compared to subjects with untreated H. pylori colonization.

Britain's urban rivers cleanest in 20 years

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Scientists have found that Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they've been in over two decades.The 21-year study of over 2,300 rivers measured the presence of clean-river invertebrates - a yardstick for river health – which during the days of heavy industry and poor sewage treatment had declined considerably, but now appear to be making a comeback.

Rare chemical phenomenon that could be harnessed to harvest solar energy demonstrated by researchers

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:01 AM PDT

The chemical reaction responsible for propelling microscopic crystals to leap distances up to hundreds of times their own size when they are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light has been successfully unraveled by a team of international scientists. This popping effect, akin to the bursting of popcorn kernels at high temperatures, demonstrates the conversion of light into mechanical motion. It is the first instance of a "photosalient effect" driven by a photochemical reaction in solids to be reported.

Prevention of C. diff infections in hospitals achieved with collaborative intervention

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:01 AM PDT

In the past decade, the incidence and severity of hospital acquired Clostridium difficile (CDI) infections has increased dramatically in the United States. Research, however, demonstrates that a collaborative multi-hospital model using standardized clinical infection and environmental cleaning programs can be effective in controlling the spread of this pathogen.

Nano-platform ready: Scientists use DNA origami to create 2-D structures

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 07:01 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a method using DNA origami to turn one-dimensional nano materials into two dimensions. Their breakthrough offers the potential to enhance fiber optics and electronic devices by reducing their size and increasing their speed. DNA origami employs approximately two hundred short DNA strands to direct longer strands in forming specific shapes.

NASA widens its 2014 hurricane research mission

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 06:55 AM PDT

During this year's Atlantic hurricane season, NASA is redoubling its efforts to probe the inner workings of hurricanes and tropical storms with two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft flying over storms and two new space-based missions.

Children exposed to secondhand tobacco or cooking smoke have very high rates of pain, complications after tonsillectomy

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 05:20 PM PDT

Children exposed to indoor coal-burning stoves and/or second-hand tobacco smoke are much more likely to suffer postoperative complications and excessive pain after tonsillectomies, research shows. Almost half of the world's population uses solid fuel including biomass (wood, crop residues, and animal dung) or coal for heating and cooking. Many stoves generate and release pollutants into household air including carbon monoxide.

Revolutionizing diets, improving health with discovery of new genes involved in food preferences

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

New understanding of the genes involved in taste perception and food preferences can lead to personalized nutrition plans effective not just in weight loss but in avoiding diseases such as cancer, depression, and hypertension. The ability to devise diets based on individual genetic profiles can lead to significantly better results – for example, a weight loss 33% greater than with a control group who had a similar calorie count but a non-personalized diet plan, researchers say.

Uncovering deletions, duplications in the exome can help pinpoint cause of unexplained genetic diseases

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Analysis of genetic variation in the exome, the DNA sequence of genes that are translated into protein, can aid in uncovering the cause of conditions for which no genetic cause could previously be found, and that this can directly impact clinical management, researchers say. Copy number variants, major genomic deletions or duplications, can contribute to a number of diseases including blindness, deafness, a congenital form of muscular dystrophy, a neonatal-onset metabolic disorder, and an inherited disorder of the immune system, they say.

Tracking animals on videos: Software able to identify and track a specific individual within a group

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 12:08 PM PDT

It is easy to follow the route traced by an animal by using video recordings of the animal. The problem arises when the behavior of two or more individuals is studied, as animals often cross or interact with other members of the group and wrong assignments of identity for each animal occur. These faults make virtually impossible to identify an individual after several minutes of video.

New genetic cause of male reproductive birth defects identified

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 12:08 PM PDT

A previously unrecognized genetic cause for two types of birth defects found in newborn boys has described in a report. Cryptorchidism is characterized by the failure of descent of one or both testes into the scrotum during fetal development. In the adult man, the testes produce sperm and the male hormone, testosterone. Hypospadias is the abnormal placement of the opening of the urethra on the penis. Both birth defects are usually surgically repaired during infancy.

Paired enzyme action in yeast reveals backup system for DNA repair

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 12:06 PM PDT

The combined action of two enzymes, Srs2 and Exo1, prevents and repairs common genetic mutations in growing yeast cells, according to a new study. Because such mechanisms are generally conserved throughout evolution, at least in part, researchers say the findings suggest that a similar DNA repair kit may exist in humans and could serve as a target for controlling some cancers and treating a rare, enzyme-linked genetic disorder called Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome.

Reducing emissions will be primary way to fight climate change, study finds

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 08:40 AM PDT

An interdisciplinary team looked at a range of possible approaches to slowing down global warming and found no substitute for reducing emissions. Still, some approaches to climate engineering are more promising than others, and they should be used to augment efforts to reduce the nine gigatons of carbon dioxide being released each year by human activity, concludes the study.

'Often and early' gives children a taste for vegetables

Posted: 30 May 2014 04:05 PM PDT

Exposing infants to a new vegetable early in life encourages them to eat more of it compared to offering novel vegetables to older children, new research suggests. The researchers also found that even fussy eaters are able to eat a bit more of a new vegetable each time they are offered it.

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