Rising temperatures hinder Indian wheat production

Geographers at the University of Southampton have found a link between increasing average temperatures in India and a reduction in wheat production.Researchers Dr John Duncan, Dr Jadu Dash and Professor Pete Atkinson have shown that recent warmer temperatures in the country’s major wheat belt are having a negative effect on crop yield. More specifically, they found a rise in nighttime temperatures is having the most impact.Dr Jadu Dash comments: “Our findings highlight the vulnerability of India’s wheat production system to temperature rise, which is predicted to continue in the coming decades as a consequence of climate change. We are sounding an early warning to the problem, which could have serious implications in the future and so needs further investigation.”The researchers used satellite images taken at weekly intervals from 2002 to 2007 of the wheat growing seasons to measure ‘vegetation greenness’ of the crop — acting as an indicator of crop yield. The satellite imagery, of the north west Indo-Gangetic plains, was taken at a resolution of 500m squared — high enough to capture variations in local agricultural practices. The data was then compared with climate and temperature information for the area to examine the effect on growth and development of the crop.The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, found that:warmer temperature events have reduced crop yield in particular, warmer temperatures during the reproductive and grain-filling (ripening) periods had a significant negative impact on productivity warmer minimum daily temperatures (nighttime temperatures) had the most significant impact on yield In some areas of the Indian wheat belt, growers have been bringing forward their growing season in order to align the most sensitive point of the crop growth cycle with a cooler period. However, the researchers have also shown that in the long-term this will not be an effective way of combating the problem, because of the high level of average temperature rise predicted for the future.Dr Dash comments: “Our study shows that, over the longer period, farmers are going to have to think seriously about changing their wheat to more heat tolerant varieties in order to prevent temperature-induced yield losses.”Currently in India, 213 million people are food insecure and over 100 million are reliant on the national food welfare system, which uses huge quantities of wheat. This underlines how crucial it is to consider what types of wheat need to be grown in the coming decades to secure production.”We hope that soon, we will be able to examine agricultural practices in even greater detail — with the launch of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellites which will provide regular data at even higher spatial resolution.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Vulnerability of sharks as collateral damage in commercial fishing shown by study

A new study that examined the survival rates of 12 different shark species when captured as unintentional bycatch in commercial longline fishing operations found large differences in survival rates across the 12 species, with bigeye thresher, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead being the most vulnerable. The study, led by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and UM Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, provides new information to consider for future conservation measures for sharks in the Northwest Atlantic. The unintentional capture of a fish species when targeting another species, known as bycatch, is one of the largest threats facing many marine fish populations.Researchers from UM and the National Marine Fisheries Service analyzed over 10 years of shark bycatch data from the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico tuna and swordfish longline fisheries to examine how survival rates of sharks were affected by fishing duration, hook depth, sea temperature, animal size and the target fish. Some species, such as the tiger shark, exhibited over 95% survival, whereas other species survival was significantly lower, in the 20-40% range, such as night shark and scalloped hammerheads.”Our study found that the differences in how longline fishing is actually conducted, such as the depth, duration, and time-of-day that the longlines are fished can be a major driver of shark survival, depending on the species,” said UM Rosenstiel School Ph.D student and lead author Austin Gallagher. “At-vessel mortality is a crucial piece of the puzzle in terms of assessing the vulnerability of these open-ocean populations, some of which are highly threatened.”The researchers also generated overall vulnerability rankings of species taking into account not only their survival, but also reproductive potential. They found that species most at risk were those with both very slow reproductive potential and unusual body features, such as hammerheads and thresher sharks. The paper’s authors suggest that bycatch likely played an important role in the decline of scalloped hammerhead species in the Northwest Atlantic, which has been considered for increased international and national protections, such as the U.S. Endangered Species List.The researchers suggest that high at-vessel mortality, slow maturity, and specialized body structures combine for the perfect mixture to become extinction-prone.”Our results suggest that some shark species are being fished beyond their ability to replace themselves,” said UM Research Assistant Professor Neil Hammerschlag. “Certain sharks, such as big eye threshers and scalloped hammerheads, are prone to rapidly dying on the line once caught and techniques that reduce their interactions with fishing gear in the first place may be the best strategy for conserving these species.”The study, titled “Vulnerability of oceanic sharks as pelagic longline bycatch” was published online in the open-access journal Global Ecology and Conservation.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Understanding the Relation Between Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Lung Cancer

Understanding the Relation Between Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Lung CancerBy David HooperAn understanding of asbestos is necessary before we try to understand mesothelioma lung cancer. Asbestos, a natural fibrous mineral, used commonly in construction process and manufacturing industries is detrimental to human health. Continuous inhalation of its fibers enhances the susceptibility to respiratory disorders and can lead to many dangerous diseases. A leading example of such dangerous disease is Mesothelioma lung cancer. Actually, mesothelioma lung cancer is misnomer because mesothelioma cancers affect the lining of lungs (pleura) and abdomen and not the lungs. Since mesothelioma cancers mostly affect the lining of the lungs, it is generally called mesothelioma lung cancer. The workers who had worked in industries such as shipbuilding, asbestos mining, and asbestos production are vulnerable …

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A silent epidemic: Minor traumatic brain injury

Oct. 10, 2013 — In the United States, approximately 1.4 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Of those injuries, three out of four are minor TBI (mTBI) — a head injury that causes a temporary change in mental status including confusion, an altered level of consciousness, or perceptual or behavioral impairments.According to a literature review appearing in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), falls and motor vehicle accidents are responsible for most cases of mTBI and also are a common cause of bone and joint injuries. “Musculoskeletal injuries are often seen concurrently with some studies estimating that 50 percent of patients with orthopaedic injuries also sustain a mTBI,” says lead study author Richard L. Uhl, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y.Approximately 80 percent of patients who sustain a mTBI can be safely discharged from the emergency department and will fully recover and return to their baseline mental status. However, mTBI often goes undiagnosed initially because symptoms do not appear until the patient resumes everyday life. Advanced imaging of the head such as CT scans is often of little use as the majority of patients with a mTBI will initially have a normal examination.A Silent Epidemic: mTBI by the NumbersThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control declared mTBI a major public health issue and a silent epidemic. Patients with multisystem trauma and mTBI are almost twice as likely as those with multisystem trauma alone to have persistent cognitive impairment and to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Patients with mTBI and lower extremity injuries are three times more likely to experience cognitive and behavioral difficulties at one year post-injury than those who sustain only lower extremity trauma. When symptoms last for more than three months, a patient is said to have post-concussion syndrome (PCS), a disorder that can be associated with substantial financial, social, and emotional challenges. …

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East Antarctic Ice Sheet could be more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought

Aug. 28, 2013 — The world’s largest ice sheet could be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than previously thought, according to new research from Durham University.A team from the Department of Geography used declassified spy satellite imagery to create the first long-term record of changes in the terminus of outlet glaciers — where they meet the sea — along 5,400km of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet’s coastline. The imagery covered almost half a century from 1963 to 2012.Using measurements from 175 glaciers, the researchers were able to show that the glaciers underwent rapid and synchronised periods of advance and retreat which coincided with cooling and warming.The researchers said this suggested that large parts of the ice sheet, which reaches thicknesses of more than 4km, could be more susceptible to changes in air temperatures and sea-ice than was originally believed.Current scientific opinion suggests that glaciers in East Antarctica are at less risk from climate change than areas such as Greenland or West Antarctica due to its extremely cold temperatures which can fall below minus 30°C at the coast, and much colder further inland.But the Durham team said there was now an urgent need to understand the vulnerability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds the vast majority of the world’s ice and enough to raise global sea levels by over 50m.Dr Chris Stokes, in Durham’s Department of Geography, said: “We know that these large glaciers undergo cycles of advance and retreat that are triggered by large icebergs breaking off at the terminus, but this can happen independently from climate change.”It was a big surprise therefore to see rapid and synchronous changes in advance and retreat, but it made perfect sense when we looked at the climate and sea-ice data.”When it was warm and the sea-ice decreased, most glaciers retreated, but when it was cooler and the sea ice increased, the glaciers advanced.”In many ways, these measurements of terminus change are like canaries in a mine — they don’t give us all the information we would like, but they are worth taking notice of.”The researchers found that despite large fluctuations in terminus positions between glaciers — linked to their size — three significant patterns emerged:In the 1970s and 80s, temperatures were rising and most glaciers retreated; During the 1990s, temperatures decreased and most glaciers advanced; And the 2000s saw temperatures increase and then decrease, leading to a more even mix of retreat and advance. Trends in temperature and glacier change were statistically significant along the East Antarctic Ice Sheet’s warmer Pacific Coast, but no significant changes were found along the much cooler Ross Sea Coast, which might be expected if climate is driving the changes, the Durham researchers said.Dr Stokes said that the cause of the recent trends in air temperature and sea ice were difficult to unravel but were likely to reflect a combination of both natural variability and human impacts.However, he added that the changes observed in glaciers in East Antarctica needed further investigation against the backdrop of likely increases in both atmospheric and ocean temperatures caused by climate change.Dr Stokes said: “If the climate is going to warm in the future, our study shows that large parts of the margins of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet are vulnerable to the kinds of changes that are worrying us in Greenland and West Antarctica — acceleration, thinning and retreat.”When temperatures warm in the air or ocean, glaciers respond by retreating and this can have knock-on effects further inland, where more and more ice is drawn-down towards the coast.”We need to monitor their behaviour more closely and maybe reassess our rather conservative predictions of future ice sheet dynamics in East Antarctica.”

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Moms’ high-fat, sugary diets may lead to heavy offspring with a taste for alcohol, sensitivity to drugs

Aug. 4, 2013 — Vulnerability to alcohol and drug abuse may begin in the womb and be linked to how much fatty and sugary foods a mother eats during pregnancy, according to findings from animal lab experiments presented at APA’s 121st Annual Convention.”The majority of women in the U.S. at child-bearing age are overweight, and this is most likely due to overeating the tasty, high-fat, high-sugar foods you find everywhere in our society. The rise in prenatal and childhood obesity and the rise in number of youths abusing alcohol and drugs merits looking into all the possible roots of these growing problems,” said Nicole Avena, PhD, a research neuroscientist with the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute.Compared to pups of rats that ate regular rodent chow, the offspring of rats that ate high-fat or high-sugar diets while pregnant weighed more as adults and drank more alcohol, and those on high-sugar diets also had stronger responses to commonly abused drugs such as amphetamine, Avena said. Her presentation examined experiments from three studies, each lasting about three months and involving three to four adult female rats and 10 to12 offspring in each dietary condition.Researchers compared weight and drug-taking behavior between the offspring of rats fed diets rich in fats, sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup with the offspring of rats fed regular rodent chow during gestation or nursing. They tested both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup because they are chemically different and could cause different outcomes, Avena said. Sucrose occurs naturally and is commonly processed from sugar cane or sugar beets into table sugar, whereas high-fructose corn syrup is synthesized from corn.To determine effects of the mothers’ diets during gestation, the offspring of rats fed the high-fat, high-sucrose or high- fructose corn syrup diets were nursed by mother rats that were eating regular chow. To determine the effects of the mothers’ diets on the offspring during nursing, the pups with mothers that had eaten regular chow were nursed by mother rats that were eating either the high-fat, high-sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup diets.The pregnant rats’ high-fat diet contained 50 percent fat, 25 percent carbohydrate and 25 percent protein, whereas the control diet reflected a recommended human diet, with 25 percent fat, 50 percent carbohydrate and 25 percent protein, Avena said. The offspring of rats that had high-fat diets while pregnant drank significantly more alcohol in adulthood than the offspring of rats with the regular chow diet, while there were no differences in the average daily amount of water they drank or chow they ate. The offspring of rats on the high-fat diet while pregnant also had significantly higher levels of triglycerides, a type of fat found in the bloodstream that can increase the risk of heart disease. …

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Normal molecular pathway affected in poor-prognosis childhood leukemia identified

June 6, 2013 — Through genetic engineering of laboratory models, researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center have uncovered a vulnerability in the way cancer cells diverge from normal regenerating cells that may help treat children with leukemia as reported in the journal PNAS on June 3, 2013. Dartmouth researchers are trying to understand the key pathways that distinguish how a normal blood cell grows and divides compared to the altered growth that occurs in leukemia. In addition to the treatment of leukemia, the work has relevance for expanding umbilical cord blood or bone marrow stem cells for transplantation.Leukemia often occurs due to chromosomal translocations, which are broken chromosomes that cause blood cells to grow uncontrollably. One gene that is involved in chromosomal translocations found at high frequency in childhood leukemia is the MLL1 (Mixed Lineage Leukemia 1) gene. Conventional chemotherapy is very ineffective at curing patients with this translocation, in contrast to other types of childhood leukemia, which are relatively curable.Using genetic engineering, the researchers generated a mouse model to discover genes that are regulated by MLL1 in hematopoietic stem cells, the cells that give rise to all white and red blood cell types. In the course of these studies, they identified several unique properties of the normal MLL1 pathway in hematopoietic stem cells that may be exploited to better treat leukemia harboring MLL1 translocations.”We discovered that many genes that depend upon the normal MLL1 protein are involved in maintaining hematopoietic stem cells, thus manipulating this pathway could be a way to expand cells from normal bone marrow or umbilical cord blood donors to improve transplantation of these cell types, which is a procedure used to treat certain chemotherapy-resistant cancers,” said Patricia Ernst, PhD, co-director Cancer Mechanisms, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, associate professor of Genetics and of Microbiology and Immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH.As principle investigator, Ernst and her team set out to discover the genetic pathways controlled by the normal form of the MLL1 protein and leukemogenic MLL1 fusion proteins specifically in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Delineation of these pathways will facilitate research by her group and others aimed at developing strategies to kill leukemia cells without harming HSCs, which are often profoundly affected by current chemotherapeutic regimens. In performing this research, they also discovered a new molecular pathway that controls normal HSC biology.”We demonstrate in this study, that some direct MLL1 target genes in HSCs are affected by Menin loss (a protein involved in the inherited disorder, Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia), and some are not,” said Ernst. “This is a fundamentally important observation that demonstrates this category of chromatin modifiers utilizes different protein complexes/mechanisms to target different classes of genes in different cell types.”Ernst points out that this highly desirable outcome that would not have been predicted for this targeted therapy and may illustrate that drugs blocking the interaction of these two proteins (currently under development by other groups) leave normal hematopoiesis intact. She is working on follow-up studies of this finding.Research funded by NIH HL090036 and RR16437 as well as additional grants from American Cancer Society, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, Lady Tata Memorial Trust, and the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation.

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