Scientists Investigate Habitat of Listeria
Listeria are extremely undemanding bacteria. In low amounts they are present almost everywhere, including soil and water. In order to better understand how Listeria spread, a group of scientists from the Institute of Milk Hygiene at the Univ. of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna collected soil and water samples throughout Austria. Their study revealed a higher detection of Listeria in soil and water samples during periods of flooding. The researchers also found antibiotic-resistant strains of Listeria in soil samples. The data were published in the journal Applied Environmental Microbiology.
The literature describes Listeria as ubiquitous bacteria with widespread occurrence. Yet they only become a problem for humans and animals when they contaminate food processing facilities, multiply and enter the food chain in high concentrations. An infection with Listeria monocytogenes can even be fatal for humans or animals with weakened immune systems.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/scientists-investigate-habitat-listeria
Climate Change: Mixed Bag for Common Frog
Scientists have found amphibians worldwide are breeding earlier because of climate change, but how that affects species is just now being answered.
After warmer winters, wood frogs breed earlier and produce fewer eggs, a Case Western Reserve Univ. researcher has found. Michael Benard, the George B. Mayer Chair in Urban and Environmental Studies and assistant professor of biology, also found that frogs produce more eggs during winters with more rain and snow.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/climate-change-mixed-bag-common-frog
Plants Can Be Mined for Metal
Future generations of miners could harvest metals from trees, capitalizing on the ability of some plants to isolate and accumulate metals in their shoots.
Univ. of Queensland Sustainable Minerals Institute researcher Antony van der Ent says hyperaccumulator plants that can extract metals, such as nickel or cobalt, from the soil could be harvested for significant returns.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/plants-can-be-mined-metal
Study Tracked Sea-levels Over Five Ice Ages
Land ice decay at the end of the last five ice ages caused global sea-levels to rise at rates of up to 5.5 meters per century, according to a new study.
An international team of researchers developed a 500,000-year record of sea-level variability, to provide the first account of how quickly sea-level changed during the last five ice age cycles. The results, published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, also found that more than 100 smaller events of sea-level rise took place in between the five major events.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/study-tracked-sea-levels-over-five-ice-ages
There May Be a Volcano Season
The Earth seems to have been smoking a lot recently. Volcanoes are currently erupting in Iceland, Hawaii, Indonesia and Mexico. Others, in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, erupted recently but seem to have calmed down. Many of these have threatened homes and forced evacuations. But among their less-endangered spectators, these eruptions may have raised a question: is there such a thing as a season for volcanic eruptions?
Surprisingly, this may be a possibility. While volcanoes may not have “seasons” as we know them, scientists have started to discern intriguing patterns in their activity.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/there-may-be-volcano-season
Biochar Alters Water Flow, Improves Sand, Clay
As more gardeners and farmers add ground charcoal, or biochar, to soil to both boost crop yields and counter global climate change, a new study by researchers at Rice Univ. and Colorado College could help settle the debate about one of biochar’s biggest benefits — the seemingly contradictory ability to make clay soils drain faster and sandy soils drain slower.
The study, available online this week in the journal PLOS ONE, offers the first detailed explanation for the hydrological mystery.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/biochar-alters-water-flow-improves-sand-clay
Ice in Arctic seas shrank this summer to the sixth lowest level in 36 years of monitoring.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported this week that the ice reached its seasonal minimum on Sept. 17 of 1.94 million square miles. That’s down a bit from 2013, but not near as low as the record-setting 2012. It is still 19 percent below average.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/arctic-seas-ice-shrinks-sixth-lowest-recorded
Declining Wind May Change Predator-prey Balance
Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady bug on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air — and the soybeans — were still?
Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns may get the lion’s share of our climate change attention, but predators may want to give some thought to wind, according to a Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison zoologist’s study, which is among the first to demonstrate the way “global stilling” may alter predator-prey relationships.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/declining-wind-may-change-predator-prey-balance
Unmown Areas Benefit Nature, Humans
Creating unmown areas in an urban park can significantly increase flowers and pollinating insects while also leading to a greater enjoyment of the space by people, according to a Univ. of Sussex study.
Researchers at the university’s Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) monitored areas of one of Brighton & Hove City Council’s managed parks to see what would happen if the grass was left uncut for different periods of time.
They found that, during the course of one year, the blocks of unmown land at Saltdean Oval saw a three-fold increase in the density of flowers, while the numbers of flower-visiting insects such as bees, butterflies and moths was up to five times higher in the least-mown areas compared with the areas mown regularly as normal, every two weeks.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/unmown-areas-benefit-nature-humans
Artificial Beaks May Be Drought Solution
From the most parched areas of Saudi Arabia to water-scarce areas of the western U.S., the idea of harvesting fog for water is catching on. Now, a novel approach to this process could help meet affected communities’ needs for the life-essential resource. Scientists describe their new, highly efficient fog collector, inspired by a shorebird’s beak, in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Cheng Luo and his doctoral student, Xin Heng, explain that deserts and semi-arid areas cover about half of the Earth’s land masses. In some of these places, trucks bring in potable water for the people who live there. To find a more sustainable way to get water, these communities, which can’t draw water from underground or surface supplies, have turned to the air — and to nature for inspiration.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/artificial-beaks-may-be-drought-solution
Meteorite Doomed Dinos, Altered Forests
The meteorite impact that spelled doom for the dinosaurs 66 million years ago decimated the evergreens among the flowering plants to a much greater extent than their deciduous peers, according to a study led by Univ. of Arizona researchers. The results are published in the journal PLOS Biology.
Applying biomechanical formulas to a treasure trove of thousands of fossilized leaves of angiosperms — flowering plants excluding conifers — the team was able to reconstruct the ecology of a diverse plant community thriving during a 2.2 million-year period spanning the cataclysmic impact event, believed to have wiped out more than half of plant species living at the time.
The researchers found evidence that, after the event, fast-growing, deciduous angiosperms had replaced their slow-growing, evergreen peers to a large extent. Living examples of evergreen angiosperms, such as holly and ivy, tend to prefer shade, don’t grow very fast and sport dark-colored leaves.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/meteorite-doomed-dinos-altered-forests
Mars Meteorite Yields Evidence of Possibility for Life
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. The finding of a cell-like structure — which investigators now know once held water — came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Astrobiology.
While investigating the Martian meteorite, known as Nakhla, Elias Chatzitheodoridis of the National Technical Univ. of Athens found an unusual feature embedded deep within the rock. In a bid to understand what it might be, he teamed up with long-time friend and collaborator Prof. Ian Lyon at the Univ. of Manchester.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/mars-meteorite-yields-evidence-possibility-life
Tool Helps Put a Value on Nature
A new online resource, developed by researchers at the Univ. of Cambridge in collaboration with other organizations based in Cambridge, helps those in both the public and private sector see how changes to an ecosystem can affect its value, in order to make more informed decisions about how the natural environment should be developed.
The Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA) was launched online this week to coincide with the 7th Annual Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference in Costa Rica, and allows users to make a direct comparison of the value that an ecosystem can provide to a community in different states, by providing access to state of the art information about their financial value.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/tool-helps-put-value-nature
Ozone Layer is Recovering
Earth’s protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.
Scientists said the development demonstrates that when the world comes together, it can counteract a brewing ecological crisis. For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/ozone-layer-recovering
When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things. The “seismic gap” may simply be inactive — the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other — or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes, quietly building tension over decades until an inevitable seismic release.
Researchers from MIT and Turkey have found evidence for both types of behavior on different segments of the North Anatolian Fault — one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world. The fault, similar in scale to California’s San Andreas Fault, stretches for about 745 miles across northern Turkey and into the Aegean Sea.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/researchers-predict-major-quake-istanbul%E2%80%99s-coast