Science News: Week of August 16, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of August 16, 2009.

Caltech researchers pinpoint neurons that control obesity in fruit flies: Research could lead to the development of a new model for the study of human obesity and its treatment.

DNA evidence can be fabricated, scientists show: With fabricated blood or saliva, “you can just engineer a crime scene,” said the lead author of a new study.

To read the study:

Frumkin, D., Wasserstrom, A., Davidson, A., & Grafit, A. (2009). Authentication of forensic DNA samples Forensic Science International: Genetics DOI: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2009.06.009

Methane seeps from Arctic sea-bed: Scientists say they have evidence that the powerful greenhouse gas methane is escaping from the Arctic sea-bed.

Neural pathway missing in tone-deaf people: Nerve fibers that link perception and motor regions of the brain are disconnected in tone-deaf people. The new finding identifies a particular brain circuit that appears to be absent in these individuals.

To read the study:

Loui, P., Alsop, D., & Schlaug, G. (2009). Tone Deafness: A New Disconnection Syndrome? Journal of Neuroscience, 29 (33), 10215-10220 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1701-09.2009

Researchers develop new, more-sensitive assay for detecting DNA methylation in colon cancer: A study published in this week’s online issue of Nature Biotechnology, demonstrates a unique and highly sensitive method for detecting methylation-associated cancers.

To read the study:

Li, M., Chen, W., Papadopoulos, N., Goodman, S., Bjerregaard, N., Laurberg, S., Levin, B., Juhl, H., Arber, N., Moinova, H., Durkee, K., Schmidt, K., He, Y., Diehl, F., Velculescu, V., Zhou, S., Diaz, L., Kinzler, K., Markowitz, S., & Vogelstein, B. (2009). Sensitive digital quantification of DNA methylation in clinical samples Nature Biotechnology DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1559

Snorkel rice could feed millions: A paper in the journal Nature, describes how the plant elongates rapidly in response to being submerged. One of the scientists, Motoyaki Ashikari from Nagoya University in Japan, said “the impact is huge”.

To read the study:

Hattori, Y., Nagai, K., Furukawa, S., Song, X., Kawano, R., Sakakibara, H., Wu, J., Matsumoto, T., Yoshimura, A., Kitano, H., Matsuoka, M., Mori, H., & Ashikari, M. (2009). The ethylene response factors SNORKEL1 and SNORKEL2 allow rice to adapt to deep water Nature, 460 (7258), 1026-1030 DOI: 10.1038/nature08258

Tasmanian devils have no star networkers: Study suggests stopping the spread of facial tumors may be harder than previously thought.

Tests begin on drugs that may slow aging : Excitement among some researchers has picked up with the apparent convergence of lines of inquiry involving genes and restricted diets.

Tobacco might produce vaccine for stomach virus: Tobacco produces protein for vaccine against the stomach bug called Norovirus.

U.S. life expectancy rises to 78 Years: U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high, now standing at nearly 78 years, the government reported Wednesday

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