Researchers from the University of Southampton have contributed to a major international United Nation's (UN) report into the current status of the world's land and water resources for food and agriculture.
Dr Craig Hutton, Professor Mike Clark, both from the University's GeoData Institute, and demographer Dr Fiifi Amoako Johnson contributed as authors as well external editors to the recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation publication, 'State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture' (SOLAW).
From improving food security to their use as biotechnology power horses, Trichoderma fungi are increasingly being exploited by industry. Current advances in the field are brought together and highlighted in a special issue of Microbiology published online on 27 December.
Trichoderma are free-living fungi widely used in agricultural biotechnology. Some species of Trichoderma are specifically used as biocontrol agents to control plant pathogens including Fusarium species. Their success is partly due to mycoparasitism - a lifestyle where one fungus is parasitic on another fungus. Regular use of Trichoderma species on plants can reduce the need to use chemical pesticides. This provides an economic advantage to farmers and helps improve food security.
Alberta's oilsands have water challenges. Oilsands development uses a vast amount of water and even though it's recycled multiple times, the recycling concentrates the toxins and metals leftover from extracting and upgrading the bitumen, resulting in tailings ponds that are both a lightening rod for controversy and a significant risk to the environment. A research project underway between biologists at the University of Calgary and engineers at the University of Alberta to help resolve the water issue is making rapid progress toward that goal.
Two years into the research, both groups are excited about their progress. A paper into the first round of research will be published in the January edition of FEMS Microbial Ecology.
Many of the particles in the atmosphere are produced by the natural world, and it is possible that plants have in recent decades reduced the effects of the greenhouse gases to which human activity has given rise. One consequence of this is that the climate may be more sensitive to emissions caused by human activity than we have previously believed. Scientists at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) have collected new data that may lead to better climate models.
A study just published by a Dartmouth team of scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) advances our understanding of the sources of human exposure to arsenic and focuses attention on the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice.
Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and in elevated concentrations it can be harmful to human health. Common in groundwater, the World Health Organization set guideline limits for Arsenic levels in drinking water (currently 10 micrograms per liter).
Researchers led by Prof. Sebastien Sauve of the University of Montreal's Department of Chemistry have discovered that traces of caffeine are a useful indicator of the contamination of our water by sewers. "E coli bacteria is commonly used to evaluate and regulate the levels of fecal pollution of our water from storm water discharge, but because storm sewers systems collect surface runoff, non-human sources can contribute significantly to the levels that are observed," Sauve explained. "Our study has determined that there is a strong correlation between the levels of caffeine in water and the level of bacteria, and that chemists can therefore use caffeine levels as an indicator of pollution due to sewerage systems."
Recent studies conducted at Marshall University have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide - common diesel fuel additives used to increase the fuel efficiency of automobile engines - can travel from the lungs to the liver and that this process is associated with liver damage.
The data in the study by Dr. Eric R. Blough and his colleagues at Marshall's Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate there is a dose-dependent increase in the concentration of cerium in the liver of animals that had been exposed to the nanoparticles, which are only about 1/40,000 times as large as the width of a human hair.
Problems like anxiety and depression are caused by psychological and environmental factors, and are known to be influenced by genetic proclivities. However, it is still not clear how each factor affects the brain's functions to induce anxious and depressive symptoms. To shed light on these interactions, a team from the Centre Emotion-Remediation et Realite Virtuelle (Center for Emotion Remediation and Virtual Reality, CNRS / UPMC / CHU Pitie Salpetriere) has investigated the amygdala, a part of the brain that is hyperactive in individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. The researchers have shown that its activity can be modulated depending on the subject's genetic makeup, personal history and cognition.
University of Illinois scientists report the first identification of a cellular mechanism linked to the toxicity of a major class of drinking water disinfection byproducts. This study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, suggests a possible connection to adverse health effects, including neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Spas that offer massage therapy using fragrant essential oils, called aromatherapy, may have elevated levels of potentially harmful indoor air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles, according to an article in Environmental Engineering Science, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Fragrant essential oils, derived from plants, may release various VOCs into the air. VOC degradation caused by the reaction of these compounds with ozone present in the air can produce small, ultrafine byproducts called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), which may cause eye and airway irritation.