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NASA sounding rocket finds helium structures in sun's atmosphere

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen. But scientists aren't sure just how much there actually is in the Sun's atmosphere, where it is hard to measure. Knowing the amount of helium in the solar atmosphere is important to understanding the origin and acceleration of the solar wind—the constant stream of charged particles from the Sun.

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Stellar egg hunt with ALMA—Tracing evolution from embryo to baby star

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) took a census of stellar eggs in the constellation Taurus and revealed their evolution state. This census helps researchers understand how and when a stellar embryo transforms to a baby star deep inside a gaseous egg. In addition, the team found a bipolar outflow, a pair of gas streams, that could be telltale evidence of a truly newborn star.

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Scientists use CRISPR to knock down gene messages early in development

Since its discovery, scientists have been using the much-lauded gene editing tool CRISPR to alter the DNA of model organisms and uncover the functions of thousands of genes. Now, researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Andalusian Center of Developmental Biology at Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain, have harnessed the technology to target gene messages (messenger RNA) involved in early vertebrate development.

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Florida current is weaker now than at any point in the past century

A key component of the Gulf Stream has markedly slowed over the past century—that's the conclusion of a new research paper in Nature Communications published on August 7. The study develops a method of tracking the strength of near-shore ocean currents using measurements made at the coast, offering the potential to reduce one of the biggest uncertainties related to observations of climate change over the past century.

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Researchers discover how plants distinguish beneficial from harmful microbes

Legume plants know their friends from their enemies, and now we know how they do it at the molecular level. Plants recognize beneficial microbes and keep harmful ones out, which is important for healthy plants production and global food security. Scientists have now discovered how legumes use small, well-defined motifs in receptor proteins to read molecular signals produced by both pathogenic and symbiotic microbes. These remarkable findings have enabled the researchers to reprogram immune receptors into symbiotic receptors, which is the first milestone for engineering symbiotic nitrogen-fixing symbiosis into cereal crops.

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Oldest enzyme in cellular respiration isolated

In the first billion years, there was no oxygen on Earth. Life developed in an anoxic environment. Early bacteria probably obtained their energy by breaking down various substances by means of fermentation. However, there also seems to have been a kind of "oxygen-free respiration." This was suggested by studies on primordial microbes that are still found in anoxic habitats today.

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Scientists discover curious clues in the war between cystic fibrosis bacteria

Several kinds of bacteria can cause lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF). Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause pneumonia, typically infects infants or young children and persists for life, while Burkholderia cepacia complex species only infect teenagers and adults. Although Burkholderia infections are rare, when they do take hold, they are deadly. Now, UNC School of Medicine scientists led by Peggy Cotter, Ph.D., professor in the UNC Department of Microbiology and Immunology, have discovered a reason for this pathogen's apparent age discrimination.

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Researchers warn of climate repercussions if Brazilian highway through the Amazon is paved

A pair of researchers with the National Institute for Research in Amazonia has posted an open letter in the journal Science warning of the negative repercussions of resuming paving of a road through a part of the Amazon. In their letter, Lucas Ferrante and Philip Martin Fearnside suggest that resumption of paving will lead to releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further contributing to global warming.

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Fine-tuning metabolic gene expression to identify variants in yeast genes

Scientists have developed a more nuanced library approach to tuning gene expression in metabolic pathways. Compared to the traditional way, which leverages an all-or-nothing approach to expression, scientists can now opt for various shades of gray. The ability to fine-tune the level of gene expression allowed researchers to identify variations of essential genes in metabolic networks that were missed using traditional approaches.

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Hormones control paternal interest in offspring

Basing their research on an unexpected interspecies difference between rats and mice, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University have mapped a system in the brain that controls paternal behavior towards offspring. A key component in this behavior is the hormone prolactin, which prepares females for motherhood and has now been shown to control paternal behavior as well. The study has been published in the journal Cell.

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