SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

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Past life on Mars will have generated organic remains that may be preserved in present day Mars rocks. The most recent period in the history of Mars that retained widespread surface waters was the late Noachian and early Hesperian and thus possessed the potential to sustain the most evolved and widely distributed martian life. Guidance for investigating late Noachian and early Hesperian rocks is provided by studies of analogous acidic and sulfur-rich environments on Earth. Here we report organic responses for an acid stream containing acidophilic organisms whose post-mortem remains are entombed in iron sulphates and iron oxides. We find that, if life was present in the Hesperian, martian organic records will comprise microbial lipids. Lipids are a potential sizeable reservoir of fossil carbon on Mars, and can be used to distinguish between different domains of life. Concentrations of lipids, and particularly alkanoic or “fatty” acids, are highest in goethite layers that reflect high water-to-rock ratios and thus a greater potential for habitability. Goethite can dehydrate to hematite, which is widespread on Mars. Mars missions should seek to detect fatty acids or their diagenetic products in the oxides and hydroxides of iron associated with sulphur-rich environments.

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Double emulsions are complex fluid systems, in which droplets of a dispersed liquid phase contain even smaller dispersed liquid droplets. Particularly, water-in-oil-in-water double emulsions provide significant advantages over simple oil-in-water emulsions for microencapsulation, such as carrier of both aqueous and oily payloads and sustained release profile. However, double emulsions are thermodynamically unstable systems consisting typically of relatively large droplets. Here we show that nanoscale water-in-oil-in-water double emulsions can be prepared by adding a silica precursor polymer, hyperbranched polyethoxysiloxane, to the oil phase without any additional surfactants. The resulting double miniemulsions are transformed to robust water@SiO2@polymer@SiO2 nanocapsules via conversion of the precursor to silica and polymerization of the oil phase. Other intriguing nanostructures like nanorattles and Janus-like nanomushrooms can also be obtained by changing preparation conditions. This simple surfactant-free double miniemulsion polymerization technique opens a promising avenue for mass production of various complex hybrid nanostructures that are amenable to numerous applications.

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Freshwater availability is changing worldwide. Here we quantify 34 trends in terrestrial water storage observed by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites during 2002-2016 and categorize their drivers as natural interannual variability, unsustainable groundwater consumption, climate change or combinations thereof. Several of these trends had been lacking thorough investigation and attribution, including massive changes in northwestern China and the Okavango Delta. Others are consistent with climate model predictions. This observation-based assessment of how the world’s water landscape is responding to human impacts and climate variations provides a blueprint for evaluating and predicting emerging threats to water and food security.

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The Montreal Protocol was designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by enabling reductions in the abundance of ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere1-3. The reduction in the atmospheric concentration of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) has made the second-largest contribution to the decline in the total atmospheric concentration of ozone-depleting chlorine since the 1990s 1 . However, CFC-11 still contributes one-quarter of all chlorine reaching the stratosphere, and a timely recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer depends on a sustained decline in CFC-11 concentrations 1 . Here we show that the rate of decline of atmospheric CFC-11 concentrations observed at remote measurement sites was constant from 2002 to 2012, and then slowed by about 50 per cent after 2012. The observed slowdown in the decline of CFC-11 concentration was concurrent with a 50 per cent increase in the mean concentration difference observed between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and also with the emergence of strong correlations at the Mauna Loa Observatory between concentrations of CFC-11 and other chemicals associated with anthropogenic emissions. A simple model analysis of our findings suggests an increase in CFC-11 emissions of 13 ± 5 gigagrams per year (25 ± 13 per cent) since 2012, despite reported production being close to zero 4 since 2006. Our three-dimensional model simulations confirm the increase in CFC-11 emissions, but indicate that this increase may have been as much as 50 per cent smaller as a result of changes in stratospheric processes or dynamics. The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global CFC production by 2010.

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Previous research has demonstrated that individuals with higher intelligence are more likely to have larger gray matter volume in brain areas predominantly located in parieto-frontal regions. These findings were usually interpreted to mean that individuals with more cortical brain volume possess more neurons and thus exhibit more computational capacity during reasoning. In addition, neuroimaging studies have shown that intelligent individuals, despite their larger brains, tend to exhibit lower rates of brain activity during reasoning. However, the microstructural architecture underlying both observations remains unclear. By combining advanced multi-shell diffusion tensor imaging with a culture-fair matrix-reasoning test, we found that higher intelligence in healthy individuals is related to lower values of dendritic density and arborization. These results suggest that the neuronal circuitry associated with higher intelligence is organized in a sparse and efficient manner, fostering more directed information processing and less cortical activity during reasoning.

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Recent shifts in the geographic distribution of marine species have been linked to shifts in preferred thermal habitats. These shifts in distribution have already posed challenges for living marine resource management, and there is a strong need for projections of how species might be impacted by future changes in ocean temperatures during the 21st century. We modeled thermal habitat for 686 marine species in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans using long-term ecological survey data from the North American continental shelves. These habitat models were coupled to output from sixteen general circulation models that were run under high (RCP 8.5) and low (RCP 2.6) future greenhouse gas emission scenarios over the 21st century to produce 32 possible future outcomes for each species. The models generally agreed on the magnitude and direction of future shifts for some species (448 or 429 under RCP 8.5 and RCP 2.6, respectively), but strongly disagreed for other species (116 or 120 respectively). This allowed us to identify species with more or less robust predictions. Future shifts in species distributions were generally poleward and followed the coastline, but also varied among regions and species. Species from the U.S. and Canadian west coast including the Gulf of Alaska had the highest projected magnitude shifts in distribution, and many species shifted more than 1000 km under the high greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Following a strong mitigation scenario consistent with the Paris Agreement would likely produce substantially smaller shifts and less disruption to marine management efforts. Our projections offer an important tool for identifying species, fisheries, and management efforts that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

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Dietary fiber protects against chronic inflammatory diseases by dampening immune responses through short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Here we examined the effect of dietary fiber in viral infection, where the anti-inflammatory properties of SCFAs in principle could prevent protective immunity. Instead, we found that fermentable dietary fiber increased survival of influenza-infected mice through two complementary mechanisms. High-fiber diet (HFD)-fed mice exhibited altered bone marrow hematopoiesis, characterized by enhanced generation of Ly6c- patrolling monocytes, which led to increased numbers of alternatively activated macrophages with a limited capacity to produce the chemokine CXCL1 in the airways. Blunted CXCL1 production reduced neutrophil recruitment to the airways, thus limiting tissue immunopathology during infection. In parallel, diet-derived SCFAs boosted CD8+ T cell effector function by enhancing cellular metabolism. Hence, dietary fermentable fiber and SCFAs set an immune equilibrium, balancing innate and adaptive immunity so as to promote the resolution of influenza infection while preventing immune-associated pathology.

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Casein protein consumed before sleep has been suggested to offer an overnight supply of exogenous amino acids for anabolic processes. The purpose of this study was to compare supplemental casein consumed earlier in the day (DayTime, DT) versus shortly before bed (NightTime, NT) on body composition, strength, and muscle hypertrophy in response to supervised resistance training.

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Rabies is a fatal zoonotic disease that requires fast, accurate diagnosis to prevent disease in an exposed individual. The current gold standard for post-mortem diagnosis of human and animal rabies is the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test. While the DFA test has proven sensitive and reliable, it requires high quality antibody conjugates, a skilled technician, a fluorescence microscope and diagnostic specimen of sufficient quality. The LN34 pan-lyssavirus real-time RT-PCR assay represents a strong candidate for rabies post-mortem diagnostics due to its ability to detect RNA across the diverse Lyssavirus genus, its high sensitivity, its potential for use with deteriorated tissues, and its simple, easy to implement design. Here, we present data from a multi-site evaluation of the LN34 assay in 14 laboratories. A total of 2,978 samples (1,049 DFA positive) from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East were tested. The LN34 assay exhibited low variability in repeatability and reproducibility studies and was capable of detecting viral RNA in fresh, frozen, archived, deteriorated and formalin-fixed brain tissue. The LN34 assay displayed high diagnostic specificity (99.68%) and sensitivity (99.90%) when compared to the DFA test, and no DFA positive samples were negative by the LN34 assay. The LN34 assay produced definitive findings for 80 samples that were inconclusive or untestable by DFA; 29 were positive. Five samples were inconclusive by the LN34 assay, and only one sample was inconclusive by both tests. Furthermore, use of the LN34 assay led to the identification of one false negative and 11 false positive DFA results. Together, these results demonstrate the reliability and robustness of the LN34 assay and support a role for the LN34 assay in improving rabies diagnostics and surveillance.