Tag Archives: life cycle

Aging erodes genetic control, but it’s flexible

In yeast at least, the aging process appears to reduce an organism’s ability to silence certain genes that need to be silenced. Now researchers at Brown University who study the biology of aging have shown that the loss of genetic control occurs in fruit flies as well. Results appear online in the journal Aging.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Biologists at Brown University have found a way to measure the effects of aging by watching the ebb and flow of chromatin, a structure along strands of DNA that either silences or permits gene expression. In several newly published experiments they show that gene silencing via chromatin in fruit flies declines with age. (more…)

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Cocaine use can make otherwise resistant immune cells susceptible to HIV

In many ways, the spread of HIV has been fueled by substance abuse. Shared needles and drug users’ high-risk sexual behaviors are just some of the ways that narcotics such as cocaine have played a key role in the AIDS epidemic in much of the world.

There is, however, relatively little research into how drugs can impact the body’s defenses against the virus. But a new UCLA study published in the October issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology examines how cocaine affects a unique population of immune cells called quiescent CD4 T cells, which are resistant to the virus that causes AIDS. (more…)

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March of the Pathogens: Parasite Metabolism Can Foretell Disease Ranges under Climate Change

Knowing the temperatures that viruses, bacteria, worms and all other parasites need to grow and survive could help determine the future range of infectious diseases under climate change, according to new research.

Princeton University researchers developed a model that can identify the prospects for nearly any disease-causing parasite as the Earth grows warmer, even if little is known about the organism. Their method calculates how the projected temperature change for an area would alter the creature’s metabolism and life cycle, the researchers report in the journal Ecology Letters. (more…)

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Biodiversity Protects Against Disease, Scientists Find

Discovery resulted from study of amphibians in ponds

The richer the assortment of amphibian species in a pond, the more protection that community of frogs, toads and salamanders has against a parasitic infection that can cause severe deformities, including the growth of extra legs.

The findings, published in a paper in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, support the idea that greater biodiversity in large-scale ecosystems, such as forests or grasslands, may also provide greater protection against diseases, including those that affect humans.

A larger number of mammal species in an area may curb cases of Lyme disease, while a larger number of bird species may slow the spread of West Nile virus. (more…)

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Public Acceptance of Climate Change Affected by Word Usage, Says MU Anthropologist

Better science communication could lead to a more informed American public.

Public acceptance of climate change’s reality may have been influenced by the rate at which words moved from scientific journals into the mainstream, according to anthropologist Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. A recent study of word usage in popular literature by O’Brien and his colleagues documented how the usage of certain words related to climate change has risen and fallen over the past two centuries. Understanding how word usage affects public acceptance of science could lead to better science communication and a more informed public.

“Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,” O’Brien said. “Journalists must explain scientific terms in ways people can understand and thereby ease the movement of those terms into general speech. That can be a slow process. Several words related to climate change diffused into the popular vocabulary over a 30-50 year timeline.” (more…)

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Mining Waste Byproduct Capable of Helping Clean Water

LEETOWN, W.Va. – A byproduct resulting from the treatment of acid mine drainage may have a second life in helping clean waters coming from agricultural and wastewater discharges, according to a recent study by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey Leetown Science Center.

The report, published in the Journal Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, shows that dried acid mine drainage sludge, or residuals, that result from treating acid mine drainage discharges can be used as a low-cost adsorbent elsewhere to efficiently remove phosphorus from agricultural and municipal wastewaters. The phosphorus that has been adsorbed by the mine drainage residuals can later be stripped from the residuals and recycled into fertilizer. The mine drainage residuals can be regenerated and reused for a number of additional treatment cycles. Application of this novel, patented technology has the potential to simultaneously help to decrease acid mine drainage treatment costs, prevent degradation of aquatic ecosystems, and recycle valuable nutrients. (more…)

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Non-native Plants Show a Greater Response Than Native Wildflowers to Climate Change

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Warming temperatures in Ohio are a key driver behind changes in the state’s landscape, and non-native plant species appear to be responding more strongly than native wildflowers to the changing climate, new research suggests.

This adaptive nature demonstrated by introduced species could serve them well as the climate continues to warm. At the same time, the non-natives’ potential ability to become even more invasive could threaten the survival of native species already under pressure from land-use changes, researchers say. (more…)

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Surviving Without Ice

Arctic crustaceans use currents, deep-water migration to survive sea ice melts

With sea ice in the Arctic melting to record lows in summer months, marine animals living there face dramatic changes to their environment. Yet some crustaceans, previously thought to spend their entire lives on the underside of sea ice, were recently discovered to migrate deep underwater and follow ocean currents back to colder areas when ice disappears.

“Our findings provide a basic new understanding of the adaptations and biology of the ice-associated organisms within the Arctic Ocean,” said Mark Moline, director of the University of Delaware’s School of Marine Science and Policy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “They also may ultimately change the perception of ice fauna as imminently threatened by the predicted disappearance of perennial sea ice.” (more…)

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