Friday, September 26, 2014

Ohio fracking waste disposal practices examined

From EcoWatch, September 25, a discouraging note:  "The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report this week showing that Ohio was the only state among eight studied that allows waste fluids from oil and gas wells to be disposed of without disclosure of the chemicals it contains."

Some context is provided by this title from Wiley online:   Fracking: the operations and environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing / Michael D. Holloway and Oliver Rudd.  2014.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Publications from Craig, FitzGerald, Tarvin; co-authored with alumni

New publications from Oberlin faculty and recent grads (names indicated by bold font), as indexed in Web of Science:

Craig, Norman C. (Professor Emeritus of Chemistry), Yihui Chen '13, Herman van Besien '11, and Thomas A. Blake. 2014. Analysis of the Rotational Structure in the High-Resolution Infrared Spectra of Trans-Hexatriene-2-D(1) and-3-D(1). Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy 303: 26-35. doi:10.1016/j.jms.2014.07.001.  Subscriber access at

Kapelewski, Matthew T., Stephen J. Geier, Matthew R. Hudson, David Stueck, Jarad A. Mason, Jocienne N. Nelson '14, Dianne J. Xiao, Elizabeth Gilmour (Physics instructor), Stephen A. FitzGerald (Professor of Physics), et al. 2014. M-2(M-Dobdc) (M = mg, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni) Metal-Organic Frameworks Exhibiting Increased Charge Density and Enhanced H-2 Binding at the Open Metal Sites. Journal of the American Chemical Society 136 (34): 12119-12129. Subscriber access at

Lumpkin, David C. '13, Troy G. Murphy, and Keith A. Tarvin (Professor of Biology). 2014. Blood Parasite Infection Differentially Relates to Carotenoid-Based Plumage and Bill Color in the American Goldfinch. Ecology and Evolution 4 (16): 3210-3217. Open access at onlinelibrary.wiley.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Maine is uniquely vulnerable to effects of climate change

As reported in the Boston Globe, September 21, by David Abel:  The interactions of so many effects of climate change are leading to increasingly dire consequences, from massive die-off of amphibians to a population explosion among deer ticks, rapid growth in the numbers of invasive species that disrupt ecosystems, and plant communities that are becoming "out of sync" with their pollinators.  Maine is particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change:
"Heat waves, more powerful storms, and rising seas are increasingly transforming Maine — effects that most climate scientists trace to greenhouse gases warming the planet. Wedged between powerful streams of cold and warm air, the state is buffeted by climate fluctuations in the arctic and the Gulf of Maine, both of which are warming rapidly."  --David Abel
I tend to think of Florida or the Gulf of Mexico coastal areas as the most vulnerable to huge storms, without considering climate impacts on our most northeastern state.  Maine seems so solid and impervious, with its thousands of square miles of forested land and higher elevation topography.  Abel's story is a compelling read, examining complex ecosystems which are finely balanced to thrive in a cooler world than where we are now (and certainly cooler than where we are headed).

The Encyclopedia of global warming & climate change / general editor, S. George Philander, gives a summary of the effects of a warming world on regions, states and nations worldwide.

Nature Communications to become Open-Access
This comes from Nature Publishing, announced on September 23:

Nature Communications is to become Nature Publishing Groups flagship open access title. From 20th October 2014 Nature Communications will only accept open access research submissions.

Nature Communications was launched in 2010 as a born-digital hybrid journal, publishing both open access and subscription content and is now one of NPG's fastest growing titles, receiving over 1000 submissions every month. All research published by the journal represents important advances of significance to specialists within each field, in all areas of the biological, physical, chemical and earth sciences. The journal will continue to uphold its high editorial standards and service, but now through a purely open access publishing model.  More

The most recent review article published in Nature Communications is indicative of the high quality of this new journal from Nature Publishing:  
Spicer, C. D. & Davis, B. G. Selective chemical protein modification. Nat Commun 5 (2014)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's National Voter Registration Day! Register to vote in the science library.

Vote in Ohio!  Citizens of the United States who reside in Ohio as college students are given the right to vote in our state.
Input area code 44074 @ for election information
Voter registration forms are available in the science library; we'll help you complete the form and deliver it to the Board of Elections for you.

There are important state-wide races to be decided in this November's election, as well as choosing the U.S. congressional representative for our district (4th district; incumbent is Jim Jordan).  The outcome of these elections impacts all college students, as policies and budgets help determine quality of life and the extent to which the broader community is supported with access to good education options, funding for scientific research, health care, employment, social services, a clean and sustainable environment, and safe, adequate public works infrastructure.  This is just the short list of ways in which Ohio politicians can affect our daily lives. We are part of the community; you have the right to help determine how we are governed.

--Alison Ricker, current board member and past president, League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area.  LWVOA on Facebook.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pneumonia-causing bacteria shown to invade heart muscle

I always enjoy the weekly update from The Scientist, received in my email inbox every Friday.  This week, an excellent summary of research published in PLOS Pathogens caught my eye.

Here, a snippet from Molly Sharlach's news article:
“Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and their colleagues found that mice and rhesus macaques infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae developed myocardial microlesions, which were also present in human autopsy samples. 
“Study coauthor Carlos Orihuela, a microbiologist and immunologist at UTHSCSA, remarked, 'This is sort of a big deal. It’s a brand new disease pathology for a very old bug.' 
“'This is the first report in over 120 years of research with Streptococcus pneumoniae to say that the bacteria actually invade heart tissue,' added Orihuela.“
A.O. Brown et al., “Streptococcus pneumoniae translocates into the myocardium and forms unique microlesions that disrupt cardiac function,” PLOS Pathogens, doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004383, 2014.

For some background reading, try this ebook from Springer, accessible through OBIS:
Molecular pathology of lung diseasesedited by Dani S. Zander ... [et al.] New York : Springer, c2008

Friday, September 12, 2014

Neonictinoids: dangerous to bees and more, with negative consequences for entire ecosystems

Researchers continue to amass evidence showing the harmful effects of neonictinoids in pesticides.  National Geographic's news report for a general audience gives an overview, and many scientific papers are quickly found with a search on neonictinoids in Web of Science.  Here are a few of the most recent, beginning with two articles in the open access journal PLOS One.

Tan, K., Chen, W., Dong, S., Liu, X., Wang, Y., & Nieh, J. C. (2014). Imidacloprid alters foraging and decreases bee avoidance of predators. PLOS One, 9(7), e102725. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102725
Partial abstract: “Concern is growing over the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, which can impair honey bee cognition. We provide the first demonstration that sublethal concentrations of imidacloprid can harm honey bee decision-making about danger by significantly increasing the probability of a bee visiting a dangerous food source.”
Sandrock, C., Tanadini, M., Tanadini, L. G., Fauser-Misslin, A., Potts, S. G., & Neumann, P. (2014). Impact of chronic neonicotinoid exposure on honeybee colony performance and queen supersedure. PLOS One, 9(8), e103592. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103592 
Find it in the library

Chen, M., Tao, L., McLean, J., & Lu, C. (2014). Quantitative analysis of neonicotinoid insecticide residues in foods: Implication for dietary exposures. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 62(26), 6082-6090. doi:10.1021/jf501397m

Godfray, H. C. J., Blacquiere, T., Field, L. M., Hails, R. S., Petrokofsky, G., Potts, S. G., . . . McLean, A. R. (2014). A restatement of the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 281(1786), 20140558. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0558

Hallmann, C. A., Foppen, R. P. B., van Turnhout, Chris A M, de Kroon, H., & Jongejans, E. (2014). Declines in insectivorous birds are associated with high neonicotinoid concentrations. Nature, 511(7509), 341-+. doi:10.1038/nature13531

Kasiotis, K. M., Anagnostopoulos, C., Anastasiadou, P., & Machera, K. (2014). Pesticide residues in honeybees, honey and bee pollen by LC-MS/MS screening: Reported death incidents in honeybees. Science of the Total Environment, 485, 633-642. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.03.042

Stewart, S. D., Lorenz, G. M., Catchot, A. L., Gore, J., Cook, D., Skinner, J., . . . Barber, J. (2014). Potential exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoid insecticides from the use of insecticide seed treatments in the mid-southern united states. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(16), 9762-9. doi:10.1021/es501657w

Also relevant:  Honeybee Neurobiology and Behavior : A Tribute to Randolf Menzel / edited by C. Giovanni Galizia, Dorothea Eisenhardt, Martin Giurf.  Springer, 2012 online for subscribers.