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Sunday, October 21, 2018

ESF lists top 10 new species for 2017

A spider and an ant with names drawn from popular books, a pink katydid and an omnivorous rat made ESF's list of the Top 10 New Species for 2017. Also listed: a freshwater stingray, a bush tomato that appears to “bleed,” a devilish-looking orchid, a millipede with more than 400 legs, an amphibious centipede and a marine worm.

Kamchatkan volcanic ash travels half the world

Geochemical fingerprinting links microscopic ash found on the bottom of a Svalbard lake to volcanic event happening 7,000 years ago and 5,000 km away.

Environmental pollutants in large Norwegian lakes

Scientists have discovered the presence of contaminants in the pelagic food chains in the lakes Mjøsa, Randsfjorden and Femunden in Norway, and in supplementary material of fish from Tyrifjorden and Vansjø, sampled in 2015. Mercury and persistent organic pollutants (cVMS, PCBs, PBDEs, PFAS) were analyzed in samples of fish from all lakes, as well as pelagic crustaceans in Mjøsa.

Engineered protein enlisted to battle the MERS virus

Researchers converted a staple human ubiquitin protein into an anti-viral tool. Through subtle tweaks, they created an engineered version of the ubiquitin that binds more tightly and paralyzes a key enzyme in MERS to halt viral replication in cells. Other synthetic forms of ubiquitin can be quickly generated to target a diverse range of pathogens.

Researchers develop protocol to analyze many cells at once

With the new FISH-Flow protocol, researchers are able to evaluate multitudes of cells at once for telltale mRNA species and proteins. The blended procedure provides a chance to see how multiple kinds of immune cells are responding to a foreign substance, making it possible to detect the presence of disease faster and earlier.

Fueling the future

New research investigated the full life cycle impact of one promising 'second-generation biofuel' produced from short-rotation oak. The study found that second-generation biofuels made from managed trees and perennial grasses may provide a sustainable fuel resource.

Using seaweed to kill invasive ants

Scientists have developed an inexpensive, biodegradable, seaweed-based ant bait that can help homeowners and farmers control invasive Argentine ant populations.

Herpetologists describe an elf frog from the elfin forests in southern Vietnam

Going under the common name of Elfin mountain toad, a new amphibian is recognized as one of the smallest representative of its group. The new species was identified from the highland wet forests of Langbian Plateau, Southern Vietnam. The discoverers gave it this name that derives from German and Celtic folklore because of the resemblance they found between the tiny delicate amphibians and elves - small magic creatures. Furthermore, their habitat is known as elfin forests.

Life in the Precambrian may have been much livelier than previously thought

The strange creatures that lived in the Garden of the Ediacaran more than 540 million years ago, before animals came on the scene, may have been much more dynamic than experts have thought.

Scientists to test Zika virus on brain tumors

In a revolutionary first, scientists will test whether the Zika virus can destroy brain tumor cells, potentially leading to new treatments for one of the hardest to treat cancers.  

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