Medicine Resistant bacteria are spreading faster than expected in Asia
A gene called sasX apparently plays a crucial role in the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) in Asia. Chinese and US researchers from the National Health Institute (NIH) report in the journal "Nature Medicine". The sasX gene lies on a mobile genome segment, a plasmid, and can be easily and quickly taken up and passed on by bacteria. The number of sasX-positive samples has doubled since 2003. The gene can now be detected in almost 40 percent of all MRSA samples from Chinese hospitals. The gene helps the bacteria to subvert attacks by the immune system. The bacteria could colonize the nasal mucous membranes more easily, cause abscesses on the skin and pneumonia. The researchers assume that MRSA germs with the sasX gene will soon be spread around the world. // [mawi] //
Source: Nature Medicine
Health High salt prices would save thousands of lives
A voluntary lowering of the salt content in industrially manufactured foods and a tax on salt could reduce the number of people who die from the consequences of cardiovascular disease by two to three percent. This is what researchers from Harvard University Boston reported at the World Heart Federation meeting in Dubai. The researchers had calculated what effects the measures would have if they were introduced in 19 emerging countries, in which together around 50 percent of all people in the world live. The background to the study: Heart attacks and strokes kill over 17 million people worldwide every year. 80 percent of deaths occur in developing and emerging countries. Even simple interventions - such as the introduction of a salt tax - would have beneficial effects. People who eat a lot of salt are more likely to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. // [mawi] //
Animal welfare Scientists are calling for a ban on fishing in the Arctic Ocean
More than 2000 scientists from 67 countries have written an open letter calling for a ban on fishing in the Arctic Ocean. There is no evidence of the impact of fishing on the ecosystem. Fish also formed the basis of life for many animals in the region - such as whales, polar bears and seals. A moratorium must therefore be adopted, the letter published today at the conference for the international polar year in Montreal, Canada. It is addressed to the governments of the neighboring states of the USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Russia. Due to the melting of the ice cover in the Arctic, 40 percent of the central Arctic Ocean now consists of open water. This means that industrial fishing is possible there for the first time. // [mawi] //
Climate / Economy Climate change increases the fluctuations in grain prices
US researchers from Stanford and Purdue Universities have analyzed how the predicted changes in precipitation and temperature in the US could affect grain prices. The result: if grain prices fluctuated by 43 percent between 1980 and 2000, they could fluctuate by 177 percent between 2020 and 2040. Legal requirements, such as the mandatory addition of ethanol from grain to fuels, would exacerbate the fluctuations, the researchers write in the journal "Nature Climate Change". According to the researchers, it would make sense to produce a lot of biofuel after an above-average grain harvest and only a little after a poor harvest. However, legal requirements to add a fixed amount of biofuel to fuels made the market less flexible and drove up grain prices. // [mawi] //
Source: Nature Climate Change
Zoology researchers see a white orca bull in the North Pacific for the first time
The researchers of the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) had already seen the adult white orca bull off the Russian commander islands some time ago, but only now informed the public. The white killer whale lives in a school with twelve other orcas that feed exclusively on fish. The Austrian conservation agency Shifting Values announced that it was probably an albino. Adult albinos are rare among the whales: They are more sensitive to sunburn and can see more poorly. That reduces the chances of hunting and thus the life expectancy. Because of its towering white dorsal fin, the orca has been nicknamed "Iceberg". // [mawi] //
Biology Ravens have long memories.
This is what researchers from the University of Vienna report in the journal "Current Biology". The scientists raised ravens together and given them to different zoos. After three years they visited the animals and played recordings of the other conspecifics raised together for them. It turned out that the ravens reacted differently: to animals that were more likely to be friends at the time, they responded with croaks that were friendly for ravens, to hostile ones with harsh, deeper tones. Mammals react in a very similar way. As the scientists continue to write, this is the first evidence that ravens can recognize conspecifics by their voice for years and are able to differentiate between friend and foe. // [gät] //
Source: Current Biology
Biology Polar bears lived 600,000 years ago.
The white bears roam through the eternal ice much longer than biologists previously suspected. Based on a DNA analysis from 2010, they assumed that the last common ancestor of brown and polar bears faded 150,000 years ago. They concluded that the polar bear had adapted faster than average to new climatic conditions. Scientists at the Senckenberg Research Institute now contradict this thesis in "Science". They are based on a genetic make-up analysis in which more and different sections of the genetic information are analyzed. This shows that brown and polar bears separated as early as 600,000 years ago. The adaptation of the polar bear to the eternal ice remained within the usual framework. // [gät] //
Biology Meat on the menu shortened human breastfeeding time.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden are convinced of this. The scientists investigated the question of why babies are breastfed for an average of two years and four months, while the chimpanzee offspring are suckled for four to five years, for example. Many researchers attribute this to social changes. But the Swedish scientists contradict these theses in "PLoS One". A comparison of the brain growth and nutrition of the offspring of 70 species of mammals shows that all mammals, including humans, stop drinking milk when their brains are about the same degree of maturity. When this level of maturity is reached obviously depends on the mother's diet: Meat eaters or carnivores grow up significantly faster than herbivores or omnivores. This fact also made it possible for humans to have more children and to spread all over the world, the scientists continued. // [gät] //
Environment The Himalayan glaciers are only shrinking as fast as others.
This is what an international team of researchers reports in "Science". The scientists thus confirm the suspicion that the prognosis made in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the disappearance of the ice masses in the Himalayas and Karakoram was clearly exaggerated. The researchers rely on maps dating back to 1840 as well as measurements of decreases in area and volume. According to the scientists, these were within the global mean. This means that the water supply from the Ganges or Indus will still be guaranteed in the coming decades. However, individual valleys could fall dry or be flooded by glacial lakes. // [gät] //
Astronomy There is no dark matter near the sun.
Astrophysicists assume that visible matter makes up only 20 percent of the mass of the universe; the lion's share is invisible, dark matter. According to the theory, this dark matter should also spherically surround the Milky Way and be found in the vicinity of the solar system. Researchers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile have now looked for evidence of this dark matter by measuring the orbits of more than 400 stars above the disk of the Milky Way system. Without result: They could not find any evidence of the existence of dark matter in this region, the orbits can be brought into harmony with the influences of the visible. The researchers therefore suspect that dark matter is distributed around the Milky Way differently than previously assumed. // [gät] //
Technology Artificial hips should hold better with a new coating.
That's what researchers at MIT in Boston hope. The scientists have developed a layer that consists of two layers. The first from calcium and phosphate. Bones also consist of these elements. This coating is designed to attract stem cells from the bone. The second layer releases a growth factor that turns the stem cells into osteoblasts. These cells build bones, fill the space between the metal of the artificial joints and the bone, and allow the implants to grow into the bones faster and better. // [gät] //
Source: MIT press release
Environment Dams endanger the Amazon region.
More than 150 hydropower plants are to be built in South America over the next few years. The dams required for this on the Amazon tributaries in the Andes pose a massive threat to the environment. This is what an American research team points out in the specialist journal "PLoS One". Dams were wrongly seen as energy sources with little environmental impact. Instead, they endangered both the network of the Amazon basin and the rainforest. The Maranón River in Peru in particular is threatened with overload with the planned 81 hydropower plants - six of which are expected to deliver over 1000 megawatts. In addition to clearing forests to build the dams, fish migrations upstream would also be disrupted, as would sediment removal downstream. // [tj] //
Medicine Periodontitis does not increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes after all.
Periodontitis - the chronic inflammation of the gums - has long been considered a risk factor for diseases of the cardiovascular system. This has been suggested by numerous studies in the past. But now US researchers are giving the all-clear. They have evaluated more than 500 studies and come to the conclusion: There is no evidence that inflammation of the gums is the direct cause of heart attacks or strokes. They published the details of their meta-study in "Circulation" - the magazine of the American Heart Society. The German paradontology expert Reinhard Hickel, from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, puts the result into perspective: Even if periodontitis is not the sole cause, the same bacteria that are active in the inflamed gums are also found in the deposits of clogged vessels Find. Treating periodontal disease might not prevent heart attacks and strokes, but it does reduce the risk. // [tj] //
Physics An electron can be split into two separate parts.
An international team of researchers has succeeded in splitting an electron into two parts, each with a specific property: The so-called "spinon" carries the electron's spin - that is, its own rotation, which turns the electron into a tiny compass needle. The so-called "orbiton" carries the orbital moment, i.e. the movement around the atomic nucleus. The physicists describe their experiment in the specialist magazine "Nature": With the help of X-rays, they split electrons in the strontium copper oxide Sr2CuO3. However, the newly created particles cannot leave the material in which they were created. Now the researchers want to split electrons in other materials. // [tj] //
Medicine Anti-baldness treatment works - in mice.
Japanese researchers have managed to grow hair naturally in naked mice. To do this, they planted genetically modified tissue under their skin. This contained hair follicles obtained from stem cells. Then the mice sprouted hair and: a regular regrowth cycle began when old hair fell out. The researchers at the Tokyo University of Technology also succeeded in growing whiskers on the mice. As the internet journal "Nature Communications" reports, anti-baldness treatment for humans is only to be expected in the course of the next decade. // [tj] //
Source: Nature Communications
Medicine US researchers report a new, successful approach to the treatment of heart disease.
They reprogrammed heart cells in a living mouse. So they made connective tissue cells of the heart: beating heart muscle cells. The journal "Nature" reports. The new cells are fully functional and fit perfectly into the existing heart muscle. The test animal had a heart attack before the experiment. The treatment partially remedied the consequences of the heart attack within three months. To reprogram the heart cells, the scientists inject viruses directly into the heart muscle of adult mice. The viruses contained genetic information for three transcription factors - these are proteins that control the activity of genes. The viruses built the genetic information into the connective tissue cells. The majority then changed to heart muscle cells that make the heart beat. // [tj] //
Research US elite universities want to broadcast lectures on the Internet free of charge
In cooperation with several dozen US universities, including Stanford University and Princeton, the online platform Coursera wants to put lectures on the Internet free of charge. The online guest students have no chance of enrollment or a university degree, but they are allowed to take tests. According to their own statements, the universities do not see the risk that the renowned universities will harm themselves through this free service. Rather, they assume that their reputation will improve, especially abroad. [Mst]
Environmental rescue team arrived on the Elgin drilling platform
At noon today, a helicopter dropped the rescue team on the platform of the French oil company Total. The eleven people are to continue with the preparations for closing the gas leak on site. According to Total, progress has been made in ending the accident in the past few weeks. There will be two attempts to close the leak. At one point, even heavy drilling fluid is to be pumped from the Elgin platform into the hole that has been leaked at a depth of 4000 meters. With this so-called top kill, you want to stop the gas escaping from above. At the same time, two relief wells are to be driven. If the top kill does not work, they should be used to close the leak at a depth of 4000 meters. However, this work would probably take half a year. [Dagmar Röhrlich]
Source: Source Total, bif120418g
Biology Urban plants are very different from land plants
This is what German and US ecologists report in the journal “Ecology”. The researchers compared the diversity of the vegetation in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-Saint Paul in the American Midwest with the vegetation in the neighboring Cedar Creek Conservation Area. They saw that there are more plant species growing in the cities than in the countryside. However, the plants in the city are more closely related to one another and often perform similar functions. As a result, urban ecosystems are more sensitive to environmental influences than those in rural areas. [Mst]
Source: idw / www.esajournals.org / doi / abs / 10.1890 / 11-0392.1
Paleontology Small eggs made dinosaurs inflexible
This is the conclusion reached by Zurich researchers in the “Biology Letters”. They had studied the effects of the size difference between newly hatched and adult animals. Dinosaur mothers with a weight of four tons were therefore 2,500 times as heavy as their new hatch. Elephant mothers, on the other hand, weigh only about 22 times as much as their babies. The dinosaur hatchlings were so tiny because the eggs had to be small. Larger eggs require a thick shell, but it must still be permeable to air. This natural limitation caused dinosaur babies to hatch as tiny ones. As they grew, they occupied numerous ecological niches - displacing smaller dinosaurs in the process. Since there were only a few plants left to eat after the meteorite impact, the large animals could no longer find enough food and died out. The vacated niches were then occupied by the mammals. [Mst]
Source: Biology letters (doi: 10.1098 / rsbl.2012.0240)
Biology Insecticides affect birds too
Due to a lack of data, researchers have not yet been able to prove whether and how the widespread use of the plant toxin DDT had had an impact on the bird world since the 1940s. Scientists from Canada have now succeeded in closing this gap by examining a two-meter-high bird dung heap in a chimney. There, they were able to trace the diet of chimney swifts from the mid-1930s to 1993, the researchers write in the "Proceedings B" of the British Royal Society. Accordingly, with the use of DDT, the diet of the birds also changed. Because the insecticide killed many species of beetles, they had to switch to less nutrient-rich bugs. Since then the occurrence of the birds has steadily decreased. The use of DDT in agriculture was later reduced and finally banned entirely. Although this increased the food supply of the birds again, the chimney swift population has not yet been able to fully recover. [Mst]
Source: Proc.R.Soc.B (doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2012.044)
Behavioral biology Hyrax practice regional singing skills
The males of rabbit-sized mammals produce complex sequences of sounds, similar to those of songbirds. This is what Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa found out. As they report in the "Proceedings B of the British Royal Society", the tone sequences are not randomly strung together sequences of sounds, but rather stanzas that follow an ordered structure. When comparing the chants of the hyrax, the researchers also saw that animals from different regions of Israel uttered their own variants of these stanzas. Accordingly, it is a question of regional dialects. [Mst]
Source: Proc. R. Soc. B, (doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2012.0322)
Technology A nano sponge can soak up oil - over and over again
In the manufacture of carbon nanotubes, a pinch of the element boron can help the elongated particles to crosslink to form a sponge-like structure. This material can be used to remove oil from a water surface, for example after an accident. This is what US chemists report in the journal "Scientific Reports". The carbon sponge can soak up the oil and store it permanently. The oil can also be burned without damaging the material. This way you can reuse the sponge several times. At the moment, the researchers are working on producing long strips of the material that can be spread out on the surface of water. // [reu] //
Source: Scientific Reports
Medicine A blood test detects depression
Scientists from Chicago have developed a blood test for the first time that can be used to detect depression in adolescents. Eleven genetic markers reveal whether such a disorder is present. The test differentiates between two different types, depending on whether an anxiety disorder is also present or not. Such a blood test is important in order to be able to make an objective diagnosis, the researchers write in the specialist magazine "Translational Psychiatry". Because mood swings in young people in particular could falsify the results of a conventional examination. // [reu] //
Source: Translational Psychiatry
Medicine A vaccine can extend the life of cancer patients
This is the result of a phase 2 clinical trial that included eighty patients with a malignant brain tumor known as glioblastoma. The vaccine extended patients' lives by around four months compared to standard therapy. It was obtained individually from the tumor tissue of each individual patient. It contains certain protein compounds, heat shock proteins, against which the patient's immune system is supposed to be stimulated. The US study will be presented today at a conference of American neurosurgeons in Miami. // [reu] //
Space travel "Dragon" will soon be flying to the ISS
The US company SpaceX is expected to be the first private company to send an unmanned space capsule to the international space station at the end of April. There is a good chance that the capsule could launch on April 30, a NASA spokesman said yesterday. The most important goals of the mission include a flyby of the ISS and a docking maneuver for the reusable space capsule "Dragon". This transporter is intended to replace the space shuttles that were decommissioned last July. // [reu] //
Psychology Human facial expressions are not associated with the same feelings everywhere
The mine game is therefore not a universal language. Researchers from Scotland and Switzerland who examined the perception of facial features on the computer monitor are convinced of this. Test subjects from Asia and Europe were asked to evaluate on the screen which feeling is conveyed by a computer-generated face. The western test subjects were able to reliably assign the faces to the six basic emotions. The Asian participants, however, had problems with it. The researchers reported in the specialist journal "PNAS" that it was difficult to assign them to negative feelings such as fear, anger and disgust. However, a smile means the same thing in all cultures, they also write. // [reu] //