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A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source, above, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility at Argonne National Laboratory, demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring the distribution of trace elements in thicker sp

X-ray ptychography, fluorescence microscopy combo sheds new light on trace elements

April 24, 2015 10:44 am | by Angela Hardin, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a new approach that combines ptychographic x-ray imaging and fluorescence microscopy to study the important role trace elements play in biological functions on hydrated cells. A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring distribution of trace elements in thicker specimens at cryogenic temperatures, in this case at about 260 degrees below Fahrenheit.

New DNA codes for mammoths: Step toward bringing them back?

April 23, 2015 2:05 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are getting their best look yet at the DNA code for the woolly mammoth, thanks to...

Testing brain activity to identify cybersecurity threats

April 22, 2015 10:37 am | by Angie Hunt, Iowa State Univ. | News | Comments

The old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link certainly applies to the risk...

Engineering the P450 enzyme to perform new reactions

April 22, 2015 8:24 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Enzymes, the micro machines in our cells, can evolve to perform new tasks when confronted with...

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Engineered softwood could transform pulp, paper and biofuel industries

April 22, 2015 7:44 am | by Krista Eastman, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.

A better grasp of primate grip

April 21, 2015 10:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history. In a new study, a research team led by Yale Univ. found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision grip capabilities comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, which appears in the fossil record a million years before the first evidence of stone tools.

Microalgae used for green asphalt

April 21, 2015 10:25 am | by CNRS | News | Comments

Microalgae offer a highly promising alternative to petroleum products without competing for resources used in the food industry. They have now been used, for the first time, to make asphalt. Researchers have recently proved the viability of bioasphalt, demonstrating its close similarity to the "real" asphalt used to pave roads.

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Engineers introduce design that mimics nature’s camouflage

April 20, 2015 8:22 am | by Scott Schrage, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications | News | Comments

It can shift from red to green to violet. It can mimic patterns and designs. And it can do all of this in a flash, literally. The same qualities that define the cuttlefish, a sea dweller that uses its powers of dynamic camouflage to survive and communicate, also apply to a new engineering feat that behaves much like nature's master of disguise.

New lab technique reveals structure, function of proteins critical in DNA repair

April 17, 2015 12:32 pm | by Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

By combining two highly innovative experimental techniques, scientists at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have for the first time simultaneously observed the structure and the correlated function of specific proteins critical in the repair of DNA, providing definitive answers to some highly debated questions, and opening up new avenues of inquiry and exciting new possibilities for biological engineering.

3D-printed blossoms a growing tool for ecology

April 17, 2015 10:36 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

3D printing has been used to make everything from cars to medical implants. Now, Univ. of Washington ecologists are using the technology to make artificial flowers, which they say could revolutionize our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions.

How climate affects biodiversity

April 17, 2015 8:22 am | by Uppsala Univ. | News | Comments

How does climate change affect the occurrence and distribution of species? This is a key question in the climate debate, and one that is hard to answer without information about natural variation in species abundance. Now researchers from Uppsala Univ. can, for the first time, give us a detailed picture of natural variation through study published in Current Biology.

Flourishing faster

April 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

Scientists at The Univ. of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster, which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change. In the study, published in Current Biology, the team successfully manipulated two genes in poplar trees in order to make them grow larger and more quickly than usual.

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Zinc deficiency linked to activation of Hedgehog signaling pathway

April 17, 2015 8:03 am | by Mary Martialay, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | News | Comments

Zinc deficiency, long associated with numerous diseases like certain cancers, can lead to activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway, a biomolecular pathway that plays essential roles in developing organisms and in diseases, according to new research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Tracing dust samples using fungal DNA

April 16, 2015 12:33 pm | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, have developed a statistical model that allows them to tell where a dust sample came from within the continental U.S. based on the DNA of fungi found in the sample.

Inhibitor for abnormal protein points way to more selective cancer drugs

April 16, 2015 8:20 am | by Dave Zobel, Caltech | News | Comments

Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.

BPA exposure in pregnant mice affects fertility in three generations

April 16, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

When scientists exposed pregnant mice to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equivalent to those considered safe in humans, three generations of female mouse offspring experienced significant reproductive problems, including declines in fertility, sexual maturity and pregnancy success, the scientists report in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Science Connect: The Translational Approach

April 15, 2015 4:37 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Translational research is a paradigm for research designed to enable innovative thinking by leveraging the benefits of collaboration. First emerging in the mid-1990s in reference to cancer studies spanning basic science, over the past two decades the definition has broadened and evolved.

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Nano-coated mesh could clean oil spills

April 15, 2015 9:24 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers in Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.

DNA data set is potent, accessible tool

April 15, 2015 7:52 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists focused on producing biofuels more efficiently have a new powerful data set to help them study the DNA of microbes that fuel bioconversion and other processes. In a recently published paper, researchers describe methods and results for sequencing the Clostridium autoethanogenum bacterium. These and other microorganisms play important roles in biofuels, agriculture, food production, the environment, health and disease.

Your brain's aging and a new report urges ways to stay sharp

April 14, 2015 4:11 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Those lost car keys that were an annoyance in your 30s can spark major anxiety in your 60s. Turns out it's pretty normal: The brain ages just like the rest of your body, says a new report that urges Americans to take steps to keep sharp in their senior years. The prestigious Institute of Medicine examined what scientists know about "cognitive aging," changes in mental functioning as we get older.

Why skin is resistant to tearing

April 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Skin is remarkably resistant to tearing and a team of researchers from the Univ. of California, San Diego and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory now have shown why. Using powerful x-ray beams and electron microscopy, researchers made the first direct observations of the micro-scale mechanisms that allow skin to resist tearing.

Limber lungs: one type of airway cell can regenerate another lung cell type

April 13, 2015 1:41 pm | by UPenn | News | Comments

A new collaborative study describes a way that lung tissue can regenerate after injury. 

Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

April 10, 2015 12:07 pm | by Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

The step forward follows research by the Univs. of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter.

Bacteria tracked feeding nitrogen to nutrient-starved plants

April 10, 2015 11:19 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

With rising populations and changing climate conditions, the need for resilient and reliable crops has never been greater. Nitrogen, an essential element for plant growth, is often woefully absent in heavily farmed land. Earth’s atmosphere offers an overabundance of nitrogen, but how can it be safely and sustainably transferred into the soil? Nitrogen-eating bacteria may be the answer.

Researchers deliver large particles into cells at high speed

April 9, 2015 12:06 pm | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A new device developed by Univ. of California, Los Angeles, engineers and doctors may eventually help scientists study the development of disease, enable them to capture improved images of the inside of cells and lead to other improvements in medical and biological research.

Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

Computers that mimic the function of the brain

April 7, 2015 8:16 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are always searching for improved technologies, but the most efficient computer possible already exists. It can learn and adapt without needing to be programmed or updated. It has nearly limitless memory, is difficult to crash, and works at extremely fast speeds. It’s not a Mac or a PC; it’s the human brain. And scientists around the world want to mimic its abilities.

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

April 7, 2015 8:02 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Life may seem precarious for the sea sponge known as Venus’ flower basket. Tiny, hair-like appendages made essentially of glass are all that hold the creatures to their seafloor homes. But fear not for these creatures of the deep. Those tiny lifelines, called basalia spicules, are fine-tuned for strength, according to new research led by Brown Univ. engineers.

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