Jumat, 25 Juli 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


Earlier Stone Age artifacts found in Northern Cape of South Africa

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 02:21 PM PDT

Excavations at an archaeological site at Kathu in the Northern Cape province of South Africa have produced tens of thousands of Earlier Stone Age artifacts, including hand axes and other tools.

Parched West is using up underground water: Study points to grave implications for Western U.S. water supply

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 02:21 PM PDT

A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

Biologist warn of early stages of Earth's sixth mass extinction event

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 02:19 PM PDT

The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point. Scientists caution that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event. Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

How to power California with wind, water and sun

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:43 AM PDT

New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.

Pesticide linked to three generations of disease: Methoxychlor causes epigenetic changes

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Researchers say ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations.

Linking microbial, immune environment in semen to HIV viral load, transmission

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:42 AM PDT

HIV infection re-shapes the relationship between semen bacteria and immune factors which in turn affects viral load, suggesting that the semen microbiome plays a role in sexual transmission of HIV, researchers report. While HIV is found in many body fluids, sexual transmission through semen is the most common route of infection.

No returning to Eden: Researchers explore how to restore species in a changing world

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Reversing the increasing rate of global biodiversity losses may not be possible without embracing intensive, and sometimes controversial, forms of threatened species management, according to zoologists.

Synchronization of North Atlantic, North Pacific preceded abrupt warming, end of ice age

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push Earth's climate system across a 'tipping point,' where rapid melting of ice and further warming may become irreversible -- a hotly debated scenario with an unclear picture of what this point of no return may look like. A new study suggests that combined warming of the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thousands of years ago may have provided the tipping point for abrupt warming and rapid melting of the northern ice sheets.

Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Adding to the growing fundamental understanding of the machinery of muscle cells, a group of biophysicists describe -- in minute detail -- how actin filaments are stabilized at one of their ends to form a basic muscle structure called the sarcomere. With the help of many other proteins, actin molecules polymerize to form filaments that give rise to structures of many different shapes. The actin filaments have a polarity, with a plus and minus end, reflecting their natural tendency to gain or lose subunits when not stabilized.

Leaf-mining insects destroyed with the dinosaurs, others quickly appeared

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:16 AM PDT

After the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period that triggered the dinosaurs' extinction and ushered in the Paleocene, leaf-mining insects in the western United States completely disappeared. Only a million years later, at Mexican Hat, in southeastern Montana, fossil leaves show diverse leaf-mining traces from new insects that were not present during the Cretaceous, according to paleontologists.

Attitudes, preferences toward post-Superstorm Sandy rebuilding explored

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 09:45 AM PDT

A yearlong study found that individual property owners in Superstorm Sandy-affected towns are skeptical about the likelihood of community-based rebuilding solutions. 45 percent of 400-plus respondents are pessimistic their towns would be rebuilt better than they were before Sandy.

New perspective on agricultural plastic, debris burning, and air quality

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 09:45 AM PDT

To reduce fire hazard, wildland managers often utilize the silvicultural practice of mechanically cutting woody shrubs and suppressed trees. These cuttings and other post-logging debris are then burned during periods of low fire danger in order to dispose of the material. Managers often cover all or part of the debris pile with low-density polyethylene plastic, commonly referred to as agricultural plastic, in order to keep water out. Inclusion of agricultural plastic in debris piles has no effect on smoke emissions, a new study indicates.

Fukushima accident underscores need for U.S. to seek out new information about nuclear plant hazards

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 09:44 AM PDT

A new congressionally mandated report concludes that the overarching lesson learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is that nuclear plant licensees and their regulators must actively seek out and act on new information about hazards with the potential to affect the safety of nuclear plants.

Corn and soy insecticides similar to nicotine found widespread in midwest U.S. rivers

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 09:44 AM PDT

Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Midwestern United States and one of the first conducted within the United States.

Cancer: Treatment that prevents tumor metastasis identified in animal study

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 09:42 AM PDT

Metastasis, the strategy adopted by tumor cells to transform into an aggressive form of cancer, are often associated with a gloomy prognosis. Managing to block the metastasis or, even better, prevent their formation would be a giant step towards the fight against cancer. Researchers successfully performed this on models of human tumors in mice.

Key molecule in flies identified that adjusts energy use under starvation conditions

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 08:25 AM PDT

In the fly Drosophila melanogaster, p53 is activated in certain cells to adapt the metabolic response to nutrient deprivation, thus having a global effect on the organism, researchers show. The researchers also reveal the molecular mechanisms through which the activity of p53 is regulated. The results obtained in Drosophila are useful to address the study of the molecular mechanisms of p53 in vertebrate models and to examine whether this protein is involved in diabetes and obesity.

Nearly 50 years of lemur, other primates data now available online

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 07:42 AM PDT

A 48-year archive of life history data for the world's largest and most diverse collection of endangered primates is now digital and available online. The database allows visitors to view and download data for more than 3600 animals representing 27 species of lemurs, lorises and galagos -- distant primate cousins who predate monkeys and apes -- with more data to be uploaded in the future.

Natural products from plants protect skin during cancer radiotherapy

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 07:42 AM PDT

Plant-derived natural product chemicals could offer protection to the skin from the harmful effects of gamma radiation during cancer radiotherapy, suggests research.

Rising temperatures can be hard on a dog's life

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 07:41 AM PDT

Veterinarians say it is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion to make sure your pet isn't overdoing it this summer.

Experiments prove 'stemness' of individual immune memory cells

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 06:43 AM PDT

Specific individual immune cells, termed 'central memory T cells,' have all the essential characteristics of adult tissue stem cells, researchers have proven for the first time. Such cells can perpetuate themselves indefinitely and generate diverse offspring that can reconstitute "tissue" function. These findings indicate that it should be possible to fully restore specific immunity to pathogens in immunocompromised patients by substitution of small numbers of these T cells.

Four-billion-year-old chemistry in cells today

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 06:40 AM PDT

Parts of the primordial soup in which life arose have been maintained in our cells today according to scientists. Research has revealed how cells in plants, yeast and very likely also in animals still perform ancient reactions thought to have been responsible for the origin of life -- some four billion years ago.

Genome analysis helps in breeding more robust cows

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 06:37 AM PDT

Genome analysis of 234 bulls has put researchers on the trail of DNA variants which influence particular characteristics in breeding bulls. For example, two variants have proven responsible for disruptions to the development of embryos and for curly hair, which is disadvantageous because more ticks and parasites occur in curly hair than in short, straight hair. These are the first results of the large 1000 Bull Genomes project on which some 30 international researchers are collaborating.

Detecting Salmonella in pork meat processing: New methods

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 06:37 AM PDT

Infections caused by foodborne microorganisms are an increasing public health burden. In a PhD project, new methods of characterizing and dectecting foodborne illness-causing Salmonella in pork meat processing and in bacteria in water, feed and food samples were studied.

One route to malaria drug resistance found

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Researchers have uncovered a way the malaria parasite becomes resistant to an investigational drug. The discovery also is relevant for other infectious diseases including bacterial infections and tuberculosis. Fosmidomycin, an antibiotic, is being evaluated against malaria in phase 3 clinical trials in combination with other antimalarial drugs.

Why don't genetically identical cells behave identically? Cellular noise

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 06:28 AM PDT

One researcher is like a mechanic for cells: he takes them apart to see how they function. He can tell you what part is like a gas pedal and which part is like the brakes. Now he's can show us why these brakes don't work the same even in cells that are genetically identical.

Gene inhibitor, salmon fibrin restore function lost in spinal cord injury in rodents

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 11:18 AM PDT

A therapy combining salmon fibrin injections into the spinal cord and injections of a gene inhibitor into the brain restored voluntary motor function impaired by spinal cord injury, scientists have found. In a study on rodents, researchers achieved this breakthrough by turning back the developmental clock in a molecular pathway critical to the formation of corticospinal tract nerve connections and providing a scaffold so that neuronal axons at the injury site could grow and link up again.

Sapronoses: Diseases of another kind, caused by pathogenic microorganisms

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 11:18 AM PDT

The drought that has the entire country in its grip is affecting more than the color of people's lawns. It may also be responsible for the proliferation of a heat-loving amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, which the drought has made warmer than usual this year. Sapronoses are infectious diseases caused by pathogenic microorganisms that inhabit aquatic ecosystems and/or soil rather than a living host.

Dead body feeding larvae useful in forensic investigations

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Non-biting blow fly Chrysomya megacephala is commonly found in dead bodies and is used in forensic investigations to determine the time of death, referred to as the post mortem interval. A report of synanthropic derived form of C. megacephala from Tamil Nadu is provided for the first time based on morphological features and molecular characterization through generation of DNA barcoding.

Protein evolution follows modular principle

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Similarities between proteins reveal that their great diversity has arisen from smaller building blocks. Proteins consist of long chains of 20 different amino acid building blocks that fold into a characteristic three-dimensional structure. It is noteworthy that some modules, known as protein domains, occur more frequently than others. Scientists suspect that many of these domains share a common evolutionary origin.

New model helps explain how provisions promote or reduce wildlife disease

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Scientists have long known that providing supplemental food for wildlife, or resource provisioning, can sometimes cause more harm than good. Ecologists have now developed a new mathematical model to tease apart the processes that help explain why. Their research has implications for public health and wildlife conservation.

Stress can make hard-working mongooses less likely to help in future

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Researchers studying banded mongooses in Uganda have discovered that those who work hard to care for pups may be less likely to invest in future offspring in the same way due to elevated stress hormones. When something you do now affects what you do in the future, scientists call it a 'carry-over effect'. Such carry-over effects are widespread in animal populations, but this study is the first to investigate the hormonal mechanism underlying behavioural carry-over effects.

Research charts ecological impact of microbial respiration in oxygen-starved ocean

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 08:12 AM PDT

A sulfur-oxidizing bacterial group called SUP05 will play an increasingly important role in carbon and nutrient cycling in the world's oceans as oxygen minimum zones expand, according to research. To conduct this study, researchers plumbed the depth of a seasonally anoxic fjord, Canada's Saanich Inlet, to chart how microbial community metabolism changes as oxygen minimum zones form.

Researchers unlock protein puzzle using brightly hued dyes

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 08:12 AM PDT

By using brightly hued dyes, researchers discovered an innovative way to reveal where proteins touch each other, possibly leading to new treatments for cancer, arthritis, heart disease and even lung disease.

Researchers work to save endangered New England cottontail

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 08:10 AM PDT

Scientists are working to restore New Hampshire and Maine's only native rabbit after new research based on genetic monitoring has found that in the last decade, cottontail populations in northern New England have become more isolated and seen a 50 percent contraction of their range. The endangered New England cottontail is now is at risk of becoming extinct in the region, according experts who believe that restoring habitats is the key to saving the species.

Human parasite Leishmania is a probiotic for the fly that carries it

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 08:06 AM PDT

The Leishmania parasite, which causes the human disease leishmaniasis, acts as a probiotic in the insect that transmits it to humans, protecting them from bacterial disease, research shows. Around 12 million people are currently infected with Leishmaniasis worldwide, mostly in South America, Africa and Asia. It is estimated to kill 20-50,000 people per year. Sandflies transmit the parasite by feeding on an infected mammal and, if they survive long enough, feeding on another mammal, and passing the parasite on to them.

Number of people susceptible to painful mosquito-borne virus increasing, says leading researcher

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 07:59 AM PDT

A leading researcher in chikungunya virus says many more people are at risk of getting infected now that mosquitoes in the U.S. are carrying the virus. At least 243 travel-related cases of chikungunya have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 31 states, with the number expected to grow. The first case acquired in the United States was reported in Florida, seven months after the mosquito-borne virus was recognized in the Western Hemisphere.

Caffeine intake may worsen menopausal hot flashes, night sweats

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 07:59 AM PDT

An association between caffeine intake and more bothersome hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women has been made by researchers. Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population consumes some form of caffeine-containing beverage daily. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) are the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms, occurring in 79 percent of perimenopausal women and 65 percent of postmenopausal women.
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