Friday, October 31, 2014

Genetics and age contribute to Ebola infection outcome

Fascinating story on NPR's Morning Edition today, featuring remarks from:

  • Vincent Racaniello, virologist at Columbia University, 
  • Jonathan Epstein, veterinarian and epidemiologist with EcoHealth Alliance,
  • Angela Rasmussen, microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and
  • Robert Garry, microbiologist at Tulane University.

Rasmussen and colleagues published research results in Science showing a “wide range of disease outcomes, all the way from mild to severe illness” depending on the genetic makeup of mice infected with the same Ebola virus strain.
Garry is part of a team studying age of patients suffering from Ebola; younger patients (under age 21) were significantly more likely to survive than patients older than 45 (published in New England Journal of Medicine).

Listen to the whole story.
More information at The Scientist.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

NTIS Expands Free Access to Federal Technical Reports

From a news release, Oct. 28, 2014:

"The National Technical Reports Library (NTRL)  is now offering the American public free public access to a searchable online database of approximately three million federal science and technology reports. The library is a service of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Technical Information Service.  NTIS, a federal agency that does not receive appropriations from Congress, previously charged a fee to provide full-text electronic copies of federal documents in its collection.  The full text for 800,000 of these documents can be downloaded immediately in electronic PDF format without charge."   more...

PLoS ONE paper demonstrates "ubiquity" of DNA contamination

From The Scientist:
Fact or Artifact?  "A study documenting the ubiquity of DNA contamination calls into question a recent paper on food-derived nucleic acids in the human bloodstream. DNA from diverse species—including bacteria, plants, and humans—contaminates nearly every sample sent through a next-generation sequencer, according to a study published today (October 29) in PLOS ONE."
Science Library:  QH447.D83 2013  
A dissertation from Kent State University (Attarhaie Tehrani 2011) in the OhioLINK Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Center discusses similar challenges for eliminating DNA contamination in research protocols.  Read the dissertation abstract in OhioLINK library catalog.

Learn more about methods involved with a next-generation sequencer:
Pompanon, François, and Bonin, Aurélie, editors
Data Production and Analysis in Population Genomics : Methods and Protocols.  Humana Press, 2012.  In the OhioLINK Electronic Book Center.

Explore much more about genomics in the journal with that title, at Genomics and find a plethora of books on the topic in OBIS and OhioLINK catalogs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Access Week Greetings

Celebrate Open Access! See ‪#‎OAWeek2014‬ for a lively collection of greetings and enticements from publishers, journal producers, associations and individuals.

International Open Access Week
 In a news release today, Springer tells us that "with 160+ fully open journals, a growing selection of fully open eBooks, and thousands of articles available through our Open Choice program—along with the entire BioMedCentral catalog—Springer is one of the largest OA publishers in the world."  More...

And, from the Journal of Applied Ecology: "to coincide with the 7th Annual International Open Access Week we are delighted to bring together all open access papers published in the Journal of Applied Ecology in 2014. All five British Ecological Society Journals have produced a Virtual Issue for Open Access Week 2014."

Check out the How Open Is It? guide from PLOS, the Public Library of Science, to better evaluate the open access status of any journal of publisher.  While you're there, enjoy access to the entire suite of PLOS journals and websites.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Phylogeographic research published by Michael Moore

A recent faculty paper as indexed in Web of Science:

Sun, Yanxia, Michael J. Moore, Associate Professor of Biology, Liangliang Yue, Tao Feng, Haijia Chu, Shaotian Chen, Yunheng Ji, Hengchang Wang, and Jianqiang Li. 2014. "Chloroplast Phylogeography of the East Asian Arcto-Tertiary Relict Tetracentron Sinense (Trochodendraceae)." Journal of Biogeography 41 (9): 1721-1732. doi:10.1111/jbi.12323. [subscriber access only]

Partial abstract:  "A phylogeographical study of the widespread but phylogenetically isolated East Asian endemic tree species Tetracentron sinense (Trochodendraceae) was performed to evaluate whether and how Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene climate changes helped to influence current phylogeographical patterns, and to describe the current patterns of genetic diversity and their implications for conservation.  [Research findings suggest:] The extant distribution of T. sinense is likely to have been shaped by both pre-Quaternary and Pleistocene climate changes. Southwestern China may have served as an important refugium for T. sinense throughout the Neogene, while the species also occupied multiple refugia during the late Pleistocene glacial periods. Populations of T. sinense were resolved into five allopatric groups, between which there is apparently no seed movement."

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry: magnifying teeny tiny objects

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014  - Official Nobel Prize site.
 Highly recommended: How the optical microscope became a nanoscope (Nobel Prize "popular information")
As reported by Inside Science News Service:
By Chris Gorski, Senior Editor
Oct. 8, 2014

(Inside Science) – The 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to an American neuroscientist, a German biochemist and an American chemist "for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy."

The prize goes jointly to Eric Betzig, from the Howard Hughes Medical Center in Ashburn, Virginia, Stefan W. Hell, from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, in Göttingen, Germany, and William E. Moerner, from Stanford University in Stanford, California.

"What this year's prize is about is beating the diffraction limit of light," said Trisha Andrew, a chemist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "You can actually image directly very, very small features that are below the resolution of the visible light that everyone uses."

Hell has used [these techniques] to investigate living nerve cells. Moerner studied Huntington's disease with the techniques. Betzig watched cell division within embryos.
All of the preceding text is from Chris Gorski's article in Inside Science News Service.  Read the whole piece for deeper insight.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Inventors of Blue LEDs win Nobel Prize in Physics

From Inside Science News Service:
"The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to two Japanese and one U.S. citizen, all born in Japan, 'for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.'
"The prize goes jointly to Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University in Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Starting in the 1990s they produced blue LEDs, an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly source of blue light, which could be mixed with LEDs of other colors to produce a mixture that the eye sees as white light."
Philips SlipStyle;
The Nobel Prize news release highlights the significance of their achievement, succeeding "where everyone else had failed," to transform how the world uses electricity for lighting.  Ultimately, the switch from incandescent or fluorescent to LED means enormous savings in energy, decreased consumption of manufacturing materials, and improving "the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power." Pretty remarkable for a tiny light bulb.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Nobel Prize Week Begins: 3 Share Prize for Physiology or Medicine

As heard on NPR's Morning Edition, three neuroscientists have been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, with one half to John O´Keefe and the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser for their discoveries of cells that constitute a  positioning system in the brain.  
"The discoveries of John O´Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries – how does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?" 
Their findings have implications for Alzheimer's research, and "represent a paradigm shift in our understanding of how ensembles of specialized cells work together to execute higher cognitive functions. It has opened new avenues for understanding other cognitive processes, such as memory, thinking and planning." [from today's announcement on Nobel Prize]

Two key papers, accessible to subscribers:
O'Keefe, J., and Dostrovsky, J. (1971). The hippocampus as a spatial map. Preliminary evidence from unit activity in the freely‐moving rat. Brain Research 34, 171-175. [access at science
Fyhn, M., Molden, S., Witter, M.P., Moser, E.I., Moser, M.B. (2004) Spatial representation in the entorhinal cortex. Science 305, 1258-1264.  [access at]

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Letter from Dennis Hubbard published in Science

Dennis Hubbard, Professor of Geology, has published a letter with 13 other researchers from five different countries and five other states, disagreeing with assertions conveyed by science writer Christopher Pala (Science Aug. 1, p. 496).  Pala interviewed scientists who implied that recent land losses from low-lying islands are the result of poor coastal management, and that islanders are being affected "for the same reason as millions of people on the continents: because they live too close to shore."   Pala cited studies that imply that "coral reefs supporting sandy atoll islands will grow and rise in tandem with the sea."  Hubbard and co-authors refute those findings in their letter Island outlook: Warm and swampy.
Hubbard, Dennis; Gischler, Eberhard; Davies, Peter; Montaggioni, Lucien; Camoin, Gilbert; Dullo, Wolf-Christian; Storlazzi, Curt; Field, Michael; Fletcher, Charles; Grossman, Eric; Sheppard, Charles; Lescinsky, Halard; Fenner, Douglas; McManus, John; Scheffers, Sander.
Science, 345 (6203):1461-1461; SEP 19 2014 [access online for subscribers]

It is timely reading, following on the heels of the State of the Climate Debate held in Nancy Schrom Dye Lecture Hall yesterday evening.