Science Brazil  BRASIL 04/02/2016

Study shows how herpes virus escapes from cell nucleus

Protein complex helps virus exit cell after reproducing so infection can progress. Results published in 'Cell' pave way to search for inhibitors

The mechanism used by the oral herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) to escape from the nucleus of its host cell after replicating has been described in two articles published by the journal Cell. The strategy consists of secreting two proteins, pUL31 and pUL34, which interact to form a vesicle. This protein complex wraps itself around the virus and transports it out of the nucleus, enabling it to infect another cell – and so the disease progresses.

Virus del herpes. Wikimedia Commons.
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Science Chile  ATACAMA 03/02/2016

ALMA spots monstrous baby galaxies cradled in dark matter

There aren’t any monstrous galaxies left in the modern Universe, but astronomers believe that these young galaxies matured into giant elliptical galaxies that are seen in the modern Universe

Astronomers discovered a nest of monstrous baby galaxies 11.5 billion light-years away using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The young galaxies seem to reside at the junction of gigantic filaments in a web of dark matter. These findings are important for understanding how monstrous galaxies like these are formed and how they evolve into huge elliptical galaxies.

Imagen de las galaxias monstruosas y de la proto-Gran Muralla. Crédito: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
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Science Panama  PANAMÁ 01/02/2016

Were panamanian islanders dolphin hunters?

According to the results of recent excavations, published in Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, 8 percent of the mammal specimens—bones and teeth—recovered from a prehistoric scrap heap, or midden, belonged to dolphins

Precolombian seafarers left what is now mainland Panama to settle on Pedro González Island in the Perlas archipelago about 6,000 years ago, crossing 50-70 kilometers (31-44 miles) of choppy seas—probably in dugout canoes. Dolphins were an important part of the diet of island residents according to Smithsonian archeologist Richard Cooke and colleagues from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA and Colombia’s Universidad del Norte.

Delfín. FOTO: STRI
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Science Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 28/01/2016

Prototype activates pink noise to improve memorization

Two Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Electric Engineering students in Manizales produced a learning biosensor to improve concentration and memory capacity

The electronic device has a microphone which records respiration sounds which are then turned into pink noise using an internal transistor. Hearing this sound helps modify brain waves for good concentration and memorization. The prototype also has an audio input to record unknown words.

Un joven utiliza el ordenador. FOTO: UN
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Science Brazil  BRASIL 27/01/2016

New method can improve diagnosis of thyroid cancer

Researchers have identified a group of genes that serve as biomarkers for papillary thyroid carcinoma and high risk of lymph node involvement

Researchers at A.C. Camargo Cancer Center’s National Institute of Science and Technology in Oncogenomics (INCITO) in Brazil have identified a group of genes that serve as biomarkers for diagnosing the most prevalent form of thyroid cancer. The discovery has made possible the creation of a quick, accurate and inexpensive method to identify papillary thyroid carcinoma. An application has been filed for a patent.

Glándula tiroides.
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Science Argentina  BUENOS AIRES 26/01/2016

Pain: a psychological and cultural perspective

Researcher explains the role of those aspects regarding an issue as subjective as those things that hurt

Marcelo Villar, principal CONICET researcher at the Universidad Austral of Buenos Aires, comments that when he was PhD student and began his study, he would talk to a colleague, an old psychiatrist called Guillermo Vidal. He told him that when he got his degree, he used to work at the Braulio Moyano Hospital – Neuropsychiatric Hospital for women – and administered haloperidol (Antipsychotic medication) right and left to his patients and they improved.

Marcelo Villar, CONICET principal researcher. Photo: courtesy researcher.
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Science Panama  PANAMÁ 22/01/2016

A new field guide untangles identification of tropical vines

Lianas can be difficult to identify. Out of reach in the forest canopy, their leaves and flowers are sometimes not even visible from the ground

A striking feature of tropical forests, woody vines or lianas compete with trees for light, slowing tree growth or even killing them. Lianas are taking over forests across the Americas, but little is known about their biology. A new field guide to these important plants, Lianas y Enredaderas de la Isla de Barro Colorado, Panamá,, published by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about them.

Enredaderas tropicales. FOTO: STRI
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Science Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 20/01/2016

Thermal conversion produces electric energy in the sea

As claimed by Jessica Arias Gaviria who analyzes the potential of this renewable resource as part of her doctoral research in Engineering and Water Resources

Gaviria is working along with the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Faculty of Mining’ Oceanic and Decision Sciences Research Group which is supported by the Deputy Rector's Office of Research. To obtain energy from the sea researchers use a technique known as ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) which uses the surface and deep water temperature difference to run a heat engine and produce useful work, usually in the form of electricity. Electric energy is produced by means of a thermodynamic process in which surface water can reach temperatures of up to 25º C (77º F) evaporating a liquid with a low boiling point such as ammonia. The resulting vapor is used to move a turbine and a generator to produce electricity.

Para obtener energía con el mar se usa la conversión térmica oceánica, conocida en inglés como Ocean Thermal Energy (OTEC).
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Science Brazil  RIO GRANDE DO NORTE 19/01/2016

Deep-sea mineral crusts, a hidden treasure to be explored by science

Oceanographic research collaborations funded by FAPESP in partnership with UK research council begin to survey the South Atlantic's mineral potential

The Rio Grande Rise, a 3,000 sq. km. mountainous rock formation at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean approximately 1,500 km off the coast of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, holds a veritable trove of minerals and chemical elements that are becoming increasingly scarce on land – and science is starting to explore this treasure.

Elevación de Rio Grande/ CPRM.
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Science Argentina  LA RIOJA 18/01/2016

Science and community united against Chagas disease

CONICET scientists work with the communities of Llanos del Sur of La Rioja to prevent infestation of houses by Triatoma infestans, aka “vinchucas” or conenose bugs

David Eladio Gorla, CONICET principal researcher at the Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología (IMBIV, CONICET-UNC) [Multidisciplinary Plant Biology], leads a research project funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation. The aim of the project is to measure the impact of the Programa de Erradicación de Ranchos promoted by the government of La Rioja – although it is linked to a national plan – about the infestation of triatoma infestans in the houses located in Llanos del Sur de La Rioja, an area identified as one of the most problematic ones in the cuyo region. What is new for this region is that with the training provided by the researchers, its inhabitants are in charge of survey tasks.

Viviendas de los Llanos del Sur de La Rioja. FOTO: CONICET
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Science Spain  MADRID 15/01/2016

Virtual reality for motor rehabilitation of the shoulder

Prototype developed at UC3M

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed a virtual reality system or motor rehabilitation of the shoulder. The prototype, which includes a built-in movement sensor, allows the user to do controlled exercises as part of a football game.

Gafas 3D para rehabilitación. Foto: UC3M.
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Science Panama  PANAMÁ 15/01/2016

Will lionfish cross the Panama Canal?

Andrew Sellers, a doctoral student at McGill University, outlined three possible scenarios for a lionfish ('Pterois volitans') invasion

Coral reefs of the Caribbean already faced warming waters, disease and human-induced degradation. Then the lionfish came along. First introduced into the U.S. Atlantic in the 1980s, the lionfish has spread throughout the Caribbean in what has been described as one of the worst marine invasions ever recorded. Lionfish were not a problem in their native ranges in the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, but in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico they out-breed, out-compete and out-live native fish species and are decimating coral reefs. It only takes a year for a lionfish to reach maturity and begin to reproduce.

Pez león o Pterois volitans. FOTO: STRI
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Science Brazil  BRASIL 13/01/2016

Deep brain stimulation improves post-stroke recovery

In experiments with animals, a Cleveland Clinic research group shows that DBS assists formation of new synapses and neurons, bolstering motor rehabilitation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS), already used in humans to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, is being tested to aid post-stroke recovery from paralysis.

Cerebro. FOTO: Argentina Investiga.
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Science Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 12/01/2016

Bacteria and fungi thrive in extreme environments in Colombia

Although seemingly unthinkable there are beings on Earth capable of surviving temperatures above 45º C (113º F) and known as thermophiles, which are a subgroup of the extremophiles (microorganisms which subsist in extreme environments)

Among the extremophiles is Anisakis simplex a worm that can resist the radioactivity of Chernobyl (Ukraine); Chromohalobacter beijerinckii, a bacteria capable of enduring the high salt concentration of the Dead Sea and the tardigrades which survive in extremely dry environments in the Desert of Atacama, in Chile.

En la búsqueda de extremófilos, los investigadores también ha colectado muestras de suelo en el Desierto de la Tatacoa, en el Huila. foto: cortesía María Angélica Leal.
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Science Argentina  ARGENTINA 11/01/2016

Melipona bees’ honey, a vital resource for yungas communities

Wild stingless bees provide the inhabitants of Baritú in Salta with pollen, wax and propolis. CONICET researchers study the uses and characteristics of these products for their conservation and value

Before the introduction of the “European bee” (Apis mellifera), different melipona species – a group of native stingless bees-, were the main suppliers of honey for the native inhabitants of the American continent. Some communities that live in the yungas of Salta, maintain the habit of collecting the hives of these native bees and use their honey, pollen, wax and propolis for medicinal and food purposes.

Además de mieles, los pobladores de las yungas obtienen polen, cera y propóleos de las colmenas de la �mansita�. Fotos: gentileza Norma Hilgert y Fabio Flores.
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Science Panama  PANAMÁ 07/01/2016

A new field guide untangles identification of tropical vines

A striking feature of tropical forests, woody vines or lianas compete with trees for light, slowing tree growth or even killing them

A striking feature of tropical forests, woody vines or lianas compete with trees for light, slowing tree growth or even killing them. Lianas are taking over forests across the Americas, but little is known about their biology. A new field guide to these important plants, Lianas y Enredaderas de la Isla de Barro Colorado, Panamá,, published by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about them.

Lianas en un bosque tropical de Panamá. FOTO: STRI
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Science Brazil  BRASIL 05/01/2016

Study shows Zika virus is becoming more effective at infecting humans

Since 2000 the virus has undergone genetic alterations that enable it to confuse the human immune system and replicate in human cells

On its way from Africa to the Americas via Asia and the Pacific, the Zika virus (ZIKV) has adapted to the human organism by acquiring certain genetic characteristics that have made its replication in the cells of its new host increasingly efficient.

Mosquitos del género Aedes. FOTO: Wikipedia
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Science Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 04/01/2016

The fog fern is in critical threat of extinction

The population of the species of fern has been reduced by more than 90% and the probability of extinction in the wild is 50% within ten years or three generations

In order to find this tiny fern a Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) expedition headed by Natural Sciences Institute Professor Favio González along with two colleagues traveled the three Colombian mountain ranges with the purpose of finding Neuropterir, which in Latin means fog fern.

El helecho Neuropteris (Jamesonia) maxonii. Fotos: Favio González
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Science Brazil  BRASIL 21/12/2015

Immune systems of patients with bipolar disorder age prematurely

Damage to neurons occurs during mood swings, and the organism responds with an inflammatory reaction to rid itself of dead or dysfunctional cells

Research performed at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) in Brazil has shown that the immune systems of individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder tend to age prematurely. According to Elisa Brietzke, who led the study, the discovery paves the way for new therapeutic approaches.

Microglias/Wikimedia Commons
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Culture Argentina  ARGENTINA 18/12/2015

A long way back home

One hundred years later, the fossils of the first marine crocodile from the Jurassic period found in South America return to the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences

Buenos Aires, 1907. Argentine naturalist and director of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences (MACN-CONICET), Florentino Ameghino, received the fossil of a marine crocodile of the Jurassic period – approximately 190 and 145 millions of years ago– found in the mountain range area of the province of Neuquén. As he was not an expert on that field, he decided to contact his colleague Arthur Smith Woodward, who worked at the Natural History Museum of London. Ameghino asked him if he was interested in studying them, as it was the first time a reptile like that appeared in South America and Woodward had already described similar materials of crocodiles from the Northern Hemisphere.

El Cocodrilo de Ameghino regresa al país más de 100 años después. Fotos: CONICET Fotografía.
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