physorg.com:Spotlight stories

Tiny moon shadows may harbor hidden stores of ice Hidden pockets of water could be much more common on the surface of the moon than scientists once suspected, according to new research led by the University of Colorado Boulder. In some cases, these tiny patches of ice might exist in permanent shadows no bigger than a penny.
Drug-resistant hospital bacteria persist even after deep cleaning Scientists have used genome sequencing to reveal the extent to which a drug-resistant gastrointestinal bacterium can spread within a hospital, highlighting the challenge hospitals face in controlling infections.
Making biodiesel from dirty old cooking oil just got way easier Researchers have developed a powerful, low-cost method for recycling used cooking oil and agricultural waste into biodiesel, and turning food scraps and plastic rubbish into high-value products.
Researchers reveal US corn crop's growing sensitivity to drought Like a baseball slugger whose home run totals rise despite missing more curveballs each season, the U.S. Corn Belt's prodigious output conceals a growing vulnerability. A new Stanford study reveals that while yields have increased overall—likely due to new technologies and management approaches—the staple crop has become significantly more sensitive to drought conditions. The research, published Oct. 26 in Nature Food, uses a novel approach based on wide differences in the moisture-holding capabilities among soils. The analysis could help lay the groundwork for speeding development of approaches to increase agricultural resilience to climate change.
The Darwinian diet: You are what you eat Imagine millions of leafcutter ants on parade through a tropical forest. Driven by a craving mysterious to humans, they suddenly stream up a towering tree trunk. How do they know exactly which species of leaves to cut for their underground fungus garden? The ants do not eat the leaves; they eat the fungus. Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) in Denmark think that the choices the ants make about what to bring back to the nest may be driven by the nutritional needs of their fungus crop. They present new evidence in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution showing that fungi become more dependent on the ants to fulfill ever more specific nutritional needs as the partnerships develop. When the pilgrims landed in America, they learned from indigenous groups to plant corn with dead fish as fertilizer. Compare that system to a huge, industrial cornfield where liquid fertilizer is applied. The modern cornfield produces more corn, but it also requires industrial-scale use of specific nutrients.
Wrinkled 'super pea' could be added to foods to reduce diabetes risk A type of wrinkled 'super pea' may help control blood sugar levels and could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, suggests a new study.
A molecular break for root growth Roots are essential for reaching water and nutrients, for anchorage to the ground, but also for interacting and communicating with microorganisms in the soil. A long root enables the plant to reach deeper, more humid layers of soil, for example during drought. A shallower root with many root hairs is good for phosphate uptake, as phosphate is mostly found in the upper soil layers.
CRISPR screen identifies genes, drug targets to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection To identify new potential therapeutic targets for SARS-CoV-2, a team of scientists at the New York Genome Center, New York University, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, performed a genome-scale, loss-of-function CRISPR screen to systematically knockout all genes in the human genome. The team examined which genetic modifications made human lung cells more resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Their findings revealed individual genes and gene regulatory networks in the human genome that are required by SARS-CoV-2 and that confer resistance to viral infection when suppressed. The collaborative study described a wide array of genes that have not previously been considered as therapeutic targets for SARS-CoV-2. Their study was published online by Cell on October 24.
Tiny golden bullets could help tackle asbestos-related cancers Gold nanotubes—tiny hollow cylinders one thousandth the width of a human hair—could be used to treat mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, according to a team of researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds.
The uncertain future of the oceans The ocean plays a key role in the current climate change, as it absorbs a considerable part of the atmospheric carbon dioxide emitted by mankind. On the one hand, this slows down the heating of the climate, and on the other hand, the dissolution of CO2 in seawater leads to acidification of the oceans. This has far-reaching consequences for many marine organisms and thus also for the oceanic carbon cycle. One of the most important mechanisms in this cycle, is called the biological carbon pump. Part of the biomass that phytoplankton forms in the surface ocean through photosynthesis sinks to the depths in the form of small carbonaceous particles. As a result, the carbon is stored for a long time in the deep sea. The ocean thus acts as a carbon sink in the climate system. How strongly this biological pump acts varies greatly from region to region and depends on the composition of species in the ecosystem.
Irregular appearances of glacial and interglacial climate states During the last 2.6 million years of Earth's climate has altered between glacial and interglacial states. As such, there have been times in which the transition between the two climate states appeared with either regular or irregular periodicity. AWI researcher Peter Khler has now discovered that the irregular appearance of interglacials has been more frequent than previously thought. His study makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Earth's fundamental climate changes.
Solar hydrogen: Let's consider the stability of photoelectrodes Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that can store and release chemical energy when needed. Hydrogen can be produced in a climate-neutral way by the electrolytic splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using solar energy. This can be achieved photo-electrochemically (PEC), and for this approach it is necessary to have low cost photoelectrodes that provide a certain photovoltage under illumination, and remain stable in aqueous electrolytes.
Super-resolution microscopy and machine learning shed new light on fossil pollen grains Plant biology researchers at the University of Illinois and computer scientists at the University of California Irvine have developed a new method of fossil pollen identification through the combination of super-resolution microscopy and machine learning. The team, led by Dr. Surangi Punyasena and Ms. Ingrid Romero (associate professor and graduate student in Plant Biology, respectively), developed and trained three convolutional neural network models to identify fossil pollen specimens from an unknown group of legumes.
Data reveals evidence of molecular absorption in the atmosphere of a hot Neptune An international team of scientists recently measured the spectrum of the atmosphere of a rare hot Neptune exoplanet, whose discovery by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was announced just last month.
Researchers probe the number of bacteria in liquid samples A WPI researcher and team of students were part of a group of 244 laboratories around the world that demonstrated a solution to a long-standing problem in biology—estimating the number of bacteria in a liquid sample.