Science News: Week of September 13, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of September 13, 2009.

Birds fly the coop when climate shifts: Biologists studying birds in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains have found that 48 out of 53 species have adjusted to climate change over the last century by moving to sites with more favorable temperature and precipitation conditions.

To read the study:

Tingley, M., Monahan, W., Beissinger, S., & Moritz, C. (2009). Biogeography, Changing Climates, and Niche Evolution Sackler Colloquium: Birds track their Grinnellian niche through a century of climate change Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901562106

Diabetes drugs don’t fight inflammation: Two popular treatments lower blood sugar but may not prevent heart disease.

‘Jumping genes’ use bacteria to go viral: A small piece of foreign DNA recognizes when and where to slip into a bacterium’s genetic code, allowing bacteria to genetically adapt to their environment—and develop resistance to antibiotics—a team of researchers has found.

To read the study:

Parks, A., Li, Z., Shi, Q., Owens, R., Jin, M., & Peters, J. (2009). Transposition into Replicating DNA Occurs through Interaction with the Processivity Factor Cell, 138 (4), 685-695 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.06.011

Master disease gene is identified: British scientists say they’ve identified the master gene that causes blood stem cells to turn into disease-fighting immune cells.

To read the study:

Gascoyne, D., Long, E., Veiga-Fernandes, H., de Boer, J., Williams, O., Seddon, B., Coles, M., Kioussis, D., & Brady, H. (2009). The basic leucine zipper transcription factor E4BP4 is essential for natural killer cell development Nature Immunology DOI: 10.1038/ni.1787

Radiation belt found around a Saturn moon: NASA says its Cassini spacecraft’s magnetospheric imaging instrument has detected a new, temporary radiation belt around the orbit of one of Saturn’s moons.

Older Prostate Patients: The case for doing nothing: A new study adds to the evidence that for older prostate cancer patients, choosing the conservative, “watchful waiting” approach to treatment may be the best option.

Study finds why plants are carnivorous: U.S. scientists say they’ve discovered why some plants are carnivorous, relying on animal prey such as flies or other insects for sustenance.

Study shows common pain cream could protect heart during attack: New research shows that a common, over-the-counter pain salve rubbed on the skin during a heart attack could serve as a cardiac-protectant, preventing or reducing damage to the heart while interventions are administered.

UT scientists discover link between protein and lung disease: In a development that could lead to a novel approach to the treatment of a devastating lung disease, biochemists report they are the first to link the osteopontin protein to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.