Jumat, 24 Oktober 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


Desert streams: Deceptively simple

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Volatile rainstorms drive complex landscape changes in deserts, particularly in dryland channels, which are shaped by flash flooding. Paradoxically, such desert streams have surprisingly simple topography with smooth, straight and symmetrical form that until now has defied explanation.

How ferns adapted to one of Earth's newest and most extreme environments

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Ferns are believed to be 'old' plant species -- some of them lived alongside the dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago. However, a group of Andean ferns evolved much more recently: their completely new form and structure (morphology) arose and diversified within the last 2 million years. This novel morphology seems to have been advantageous when colonising the extreme environment of the high Andes.

Designer 'barrel' proteins created

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Designer proteins that expand on nature's own repertoire, created by a team of chemists and biochemists, are described in a new paper. Proteins are long linear molecules that fold up to form well-defined 3D shapes. These 3D molecular architectures are essential for biological functions such as the elasticity of skin, the digestion of food, and the transport of oxygen in blood.

Florida lizards evolve rapidly, within 15 years and 20 generations

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Scientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species -- in as little as 15 years -- as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba.

Highest altitude archaeological sites in the world explored in the Peruvian Andes: Survival in extreme environments

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Research conducted at the highest-altitude Pleistocene archaeological sites yet identified in the world sheds new light on the capacity of humans to survive in extreme environments. The findings were taken from sites in the Pucuncho Basin, located in the Southern Peruvian Andes.

A gut bacterium that attacks dengue and malaria pathogens and their mosquito vectors

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Just like those of humans, insect guts are full of microbes, and the microbiota can influence the insect's ability to transmit diseases. A new study reports that a bacterium isolated from the gut of an Aedes mosquito can reduce infection of mosquitoes by malaria parasites and dengue virus. The bacterium can also directly inhibit these pathogens in the test tube, and shorten the life span of the mosquitoes that transmit both diseases.

Helping sweet cherries survive the long haul

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Research into the effectiveness of hydrocooling of sweet cherries at commercial packing houses determined the need for post-packing cooling. Analyses determined that core temperatures achieved by in-line hydrocoolers during packing did not reduce temperatures sufficiently to ensure good quality retention over the longer periods of time required for container shipping to export markets. The study recommends forced-air cooling to further reduce sweet cherry temperatures in the box before shipping.

Paper-based synthetic gene networks could enable rapid detection of ebola and other viruses

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Synthetic gene networks hold great potential for broad biotechnology and medical applications, but so far they have been limited to the lab. A study reveals a new method for using engineered gene circuits beyond the lab, allowing researchers to safely activate the cell-free, paper-based system by simply adding water. The low-cost, easy-to-use platform could enable the rapid detection of different strains of deadly viruses such as Ebola.

Genomic data support early contact between Easter Island and Americas

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

People may have been making their way from Easter Island to the Americas well before Dutch commander Jakob Roggeveen arrived in 1722, according to new genomic evidence showing that the Rapanui people living on that most isolated of islands had significant contact with Native American populations hundreds of years earlier. The findings lend the first genetic support for such an early trans-Pacific route between Polynesia and the Americas, a trek of more than 4,000 kilometers.

Gene that once aided survival in Arctic found to have negative impact on health today

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a genetic variant that arose thousands of years ago and likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today's northern populations. The findings provide an example of how an initially beneficial genetic change could be detrimental to future generations.

First protein microfiber engineered: New material advances tissue engineering and drug delivery

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 08:10 AM PDT

Researchers have broken new ground in the development of proteins that form specialized fibers used in medicine and nanotechnology. For as long as scientists have been able to create new proteins that are capable of self-assembling into fibers, their work has taken place on the nanoscale. For the first time, this achievement has been realized on the microscale -- a leap of magnitude in size that presents significant new opportunities for using engineered protein fibers.

Birds roosting in large groups less likely to contract west nile virus

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 08:09 AM PDT

Although it would seem logical that large numbers of roosting birds would attract more mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and contract the disease when bitten, recent research has found the opposite to be true. That is, when large groups of birds roost together the chances that an individual bird will get bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and subsequently contract the disease actually go down.

Beetroot beneficial for athletes, heart failure patients, research finds

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 07:09 AM PDT

The nitrate in beetroot targets fast-twitch muscles, increasing the blood flow to muscles that receive less oxygen, researchers report. This can increase high-intensity athletic performance and improve quality of life of heart failure patients.

Sea turtles' first days of life: Sprint and ride towards safety

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

With new nano-sized acoustic transmitters, scientists followed the pathways of loggerhead turtle hatchlings. According to the study, local oceanic conditions are believed to drive the evolution of some unique swimming behaviors.

Retaining forests where raptors nest can help to protect biodiversity

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Raptors can affect the distribution of other species and they can also be used to find forests with high biodiversity value, researchers say. Predators influence decisions on conservation actions because they awake a remarkable interest in the society. However, favoring just predators in conservation can also mislead the scarce funding invested in nature conservation.

No-till agriculture may not bring hoped-for boost in global crop yields, study finds

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

No-till farming appears to hold promise for boosting crop yields only in dry regions, not in the cool, moist areas of the world, this study found. As the core principle of conservation agriculture, no-till has been promoted worldwide in an effort to sustainably meet global food demand.

Hippos-Sussita excavation: Silent evidence of the earthquake of 363 CE

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

Silent evidence of a large earthquake in 363 CE -- the skeleton of a woman with a dove-shaped pendant -- was discovered under the tiles of a collapsed roof by archeologists from the University of Haifa during this excavation season at Hippos-Sussita. They also found a large muscular marble leg and artillery ammunition from some 2,000 years ago. "The data is finally beginning to form a clear historical-archaeological picture," said Dr. Michael Eisenberg, head of the international excavation team.

Mature forests store nitrogen in soil: May help protect waterways from excess nitrogen from industry

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Ecologists working in central Pennsylvania forests have found that forest top soils capture and stabilize the powerful fertilizer nitrogen quickly, within days, but release it slowly, over years to decades. The discrepancy in rates means that nitrogen can build up in soils. Forests may be providing an unappreciated service by storing excess nitrogen emitted by modern agriculture, industry, and transport before it can cause problems for our waterways.

Sex-loving, meat-eating reptiles have shorter lives

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:18 AM PDT

The health risks and benefits of vegetarianism have long been discussed in relation to the human diet, but newly published research reveals that it's definitely of benefit to the reptile population. That, and being less sexually active. The research team investigated how longevity of 1,014 species of scaled reptiles is influenced by key environmental characteristics and by their feeding and sexual habits.

Chamber of secrets: Cell organization influences ability to communicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:18 AM PDT

Cells can huddle to communicate within a restricted group, scientists have found. The study is the first demonstration that the way cells organize themselves influences their ability to communicate. The researchers propose that this strategy, which they discovered in developing zebrafish, could be much more widespread, influencing processes like wound repair, organ formation and even cancer.

Waste, an alternative source of energy to petroleum

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:10 AM PDT

The development of sustainable refineries is the focus of recent research, where it is possible to produce fuels and raw materials providing an alternative to petroleum by using biomass and other waste materials like plastics, tires, etc. Conical spouted beds are the key to the high energy efficiency of these refineries.

Herbal medicines could contain dangerous levels of toxic mold

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:10 AM PDT

Herbal medicines such as licorice, Indian rennet and opium poppy, are at risk of contamination with toxic mold, according to a new study. The authors of the study say it's time for regulators to control mold contamination. An estimated 64% of people use medicinal plants to treat illnesses and relieve pain. The herbal medicine market is worth $60 billion globally, and growing fast. Despite the increasing popularity of herbal medicine, the sale of medicinal plants is mostly unregulated.

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:09 AM PDT

A new test could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately. The discovery could cut back on the lengthy diagnostic time usually required to confirm if a patient is suffering from sepsis and increase the odds that they will respond to treatment.

Should the Japanese give nuclear power another chance?

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 06:07 AM PDT

On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, the number of patients experiencing stress has also increased since the disaster. What's more, many of the survivors are now jobless and therefore facing an uncertain future.

Thermal paper cash register receipts account for high bisphenol A (BPA) levels in humans

Posted: 22 Oct 2014 11:36 AM PDT

BPA from thermal paper used in cash register receipts accounts for high levels of BPA in humans. Subjects studied showed a rapid increase of BPA in their blood after using a skin care product and then touching a store receipt with BPA.

Highly effective new anti-cancer drug shows few side effects in mice

Posted: 22 Oct 2014 11:35 AM PDT

A new drug, OTS964, can eradicate aggressive human lung cancers transplanted into mice, scientists report. It inhibits the action of a protein that is overproduced by several tumor types but is rarely expressed in healthy adult tissues. Without it, cancer cells fail to complete the cell-division process and die.

Human skin cells reprogrammed directly into brain cells

Posted: 22 Oct 2014 09:30 AM PDT

Scientists have described a way to convert human skin cells directly into a specific type of brain cell affected by Huntington's disease, an ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Unlike other techniques that turn one cell type into another, this new process does not pass through a stem cell phase, avoiding the production of multiple cell types, report researchers.
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