Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Research. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Research. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Δευτέρα, Νοεμβρίου 03, 2014

Bird populations across Europe declining rapidly

Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines - a staggering 421 million birds over the past 30 years - with the majority of losses from the most common species, a research shows.

The decline in bird populations can be linked to modern farming methods, deterioration of the quality of the environment and habitat fragmentation, the study noted.

Around 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings.


"It is very worrying that the most common species of bird are declining rapidly because it is this group of birds that people benefit from the most," said Richard Inger from the University of Exeter in Britain.

  • Birds provide multiple benefits to society. They help to control agricultural pests, are important dispersers of seeds, and scavenging species play a key role in the removal of carcasses from the environment.
The study brought together data on 144 species of European birds from thousands of individual surveys in 25 different countries.

The researchers noted that thanks to direct conservation action and legal protection in Europe, the numbers of some less common birds have risen.

The numbers of great tits, robins, blue tits and blackbirds were all shown to be increasing.

Populations of rarer species, including marsh harriers, ravens, buzzards and stone curlews have also increased in recent years.

The conservation and legal protection of all birds and their habitats in tandem are essential to reverse declines in the most common species of birds, the researchers highlighted.

"This is a warning from birds throughout Europe. It is clear that the way we are managing the environment is unsustainable for many of our most familiar species," concluded Richard Gregory from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain.
Source: dayafterindia.com
[indian.ruvr.ru]

3/11/14

Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 01, 2014

Russia’s Foton-M Satellite Landing Scheduled for September 1 (Space Agency)

MOSCOW, September 1 (RIA Novosti) – The landing of Russia’s Foton-M biosatellite with geckos, fruit flies, silkworm eggs, mushrooms and seeds of higher plants on board is appointed for the Knowledge Day, September 1, in the Orenburg region, Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos told RIA Novosti.

"The program of scientific experiments has been completed. The State Commission decided to land Foton-M at 13.18 (9:18 GMT) on September 1 in the Orenburg region," according to the statement.


The biological mission of the Foton-M satellite included eight experiments. The experiments involving five geckos were to monitor their reproductive activity in space. The mission was also to study the effect of weightlessness on plants and insects, and to conduct experiments on the growth of semiconductor crystals.

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20140901/192514004/Russias-Foton-M-Satellite-Landing-Scheduled-for-September-1-.html
1/9/14
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Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 24, 2014

Experts make efforts to restore communication with Foton-M research satellite

Experts have been trying to restore communication with the Foton-M research satellite that so far fails to receive commands from the Earth, the Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside Moscow told Itar-Tass on Thursday. 

“We currently receive telemetric data from Foton, however, we cannot transmit commands from the Earth to the satellite so far, that is we have only one-way connection. Experts are now trying to restore the communication.”


Russia launched its fourth Foton-M research satellite last Friday to begin a sixty-day mission for an array of creatures and biological experiments. Liftoff atop a Soyuz-2-1a rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome occurred at 02:50 a.m., local time on July 18.
http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/742066
24/7/14
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Τρίτη, Απριλίου 01, 2014

ICRI 2014 – A conference with a view to the future...

The 2nd International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI 2014) is taking place at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre on 2-4 April 2014, in the framework of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The conference is organised by the European Commission and the Greek General Secretariat of Research & Technology (Ministry of Education & Religious Affairs) with the organisational support of the “Athena” Research and Innovation Center.
The strategic aim of ICRI 2014 is to highlight how global Research Infrastructures may respond to the local and global challenges the world is facing today (environment, poverty, sustainability, security), what lessons have been learnt from the past and what the priorities and directions for the future should be.
Over three days, 600 participants and 90 speakers will discuss and debate a plethora of subjects, from international research infrastructure management (i.e. laser, telescopes, accelerators, aircraft or deep sea crafts, for atmosphere or sea bottom observation, as well as electronic infrastructures, data networks, computer arrays and data bases), to food safety and marine research.

The plenary sessions of the Conference will address topics such as “Research Infrastructures for Global Challenges”, “Governance of Research Infrastructures”, “and Innovation Potential of Research Infrastructures” and “Big Data management”, while a panel of distinguished scientists will debate “The Way forward”. ICRI 2014 will be accompanied by a poster and video gallery of international research infrastructure projects, set up at the Nikolaos Skalkotas foyer. A series of parallel thematic sessions will deal with the Environment (special focus on Marine Research Infrastructure and the Arctic), Palaeoanthropology and Cultural Heritage, Food Safety and e-Infrastructure.

Greek minister of Education & Religious Affairs, Prof. Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos will deliver the welcoming speech, while Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Italy’s minister of Education, Universities & Research, Stefania Giannini, and Greek General Secretary for Research & Technology, Dr Christos Vasilakos will also address the conference, along with scores of high-ranking officials and a strong delegation from South Africa, which will host of the next ICRI, two years from now.
In addition, an exhibition of 53 works of art, selected after an international competition on the theme “Research & Art” theme, will be on display at a specially designated area of the Conference Centre.
More information here
[http://gr2014.eu]
1/4/14

Δευτέρα, Μαρτίου 31, 2014

UN court rules against Japan’s whaling activities in the Antarctic

UN, 31 March 2014 – The United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled against Japan in a case involving charges by Australia that the country was using a scientific research programme to mask a commercial whaling venture in the Antarctic.
The Hague-based UN judicial arm ordered a temporary halt to the activities, largely involving fin, humpback and minke whales, finding that the Japanese Whaling Research Programme under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II) is “not in accordance with three provisions of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).”

In May 2010, Australia instituted proceedings alleging that Japan was pursuing a large-scale programme of whaling under JARPA II, and was in breach of its ICRW obligations, as well as its other international obligations for the preservation of marine mammals and the marine environment.
In its application, Australia requested that the ICJ order Japan to “end the research programme, revoke any authorizations, permits or licences allowing the programme’s activities; and provide assurances and guarantees that it will not take any further action under the JARPA II or ‘any similar programme until such programme has been brought into conformity with its obligations under international law.”
Though Japan rejected the charges and countered that its scientific research programme was in line with treaty obligations, 12 of the 16 World Court Judges found that the country was in violation of three ICRW Schedule provisions and, following Australia’s request, ordered that the country “revoke any extant authorization, permit or license to kill, take or treat whales in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits” for that programme.
The Court noted that there are three additional aspects of JARPA II which “cast further doubt” on its characterization as a scientific research programme: the open-ended time frame of the programme; its limited scientific output to date; and the lack of cooperation between JARPA II and other domestic and international research programmes in the Antarctic Ocean.
“Even if a whaling programme involves scientific research, the killing, taking and treating of whales pursuant to such a programme does not fall within Article VIII unless these activities are ‘for purposes of’ scientific research,” explained the ICJ in a press release today, adding that it found no evidence of such purpose in JARPA II.
Judgments handed down by the ICJ are final and binding on the parties.
un.org
31/3/14

Σάββατο, Οκτωβρίου 26, 2013

Study: Learning New Skills Keeps Aging Mind Sharp.

A new study shows that elderly adults who challenge their minds with increasingly difficult tasks maintain cognitive functioning better than those who do less demanding activities.
To keep our brains sharp as we age, we are often told to keep our minds active; “use it or lose it.” There actually is little scientific evidence to support that, however, according to psychologist Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas.

“Partially because it is very, very hard to do experiments with humans, where you randomly assign them to conditions where, say, you retire young, you do not retire; you do interesting things, you do boring things,” said Park.



So Park, head of the university’s Center for Vital Longevity, designed a study in which she and her colleagues randomly assigned 221 healthy aging and elderly adults to one of three groups.

“We asked people to learn new things, like quilting or photography. We asked other people to just do fun things like being in a social group. And then we asked other people to do things at home that seemingly would help their cognition or their mental function but were not likely to have a very large effect,” she said.

The participants engaged in their assigned activity for 15 hours per week over the course of three months.

At the end of that time, researchers found that the adults who learned new skills, such as digital photography or quilting or both, showed the greatest improvements on memory tests.

No improvements were seen in the scores of those in the social group that did activities together like go on field trips, nor among the third group that listened to classical music or did crossword puzzles.

Park believes the key to improved memory in the active learning group is that the participants constantly were challenged to acquire new skills, unlike those in the other two groups, who engaged in what she calls receptive activities.

While not a cure for age-related mental decline, Park thinks being actively engaged slows it down.

“So, I am not as interested in improving the function of people as they age in their later years. I am more interested in showing ultimately over time that by these novel experiences that involve a lot of mental operations that we can slow the rate at which people cognitively age,” she said.

Park said the latest data show the improvements were maintained for at least a year, and she and her colleagues plan longer term follow ups with the participants. She also is curious to learn whether engaging in demanding mental activities delays the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.   

An article on the benefit of learning new skills for the elderly is published in the journal Psychological Science

voanews.com
26/10/13
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Τετάρτη, Ιουνίου 26, 2013

Study links fracking with methane-contaminated drinking water (+2video RT)

Household drinking water that comes from wells near known fracking sites contains levels of methane six times greater than what’s common elsewhere, a new study has found.
Researchers at Duke University sampled drinking water from 141 wells across northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York and determined that the concentration of methane, the main component of natural gas, is much higher when those wells are within one kilometer of a hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” sites.
Fracking is a method of drilling deep into the Earth in order to extract natural gas and has seen an emergence in recent years as an increasingly popular process used by energy companies. That spread in popularity is not without opposition from environmentalists and activists, however, who fear fracking has detrimental effects on the Earth.

According to the latest study, researchers have linked fracking sites with methane contamination several times over what is seen elsewhere. The scientists say that those high levels aren’t a direct result of the drilling, though, but caused in part by poor well construction that has allowed the water to become contaminated.
"It is looking like we are seeing a problem with well construction in some places and not others," wrote the study’s main author, Robert Jackson.
"Poor casing and cementing problems are the simplest explanation of what we found,” he said, but declined to single out well construction as the exclusive cause of the contamination.
"We need to understand why, in some cases, shale gas extraction contaminates groundwater and how to keep it from happening elsewhere," the researchers wrote.
Jackson and his crew determined that 82 percent of the 141 water wells tested had elevated levels of methane, with other additives appearing in unusually high numbers as well. In addition to finding methane concentrations at around six times the usual level, Jackson also found ethane concentrations 23 times higher in drinking water at homes near fracking sites. In ten of the sites located within one kilometer of a drilling, propane was detected in 10 separate water samples.
The methane, ethane and propane data, and new evidence from hydrocarbon and helium isotopes, all suggest that drilling has affected some homeowners’ water,” Jackson wrote.
Steve Everley, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, told the Wall Street Journal that Jackon’s study "is not a smoking gun to say that gas drilling is a problem."
"There is methane concentration near gas wells, but there is also methane concentrations in areas where there is no gas drilling," he said. Energy in Depth, wrote the Journal, is funded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
Jackson’s peer-reviewed study appeared in this week’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 http://rt.com
26/6/13
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Related:


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1. http://youtu.be/YWMsHW4SMCY  (A Fracking joke)

2. http://youtu.be/1HkIVWSR8K0?t=3s {Contaminated Water blamed on Natural Gas Drillingthe wrong way! (Part 1)}

 

Πέμπτη, Μαΐου 23, 2013

Russia to urgently evacuate Arctic post as ice melts....

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MOSCOW: Russia has ordered the urgent evacuation of the 16-strong crew of a drifting Arctic research station after ice floe that hosts the floating laboratory began to disintegrate, officials said Thursday.

Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Sergei Donskoi set a three-day deadline to draft a plan to evacuate the North Pole-40 floating research station, the ministry said in a statement.

"The ice is disintegrating," a ministry spokeswoman told AFP. "Cracks appeared in the floe."

The station is currently home to 16 personnel.



"The destruction of the ice has put at risk the station's further work and life of its staff," the ministry said in a statement.

If the situation is not addressed, it may also result in the loss of equipment and contaminate the environment near Canada's economic zone where the station is currently believed to be located, the ministry added.

The floating research laboratory will be relocated to Bolshevik Island in the Russian Arctic.

Scientists point to increasing signs of global warming in the Arctic which is being significantly affected by climate change.

The UN weather agency said this month that the Arctic's sea ice melted at a record pace in 2012, the ninth-hottest year on record.

- AFP/fl
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/russia-to-urgently-evacuate-arctic-post-/685984.html
23/5/13

Τρίτη, Μαΐου 07, 2013

Εφτιαξαν θανατηφόρα γρίπη στην Κίνα ....υβριδικό στέλεχος του ιού που δημιουργήθηκε από κινέζους ερευνητές

Την έντονη αντίδραση επιστημόνων από όλο τον κόσμο προκάλεσε η δημιουργία ενός νέου θανατηφόρου στελέχους της γρίπης που κατασκεύασαν προσχεδιασμένα στο εργαστήριο κινέζοι ερευνητές. Αν και το πείραμα που έκαναν δεν ξέφυγε από τα επιστημονικά όρια, όπως ισχυρίζονται οι ίδιοι, οι συνάδελφοί τους προειδοποιούν πως «η δημιουργία και μόνο ενός τόσο επιθετικού στελέχους θέτει το πείραμα εκτός των ορίων ασφάλειας για τον παγκόσμιο πληθυσμό».
Η κατασκευή νέων ιών στο εργαστήριο είναι μια συνήθης τακτική και χρησιμοποιείται ώστε να «προβλεφθεί η φύση». Η τακτική που ακολουθείται σε τέτοιου είδους πειράματα είναι να προσπαθήσουν να προβλέψουν την εξελικτική πορεία ενός στελέχους ιού μέσα στη φύση για τα επόμενα πέντε χρόνια, να δημιουργήσουν το αντίστοιχο στο εργαστήριο, ώστε ακολούθως να φτιάξουν και το αντιιικό φάρμακο ή εμβόλιο για να αποφευχθεί πανδημία με πολλούς νεκρούς. Ο τελικός στόχος δηλαδή είναι η πρόληψη.



Οι Κινέζοι, ορμώμενοι από τα δύο πιο πρόσφατα και επικίνδυνα στελέχη του ιού της γρίπης, αυτό της νέας γρίπης (Η1Ν1) και της γρίπης των πτηνών (Η5Ν1), αποφάσισαν να τα συνδυάσουν και να δημιουργήσουν ένα πολύ ισχυρό και εύκολα μεταδοτικό νέο ιό της γρίπης. Ποιο ήταν το σκεπτικό τους;

Το στέλεχος Η1Ν1 μεταδίδεται πολύ εύκολα από άνθρωπο σε άνθρωπο, αλλά δεν είναι ιδιαίτερα θανατηφόρο και τα υπάρχοντα φάρμακα το σκοτώνουν. Από την άλλη, το Η5Ν1 δεν μεταδίδεται από άνθρωπο σε άνθρωπο, αλλά μόνο από πτηνό σε άνθρωπο. Οταν όμως κάποιος το κολλήσει, έχει 60% πιθανότητες να πεθάνει.

Οι κινέζοι επιστήμονες δημιούργησαν ένα νέο στέλεχος που έχει τη μεταδοτικότητα του Η1Ν1 και την επικινδυνότητα του Η5Ν1, σύμφωνα με τις δοκιμές που έκαναν σε γουρούνια και τα αποτελέσματα που δημοσίευσαν στην επιστημονική επιθεώρηση «Science».

Επιδημιολόγοι και ιολόγοι υποστηρίζουν ότι τέτοιου είδους πειράματα χρειάζονται πολύ καλύτερο σχεδιασμό και μέτρα ασφαλείας λόγω των «επιθετικών ιών που δημιουργούνται στο εργαστήριο» και δεν μπορούν να φυλάσσονται απλώς σε ένα κτηνιατρικό εργαστήριο. «Απόλυτη ανευθυνότητα» καταλογίζει στους Κινέζους ο λόρδος Μέι της Οξφόρδης και πρώην πρόεδρος της Βασιλικής Ιατρικής Ακαδημίας. «Ισχυρίζονται ότι δημιούργησαν τον επιθετικό ιό για να αναπτύξουν φάρμακα και εμβόλια. Η πραγματικότητα όμως είναι ότι τους ώθησε η τυφλή φιλοδοξία που έχουν, δίχως καμία αίσθηση του τι δύνανται να προκαλέσουν», εξηγεί ο ίδιος.

Για τον Σιμόν Γουάνι-Χόμπσον από το Ινστιτούτο Παστέρ και άλλους σημαντικούς ερευνητές, το παγκόσμιο πεδίο της έρευνας ιών δεν υποστηρίζεται όπως θα έπρεπε, γι' αυτό και ακόμη δεν έχουν καταφέρει οι ειδικοί να παρασκευάσουν εμβόλιο πριν από την εμφάνιση κάποιου ιού με τη μορφή επιδημίας.

Χρειάζονται πιο αυστηρά μέτρα
«Δεν σκέφτονται τι κάνουν; Πώς θα επιτευχθεί η επιτήρηση του ιού στον χώρο όπου φυλάσσεται; Χρειάζονται πιο αυστηρά μέτρα. Δεν σχεδιάζονται τόσο απλά οι υβριδικοί ιοί», λέει ο Σιμόν Γουάνι-Χόμπσον, καθηγητής του Ερευνητικού Τμήματος Ιολογίας του γαλλικού Ινστιτούτου Παστέρ.

.tanea.gr
7/5/13
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Πέμπτη, Απριλίου 25, 2013

Naissance de moutons génétiquement modifiés phosphorescents en Uruguay

Un groupe de scientifiques uruguayens, en partenariat avec l'Institut Pasteur de Montevideo, a annoncé mercredi 24 avril la naissance de moutons génétiquement modifiés phosphorescents. "La transgenèse sur cette espèce n'était pas disponible en Amérique latine et cette réussite positionne l'Uruguay au plus haut niveau scientifique mondial", se sont félicités l'Institut de reproduction animale Uruguay (IRAUy) et l'Institut Pasteur dans un communiqué.

Nés en octobre 2012 à l'IRAUy, les animaux se sont développés normalement, sans présenter de différences avec leurs homologues non-transgéniques, a indiqué Alejo Menchaca, président de l'Institut.
Leur seule spécificité visible est d'être phosphorescents lorsqu'ils sont placés sous une lumière ultra-violette, en raison de l'introduction dans leur ADN du gène d'une méduse.
L'opération n'a pas de but en soi, si ce n'est de vérifier l'efficacité de la méthode d'introduction d'un gène étranger dans l'ADN de ces animaux. "C'est une technique très efficace, car tous ceux qui sont nés sont positifs. Maintenant, nous pouvons travailler avec un autre gène, qui sera d'un plus grand intérêt, pour produire une protéine spécifique", a poursuivi Alejo Menchaca.
Les recherches étudient par exemple la possibilité de prendre un gène responsable de la production d'une protéine manquante dans certaines pathologies humaines (comme l'insuline dans le cas des diabétiques), de l'incorporer dans le génome d'une brebis, qui à sa naissance le produira dans son lait. Il serait ensuite possible d'isoler cette protéine pour fabriquer des médicaments plus facilement qu'avec les méthodes actuelles, d'après les chercheurs.
Une vache transgénique produisant des protéines humaines dans son lait a été créée en Argentine en 2011, et il existe également des chèvres génétiquement modifiées au Brésil, qui produisent des protéines à usage humain.
 .lemonde.fr
25/4/13
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Τρίτη, Απριλίου 16, 2013

Το άχυρο και οι κορμοί γίνονται τρόφιμα! ... Πρωτοποριακή μέθοδος μετατρέπει την κυτταρίνη σε βρώσιμο άμηλο

Percvial Zhang
Ουάσινγκτον 
Όπως φαίνεται, στο μέλλον θα τρώμε ξύλο κυριολεκτικά. Ερευνητές στις ΗΠΑ κατάφεραν για πρώτη φορά να μετατρέψουν την κυτταρίνη -το βασικό συστατικό του ξύλου και όλων των φυτικών υπολειμμάτων- σε άφθονο βρώσιμο άμυλο.
Αφθονη άχρηστη βιομάζα
Η κυτταρίνη αντιστοιχεί σε ένα πολύ μεγάλο μέρος της βιομάζας των φυτών σε όλο τον πλανήτη. Το εντυπωσιακό μάλιστα είναι ότι η παραγωγή άχρηστης κυτταρίνης στη γεωργία είναι πολύ μεγαλύτερη από την παραγωγή αγροτικών προϊόντων. Στην περίπτωση των σιτηρών, για παράδειγμα, κάθε τόνος συγκομιδής πρέπει να διαχωριστεί από 2 με 3 τόνους αποβλήτων πλούσιων σε κυτταρίνη.

Κάθε μόριο κυτταρίνης αποτελείται από εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες μόρια γλυκόζης, η οποία φυσικά τρώγεται. Το πρόβλημα όμως είναι ότι οι δεσμοί που συνδέουν αυτά τα μόρια γλυκόζης διασπώνται εξαιρετικά δύσκολα. Μόνο λίγα είδη βακτηρίων, και κυρίως μυκήτων, μπορούν να φέρουν εις πέρας αυτό τον άθλο, γι΄αυτό και το ξύλο μπορεί να παραμένει για χρόνια θαμμένο στο έδαφος μέχρι να αποσυντεθεί πλήρως.

Τα τελευταία χρόνια βρίσκονται σε εξέλιξη πολλά ερευνητικά προγράμματα με στόχο τη μετατροπή της κυτταρίνης σε βιοκαύσιμα όπως η αιθανόλη. Φαίνεται όμως ότι, εκτός από καύσιμα, η κυτταρίνη θα μπορούσε να αποτελέσει πρώτη ύλη και για την παραγωγή αμύλου, το οποίο επίσης αποτελείται από μόρια γλυκόζης, ενωμένα όμως με διαφορετικούς δεσμούς.

Με γονίδια βακτηρίων
Ο δρ Πέρσιβαλ Ζανγκ του Πολιτειακού Πανεπιστημίου της Βιρτζίνια στο Μπλάκσμπεργκ χρησιμοποίησε γονίδια βακτηρίων τα οποία ήταν γνωστό ότι μεταβολίζουν την κυτταρίνη. Τα γονίδια αυτά εισήχθησαν σε βακτήρια Escherichia coli, τα οποία έτσι ανέλαβαν να παράγουν τα απαραίτητα ένζυμα σε επαρκείς ποσότητες.

Μια ομάδα ενζύμων διασπά την κυτταρίνη σε μικρότερα μόρια, ενώ μια δεύτερη ομάδα ενζύμων μετατρέπει αυτά τα μόρια σε αμυλόζη, μια μορφή αμύλου.

Η συνθετική αμυλόζη  «δεν έχει γεύση στην αρχή» αναφέρει ο δρ Ζανγκ που δοκίμασε το παρασκεύασμα. «Αν το μασήσεις για λίγο γίνεται ελαφρώς γλυκό» συνεχίζει. Πράγματι, τα μόρια αμύλου διασπώνται εύκολα από το ένζυμο αμυλάση του σάλιου και μετατρέπονται έτσι σε ελεύθερα μόρια γλυκιάς γλυκόζης.

Η νέα μέθοδος μετατρέπει σε άμυλο γύρω στο ένα τρίτο της συνολικής κυτταρίνης, ωστόσο ό,τι περισσεύει δεν είναι άχρηστο: η υπόλοιπη κυτταρίνη μετατρέπεται σε γλυκόζη, η οποία μπορεί με τη σειρά της να μετατραπεί σε βιοαιθανόλη με μεθόδους βιοτεχνολογίας.

Τόνοι τροφής για τον πλανήτη
Δεδομένου ότι το άμυλο αντιστοιχεί σήμερα έως και στο 40% της ανθρώπινης διατροφής, η νέα ενζυματική τεχνική θα μπορούσε να ταΐσει τον αυξανόμενο παγκόσμιο πληθυσμό, εκτιμούν τώρα οι ερευνητές.

Υπολογίζουν ότι, αν η διαθεσιμότητα της γλυκόζης ήταν 100 δισεκατομμύρια τόνοι το χρόνο, η μέθοδός τους θα μπορούσε να παράγει 4,5 δισεκατομμύρια τόνους αμύλου, ποσότητα δύο φορές μεγαλύτερη από την ετήσια παγκόσμια παραγωγής δημητριακών.

Ακόμα όμως κι αν αποδειχθεί στο μέλλον ότι οι άνθρωποι δεν έχουν όρεξη να καταναλώσουν αυτό το νέο συνθετικό τρόφιμο, το άμυλο από κυτταρίνη θα μπορούσε να αξιοποιηθεί στην παραγωγή βιοδιασπώμενου πλαστικού και άλλων υλικών.

Σίγουρα όμως, αυτό απέχει πολύ στο μέλλον: τα απαιτούμενα ένζυμα είναι σήμερα εξαιρετικά ακριβά, και οι ερευνητές υπολογίζουν ότι θα χρειάζονταν ένα εκατομμύριο δολάρια για να παραγάγουν 20 κιλά αμυλόζης.

16/4/13
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Research team creates potential food source from non-food plants

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2013 

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally thought of as food crops.
Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, led a team of researchers in the project that could help feed a global population expected to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Starch is one of the most important components of the human diet and provides 20 to 40 percent of our daily caloric intake.
The research was published this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Cellulose is the supporting material in plant cell walls and is the most common carbohydrate on earth. This new development opens the door to the potential that food could be created from any plant, reducing the need for crops to be grown on valuable land that requires fertilizers, pesticides, and large amounts of water. The type of starch that Zhang’s team produced is amylose, a linear resistant starch that is not broken down in the digestion process and acts as a good source of dietary fiber. It has been proven to decrease the risk of obesity and diabetes.
This discovery holds promise on many fronts beyond food systems.
“Besides serving as a food source, the starch can be used in the manufacture of edible, clear films for biodegradable food packaging,” Zhang said.  “It can even serve as a high-density hydrogen storage carrier that could solve problems related to hydrogen storage and distribution.”
Zhang used a novel process involving cascading enzymes to transform cellulose into amylose starch.
“Cellulose and starch have the same chemical formula,” Zhang said. “The difference is in their chemical linkages. Our idea is to use an enzyme cascade to break up the bonds in cellulose, enabling their reconfiguration as starch.”
The new approach takes cellulose from non-food plant material, such as corn stover, converts about 30 percent to amylose, and hydrolyzes the remainder to glucose suitable for ethanol production. Corn stover consists of the stem, leaves, and husk of the corn plant remaining after ears of corn are harvested. However, the process works with cellulose from any plant.
This bioprocess called “simultaneous enzymatic biotransformation and microbial fermentation” is easy to scale up for commercial production. It is environmentally friendly because it does not require expensive equipment, heat, or chemical reagents, and does not generate any waste. The key enzymes immobilized on the magnetic nanoparticles can easily be recycled using a magnetic force.
Zhang designed the experiments and conceived the cellulose-to-starch concept. Zhang and Virginia Tech visiting scholar Hongge Chen are the inventors of the cellulose-to-starch biotransformation, which is covered under a provisional patent application. Chun You, a postdoctoral researcher from China at Virginia Tech, and Chen conducted most of the research work.
Support for the current research comes from the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. Additional resources were contributed by the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Biodesign and Bioprocessing Research Center, the Shell GameChanger Program, and the U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Science Center, along with the Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences, Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the Department of Energy. Chen was partially supported by the China Scholarship Council.
Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.
.vtnews.vt.edu
16/4/13
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Δευτέρα, Απριλίου 08, 2013

Microalgae Produce More Oil Faster for Energy, Food or Products



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Apr. 7, 2013 — Scientists have described technology that accelerates microalgae's ability to produce many different types of renewable oils for fuels, chemicals, foods and personal-care products within days using standard industrial fermentation.
The presentation was part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on April 7.

Walter Rakitsky, Ph.D, explained that microalgae are the original oil producers on earth, and that all of the oil-producing machinery present in higher plants resides within these single-cell organisms. Solazyme's breakthrough biotechnology platform unlocks the power of microalgae, achieving over 80 percent oil within each individual cell at commercial scale while changing the triglyceride oil paradigm by their ability to tailor the oil profiles by carbon chain and saturation. The ability to produce multiple oils in a matter of days out of one plant location using standard industrial fermentation is a game-changer. Solazyme's patented microalgae strains have become the workhorses of a growing industry focused on producing commercial quantities of microalgal oil for energy and food applications. Rakitsky is with Solazyme, Inc., of South San Francisco, Calif., one of the largest and most successful of those companies, which in 2011 supplied 100 percent microalgal-derived advanced biofuel for the first U.S. passenger jetliner flight powered by advanced biofuel.
In a keynote talk at the ACS meeting, Rakitsky described Solazyme's technology platform that enables the company to produce multiple oils from heart-healthy high-oleic oils for food to oils that are tailored to have specific performance and functionality benefits in industry, such as safer dielectric fluids and oils that are the highest-value cuts of the barrel for advanced fuels. The benefits of these oils far surpass those of other oils that are currently available today.
"For the first time in history, we have unlocked the ability to completely design and tailor oils," he said. "This breakthrough allows us to create oils optimized for everything from high-performance jet and diesel fuel to renewable chemicals to skin-care products and heart-healthy food oils. These oils could replace or enhance the properties of oils derived from the world's three dominant sources: petroleum, plants and animals."
Producing custom-tailored oils starts with optimizing the algae to produce the right kind of oil, and from there, the flexibility of the fermentation platform really comes into play. Solazyme is able to produce all of these oils in one location simply by switching out the strain of microalgae they use, Rakitsky explained. Unlike other algal oil production processes, in which algae grow in open ponds, Solazyme grows microalgae in total darkness in the same kind of fermentation vats used to produce vinegar, medicines and scores of other products. Instead of sunlight, energy for the microalgae's growth comes from low-cost, plant-based sugars. This gives the company a completely consistent, repeatable industrial process to produce tailored oil at scale.
Sugar from traditional sources such as sugarcane and corn has advantages for growing microalgae, especially their abundance and relatively low cost, Rakitsky said. The company's first fit-for-purpose commercial-scale production plant is under construction with their partner Bunge next to a sugarcane mill in Brazil. Initial production capacity will be 110,000 tons of microalgal oil annually, expanding up to 330,700 tons. In addition, the company has a production agreement with ADM in Clinton, Iowa, for 22,000 tons of oil, expandable to 110,000 tons. Ultimately, cellulosic sources of sugars from non-food plants or plant waste materials, like grasses or corn stover, may take over as those technologies reach the right scale and cost structures.
.sciencedaily.com
7/4/13
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Σάββατο, Μαρτίου 02, 2013

‘Intrigue’ Persists in Hunt for Antarctic Subglacial Life

MOSCOW, March 1 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – Russian researchers have successfully obtained ice samples from the ancient Lake Vostok in the Antarctic, but said on Friday it would take months to clarify whether life exists in the fossil water below the 3.5-kilometer (2.2 mile) high glacier.
“Let’s maintain the intrigue a little longer,” Vladimir Lipenkov, a climatologist at Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, quipped at a RIA Novosti press conference.

The ice samples are currently on the research vessel Akademik Fyodorov, which will return to St. Petersburg from the Southern hemisphere in May, Lipenkov said. Analysis of the samples will then start, with results published in late 2013 or early next year, he said.
Lake Vostok, the largest subglacial lake in the Antarctic, may contain unique microscopic lifeforms that evolved after it was isolated from the outside world by the ice sheet 18 million years ago, Lipenkov said at a conference in St. Petersburg, broadcast to Moscow via videolink.
Russian researchers have been drilling to reach the lake since 1995, completing the borehole last year. However, the drilling season is short due to the harsh weather conditions in the area – Lake Vostok is situated at the southern Pole of Cold – and the research team was only able to collect samples of surface water from the lake that froze in the borehole in January 2013.
No lifeforms are currently known which would be capable of surviving in environment such as in the Lake Vostok, where the concentration of oxygen is 50 times higher than in ordinary water, Lipenkov said.
Preliminary analysis of early samples of surface water from the lake, published late last year, found no traces of any unique bacteria. But microorganisms may be living closer to the bottom, next to thermal springs which may be there, Lipenkov said.
The next step in the research will be obtaining water samples from below the surface of the lake, which has an average depth of more than 300 meters (980 feet), and then drill for bottom sediments, said drilling expert Nikolai Vasilyev.
That task will be harder than obtaining samples of lunar and Martian soil, said Vasilyev, a researcher with the National Mineral Resources University in St. Petersburg, which oversees the drilling operations at Lake Vostok.
The expedition at Russia’s Vostok Station above the lake was cleared by the international Committee for Environmental Protection to continue its research through 2018, said Valery Lukin, the head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition.
Russia allotted about 1.1 billion rubles ($35 million) to support Antarctic research in 2012, with 465 million rubles ($15 million) of that sum spent on Vostok Station, Lukin said at the conference.
The station, established in 1957, is one of five Russian year-round bases in the Antarctic. It is tentatively scheduled for a major revamp of its facilities starting 2014, Lukin said.
The Antarctic remains one of the least explored places on the planet, and as such, continues to thrill researchers and explorers. Caving in to temptation, even Russian President Vladimir Putin – known for his flamboyant exploits such as flying with migratory birds in a hang-glider and diving to the bottom of Lake Baikal in a submersible – announced in January plans to tour Russia’s stations on the southern continent sometime in 2013.
Some theories about the mysteries of the Antarctic are quite far-fetched: An oft-cited story claims a secret Nazi base was established there in 1943 to store Hitler’s secret files and DNA for cloning purposes. The story was never confirmed by historians, but continues to thrill conspiracy theorists.
The real mysteries of the Antarctic have to do with life under extreme conditions, which are similar to those found outside the Earth, Lukin said. Jupiter’s moon Europa is believed to house an ocean of liquid water under an outer core of ice, similar to Lake Vostok – and if the latter proves to contain life, this may imply similar discoveries on Europa.
“I’d compare it to space research,” Lukin said of Antarctic exploration. “Understanding of the subglacial environment expands human knowledge, the same as studying other objects of the Solar System.”
.rian.ru
1/3/13
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Παρασκευή, Μαρτίου 01, 2013

‘Intrigue’ Persists in Hunt for Antarctic Subglacial Life

MOSCOW, March 1 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – Russian researchers have successfully obtained ice samples from the ancient Lake Vostok in the Antarctic, but said on Friday it would take months to clarify whether life exists in the fossil water below the 3.5-kilometer (2.2 mile) high glacier.
“Let’s maintain the intrigue a little longer,” Vladimir Lipenkov, a climatologist at Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, quipped at a RIA Novosti press conference.

The ice samples are currently on the research vessel Akademik Fyodorov, which will return to St. Petersburg from the Southern hemisphere in May, Lipenkov said. Analysis of the samples will then start, with results published in late 2013 or early next year, he said.
Lake Vostok, the largest subglacial lake in the Antarctic, may contain unique microscopic lifeforms that evolved after it was isolated from the outside world by the ice sheet 18 million years ago, Lipenkov said at a conference in St. Petersburg, broadcast to Moscow via videolink.
Russian researchers have been drilling to reach the lake since 1995, completing the borehole last year. However, the drilling season is short due to the harsh weather conditions in the area – Lake Vostok is situated at the southern Pole of Cold – and the research team was only able to collect samples of surface water from the lake that froze in the borehole in January 2013.
No lifeforms are currently known which would be capable of surviving in environment such as in the Lake Vostok, where the concentration of oxygen is 50 times higher than in ordinary water, Lipenkov said.
Preliminary analysis of early samples of surface water from the lake, published late last year, found no traces of any unique bacteria. But microorganisms may be living closer to the bottom, next to thermal springs which may be there, Lipenkov said.
The next step in the research will be obtaining water samples from below the surface of the lake, which has an average depth of more than 300 meters (980 feet), and then drill for bottom sediments, said drilling expert Nikolai Vasilyev.
That task will be harder than obtaining samples of lunar and Martian soil, said Vasilyev, a researcher with the National Mineral Resources University in St. Petersburg, which oversees the drilling operations at Lake Vostok.
The expedition at Russia’s Vostok Station above the lake was cleared by the international Committee for Environmental Protection to continue its research through 2018, said Valery Lukin, the head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition.
Russia allotted about 1.1 billion rubles ($35 million) to support Antarctic research in 2012, with 465 million rubles ($15 million) of that sum spent on Vostok Station, Lukin said at the conference.
The station, established in 1957, is one of five Russian year-round bases in the Antarctic. It is tentatively scheduled for a major revamp of its facilities starting 2014, Lukin said.
The Antarctic remains one of the least explored places on the planet, and as such, continues to thrill researchers and explorers. Caving in to temptation, even Russian President Vladimir Putin – known for his flamboyant exploits such as flying with migratory birds in a hang-glider and diving to the bottom of Lake Baikal in a submersible – announced in January plans to tour Russia’s stations on the southern continent sometime in 2013.
Some theories about the mysteries of the Antarctic are quite far-fetched: An oft-cited story claims a secret Nazi base was established there in 1943 to store Hitler’s secret files and DNA for cloning purposes. The story was never confirmed by historians, but continues to thrill conspiracy theorists.
The real mysteries of the Antarctic have to do with life under extreme conditions, which are similar to those found outside the Earth, Lukin said. Jupiter’s moon Europa is believed to house an ocean of liquid water under an outer core of ice, similar to Lake Vostok – and if the latter proves to contain life, this may imply similar discoveries on Europa.
“I’d compare it to space research,” Lukin said of Antarctic exploration. “Understanding of the subglacial environment expands human knowledge, the same as studying other objects of the Solar System.”
.rian.ru
1/3/13
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Δευτέρα, Φεβρουαρίου 18, 2013

Human intelligence is declining according to Stanford geneticist

Ever can’t help but think you’re surrounded by idiots? A leading scientist at Stanford University thinks he has the answer, and the bad news is things aren’t likely to get any better.
Dr. Gerald Crabtree, a geneticist at Stanford, has published a study that he conducted to try and identify the progression of modern man’s intelligence. As it turns out, however, Dr. Crabtree’s research led him to believe that the collective mind of mankind has been on more or a less a downhill trajectory for quite some time.
According to his research, published in two parts starting with last year’s ‘Our fragile intellect. Part I,’ Dr. Crabtree thinks unavoidable changes in the genetic make-up coupled with modern technological advances has left humans, well, kind of stupid. He has recently published his follow-up analysis, and in it explains that of the roughly 5,000 genes he considered the basis for human intelligence, a number of mutations over the years has forced modern man to be only a portion as bright as his ancestors.

“New developments in genetics, anthropology and neurobiology predict that a very large number of genes underlie our intellectual and emotional abilities, making these abilities genetically surprisingly fragile,” he writes in part one of his research. “Analysis of human mutation rates and the number of genes required for human intellectual and emotional fitness indicates that we are almost certainly losing these abilities,” he adds in his latest report.
From there, the doctor goes on to explain that general mutations over the last few thousand years have left mankind increasingly unable to cope with certain situations that perhaps our ancestors would be more adapted to.
“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2000–6000 years ago. The basis for my wager comes from new developments in genetics, anthropology, and neurobiology that make a clear prediction that our intellectual and emotional abilities are genetically surprisingly fragile.”
According to the doctor, humans were at their most intelligent when “every individual was exposed to nature’s raw selective mechanisms on a daily basis.” Under those conditions, adaption, he argued, was much more of a matter than fight or flight. Rather, says the scientists, it was a sink or swim situation for generations upon generations.
"We, as a species, are surprisingly intellectually fragile and perhaps reached a peak 2,000 to 6,000 years ago," he writes. "If selection is only slightly relaxed, one would still conclude that nearly all of us are compromised compared to our ancient ancestors of 3,000 to 6,000 years ago.”

That doesn’t mean it’s all downhill, though. Dr. Crabtree says, “although our genomes are fragile, our society is robust almost entirely by virtue of education, which allow strengths to be rapidly distributed to all members."

"We have a long time to solve it. People 300 years ago had no idea where we'd be scientifically now," he says. "We'll be able to deal with this problem with a range of humane and ethical solutions."
.rt.com 
18/2/13
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Τρίτη, Φεβρουαρίου 05, 2013

UK opens new Antarctic station


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The UK has officially opened its newest Antarctic research station, which replaces a former station Halley 5. 

This was due to concerns that ice under the 20-year-old former station could break in the future.


 The new research station is already operational, and is fully relocatable. 

The British government established its first Antarctic station in 1944 as part of Operation Tabarin. Currently the country has six stations on the Brunt Ice Shelf.
.cntv.cn
5/2/13
The UK has officially opened its newest Antarctic research station, which replaces a
former station Halley 5.

Οι νεκροί Έλληνες στα μακεδονικά χώματα σάς κοιτούν με οργή

«Παριστάνετε τα "καλά παιδιά" ελπίζοντας στη στήριξη του διεθνή παράγοντα για να παραμείνετε στην εξουσία», ήταν η κατηγορία πο...