news from the lab 2016
Many plant and animal species depend on habitats shaped by agriculture. Where and with what frequency do which species occur in the agricultural landscape? What is the state of their habitats? How effective are the measures taken to increase biodiversity? Agroscope's biodiversity monitoring programme 'ALL-EMA' records species and habitat diversity in the Swiss agricultural landscape.
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Switzerland's overhead power lines are showing signs of old age and can be damaged by power surges. But how long will they actually last? Empa researchers have developed a tool to keep tabs on the aging process.
The global catches of fishes would largely benefit from achieving the 1.5°C global warming target.
Snapshots from a Molecular Dynamics simulation of a single shigella toxin particle binding to its lipid partners in the vesicle membrane (side and top views).
EPFL scientists have identified a protein that caps chromosomes during cell division and protects them from oxidative damage and shortening, which are associated with aging and cancer. When cells divide, they pack up all of their genetic material in the tightly wrapped chromosomes. The ends of our chromosomes have a unique structure, named a telomere.
Neurons in the brain store RNA molecules - DNA gene copies - in order to rapidly react to stimuli. This storage dramatically accelerates the production of proteins. This is one of the reasons why neurons in the brain can adapt quickly during learning processes. The recent results of a research group at the University of Basel's Biozentrum have been published in the current issue of ‘Neuron'.
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Mitochondria are the ‘power plants' of complex cells. In order to provide the cell with energy they need protein building blocks, which are imported from the outside. Over billions of years the ‘protein import machines' necessary for this process have developed differently than previously assumed, as biochemists in Bern have discovered.
A new material retains its special magnetic properties even at room temperature A new material could become the basis for future data storage devices, since it may enable significant reductions in energy demands in comparison to present-day hard drives. This is a material from the class of so-called magnetoelectric multiferroics, whose distinguishing characteristic is that their magnetic and electrical properties are coupled to each other.
How the differences between the sexes evolve depends not only on which parts of the genome are sex-specifically active. The question also arises concerning the sex in which such changes take place. ETH researchers demonstrate this using a closely related pair of plants. Scientists have been asking a fundamental question ever since the time of Darwin: how do the different sexes evolve when the genes of females and males are for the most part the same? Take the example of humans: a small but obviously important genetic difference between women and men is that a man has a Y chromosome.
Does sleep help process stress and trauma? Or does it actually intensify emotional reactions and memories of the event? This previously unanswered question is highly relevant for the prevention of trauma-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How extremely distressing experiences are processed right at the outset can influence the further course and development of posttraumatic stress disorders.
In Nymphenburg on Friday, the ETH probabilist Wendelin Werner was awarded the Heinz Gumin Prize, the highest-value mathematics prize in Germany.
Researchers have used the simplest approach yet to produce artificial beta cells from human kidney cells. Like their natural model, the artificial cells act as both sugar sensors and insulin producers. Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection. This involves the blood of patients being mixed with magnetic iron particles, which bind the bacteria to them after which they are removed from the blood using magnets.
Bacteria able to shed their cell wall assume new, mostly spherical shapes. ETH researchers have shown that these cells, known as L-forms, are not only viable but that their reproductive mechanisms may even correspond to those of early life forms. Researchers from a group led by ETH professor Martin Loessner discovered a few years ago that rod-shaped Listeria can become spherical.
A protein that stays attached on chromosomes during cell division plays a critical role in determining the type of cell that stem cells can become. The discovery, made by EPFL scientists, has significant implications for stem cell biology and their use in medicine. When cells divide, DNA is neatly wrapped up into chromosomes, and the normal expression of genes into proteins stops until the new cells are formed.
Bern, 06.12.2016 - Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies are complex societies, in which work is not distributed by a central power. How tasks are allocated among workers is still poorly understood. A research team from the Swiss Bee Research Center at Agroscope and the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern (both Switzerland), discovered that young adults influence this process by promoting older individuals to perform duties outside the hive, which shortens their life expectancy.
Butterfly wings are a prime example of how flexible and elastic materials can be extremely water-repellent. The relationship between elasticity and water resistance has now been described for the first time by researchers at ETH Zurich. The new finding could help to improve water-repellent textiles for use in tents or clothing.
Scientists have developed a highly sensitive sensor to detect tiny changes in strong magnetic fields. The sensor may find widespread use in medicine and other areas. Researchers from the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, which is operated jointly by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, have succeeded in measuring tiny changes in strong magnetic fields with unprecedented precision.
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Intensive use of grasslands by humans reduces species diversity and makes the landscape more monotonous, so that the same species end up everywhere. Nature is then no longer able to provide us with many essential ‘services', which range from soil formation for food production to pest control.
Several simple and inexpensive techniques make it possible to store antiviral-vaccines at room temperature for several months.
Common psoriasis, also called psoriasis vulgaris, is an inflammatory skin disease that is characterized by severely scaling skin in areas ranging from small to palm-sized. The disease is estimated to affect between two and three percent of all Europeans. The cause is said to be immune system malfunctions: the underlying mechanism involves the immune cells reacting to skin cells.