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Evaluating cultural value of landscapes using geotagged photos

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Photo taken by Tsutom Hiura

Researchers have developed a new method for assessing the cultural value of landscapes using geotagged photos shared on a social-networking service. Data obtained with this method could help determine which locations should be used for tourism or targeted for environmental protection. We all know that nature provides recreational and psychological benefits to us but it is often difficult to assign monetary worth to. This research could help us determine how to strike a balance between the utilization and preservation of nature. “This type of research has received little attention despite its importance,” says Tsutom Hiura of the research team at Hokkaido University. “We wanted to develop a robust and reliable method to evaluate the aesthetic value of landscapes.” This is in line with the international agreement, the Aichi Biodiversity Target, which refers to the importance of ecosystem service mapping methodologies.


Nei geni della Sardegna il futuro per la prevenzione delle malattie ereditarie

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Uno studio del Rna dei Sardi guidato dall’Irgb-Cnr consente una migliore comprensione sul funzionamento del genoma umano. Il lavoro è stato pubblicato su Nature Genetics

Un team di ricercatori guidati da Francesco Cucca, Direttore dell’Istituto di ricerca genetica e biomedica del Cnr (Irgb-Cnr) e professore di Genetica Medica all'Università degli Studi di Sassari, riporta sulla rivista Nature Genetics i risultati del sequenziamento del Rna. Lo studio, intitolato ‘Population and individual-specific regulatory variation in Sardinia’ prende in analisi oltre 600 individui sardi di cui sono stati caratterizzati sia l’RNA che il DNA. DNA, RNA e proteine sono le molecole fondamentali di tutte le forme di vita conosciute. Il DNA contiene le informazioni che servono guidare tutti i processi cellulari. Dal DNA viene copiato (’trascritto’) l’RNA, che può fungere da guida per la produzione di proteine, oltre ad essere esso stesso in grado di regolare diversi processi biologici.


Avocados May Help Combat the Metabolic Syndrome

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A new review investigates the effects of avocados on different components of metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of risk factors including high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index. These risk factors lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to studies reported in the literature, avocados have the most beneficial effects on lipid profiles, with changes to LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and phospholipids. The peel, seed, flesh, and leaves of avocados have differing effects on components of metabolic syndrome.


From genetic analyses of tumours to regenerative medicine

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Movement detection in a Bielefeld University laboratory: one of the five new medical research projects is studying how physical activity and behavioural therapy influence depression. Photo: Bielefeld University

Five medical research projects to be launched at Bielefeld University . Bielefeld University is strengthening its cooperations in medical research. In five new projects, scientists at the university are cooperating with the University hospitals of the Ruhr University of Bochum in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region. The projects are being funded by Bielefeld University’s Forschungsfonds Medizin, and the first will start this April. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia set up the fund in July 2016. Topics covered by the new cooperations range from heart and cancer research to regenerative medicine. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is using this research fund to accompany the expansion of the University hospitals of the Ruhr University of Bochum to the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region. The goal is to build up and promote research cooperations between Bielefeld University and the University hospitals in Minden, Lübbecke-Rahden, Herford, and Bad Oeynhausen as well as the Department of General Medicine of the Ruhr University of Bochum.


Obesity May Influence Rheumatoid Arthritis Blood Tests

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New research reveals that in women, obesity may influence blood tests used to diagnose and monitor rheumatoid arthritis. The findings, which appear in Arthritis Care & Research, indicate that physicians need to take obesity into account when using these tests. Blood tests for C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) can help physicians assess levels of inflammation in the body. The tests may be used for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis and for determining how well treatment is working in affected patients. Because some studies have found links between higher levels of CRP and ESR with greater body mass index (BMI), Michael George, MD MSCE, of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and his colleagues sought to determine the extent to which obesity biases these markers. The researchers analyzed information on 2,103 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and compared it with data from the general population.


Many New Doctors May Be Posting Unprofessional Content on Facebook

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When researchers searched Facebook for the public accounts of all urologists who graduated from US residency programs in 2015, they found that a substantial proportion of these accounts contained self-authored unprofessional content based on the professionalism guidelines of three physicians' organizations. Of 281 urologists, 201 (72%) had publicly-identifiable Facebook profiles. Of these, 80 profiles (40%) included unprofessional or potentially-objectionable content, including 27 profiles (13%) with explicitly unprofessional behavior, such as depictions of intoxication, uncensored profanity, unlawful behavior, and confidential patient information. When unprofessional content was found, the content was self-authored in 82% of categories.


A New Role for Autophagosomes in Neurodegeneration

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Figures: Neurodegenerative changes in the brains of mice with a missing adapter to bind the autophagosome motor; therefore, the autophagosomes are unable to transport BDNF. Left: Sections of a wild type mouse (WT) cortex and a knockout mouse (KO) cortex; Right: Enlarged depiction of the images on the left showing obvious neurodegeneration (arrows) in the brain of the knockout mouse. Picture: FMP

Autophagosomes are at the center of attention, at least since the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded for research on autophagy in 2016. The much talked about autophagosomes are small membrane vesicles in charge of waste disposal to promote recycling of its components. Scientists of the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) in Berlin and the CECAD Research Center in Cologne who work on degradation and recycling processes in cells,  recently made a striking discovery: They found that autophagosomes transport growth signals such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) along axons (long slender nerve cell projections) to the cell body. This signaling process enables survival of nerve cells and stimulates the formation of new branched neurites that allow neurons to interconnect. Nerve cells in the brain will die if the autophagosomal taxis cease to operate. The new discovery shows autophagosomes in a completely new light and fuels hope for new treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The results of this research were just published in the renowned science journal 'Nature Communications'*.


Crete’s Late Minoan tombs points way to early European migration

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Dr Ceiridwen Edwards


Archaeogenetic researcher Dr Ceiridwen Edwards will compare ancient DNA samples from one of one of Europe’s earliest civilisations with contemporary Cretans


RESEARCHERS at the University of Huddersfield have visited Rethymnon in Crete, to collect samples from the late Bronze Age Necropolis of Armenoi, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites.  DNA analysis of the ancient skeletal remains could provide fresh insights into the origins of European civilisation.  Dr Ceiridwen Edwards and PhD student George Foody were permitted to take bone samples and teeth from over 110 of the more than 600 skeletons discovered in the Necropolis, a rock-hewn burial site from the Late Minoan period dating to more than 4,000 years ago.  During their two-week visit, the Huddersfield researchers – part of a team that included colleagues from Oxford University and the Hellenic Archaeological Research Foundation – also took DNA swabs from more than 100 contemporary Cretans.  They sought people whose grandmothers were from Crete in order to analyse links to the Minoan period.


Two new species of orchids discovered in Okinawa

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Gastrodia okinawensis

Two new species of parasitic plants have been discovered on the main island of Okinawa, Japan. The discovery was made by Project Associate Professor SUETSUGU Kenji (Kobe University Graduate School of Science), who named them Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawensis. Details of these findings were published online in Phytotaxa on April 7th. Plants’ ability to photosynthesize is often taken as one of their defining features. However, some species choose instead to live a parasitic existence, attaching to the hyphae of fungi and exploiting them for nutrients. These plants are known as mycoheterotrophs. Since they don’t engage in photosynthesis, they only appear above ground during the brief period when they are in fruit or flowering. In addition, many of the species are small, making them very hard to find. Even in Japan, one of the most advanced countries in the world in documenting its flora, many mycoheterotrophs remain unclassified. Professor Suetsugu is one of those involved in documenting their distribution and classification.



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