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Rischi per l'ambiente dall'uso eccessivo di antibiotici nella zootecnia

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Con l'aumento della produzione zootecnica, per soddisfare le esigenze di una popolazione mondiale in crescita, è cresciuta a dismisura anche la somministrazione di antibiotici a bovini, suini e polli negli allevamenti di tipo intensivo. Si tratta di una pratica ancora vietata in Europa, ma praticata senza divieti in Cina e Stati Uniti. L’impiego è normalmente previsto per contenere infezioni e altre malattie fra capi che vivono fra di loro a stretto contatto, ma la FDA denuncia anche un uso superfluo per accelerare la crescita della muscolatura, in particolare nei bovini. Una stima parla addirittura dell'80 % di produzione di antibiotici negli Stati Uniti destinata all'allevamento.  Questa tendenza sta facendo in modo che aumenti la resistenza dei batteri agli antibiotici all'interno del suolo, comportando rischi sulla reale efficacia di questi farmaci. Il loro impiego massiccio infatti svolge un 'azione sul suolo, ed in particolare sui microrganismi, che non va sottovalutata.

 

Un hub per la scienza del patrimonio culturale

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Prende il via la fase preparatoria dell’infrastruttura di ricerca europea per la scienza applicata al patrimonio culturale: E-RIHS PP - European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science Preparatory Phase. Firenze candidata a ospitare la sede centrale europea. Il progetto è finanziato dall’Ue e guidato dal Cnr, con il patrocinio del Comune di Firenze e della Regione Toscana e con il supporto della Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze

 

Si è tenuto oggi a Firenze, presso la Sala Capitolare della Caserma Redi (ex Convento del Maglio), il workshop internazionale ‘Towards a European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science’, evento di avvio della fase preparatoria ‘E-RIHS PP - European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science Preparatory Phase’, l’infrastruttura di ricerca europea per la scienza del patrimonio, unico dei sei nuovi progetti entrati nella Roadmap ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure) nel 2016 a guida italiana. Per questo avvio la Commissione Europea ha approvato un finanziamento di 4 milioni di euro sul programma di ricerca e sviluppo Horizon 2020. Il progetto è finanziato dall’Ue e sostenuto da Miur, Mibact, Mise, patrocinato da Comune di Firenze e Regione Toscana, con il supporto della Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze che si è impegnata a mettere a disposizione l’immobile (cioè la Caserma Redi) nel caso Firenze diventi la sede permanente.

 

Bacteria and phages - endless cycles of evolution

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PaulineScanlanCN2_3851c


What drives bacterial strain diversity in the gut? Although there are a number of possible explanations, a recent opinion piece published in TRENDs in Microbiology by Dr Pauline Scanlan, a Royal Society – Science Foundation Ireland Research Fellow at the APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, addresses one potentially important and overlooked aspect of this unresolved question. The human gut is host to an incredible diversity of microbes collectively known as the gut microbiome. Our gut microbiomes interact with us, their human hosts, to perform a myriad of crucial functions ranging from digestion of food to protection against pathogens. Whilst superficially it may seem that the microbes inhabiting the human gut are stable and broadly similar between individuals, recent advances in sequencing technology that allow for high-level resolution investigations have shown that our gut microbiomes are dynamic, capable of rapid evolution and unique to each individual in terms of bacterial species and strain diversity. This unique inter-individual variation is of crucial importance as we know that differences in bacterial strain diversity within species can have a range of positive or negative consequences for the human host – for example some strains of a given bacteria are harmless whilst another strain of the same bacterial species could kill you.  A classic example of this is different strains of the gut bacterium Escherichia coli - E. coli Nissle 1917 is used as a probiotic and E. coli O157:H7 has been responsible for a number of deadly food-borne pathogen outbreaks. Therefore a better understanding of what drives bacterial strain diversity is not just fundamental to our understanding of the ecology and evolution of microbes but is also highly relevant for improvements in human health and disease prevention.

 

Cortisol excess hits natural DNA process and mental health hard

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High concentrations of the stress hormone, Cortisol, in the body affect important DNA processes and increase the risk of long-term psychological consequences. These relationships are evident in a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy on patients with Cushing’s Syndrome, but the findings also open the door for new treatment strategies for other stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. “If these results can be verified and repeated in other studies, they would have significance for future possibilities for treating stress-induced psychological consequences,” says Camilla Glad, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition.

 

Novel drug delivery beats swine flu at gene level

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The schematic illustration of the intracellular delivery of antiviral siRNA against influenza A virus using SiO2-coated hybrid capsules.

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University together with their colleagues from St. Petersburg and London have elaborated a new approach to deliver anti-viral RNAi to target cells against H1N1 influenza virus infection. Drug encapsulating via a combination of layer-by-layer technique and sol-gel chemistry allows beating swine flu at the gene level. The first test showed an 80% drop in virus protein synthesis. A research was conducted by scientists from the Novel Dosage Laboratory, RASA Center at TPU, Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University, Research Institute of Influenza of Ministry of Healthcare of the Russian Federation and Queen Mary University of London School of Engineering and Materials Science. Scientists from Gorbacheva Research Institute of Pediatric Hematology and Transplantation also took an active part in the research.

 

About time! Predicting midge seasonality key to reducing livestock diseases

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Obsoletus_group_specimen_Hopetoun_midges_LARGER_file

 

Ecologists at the UK-based Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) have led a study which informs optimal strategies for control of devastating midge-borne diseases like bluetongue and Schmallenberg virus that affect cattle and sheep in the UK and beyond. Adult female midges (males do not bite) are responsible for infecting farm animals with numerous diseases and are active and abundant between Spring and Autumn. This activity period varies across the UK and Europe, and the severity of disease is linked to how many midges occur at peak season. Essential movements of animals between premises and vaccination campaigns can only occur in the European Union within the Seasonal Free Vector Period over winter, when adult midges are absent or less active and don’t bite animals and pass on infection.

 

Graphene-Based Neural Probes Probe Brain Activity in High Resolution

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Graphene-based transistors enable a flexible neural probe with excellent signal-to-noise ratio. Such probes are useful for examining neural activity for understanding diseases, as well as in neuroprosthetics for control of artificial limbs. Measuring brain activity with precision is essential to developing further understanding of diseases such as epilepsy and disorders that affect brain function and motor control. Neural probes with high spatial resolution are needed for both recording and stimulating specific functional areas of the brain. Now, researchers from the Graphene Flagship have developed a new device for recording brain activity in high resolution while maintaining excellent signal to noise ratio (SNR). Based on graphene field-effect transistors, the flexible devices open up new possibilities for the development of functional implants and interfaces.

 

Scientists Discover New Class of Anti-Diabetes Compounds that Reduce Liver Glucose Production

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TSRI Professor Pat Griffin, co-chair of the TSRI Department of Molecular Medicine. (Photo by James McEntee.)

 

Scientists may have found a new tool for studying—and maybe even treating—Type 2 diabetes, the form of diabetes considered responsible for close to 95 percent of cases in the United States. A team of scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and the Yale University School of Medicine, among others, have identified a new class of compounds that reduce production of glucose in the liver. One of these compounds, designed and optimized by TSRI scientists, significantly improves the health of diabetic animal models by reducing glucose levels in the blood, increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose balance.

 

More than a Hundred Years of Flooding and Erosion in One Event

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Figure 1D and 1E from Rathburn et al.: Flood impacts in the North St. Vrain Creek catchment, northern Colorado, USA. Images D and E are from Google Earth.


Sara Rathburn of Colorado State University and colleagues have developed an integrated sediment, wood, and organic carbon budget for North St. Vrain Creek in the semi-arid Colorado Front Range following an extreme flooding event in September of 2013. Erosion of more than 500,000 cubic meters, or up to ~115-years-worth of weathering products, occurred through landsliding and channel erosion during this event. More than half of the eroded sediment was deposited at the inlet and delta of a water supply reservoir, resulting in the equivalent of 100 years of reservoir sedimentation and 2% loss in water storage capacity. The flood discharged 28 mega-grams of carbon from one square kilometer of land (28 Mg C/km2), which is more like what would happen in humid, tectonically active areas. To get an idea of what that means, Rathburn explains, a mega-gram of carbon (C) eroded from one square kilometer of land is equivalent to about a million paper clips covering an 18-hole golf course. So in this scenario, the flood discharged 28 million paper clips from just a golf course-sized area.

 

Astronomers probe swirling particles in halo of starburst galaxy

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NGC253 starburst galaxy in optical (green; SINGG Survey) and radio (red; GLEAM) wavelengths. The H-alpha line emission, which indicates regions of active star formation, is highlighted in blue (SINGG Survey; Meurer+2006).

Astronomers have used a radio telescope in outback Western Australia to see the halo of a nearby starburst galaxy in unprecedented detail. A starburst galaxy is a galaxy experiencing a period of intense star formation and this one, known as NGC 253 or the Sculptor Galaxy, is approximately 11.5 million light-years from Earth. “The Sculptor Galaxy is currently forming stars at a rate of five solar masses each year, which is a many times faster than our own Milky Way,” said lead researcher Dr Anna Kapinska, from The University of Western Australia and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth. “This galaxy is famous because it’s beautiful and very close to us, and because of what’s happening inside it—it’s quite extraordinary.”

 

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

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The illustration identifies the high-latitude North Atlantic as a significant CO2 sink (The purple areas are the most efficient sinks, while red ones are sources of CO2 in the modern ocean). The white star shows the location of the studied sediment core. The map was generated using data of Takahashi et al. Illustration: M. Ezat.


Norwegian Sea acted as CO2 source in the past. It pumped the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it, as it does today. At the same time the pH of the surface waters in these oceans decreased, making them more acidic. Both of these findings imply changes in ocean circulation and primary productivity as a result of natural climate changes of the time. The findings were recently published in Nature Communications.

 

Farming becoming riskier under climate change

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Climate change predicted to impact field workability

 

Climate change is predicted to impact agriculture, but a new study puts these changes in terms that are directly applicable to farmers. For Illinois, the corn planting window will be split in two to avoid wet conditions in April and May. Each planting window carries increased risk – the early planting window could be thwarted by frost or heavy precipitation, and the late window cut short by intense late-summer drought. Farmers and crop insurers must evaluate risk to avoid losing profits. Scientists the world over are working to predict how climate change will affect our planet. It is an extremely complex puzzle with many moving parts, but a few patterns have been consistent, including the prediction that farming as we know it will become more difficult. Scientists infer the impact on agriculture based on predictions of rainfall, drought intensity, and weather volatility. Until now, however, the average farmer may not have been able to put predictions like these into practice. A new University of Illinois study puts climate change predictions in terms that farmers are used to: field working days.

 

Cells grow more naturally in “spaghetti”

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The fibres in the artificial fibre network have about the same diameter as natural collagen fibres in normal connective tissue. The structure is also sufficiently loose for the cells to be able to enter. (Picture taken with an electron microscope) Photo: Ulrica Englund Johansson, Fredrik Johansson

 

The usual way of cultivating cells is to use a flat laboratory dish of glass. However, inside a human body, the cells do not grow on a flat surface, but rather in three dimensions. This has lead researchers at Lund University in Sweden to develop a porous “spaghetti” of tissue-friendly polymers with cavities in which the cells can develop in a more natural way. “When cultivating brain cells in a flat laboratory dish, the different cell types form layers, with the nerve cells on top and the glial cells – a form of supporting tissue –underneath. This is not what it looks like in natural brain tissue, where the cells are much more mixed”, says neuroscience researcher Ulrica Englund Johansson. Many research groups around the world have therefore tried to develop three-dimensional structures in which cells can be cultivated in a more natural way. The Lund researchers have used a method called electrospinning.

 

Children with poor vitamin B12 status early in life struggle more with tasks, recognition and interpreting feelings

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Most of the Nepalese children participating in the study had vitamin B12 levels which were suboptimal, below the recommendations for best possible growth and development, says Ingrid Kvestad. (Photograph: Uni Research)

 

Small children with low levels of vitamin B12 had more difficulties solving cognitive tests, such as the ability to do puzzles, recognize letters and interpret other children’s feelings. Poor B12 status as a baby was associated with a decrease in test scores at 5 years of age, reports researcher Ingrid Kvestad at Uni Research in Bergen, Norway and colleagues in a new study.Kvestad is first author on the work, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Our results clearly demonstrate associations between early vitamin B12 status and various measures on development and cognitive functioning, as for example the ability to interpret complex geometrical figures, and the ability to recognize other children`s emotions, says Kvestad. Accordingly, the study suggests that vitamin B12 deficiency impair, or possibly delays, brain development in small children.

 

Alzheimer's disease: On the hunt for the biomarker signal for early detection

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Around 100,000 Austrians suffer from Alzheimer's disease and 16,000 from Parkinson’s. Experts estimate that, in view of the ageing population, these numbers are set to triple over the next 30 years. Both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are progressive degenerative diseases of the brain, which start up to 30 years before the onset of symptoms. Early diagnosis would be a huge help in combating the disease. However, the early detection tests that are available do not provide any reliable prediction about the further course of the disease and also carry the risk of producing a false positive result. “Neurology researchers throughout the world are therefore on the hunt for a specific biomarker signal for Alzheimer's," explains Peter Dal-Bianco, Alzheimer's expert from MedUni Vienna. Dal-Bianco is convinced: "There is a specific biomarker – we just haven't found it yet." The 13th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases will take place in the Vienna Exhibition Center from Wednesday 29 March to Sunday 2 April (www.adpd2017.kenes.com). Dal-Bianco is on the local organising committee.

 

World Water Day: Fog and dew keep Africa's Namib Desert ecosystem going

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Moisture derived from underground water sources sustains one of world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts

Fog, seen here receding in the morning, comes and goes quietly in the Namib Desert. The ocean is not the sole source of the fog that sustains life for numerous plants and animals living in Africa's coastal Namib Desert. The fog also comes from groundwater and other sources, report ecohydrologists supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and affiliated with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The scientists conducted the research in one of the world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts. Their results are published today in the journal Science Advances. Today on World Water Day -- and in fact every day -- water sources are an important consideration for society. To develop ecological models of arid environments, scientists say they must deepen their understanding of water sources. That knowledge can help them assess how plants and animals function in current and possible future climates.

 

The religious correlates of death anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Various theories of religion hypothesize a connection between death anxiety and religiosity. In particular, Terror Management Theory’s worldview defence hypothesis predicts that death anxiety is lowest among very religious and irreligious individuals, and highest among uncertain individuals. Likewise, the supposition that death anxiety motivates religious belief, which in turn mitigates death anxiety, predicts that religiosity increases with death anxiety among non-believers, and that death anxiety decreases as religiosity increases among believers. In both cases, a curvilinear relationship – specifically, an inverted-U curve – is predicted. We extracted 202 effect sizes from 100 studies for an “omnibus” religiosity meta-analysis, and six meta-analyses that examine particular dimensions of religiosity. We found high heterogeneity and a weak negative association between death anxiety and religiosity. A closer examination revealed that 10 of the 11 studies that directly tested for curvilinearity provided some support for an inverted-U pattern. The curvilinearity hypothesis cannot be ruled out, but more evidence – particularly on non-religious individuals, and in non-Western, non-Abrahamic contexts – is needed.

 

Research: Most Lithuanians Still Emigrate for Economic Reasons

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Independent research, initiated and carried out by Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) interdisciplinary migration research cluster shows that introduction of Euro in Lithuania coincides with the fourth wave of emigration. In 2015, more than 40 thousand people left Lithuania, and in 2016 – around 50 thousand. This number comprises the population of a small Lithuanian town, such as Marijampolė or Mažeikiai. In October 2016 the data from the 4 136 emigrants representing all four waves of emigration, aged 19–65+ were collected. 811 of the respondents emigrated from Lithuania in 2015 or later. According to Professor Vilmante Kumpikaite-Valiuniene (KTU School of Economics and Business), the first wave of emigration started just after the restoration of Lithuanian independence, when the State borders opened. The second wave was related to Lithuania joining the EU in 2004. In 2008, the third emigration wave was caused by Lithuania joining Schengen Area and the global economic crisis, which contributed to unemployment and financial instability.

 

Steep rise of the Bernese Alps

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The striking North Face of the Bernese Alps is the result of a steep rise of rocks from the depths following a collision of two tectonic plates. This steep rise gives new insight into the final stage of mountain building and provides important knowledge with regard to active natural hazards and geothermal energy. The results from researchers at the University of Bern and ETH Zürich are being published in the «Scientific Reports» specialist journal. Mountains often emerge when two tectonic plates converge, where the denser oceanic plate subducts beneath the lighter continental plate into the earth’s mantle according to standard models. But what happens if two continental plates of the same density collide, as was the case in the area of the Central Alps during the collision between Africa and Europe?

 

Olfactory receptors: New molecular targets detected in colorectal cancer cells

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Growth of colorectal cancer cells can be inhibited with the odorant troenan. This is reported by the research team headed by Prof Dr Dr Dr habil. Hanns Hatt and Dr Lea Weber from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in the journal “PLOS One”. The researchers detected the olfactory receptor OR51B4 in tumour cells taken from the rectum and colon cancer cell lines. They analysed which odorant activates the receptor and in what way the activation affects the cells. For the purpose of the study, the team from the Department for Cellphysiology in Bochum collaborated with the Department of Molecular GI-Oncology at Ruhr-Universität, headed by Prof Dr Stephan Hahn. The necessary gene sequencing was carried out by the team from the Cologne Center for Genomics.

 

New study reveals an important mechanism responsible for biodiversity in natural ecosystems

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Algae and plants form the basis of nearly all natural food webs and ecosystems

 

A research project conducted at the University of Cologne’s Zoological Institute reveals important findings on the interaction between nutrient availability and the diversity of consumer species in freshwater environments. A better understanding of this interaction will contribute to developing possibilities to maintain biodiversity in all kinds of ecosystems. In the past decades, we have seen a dramatic decline in biodiversity around the world. Every day, species are irrecoverably lost on an unprecedented scale. This also has an impact on the stability and productivity of ecosystems. Hence it is indispensable to understand the mechanisms that impact biodiversity, particularly in the case of primary producers such as algae and plants that form the basis of nearly all natural food webs and ecosystems.

 
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