Science News: Week of August 2, 2009


Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of August 2, 2009.

Adult mouse gut makes new neurons: Study also finds nerve cell growth can be stimulated in the mice.

To read the study:

Liu, M., Kuan, Y., Wang, J., Hen, R., & Gershon, M. (2009). 5-HT4 Receptor-Mediated Neuroprotection and Neurogenesis in the Enteric Nervous System of Adult Mice Journal of Neuroscience, 29 (31), 9683-9699 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1145-09.2009

Beach-ball-sized rock is largest meteorite found on Mars: The rover Opportunity is studying a 60-centimetre-wide iron meteorite that may shed light on the history of water on the Red Planet.

Clean Energy: U.S. lags in research and development: To really replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy, the U.S. needs to get serious about science and money; and we’re nowhere close to where we have to be.

Daily temperature shifts may alter malaria patterns: Daytime temperature fluctuations greatly alter the incubation period of malaria parasites in mosquitoes and alter transmission rates of the disease. Consideration of these fluctuations reveals a more accurate picture of climate change’s impact on malaria.

To read the study:

Paaijmans, K., Read, A., & Thomas, M. (2009). Understanding the link between malaria risk and climate Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0903423106

Giant particle collider struggles: After 15 years and a showy “switch-on” ceremony, the Large Hadron Collider is riddled with bad connections.

New HIV-1 group: Scientists identify another variant of the virus that can cause AIDS.

To read the study:

Plantier, J., Leoz, M., Dickerson, J., De Oliveira, F., Cordonnier, F., Lemée, V., Damond, F., Robertson, D., & Simon, F. (2009). A new human immunodeficiency virus derived from gorillas Nature Medicine DOI: 10.1038/nm.2016

Ocean coral ‘offers pain therapy’: A compound harvested from soft coral off the coast of Taiwan could provide a new treatment for pain from intractable nerve damage, experts say.

To read the study:

Jean, Y., Chen, W., Sung, C., Duh, C., Huang, S., Lin, C., Tai, M., Tzeng, S., & Wen, Z. (2009). Capnellene, a natural marine compound derived from soft coral, attenuates chronic constriction injury-induced neuropathic pain in rats British Journal of Pharmacology DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2009.00323.x

Progress in treatment of spine injuries: Scientists have taken a major step towards repairing severed spinal cords after discovering a way to make sure nerves “rewire” themselves correctly.

To read the study:

Alto, L., Havton, L., Conner, J., Hollis II, E., Blesch, A., & Tuszynski, M. (2009). Chemotropic guidance facilitates axonal regeneration and synapse formation after spinal cord injury Nature Neuroscience DOI: 10.1038/nn.2365

Scientists isolate protein that may be ‘boon’ to medicine: Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have isolated a unique protein that appears to have a dual function and could lead to a “boon in medicine.”

To read the study:

Xu, Z., Gong, Q., Xia, B., Groves, B., Zimmermann, M., Mugler, C., Mu, D., Matsumoto, B., Seaman, M., & Ma, D. (2009). A role of histone H3 lysine 4 methyltransferase components in endosomal trafficking The Journal of Cell Biology DOI: 10.1083/jcb.200902146

The carbon footprint of beetle infestations: An infestation of beetles in forests across North America has some regulators concerned over the increasing carbon footprint their devastation could leave behind.

Tiny bird, tiny genome: Study finds hummingbirds have pared-down DNA.

To read the study:

Gregory, T., Andrews, C., McGuire, J., & Witt, C. (2009). The smallest avian genomes are found in hummingbirds Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1004