Nutrition Panama  PANAMÁ 23/02/2016

Cause for hope: secondary tropical forests quickly put on weight

How fast tropical forests recover after deforestation has major consequences for climate change mitigation

A team including Smithsonian scientists discovered that some secondary tropical forests recover biomass quickly: half of the forests in the study attained 90 percent of old-growth forest levels in 66 years or less. Conservation planners can use their resulting biomass-recovery map for Latin America to prioritize conservation efforts.

Científicos del Smithsonian en un bosque tropical secundario. FOTO: STRI
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Science Spain  MADRID 22/02/2016

Children with mental disability and access to justice

European project with the participation of the UC3M

Children with mental disability (intellectual or psychosocial) still face obstacles in accessing the justice system under the same conditions as other citizens. That is one of the main conclusions of a study carried out in ten European countries including Spain. Taking part in the study were researchers from the UC3M “Bartolomé de las Casas” Human Rights Institute.

Justicia en la infancia. Imagen: UC3M.
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Nutrition Argentina  ARGENTINA 22/02/2016

Sandra Díaz, a brilliant mind recognized in the world

For the second time, Sandra Díaz was selected as one of the World's Most Influential Scientific Minds

Sandra Díaz, CONICET senior researcher at the Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal (IMBIV, CONICET-UNC), is the only Argentine who works in the country and is part of the list of researchers of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2015” made by the Thomson Reuters’ Science and Intellectual Property Unit. The second Argentine on the list is Juan Martín Maldacena but he conducts his studies in the USA.

Sandra Díaz. FOTO: CONICET
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Health Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 18/02/2016

Molecules that influence depression identified

With this discovery it will be possible to use the correct treatment and predict the outcome of a psychiatric disease

This was one of the discoveries of McGill University Psychologist and Biologist Juan Pablo López, a special invitee to the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) and PhD candidate of the abovementioned University in Montreal on psychiatric disorders.

Cerebro y depresión. (Foto: UN)
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Nutrition Brazil  BRASIL 16/02/2016

Scientists identify bacterial protein that inhibits inflammatory response

'Coxiella burnetii', the bacterium that causes Q fever, secretes a protein to trick the immune system. This discovery may pave the way for new treatments against sepsi

An international group of scientists led by Dario Zamboni, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine (FMRP-USP) in Brazil, have discovered the strategy used by Coxiella burnetii, a potentially dangerous bacterium, to trick the immune system and inhibit the inflammatory process triggered by defense cells when they come into contact with pathogens of this kind.

Coxiella burnetii.
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Space Chile  ATACAMA 15/02/2016

ALMA reveals planetary construction sites

Planets are found around nearly every star, but astronomers still do not fully understand how — and under what conditions — they form

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found telltale differences between the gaps in the gas and the dust in discs around four young stars. These new observations are the clearest indications yet that planets with masses several times that of Jupiter have recently formed in these discs. Measurements of the gas around the stars also provide additional clues about the properties of those planets.

Representación esquemática de un disco de transición al rededor de una joven estrella. Créditos: ESO/M. Kornmesser
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Nutrition Panama  PANAMÁ 12/02/2016

Smithsonian botanist discovers new ground-flowering plant in Panama

'C. galdamesiana' belongs to the Marantaceae family, known for the large, oval leaves of 'C. lutea' known as bijao, natural wrappers for food like tamales and juanes

Rattlesnake- zebra- and peacock plants have a new wild relative, discovered by Rodolfo Flores, Panamanian botanist and intern at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Helen Kennedy, University of California at Riverside, herbarium research associate, and Flores named the species Calathea galdamesiana in honor of STRI’s herbarium assistant, Carmen Galdames.

Calathea toroi.
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Nutrition Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 10/02/2016

Forest fires increase greenhouse effect gases

Additionally pollution impacts the surrounding fauna such as small mammals, rodents and bird life, modifying the urban landscape

According to Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Department of Biology Professor Dolors Armenteras, frequent forest fires now occurring around the city increase carbon emissions, heighten greenhouse effect gases and disturb the air quality.

Por medio de helicópteros se transporta el agua para detener el incendio. (Foto: Catalina Torres)
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Health Argentina  ARGENTINA 08/02/2016

Close to understanding Parkinson’s disease

CONICET scientist participated in the studies that show for the first time how a key protein behaves in the development of the disease in live cells

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder characterized by the presence of protein deposits mainly made up of α-synuclein (α-Syn) located in the inner part of neurons in the region of the brain called substantia nigra. These deposits, known as Lewy bodies or amyloid plaques, are abnormal accumulations that do not degrade and eventually eliminate the dopaminergic neurons, the ones in charge of producing the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Andrés Binolfi en el IIDEFA- Foto: Gentileza investigador.
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Health 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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Nutrition 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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Nutrition 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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Technology 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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Health 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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Health 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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Nutrition 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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Nutrition 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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Nutrition 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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Health 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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Technology 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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