Earth

Boston, MA - Pregnant women who had low plasma levels of long chain n-3 fatty acids in their first and second trimesters were at a significantly higher risk of early preterm birth when compared with women who had higher levels of these fatty acids, according to new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. The study suggests that low concentrations of certain long chain fatty acids--eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA+DHA)--may be a strong risk factor for preterm birth.

New Orleans, LA - Research led by Rinku Majumder, PhD, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found how hypoxia (a low concentration of oxygen) decreases Protein S, a natural anticoagulant, resulting in an increased risk for the development of potentially life-threatening blood clots (thrombosis). Although hypoxia has been associated with an increased risk for thrombosis, this research showed for the first time a molecular cause. The work is published in the current issue of Blood, available online here.

A study led by experts from the University of Barcelona's Faculty of Biology and Institute for Research on Biodiversity (IRBio) have identified a disease that is affecting the starfish Odontaster validus, one of the most common species on the Antarctic sea floor. The disease, which is the first to be described in an echinoderm in Antarctica's marine environment, has afflicted up to 10% of the populations of the species, which is the most important benthic predator in the coastal communities of Deception Island and other marine regions in Antarctic latitudes.

The vast reservoir of carbon stored beneath our feet is entering Earth's atmosphere at an increasing rate, most likely as a result of warming temperatures, suggest observations collected from a variety of the Earth's many ecosystems.

Blame microbes and how they react to warmer temperatures. Their food of choice - nature's detritus like dead leaves and fallen trees - contains carbon. When bacteria chew on decaying leaves and fungi chow down on dead plants, they convert that storehouse of carbon into carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.

Tsukuba, Japan - Placodes and neural crests are defining features of vertebrates (animals with a spinal cord surrounded by cartilage or bone). Placodes are embryonic structures that develop into sensory organs such as ear, nose, and lens cells, while neural crests develop into various cell lineages such as bone, craniofacial cartilage, and epidermal sensory neurons.

When scientists discovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis in 1989, they were optimistic that a cure was on the horizon. As the years rolled by, hundreds of mutations were identified in the gene, but new treatments were slow to emerge and a cure has yet to materialize. One major reason for the delay is that scientists have had trouble figuring out precisely where the gene is active. Now they know.

It is one of the most unusual primates on the planet - famed for its large eyes, big ears and thin, bony finger used for probing.

Often persecuted as a harbinger of evil, the aye-aye has fascinated scientists, in particular how and why it evolved such unusual features.

But now a new study has, for the first time, measured the extent to which the endangered aye-aye has evolved similar features to squirrels, despite being more closely related to monkeys, chimps, and humans.

Up until quite recently, the animal phylum Placozoa enjoyed a unique position in animal systematics. It was the only phylum to which only a single species had ever been assigned: Trichoplax adhaerens. Now, however, at team led by Professor Gert Wörheide of LMU's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and GeoBio-Center has discovered that placozoan specimens collected from coastal waters off Hong Kong clearly differ from T. adhaerens in their genetic make-up.

A stalled weather pattern led to persistent showers and thunderstorms moving up the eastern seaboard during the week of July 22, resulting in significant rainfall amounts and numerous flood warnings. NASA utilized satellite data to analyze and tally the rainfall from the storms.

Scientists recently discovered the aptly named peacock jumping spiders have the color vision needed to appreciate the male's gaudy display.

Now biologists at the University of Cincinnati are studying whether that ability translates to the more humdrum-looking wolf spiders that are muted browns and tans instead of electric blue, fiery orange and stoplight red.

UC biology professor George Uetz and his students presented their work in June at the American Arachnological Society meeting at the University of Michigan.