NUS study shows effectiveness of common anti-malarial drug in controlling asthma

Eureka Alert! - 9 hours 50 min ago
(National University of Singapore) Associate Professor Fred Wong from the Department of Pharmacology at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine led a team to discover that artesunate, a common herbal-based anti-malarial drug, can be used to control asthma, with better treatment outcomes than other drugs currently available.
Categories: Eureka Alert!, General

Scientists warn time to stop drilling in the dark

Eureka Alert! - 9 hours 50 min ago
(Simon Fraser University) The co-authors of a new study, including two Simon Fraser University research associates, cite new reasons why scientists, industry representatives and policymakers must collaborate closely on minimizing damage to the natural world from shale gas development. Viorel Popescu and Maureen Ryan, David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellows in SFU's Biological Sciences department, are among eight international co-authors of the newly published research in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Categories: Eureka Alert!, General

'Fracking' in the dark: Biological fallout of shale-gas production still largely unknown

Eureka Alert! - 9 hours 50 min ago
(Princeton University) Eight conservation biologists from various organizations and institutions, including Princeton University, found that shale-gas extraction in the United States has vastly outpaced scientists' understanding of the industry's environmental impact. With shale-gas production projected to surge during the next 30 years, determining and minimizing the industry's effects on nature and wildlife must become a top priority for scientists, industry and policymakers, the researchers said.
Categories: Eureka Alert!, General

For bats and dolphins, hearing gene prestin adapted for echolocation

Eureka Alert! - 9 hours 50 min ago
(Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)) In a new study published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Peng Shi, et al., have shown that prestin has also independently evolved to play a critical role in the ultrasonic hearing range of animal sonar, or echolocation, to help dolphins navigate through murky waters or bats find food in the dark.
Categories: Eureka Alert!, General

Journal retracts paper linking vaccine and narcolepsy

Nature Newsblog - Thu, 2014-07-31 15:45

A paper that once promised to help unravel a medical mystery — why some children developed narcolepsy after receiving an influenza vaccine — has been retracted.

Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes extreme sleepiness, sometimes inducing uncontrollable ‘sleep attacks’ that can strike at any time of day. In 2010, a puzzling cluster of sudden-onset narcolepsy cases was reported in Europe among children vaccinated with GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix flu vaccine against the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ that had caused a pandemic in 2009.

On 18 December 2013, researchers reported a possible connection between the vaccine and narcolepsy. In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine, they showed that people with narcolepsy produce immune cells called T cells that recognize hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that regulates wakefulness. People with narcolepsy tend to have low levels of hypocretin in neurons that control wakefulness, and the results supported the notion that autoimmune responses could be destroying the neurotransmitter.

The authors, led by immunologist Elizabeth Mellins and narcolepsy researcher Emmanuel Mignot of the Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, went on to demonstrate that pieces of a flu protein often used in vaccines stimulated immune cells that recognize hypocretin. This suggested a mechanism by which the vaccine could contribute to narcolepsy in some people.

But on 31 July, the authors announced that they have been unable to repeat a key finding: that immune cells from people with narcolepsy respond to hypocretin more so than immune cells from people who do not have narcolepsy. “Because the validity of the conclusions reported in the study cannot be confirmed, we are retracting the article,” the team wrote.

The retraction is a setback for a field struggling to find an answer. “We continue to believe that the original scientific hypothesis remains a valid one that needs to be further explored,” said GlaxoSmithKline, a London-based pharmaceutical firm, in a statement. The company says that it is supporting research, including in its own labs, to explore the possible link between its vaccine and narcolepsy, and particularly to learn more about interactions between the vaccine and other risk factors in the people who developed the condition.

Those risk factors were a mystery even before the retraction. And although the paper suggested a possible link between flu vaccines and narcolepsy, it did not clarify why Pandemrix, in particular, would be problematic. The original study was also conducted in a relatively small number of people.

Given such small numbers, the retraction comes as little surprise, says immunologist Outi Vaarala of the Finland National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki. Vaarala, who praises the authors for openly addressing the problems with their paper, also notes that the methods use to assay immune responses are difficult to reproduce, and says reviewers should demand that researchers repeat their experiments using multiple methods. “If you can show differences in T-cell reactivity between patients and controls when different read-outs are used,” she says, “the findings are likely to be reliable.”

Categories: General, News

NASA announces instruments for 2020 Mars rover

Nature Newsblog - Thu, 2014-07-31 13:58

NASA’s 2020 Mars rover will collect samples for future return to Earth.


The rover that NASA is sending to Mars in 2020 will carry seven instruments geared to choosing just the right rocks to collect and store for future return to Earth. They include several firsts for Mars, including a zoomable camera, a machine to generate oxygen from carbon dioxide, and radar to explore geology up to half a kilometre deep.

The instruments, announced 31 July from a pool of 58 competitors, are in some ways a very different collection than what the Curiosity rover is currently trundling around Mars with. Curiosity does most of its chemistry on its back, by scooping up samples of soil or rock and dumping them into various instruments to analyze. The 2020 rover, which is otherwise modeled heavily on Curiosity, drops many of those analytical abilities and instead focuses on selecting samples that might be studied one day back on Earth. At 40 kilograms, the weight of its science payload will be actually less than that of Curiosity.

John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science, confirmed that the 2020 rover would carry a small ‘caching’ system for future sample return. Details have yet to be worked out, but it will likely collect slender, pencil-sized cylinders of rock and tuck them into a canister for future missions to retrieve. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that it’s a future astronaut that picks up the sample and returns it to Earth,” said Grunsfeld, in optimistic speculation given current funding for NASA. “But the most important step is to find samples that are so compelling that we need to get them back.”

NASA has yet to determine exactly where the US$1.9 billion rover will land. But it is likely to aim for a spot with a wide variety of geological features nearby. Curiosity has been plagued by landing more than 10 kilometres from its ultimate goal, a mountain named Mount Sharp, and having to drive all that way to get to it. (The rover still has several kilometres to go.) The long drive and sharper-than-expected rocks have pummeled the thin aluminum sheeting on Curiosity’s wheels, tearing huge holes; engineers are testing new designs and new materials in hopes of keeping the 2020 rover from suffering the same problem.

NASA’s 2020 Mars rover is modelled on Curiosity, which is now exploring the red planet.


The 2020 rover will need to trade off the time spent driving to find samples and the time spent drilling and collecting them, says Kenneth Farley, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and the mission’s project scientist.

Curiosity was originally supposed to carry a three-dimensional zoom camera on its mast, developed with filmmaker James Cameron, but NASA pulled it from the manifest. The 2020 rover tries to compensate with a zoom camera developed by planetary scientist James Bell of Arizona State University. The ability to zoom should allow the rover to move more quickly along the surface, because it can more easily scrutinize distant rocks and better calculate potential hazards before it starts moving in a particular direction, said Michael Meyer, NASA’s lead scientist for the Mars exploration programme.

The oxygen-making machine comes from NASA’s human exploration side, and is a step towards demonstrating whether astronauts could generate resources they need on the Martian surface, said William Gerstenmaier, head of the agency’s human exploration programme. Going by the peppy acronym MOXIE, it will aim to measure the efficiency of producing oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere.

Other instruments include an X-spectrometer and an ultraviolet laser, both targeted to studying the mineralogy of rocks in high resolution, and a camera that can probe for organic compounds. “Every single instrument is either improved [from past missions] or we haven’t sent it to Mars before,” said Meyer.

Two instruments will be operated by non-US scientists. The ground-penetrating radar will be led by radar expert Svein-Erik Hamran, of the Forsvarets Forskning Institute in Norway. The meteorological package on the rover’s mast will be run by robotics engineer José Rodríguez-Manfredi of the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid, the same group that provided the weather instruments for Curiosity.

Categories: General, News

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

Biology News - Wed, 2014-07-30 15:33

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients who desperately need them. In the ACS journal Langmuir, scientists are reporting new understanding about the dynamics of 3-D bioprinting that takes them a step closer to realizing their goal of making working tissues and organs on-demand.

Categories: Biology News, General

Decades-old amber collection offers new views of a lost world

Biology News - Wed, 2014-07-30 15:33

Sir David Attenborough narrates and appears in a video about the digital curation of a 20-million-year-old amber collection at the Illinois Natural History Survey at Illinois. Scientists are searching through a massive collection of 20-million-year-old amber found in the Dominican Republic more than 50 years ago, and the effort is yielding fresh insights into ancient tropical insects and the world they inhabited.

Categories: Biology News, General

Dam removals: Rivers on the run

Nature - Wed, 2014-07-30 13:45

Dam removals: Rivers on the run

Nature 511, 7511 (2014).

Author: Richard A. Lovett

As the United States destroys its old dams, species are streaming back into the unfettered rivers.

Categories: General, Nature

New book list, July 23, 2014

Ernst Mayr Library Blog - Thu, 2014-07-24 15:00

Amazonia–landscape and species evolution: a look into the past. [E-book]
Edited by C. Hoorn, F.P. Wesselingh; editorial advisors, H.B. Vohnof, S.B. Kroonenberg, H. Hooghiemstra. Chichester, U.K.; Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. HOLLIS# 012537791
QH112.A445 201 [e-book]

Among chimpanzees: field notes from the race to save our endangered relatives.
By Nancy J. Merrick. Boston: Beacon Press, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014117340
QL737.P96 M47 2014

Animal madness: how anxious dogs, compulsive parrots, and elephants in recovery help us understand ourselves.
By Laurel Braitman. First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014117344
QL751.B6834 2014

The art of migration: birds, insects, and the changing seasons in Chicagoland.
Paintings by Peggy Macnamara; text by John Bates and James H. Boone; with a foreword by John W. Fitzpatrick. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, [2013]. HOLLIS# 013774629
QL674.M293 2013

Aspectos reproductivos del Cangrjo Rojo de Manglar (Ucides occidentalis) en el Golfo de Guayaquil, Diciembre 2011 – Abril 2012 =reproductive aspects of the mangrove ghost crab (Ucides occidentalis) in the Gulf of Guayaquil, December 2011 – April 2012.
Editores Proyecto USAID Costas y Bosques Sostenibles, Instituto Nacional de Pesca (INP). Guayaquil, Ecuador: Instituto Nacional de Pesca, 2013. HOLLIS# 014115866
QL444.M33 A76 2013

Australian beetles. Volume 1. Morphology, classification, and keys.
Collingwood, Vic.: Csiro Publishing, [2013]- . HOLLIS# 014113097
QL594.L382 2013

Bees: a natural history.
By Christopher O’Toole. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books, 2013. HOLLIS# 014052678
QL568.A6O858 2013

Beetles of eastern North America.
By Arthur V. Evans. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2014. HOLLIS# 014117372
QL581.E93 2014

The cognitive neuroscience of mind: a tribute to Michael S. Gazzaniga. [E-book]
Edited by Patricia A. Reuter-Lorenz … [et al.]. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, c2010. HOLLIS# 012346491
QP360.5.C3694 2010 [e-book]

Colloque international sur l’histoire de la biologie marine; les grandes expéditions scientifiques et la création des laboratoires maritimes.
Banyuls-sur-Mer, 2-6 septembre 1963, Laboratoire Arago. Paris, Masson, 1965. HOLLIS# 014107752
QH91.25.A1C6 1963

Deep-sea fauna of the Sea of Japan.
Edited by Toshihiko Fujita. Tokyo: National Museum of Nature and Science, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014119451
QL125.5.D47 2014

Discovery, diversity, and distribution of the amphibians and reptiles of Sulawesi and its offshore islands.
[By] André Koch. Frankfurt: Andreas S. Brahm, 2012. HOLLIS# 014113074
QL664.I55 H63 2012

Dolphins: ecology, behavior, and conservation strategies.
Editor, Joshua B. Samuels. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2014. HOLLIS# 014117513
QL737.C432 D656 2014

Dragonflies of North America: the Odonata (Anisoptera) fauna of Canada, the continental United States, northern Mexico and the Greater Antilles.
By James G. Needham, Minter J. Westfall, Jr., Michael L. May. Third edition. Gainesville, FL: Scientific Publishers, 2014. HOLLIS# 013771528
QL520.2.A1 N43 2014

The eastern cougar: historic accounts, scientific investigations, and new evidence. [E-book]
Edited by Chris Bolgiano and Jerry Roberts. 1st ed. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, c2005. HOLLIS# 009767444
QL737.C23 E16 2005 [e-book]

Encyclopedia of biometrics. [E-book]
Edited by Stan Z. Li. New York; London: Springer, 2009. HOLLIS# 012192054
QH323.5.E539 2009eb [e-book]

Encyclopedia of entomology. [E-book]
Edited by John L. Capinera. 2nd ed. [Dordrecht; London]: Springer, c2008. HOLLIS# 011967389
QL462.3.E47 2008eb [e-book]

Evaluación de la población de Pinchagua (Opisthonema spp.) en aguas Ecuatorianas = Thread herring (Opisthonema spp.) population assessment in Ecuadorian waters.
By Cristian Canales, Manuel Peralta y Viviana Jurado. Guayaquil, Ecuador: Instituto Nacional de Pesca, 2013. HOLLIS# 014115935
SH351.H5 C25 2013

Field guide to fishes of the Chesapeake Bay.
By Edward O. Murdy and John A. Musick; illustrated by Val Kells. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, c2013. HOLLIS# 013947898
QL628.C5 M867 2013

5 easy pieces: how fishing impacts marine ecosystems. [E-book]
By Daniel Pauly. Washington, DC: Island Press, c2010. HOLLIS# 012586224
QH545.F53 P38 2010 [e-book]

Fruitless fall: the collapse of the honey bee and the coming agricultural crisis.
By Rowan Jacobsen. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. HOLLIS# 011583648
SF538.3.U6 J33 2008

Godwits: long-haul champions.
By Keith Woodley. North Shore, N.Z.: Raupo, 2009. HOLLIS# 013598099
QL696.C48 W68 2009

Guide to Great Lakes fishes.
By Gerald R. Smith; illustrations by Emily S. Damstra. Ann Arbor: Michigan Sea Grant: University of Michigan Press, c2010. HOLLIS# 012692158
QL625.5.S65 2010

Herpetology in Montana: a history, status summary, checklists, dichotomous keys, accounts for native, potentially native, and exotic species, and indexed bibliography.
By Bryce A. Maxell … [et al.]. Olympia, Wash.: Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology, 2003. HOLLIS# 009386838
QL653.M9 H47 2003

Infectious disease: a Scientific American reader.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. HOLLIS# 011818125
RA643.I652 2008

John Scouler (c1804-1871), Scottish naturalist: a life, with two voyages.
By E. Charles Nelson; with a contribution by Maggie Reilly and Richard Sutcliffe. Glasgow: Glasgow Natural History Society, 2014. HOLLIS# 014118817
QH31.S37 N45 2014

The manual of museum management.
By Gail Dexter Lord and Barry Lord. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, c2009. HOLLIS# 011966188
AM121.L66 2009

Meanderings in the bush: natural history explorations in outback Australia.
By Richard E. Macmillen; with Barbara J. MacMillen. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, c2007. HOLLIS# 014112923
QH197.M33 2007

Neurospora: contributions of a model organism. [E-book]
By Rowland H. Davis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. HOLLIS# 011508527
QK623.S6 D28 2000eb [e-book]

An obsession with butterflies: our long love affair with a singular insect.
By Sharman Apt Russell. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub., 2003. HOLLIS# 009805835
QL544.R87 2003

Olenekian (Early Triassic) stratigraphy and fossil assemblages in northeastern Vietnam.
Edited by Yasunari Shigeta … [et al.]. Tokyo: National Museum of Nature and Science, 2014. HOLLIS# 014119454
QE732.O54 2014

Principles of terrestrial ecosystem ecology.
By F. Stuart Chapin III, Pamela A. Matson, Peter M. Vitousek. 2nd ed. New York: Springer, c2011. HOLLIS# 014106518
QH541.C3595 2011

Puertos, caletas y asentamientos pesqueros artesanales en la costa continental del Ecuador =ports, coves and artisanal fishing settlements on the mainland coast of Ecuador.
By Marco Herrera, Rómulo Castro, Dialhy Coello, Ingrid Saa y Esteban Elías; colaborador Santiago Ferreyros. Guayaquil, Ecuador: Instituto Nacional de Pesca, 2013. HOLLIS# 014115706
SH241.H47 2013

A reason for everything: natural selection and the British imagination.
By Marek Kohn. London: Faber & Faber, 2004. HOLLIS# 009534695
QH375.K64 2004

The reef: a passionate history.
By Iain McCalman. First American edition. New York: Scientific American, 2014. HOLLIS# 014056442
DU280.G68 M44 2014

Remarkable insects of South Africa.
By Lambert Smith. 1st ed. Pretoria, South Africa: Briza, 2008. HOLLIS# 012041995
QL485.S6 S65 2008

Reptiles & amphibians of Australia.
By Harold G. Cogger. Seventh edition. Collingwood, VIC: CSIRO Publishing, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014058543
QL663.A1 C63 2014

Revision of Ufens Girault, 1911: Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae. [E-book]
By Albert K. Owen. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, c2011. HOLLIS# 013109233
QL568.T7 O84 2011eb [e-book]

Upwelling: mechanisms, ecological effects and threats to biodiversity.

William E. Fischer and Adams B. Green, editors. New York: Nova Science Publisher’s, Inc., [2013]. HOLLIS# 013905633
GC228.5.U68 2013

Wheatears of Palearctic: ecology, behaviour and evolution of the genus Oenanthe.
By Evgeniy N. Panov; [edited by M.G. Wilson]. Sofia: Pensoft, 2005. HOLLIS# 008221760
QL696.P288 P25 2005

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