CINCINNATI—Whether it’s food or sex, pleasurable activity provides more than just pleasure, University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers say. It actually reduces stress by inhibiting anxiety responses in the brain.

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Reclaimed proteins enable the fusion of transmitter vesicles with the cell membrane.

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Quantum computers should be much easier to build than previously thought, because they can still work with a large number of faulty or even missing components, according to a study published today in Physical Review Letters. This surprising discovery brings scientists one step closer to designing and building real-life quantum computing systems – devices that could have enormous potential across a wide range of fields, from drug design, electronics, and even code-breaking.

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Avastin benefits demonstrated in combination with a wide range of chemotherapies and in a broad patient population.

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Children given a hormone growth factor alongside chemotherapy for the aggressive cancer neuroblastoma are less likely to suffer a potentially deadly side-effect, according to a major international study published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology*.

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Newly detected rising sea levels in parts of the Indian Ocean, including the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Java, appear to be at least partly a result of human-induced increases of atmospheric greenhouse gases, says a study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Neurobiologists use state-of-the-art methods to decode the basics of motion detection.

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Discovery could lead to new drugs to fight Alzheimer’s, other neurological diseases.

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Scientists researching a toxin extracted from the venom of the honey bee have used this to inform the design of new treatments to alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as muscular dystrophy, depression and dementia.

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Name a drink that can make you more alert for late-night studying, prevent you from fainting after giving blood, and even promote a teensy bit of weight loss.

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Australian researchers have uncovered a new mutation in stem cells that may be linked to the development of leukaemia, breast and colon cancer.

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Methadone treatment improves long-term survival of drug users and reduces the risk of death with each year of treatment, a study has shown.

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Massey biologists have uncovered for the first time the complete set of gene messages that define the symbiotic interaction between a fungal endophyte and its grass host.

Institute of Molecular BioSciences head Professor Barry Scott conducted the research with Dr Carla Eaton and Dr Murray Cox. It may have implications for future research into understanding plant disease and pasture growth.

They looked at perennial ryegrass, which has a fungus living inside it in a symbiotic relationship. “We focused on a particular gene in the fungus responsible for signal transduction,” Professor Scott says. “We knocked out that gene and reintroduced the modified fungus into the plant, and the results were dramatic.”

The plant's whole development was altered. “It was seriously stunted, it didn’t grow very well. At the base of the grass there is usually a band of red pigments, but they were gone, and the fungus just grew out of control; the symbiosis had completely broken down,” Professor Scott says.

To make sense of these developmental changes, the team utilised a relatively new process, known as high-throughput sequencing. They were able to rapidly sequence the transcriptomes (sets of gene molecules that can be influenced externally and reflect which genes are active at any given time) of both the fungal endophyte and the grass host.

“We sent ribonucleic acid (RNA) from plants containing the normal fungus and the modified fungus to a company called Cofactor Genomics in the United States,” Professor Scott says. “They sent us back a vast amount of data; around 40 million sequences per sample.”
 
Being able to obtain that amount of data would have been impossible just a few years ago, Dr Cox says. “Five years ago a large dataset would have been a few thousand reads, and now we’re dealing with millions of reads, that’s how much it has changed,” he says.

The result is a spreadsheet that lists all the plant and fungal genes that show a statistically significant change between grass infected with the modified and normal fungus. This was matched against the genome sequence of the fungus to find which reads were fungal and which came from the grass.

Just over 1000 of the fungal genes had changed significantly. Professor Scott says the resulting data represents the first complete transcriptome of a plant-fungal symbiosis. “We now have a key insight into what’s important in terms of symbiosis, and how it can quickly turn into a pathogenic relationship if things are altered slightly. It’s a really fine balance; if you change the relationship subtly it is enough to tip it over the edge. The fungus becomes a pathogen”

The research will be published in the August issue of the international journal Plant Physiology.

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A new study indicates a link between low levels of testosterone and frailty in older men.

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As popular white fish species such as cod, face fisheries collapse, pollock has increasingly been an essential alternative. For instance the kid's favourite, Fish Fingers, now increasingly consist of pollock rather than cod, as do McDonald's 'Filet-o-Fish.

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Pavan Sukhdev, leader of the TEEB review (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), yesterday delivered the 9th annual Darwin Initiative Lecture in London. The central theme of Mr Sukhdev's presentation was the need for a 'new economics' to take into account measures of human progress traditionally excluded from nations' GDP figures.

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Scientists have recently discovered that a tree fungus Gliocladium roseum, produces compounds of long-chain hydrocarbons very similar in structure to commercial diesel. The lead scientist of the research, Gary Strobel, from Montana State University said: "This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances...

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The IUCN have today announced the findings of an investigation into the state of the North Atlantic's rays and sharks; 26 per cent of these face extinction with 20% 'near threatened.' The estimated percentage is conservative however, insofar as many of the species (27%) assessed lacked sufficient data to effectively assess their status.

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Scientists have recently developed a new computer modeling system that will improve the way in which river basins are assessed for the European Water Framework Directive. The system has been named the Elbe decision support system, (Elbe-DSS), after the river it was initially developed for assessing, the River Elbe, one of the largest in Europe.

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The Environmental Audit Committee has today published its report into 'Halting UK Biodiversity Loss'. The Committee call for a new approach to address dramatic declines in biodiversity across England and in the UK's Overseas Territories (OTs).

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Research published in the Royal Society's Biology Letters journal suggests that fisheries management must consider population demography. Modeling the life history demographics of 25 different marine fish species, Canadian scientists have found that larger, older female fish produce tougher offspring than their younger counterparts.

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The Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee has announced a new inquiry into 'Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy'. The Committee is seeking evidence on, amongst other things:

    whether there should be a Department for Science strengths and weaknesses of how Government currently formulates science policywhether the views of the science and engineering community are, or should be, central to the formulation of government policyengaging the public and increasing public confidence in science and engineering policy the role of GO-Science, DIUS and other Government departments, charities, learned societies, Regional Development Agencies, industry and other stakeholders in determining UK science and engineering policy how government science and engineering policy should be scrutinised.
The BES is planning to respond to this consultation, by the deadline of Monday 12 January. If you would like to contribute to this response, e-mail Policy@BritishEcologicalSociety.

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Conservation Director of the RSPB Dr Mark Avery, described the troubling plight of the House Sparrow Passer domesticus. According to a recent study in the journal Animal Conservation by scientists from the RSPB, Natural England and De Montford University, house sparrows have declined by up to 68% of their 1970 population.

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Yesterday saw the launch of the initial results of the 2007 Countryside Survey, with a series of presentations and workshops in London. Opening the event, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, praised the dedication of the ecologists and others behind the work and commented on the 'fundamental' importance of the report to Government.

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Dishonesty in ecology, as a policy for deterring potential rivals, has not been thought of as a common strategy across the animal kingdom until recently. Dishonesty has been a long-standing conundrum in evolutionary ecology.

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The results of the 2007 Countryside Survey have been released this morning, with the report published electronically on the Survey website. The report will be launched formally later today with a series of presentations and discussions, begun with a keynote speech by the Secretary of State for the environment, Hilary Benn.

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After years of campaigning by a multitude of NGOs within Britain for a far-reaching Climate Change Bill, the Government has finally given in and last night the Climate Change Bill received Royal Assent. The British Ecological Society (BES) responded to the initial Government consultation in 2007, calling for the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70% by 2050, and the BES is extremely pleased that the Government favourably considered our viewpoint.

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The stereotypical image of the hard-working bumblebee has been shattered by new research published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Social Biology. Scientists from Queen Mary University London have found that bumblebees Bombus terrestris will only work if they absolutely have to - an evolved strategy to conserve energy in times of plenty.

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The Science Policy team yesterday attended the final day of the annual Environment Agency conference, which saw Jane Davidson, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing at the Welsh Assembly Government, Ed Milliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, deliver keynote addresses. Jane Davidson set our her vision for 'One Wales, One Planet', a new scheme which commits Wales to become a 'one planet nation'.

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It seems as though the Government-Industrial complex has overcome sensibilities in a move by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), calling to maintain fishing levels of bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus 50% above scientists' recommendations. ICCAT members decided to permit a take of 22,000 tonnes per year (Total Allowable Catch), despite ICCAT scientists setting a quota of 15,000 tonnes (TAC).

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Conservationists and policy makers are conscious that many species ranges' may shift because of climate change, in fact many species have already begun to do so, (although this wasn't detected convincingly in the recent Countryside Survey Report for the UK). Recent research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology investigated the extent to which the Natura 2000 network is capable of supporting European species in the face of climate change.

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The role of the BES in bringing together policy makers, ecologists and others to discuss topical issues in environmental policy has been highlighted in a response to a parliamentary question in the House of Lords. Lord Dykes (Spokesperson in the Lords - Europe), asked the Government to outline the progress made by the UK Biodiversity Advisory Group (UK BRAG) in investigating empirical ecosystems.

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Tuesday 4 November saw the launch of the RSA's Arts and Ecology showcase of STOP. WATCH.

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An international study by the WWF, ZSL and partners - the Living Planet Report - reveals that we will need 'two planets' by 2030 in order to sustain current rates of consumption. Three quarters of the world's population are consuming more than can be replaced each year.

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New research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology suggests the impact of wind farms on farmland birds is less serious than previously thought. Dr Mark Whittingham and co-authors focused their study on farmland birds overwintering in East Anglia, in early 2007.

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In a recent visit to a G24i, a solar energy technology centre, Assembly Minister Jane Davidson highlighted how clean technology lies at the heart of efforts to tackle climate change: "Our ability to develop 21st century technologies that cuts our carbon and environmental footprints will be vital. G24i is a great example of how Wales is playing its part.

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