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Earth Science
Key: Meeting Journal Funder
Public Release: 18-Apr-2014
Science
Researchers find 3-million-year-old landscape beneath Greenland ice sheet
Glaciers and ice sheets are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything -- vegetation, soil and even the top layer of bedrock. So a team of university scientists and a NASA colleague were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland ice sheet, below two miles of ice.
NASA, University of Vermont

Contact: Maria-Jose Vinas-Garcia
maria-jose.vinasgarcia@nasa.gov
301-614-5883
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Public Release: 18-Apr-2014
Soil Science Society of America Journal
Researchers question published no-till soil organic carbon sequestration rates
For the past 20 years, researchers have published soil organic carbon sequestration rates. Many of the research findings have suggested that soil organic carbon can be sequestered by simply switching from moldboard or conventional tillage systems to no-till systems. However, there is a growing body of research with evidence that no-till systems in corn and soybean rotations without cover crops, small grains, and forages may not be increasing soil organic carbon stocks at the published rates.

Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Public Release: 18-Apr-2014
Science
Finding turns neuroanatomy on its head
Harvard neuroscientists have made a discovery that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head. Myelin, the electrical insulating material long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to a new work lead by Professor Paola Arlotta of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, in collaboration with Professor Jeff Lichtman, of Harvard's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Contact: B. D. Colen
617-495-7821
Harvard University

Public Release: 18-Apr-2014
New Phytologist
Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species
Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But in the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More than just an insurance policy against late frosts or unexpected dry spells, it turns out that seed dormancy has long-term advantages too: plants whose seeds put off sprouting until conditions are more certain give rise to more species.

Contact: Robin Ann Smith
rsmith@nescent.org
919-668-4544
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Public Release: 18-Apr-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Ancient DNA offers clues to how barnyard chickens came to be
Ancient DNA adds a twist to the story of how barnyard chickens came to be, finds a study to be published April 21 in the journal PNAS. Analyzing DNA from the bones of chickens that lived 200-2,300 years ago in Europe, researchers report that some of the traits we associate with modern domestic chickens -- such as their yellowish skin -- only became widespread in the last 500 years, much more recently than previously thought.

Contact: Greger Larson
greger.larson@durham.ac.uk
44-796-390-5362
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Public Release: 18-Apr-2014
Geology
Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years
Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists exploring large fields of impact glass in Argentina suggest that what happened on Earth might well have happened on Mars millions of years ago. Martian impact glass could hold traces of organic compounds.

Contact: Mark Nickel
mark_nickel@brown.edu
401-863-1638
Brown University

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Chickens to chili peppers
Suddenly there was a word for chili peppers. Information about archaeological remains of ancient chili peppers in Mexico along with a study of the appearance of words for chili peppers in ancient dialects helped researchers to understand where jalapenos were domesticated. Special issue of PNAS on plant and animal domestication.
National Science Foundation

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
202-633-4700 x28216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Geophysical Research Letters
AGU: More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows
Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years.

Contact: Alexandra Branscombe
abranscombe@agu.org
202-777-7516
American Geophysical Union

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
New England Journal of Medicine
New MRSA superbug emerges in Brazil
An international research team led by Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection in a Brazilian patient. The report appeared in the April 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3030
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Nature
Surprising material could play role in saving energy
One strategy for addressing the world's energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, such as in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices, with potentially enormous energy savings.
US Department of Energy

Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics
Wireless power transfer achieved at 5-meter distance
Chun T. Rim, a professor of Nuclear & Quantum Engineering at KAIST, and his team showcased, on April 16, 2014 at the KAIST campus, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, a great improvement in the distance that electric power can travel wirelessly. They developed the 'Dipole Coil Resonant System' for an extended range of inductive power transfer, up to 5 meters between transmitter and receiver coils.

Contact: Lan Yoon
hlyoon@kaist.ac.kr
82-423-502-294
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Science
ASU researchers urge alternative identification methods for threatened species
With global climate change and rapidly disappearing habitat critical to the survival of endangered species, there is a sense of urgency to confirm the return of animals thought to be extinct, or to confirm the presence of newly discovered species. Researchers at Arizona State University and Plymouth University want to change how biologists think about collecting 'voucher' specimens for species identification, suggesting current specimen collection practices pose a risk to vulnerable animal populations nearing extinction.

Contact: Sandra Leander
sandra.leander@asu.edu
480-965-9865
Arizona State University

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Science
Call for alternative identification methods for endangered species
Researchers at Arizona State University and Plymouth University in the United Kingdom want to change the way biologists think about the 'gold standard' of collecting a 'voucher' specimen for species identification. They suggest that current specimen collection practices may actually pose a risk to vulnerable animal populations already on the brink of extinction.

Contact: Andrew Gould
andrew.gould@plymouth.ac.uk
University of Plymouth

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Nature Geoscience
Methane climate change risk suggested by proof of redox cycling of humic substances
Disruption of natural methane-binding process may worsen climate change.

Contact: Press Office
press@goldschmidt2013.org
European Association of Geochemistry

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The story of animal domestication retold
A review of recent research on the domestication of large herbivores for 'The Modern View of Domestication,' a special feature of PNAS, suggests that neither intentional breeding nor genetic isolation were as significant as traditionally thought.
National Science Foundation

Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Genetic study tackles mystery of slow plant domestications
Did domesticating a plant typically take a few hundred or many thousands of years? Genetic studies often indicate that domestication traits have a fairly simple genetic basis, which should facilitate their rapid evolution under selection. On the other hand, recent archeological studies of crop domestication have suggested a relatively slow spread and fixation of domestication traits. An article in 'The Modern View of Domestication,' a special issue of PNAS, tries to resolve the discrepancy.
National Science Foundation

Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
PLOS Genetics
Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced
A ten-year effort by an international team has sequenced the entire genome and all the RNA products of the most important pathogenic lineage of Cryptococcus neoformans, a strain called H99.These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and meningitis every year is so malleable and dangerous.
National Institutes of Health, French National Research Agency, National Health and Medical Research

Contact: Karl Bates
karl.bates@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University

Public Release: 17-Apr-2014
Science
Science: There's something ancient in the icebox
Scientists were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice. This finding, led by geologists at the University of Vermont, provides strong evidence that the ice sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming.
National Science Foundation

Contact: Joshua Brown
joshua.e.brown@uvm.edu
802-656-3039
University of Vermont

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
Geology
Scratching the surface: Microbial etchings in impact glass and the search for life on Mars
Haley M. Sapers and colleagues provide what may be the first report of biological activity preserved in impact glass. Recent research has suggested that impact events create novel within-rock microbial habitats. In their paper, 'Enigmatic tubular features in impact glass,' Sapers and colleagues analyze tubular features in hydrothermally altered impact glass from the Ries Impact Structure, Germany, that are remarkably similar to the bioalteration textures observed in volcanic glasses.

Contact: Kea Giles
kgiles@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
Biomacromolecules
A greener source of polyester -- cork trees
On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out how to extract a natural, waterproof, antibacterial version of the first material from the latter. Their new technique, which could have applications in medical devices, appears in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules.

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
Environmental Science & Technology
Researchers question emergency water treatment guidelines
The Environmental Protection Agency's recommendations for treating water after a natural disaster or other emergencies call for more chlorine bleach than is necessary to kill disease-causing pathogens and are often impractical to carry out, a new study has found. The authors of the report, which appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggest that the agency review and revise its guidelines.

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
ASME 2014 Small Modular Reactors Symposium
Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis
New power plant design could provide enhanced safety, easier siting, and centralized construction.

Contact: Andrew Carleen
acarleen@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
Nature
Ancient shark fossil reveals new insights into jaw evolution
The skull of a newly discovered 325-million-year-old shark-like species suggests that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates -- including humans -- than do modern sharks, as was previously thought. The new study, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, shows that living sharks are actually quite advanced in evolutionary terms, despite having retained their basic 'sharkiness' over millions of years.
Herbert & Evelyn Axelrod Research Chair in Paleoichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History

Contact: Kendra Snyder
ksnyder@amnh.org
212-496-3419
American Museum of Natural History

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
Nature Communications
Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern
Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, and suggests it may worsen as Earth's climate warms.
National Science Foundation, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and others

Contact: Lee J. Siegel
lee.siegel@utah.edu
801-244-5399
University of Utah

Public Release: 16-Apr-2014
PLOS ONE
New species discovery sheds light on herbivore evolution
A new fossil may provide evidence that large caseid herbivores, the largest known terrestrial vertebrates of their time, evolved from small non-herbivorous members of that group.

Contact: Kayla Graham
onepress@plos.org
415-590-3558
PLOS