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Science Current Events and Science News | Brightsurf | June 28, 2018


Healthcare spending in late life is not wasteful, predictive model shows
End-of-life health care spending in the United States is not wasteful, a new study says; many recipients of such expenditures aren't, in fact, certain to die, as the thinking goes.
Men and women have different genetic risk factors for developing brain cancer
A team from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, together with an international consortium of researchers, have discovered that men and women have different genetic risk factors for developing glioma.
Computational models provide novel genetic insights into atherosclerosis
Researchers have identified a new gene-activation pathway caused by lipids associated with coronary artery disease, a finding that could help identify new directions in research and drug development.
NASA observes the formation of Tropical Depression 09W in Northwestern Pacific
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Northwestern Pacific Ocean early on June 28 and caught an image of newly formed Tropical Depression 09W.
Largest ever multimorbidity trial in primary care challenge current thinking
In the largest ever trial of an intervention to treat people with multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity) in primary care, researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Dundee and Glasgow found that the patient-centred approach taken improved patients' experience of their care but did not improve their health-related quality of life.
NASA finds depression strengthening into Tropical Storm Emilia
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed over Tropical Depression Six-E in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and found heavy rainfall occurring in two areas.
Climate change linked to potential population decline in bees
A new study from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden has found that climate change may drive local extinction of mason bees in Arizona and other naturally warm climates.
Open relationships just as satisfying as monogamous ones, U of G study reveals
Couples in non-monogamous relationships have the same level of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships, a new University of Guelph study has found.
The problem with solving problems
As demonstrated in a series of new studies, Harvard researchers show that as the prevalence of a problem is reduced, humans are naturally inclined to redefine the problem itself.
Security gaps identified in LTE mobile telephony standard
By abusing security weaknesses in the LTE mobile telephony standard, attackers are able to identify which web pages a user visits and to reroute him to a scam website.
Study debunks notion that large chunks of Medicare go to lost causes
Around 25 percent of Medicare spending in the US occurs in the last year of people's lives.
Obesity + aging linked to Alzheimer's markers in the brain
A new study suggests that when a high-fat, high-sugar diet that leads to obesity is paired with normal aging, it may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Chimpanzees start using a new tool-use gesture during an alpha male take over
Similar to humans, non-human primates combine gestures, facial expressions, and vocalizations in various ways to communicate effectively.
'Breakthrough' algorithm exponentially faster than any previous one
Computer scientists at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a completely new kind of algorithm, one that exponentially speeds up computation by dramatically reducing the number of parallel steps required to reach a solution.
Availability of family and friends key factor in deciding organ transplant suitability
The availability of a supportive network of family and friends is a key factor in deciding on a person's suitability for an organ transplant, reveals research published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
Visual impairment associated with a decline in cognitive function
Worsening vision and declining cognitive function are common conditions among older people.
Researchers identify mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in human arteries
Mount Sinai researchers identified, in situ and in vivo, adventitial CD90+ (a protein used as a marker for a variety of stem cells) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in human arteries for the first time.
More than half of Amazonian armadillos carry leprosy
The bacteria that causes leprosy, a chronic disease that can lead to disfigurement and nerve damage, is known to be transmitted to humans from nine-banded armadillos.
Pulse wave analysis provides reliable information on heart health in young people
Arterial stiffness is one of the early signs of cardiovascular disease, and arterial stiffening has been observed in children.
Heavy-duty emissions must be eliminated to halt climate change, UCI-led review shows
To halt climate change in this century, heavy-duty infrastructure undergirding the world's major economies must be redesigned -- starting now -- to add no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Will global warming change the summer rainfall patterns over Eastern China?
Researchers from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the UK Met Office Hadley Centre find big difference in the responses of rainfall modes to increased CO2 forcing at different timescales.
Scientists fine-tune carbon nanotubes for flexible, fingertip-wearable terahertz imagers
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed flexible terahertz imagers based on chemically 'tunable' carbon nanotube materials.
IDSA/ASM lab diagnosis guide helps health care providers
Advances in rapid molecular testing mean infectious diseases can be accurately diagnosed in minutes or hours rather than days or weeks and patients can receive appropriate treatment sooner.
Atomic movie of melting gold could help design materials for future fusion reactors
Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have recorded the most detailed atomic movie of gold melting after being blasted by laser light.
Handwashing and house cleaning may protect against unhealthy chemicals
Washing your hands and cleaning your house frequently may help to lower your contact with common flame-retardant chemicals, according to a new study by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
Illinois study finds benefits and tradeoffs in feeding rice bran to pigs
Rice is the third most widely grown cereal grain worldwide, and the bran left over from milling white rice is available in large quantities for livestock feed.
Rapid Zika detection test uses smartphone technology
Leveraging nanoparticles and digital health technology, BWH investigators develop rapid, deployable, low-cost diagnostic test for Zika virus.
Two proteins involved in schistosome epigenetics play key roles in parasite's biology
Two proteins that recognize and translate DNA methylation marks in Schistosoma mansoni are required for growth of adult stem cells in the parasitic flatworm, as well as production of eggs, according to new research presented in PLOS Pathogens by Kathrin Geyer and colleagues at Aberystwyth University, UK.
People undergoing voluntary and involuntary ECT treatment have similar outcomes
People who have involuntary electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression have similar outcomes to those who have voluntary treatment, according to a ground-breaking new study conducted by researchers from Trinity College Dublin.
Cheating on cheaters
A new study, to be published in Current Biology on June 28, proposes new strategies to induce the collapse of bacterial populations.
No Difference in Outcomes for Children of Same-Sex versus Different-Sex Parents
For children of lesbian or gay parents, psychological adjustment is about the same as in children of heterosexual parents, reports a study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the official journal of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
The fingerprints of molecules in space
Physicists at the University of Innsbruck are on the hunt for nitrogen containing molecules in space.
Physicists come in 3 types, say mathematicians
As of 2013, there were 7.8 million researchers globally, according to UNESCO.
How the flu virus builds a better mousetrap
For the first time, scientists have directly visualized real-time structural changes in the surface protein of the influenza virus that may help the virus fuse with and enter target cells before hijacking them.
Revolutionizing retinal studies
For decades, scientists hoping to understand how the retina interprets visual input have often had to resort to invasive techniques to dissect the retina from the animal in an effort to record the cells' activity, but a new system developed by Harvard scientists, could make it possible to track the firing patterns of dozens of cells chronically in awake animals.
Microtransactions can move popular online games closer to online gambling
An editorial published today by Addiction argues that some online games use in-game purchasing systems that disguise or withhold the long-term cost of microtransactions until the player is already financially and psychologically committed.
As asylum requests rise, doctors have important role
With applications for asylum in the United States increasing sharply, a new paper from a team of asylum medicine and law experts is highlighting physicians' important role in evaluating refugees' claims of torture and persecution.
Rivers, streams cover substantially more of Earth's surface than we thought
A new global map of rivers and streams created using satellite data suggests that the global surface area of these bodies of water is about 44 percent higher than previously thought.
Molecular 'fossils' reveal evolutionary history of descending testicles
A new study, publishing 28 June in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Virag Sharma and Michael Hiller of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, and colleagues, shows how 'molecular fossils' can reveal whether the testicles of long-dead mammals descended into the lower abdomen or scrotums, or were retained deep inside the abdomen.
CAR-T immunotherapies may have a new player
Emerging CAR-T immunotherapies leverage modified versions of patient's T-cells to target and kill cancer cells.
Study: Tau does not stabilize microtubules, challenges approach to treating Alzheimer's
Though it is widely believed that tau protein stabilizes microtubules in neurons of the brain, new research suggests just the opposite: tau lengthens microtubules and keeps them dynamic.
Smoking associated with delayed shinbone healing
In an interdisciplinary study, Hannah Dailey and Ping-Shi Wu, both of Lehigh University, examined 1,003 tibia fracture patient records and found that 12 percent experience nonunion--or arrested healing; Findings include increased risk of arrested healing among women aged 30-49, significant delay in bone healing among smokers
How smart technology gadgets can avoid speed limits
Speed limits apply not only to traffic. There are limitations on the control of light as well, in optical switches for internet traffic, for example.
AI and radar technologies could help diabetics manage their disease
People with diabetes could be able to monitor their blood sugar without drawing blood using a system now being developed at the University of Waterloo.
Self-heating, fast-charging battery makes electric vehicles climate-immune
Californians do not purchase electric vehicles because they are cool, they buy EVs because they live in a warm climate.
Gaming or gambling? Online transactions blur boundaries
In-game purchasing systems, such as 'loot boxes', in popular online games resemble gambling and may pose financial risks for vulnerable players, according to gambling psychology researchers at the University of Adelaide.
Perceived race of victims, location determine concern in terrorist attack
In response to an international terrorist attack, the public's level of concern has to do with the locations of the attacks and the perceived identities of the victims, according to a new study by two University of Kansas researchers.
Video clips, spicy soap operas, games slash STD rates in gay young men
A novel online HIV prevention program with spicy soap operas and interactive games -- like a rising thermometer of sexual risk -- reduced sexually transmitted infections in gay young men by 40 percent.
Perspectives of immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment promoting oral malignancy
In this review, the complexity of immune-suppressive mechanisms in the tumor milieu of cancers, including oral malignancy is discussed in relation to immune check point inhibitors, regulatory T cells (Treg), myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs).
Ancient Moroccan dental remains elucidate history of long-lost African fauna
Long before rhinoceros, giraffes, hippos, and antelopes roamed the African savannah, a group of large and highly specialized mammals known as embrithopods inhabited the continent.
Carbon dioxide-to-methanol process improved by catalyst
Dramatic improvements have been made to the process of converting carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to methanol, a fuel and building block for a wide range of everyday materials, according to Penn State researchers.
New insights into the epigenetic control of hematopoiesis
Wistar scientists have characterized a novel function for the INTS13 protein that is part of a large protein complex regulating gene transcription, called Integrator.
How the office org chart in your brain helps to organize your actions
Salk scientists discover how learned behaviors are organized and controlled by different brain cell types, offering insight into Parkinson's, OCD.
Researchers discover new mechanism to explain the spread of Alzheimer's disease
Scientists have pinpointed minute exosomes as the main vehicle that allow the spread of toxic proteins that trigger the onset of Alzheimer's Disease across a person's brain network.
Is cataract surgery associated with reduced risk of a serious traffic accident?
Cataract surgery was associated with a modest decrease in the risk of being involved in a serious traffic crash.
Smartphones used to track migrations caused by climate change
Spanish researchers have developed a system that tracks human displacement caused by climate change using the tracks of mobile phones.
Learning disabilities: Kids and families struggle beyond the academics
Academic struggles can also create significant stress and anxiety for children and families, report researchers led by Boston Children's neuropsychologist Deborah Waber, PhD.
Novel drug therapy partially restores hearing in mice
A small-molecule drug is the first to preserve hearing in a mouse model of an inherited form of progressive human deafness, report investigators at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
Genetic biomarker linked to improved survival for patients with certain brain tumors
It wasn't the first wedding anniversary present that Lori Mines was hoping for.
Team sports have ancient roots
Competitive team games in which men test their mettle against others are universal across the world, and may have deep roots in our evolutionary past.
Genetic ancestry test users 'cherry-pick' which races to identify with
Genetic ancestry tests are often advertised as a tool to uncover new connections to diverse cultures and ancestries, but new research from the University of British Columbia has found people tend to pick and choose which races they identify with based on preconceived biases.
Territory holders and floaters: Two spatial tactics of male cheetahs
Scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz IZW) in Berlin analysed the spatial behaviour of cheetahs.
More clues that Earth-like exoplanets are indeed Earth-like
Researchers suggest that two Earth-like exoplanets (Kepler-186f and 62f) have very stable axial tilts, much like the Earth, making it likely that each has regular seasons and a stable climate.
Global surface area of rivers and streams is 45 percent higher than previously thought
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Texas A&M University used satellite images, on-the-ground measurements and a statistical model to determine how much of the earth is covered by rivers and streams.
Lobachevsky University scientists developed a mathematical model of a social conflict
A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Alexander Petukhov of the Institute of International Relations and World History at Lobachevsky University is developing social conflict models on the basis of nonlinear dynamics.
The neuroscience of human vocal pitch
Among primates, humans are uniquely able to consciously control the pitch of their voices, making it possible to hit high notes in singing or stress a word in a sentence to convey meaning.
Less than a quarter of American youths previously treated for anxiety disorders stay anxiety-free
For the majority of affected youth, anxiety disorders are chronic, even after a successful course of evidence-based treatments, reports a study published in the July 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).
Is it heuristics in use or 'ritualistic and instrumentalist' in purpose?
The primary task this article embarks upon is on determining whether the researches using KAPS (Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Surveys) has any heuristic purpose or is it just fulfilling some self-centered ritualistic and instrumentalist objective.
URI drug study produces 'promising therapy' for alcohol abuse
A University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy professor is working to change that, and a new clinical trial is right around the corner.
Rapid 3D analysis of rockfalls in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park contains some of the world's most iconic landforms, including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan.
Complexity of NMDA receptor drug discovery target revealed
NMDA receptor assemblies containing the GluN2C subunit are predominant in the cerebellum, and have distinct electrochemical properties, Emory scientists found.
Magnetic skyrmions: Not the only ones of their class
Tiny magnetic vortex structures, so-called skyrmions, have been researched intensively for some time for future energy-efficient space-saving data storage devices.
New study: Indonesia faces a 'double burden' of diseases
Indonesia has made advances in health since 1990, increasing life expectancy by eight years and decreasing rates of health burden from communicable diseases like diarrheal disease and tuberculosis.
Empathetic police are less effective in the face of public criticism, study says
Police officers who endorse an empathetic approach to criminal justice do not perform as well when they sense they are underappreciated, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.
Strategic classroom intervention can make big difference for autism students
Special training for teachers may mean big results for students with autism spectrum disorder, according to Florida State University and Emory University researchers.
New insights bolster Einstein's idea about how heat moves through solids
A discovery by scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory supports a century-old theory by Albert Einstein that explains how heat moves through everything from travel mugs to engine parts.
New study reveals the function of a mysterious component of the inner ear
A new study finds that a mysterious component of the inner ear acts as a pressure-relief valve, formed by a thin barrier of cellular projections that opens and closes to regulate the release of inner ear fluid.
Research shows benefit of giant panda conservation far exceeds cost
To determine the value of panda conservation, a research team led by Prof.
Educational interventions decrease sunburns among heavy equipment operators
Implementation of educational interventions among operating engineers (heavy equipment operators) in Michigan significantly increased the use of sunscreen and decreased the number of reported sunburns.
The evolution of testes
Molecular vestiges resolve the controversial evolution of the testicular position in mammals.
Far 'over-the-hill' lies the plateau of human mortality
Above age 105, the rise in risk of death by age slows -- and even plateaus -- according to a new study, one that provides valuable insight into one of the most fundamental questions of human aging; Is there a fixed maximum lifespan for humans?
Low-cost prosthetic foot mimics natural walking
MIT engineers have developed a simple, low-cost, passive prosthetic foot that they can tailor to an individual.
What's giant panda conservation worth? Billions every year, study shows
In China, the giant panda is clearly a cultural icon.
Molecular brake on human cell division prevents cancer
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and the University of Sussex, England, have discovered that the process of copying DNA generates a brake signal that stalls cell division.
Perceptions on Zika
To understand people's perceptions, behaviors, and knowledge about the Zika outbreak, and whether county media campaigns had an effect in helping educate the public about the virus, a research team at the University of Miami surveyed 149 women and 113 men in approximately 262 county households.
Mars valleys traced back to precipitation
Astonishingly similar: The valley networks of Mars bear a strong resemblance to those found in arid landscapes on Earth.
Movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Illegal streaming sites vulnerable to copyright enforcers
Fifty-eight percent of a new kind of online video piracy is based in just two locations making them more vulnerable to copyright enforcers than previously thought, according to research by Queen Mary University of London.
#Hookahlife: Social media posts spread misleading information on hookah use
A new study finds that Instagram users using #hookah or #shisha portray hookah use in an overwhelmingly positive manner, despite its serious health risks.
Study investigates the reproductive habits of the fungus that causes athlete's foot
Genomic analysis suggests that asexual reproduction is the rule among individuals of the species Trichophyton rubrum.
Seeing the same doctor is a matter of life and death
The first ever systematic review of the relationship between death rates and continuity of care concludes that seeing the same doctor over time is lined to lower mortality rates.
New testing finds synergistic combination leads to toxicity in nanomaterials
A new study finds reason for caution -- a clear emergence of toxicity -- in nanomaterial product formulations, but it also provides an early testing technique that could help the industry continue to move forward.
Many survivors of childhood cancer are unconcerned about their future health
New findings suggest that many survivors of childhood cancer may not fully understand or acknowledge their increased risks for later health problems.
Dietary supplement increases muscle force by 50% percentin the Duchenne muscular dystrophy mouse model
A dietary supplement derived from glucose increases muscle-force production in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) mouse model by 50 percent in ten days, according to a study conducted by researchers from Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) de Québec Research Centre-Université Laval.
Synthesis of opium alkaloids using electric current
Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany have mastered a nearly 50-year-old challenge of electrosynthetic chemistry, namely the electrochemical synthesis of thebaine.
The odds of living to 110-plus level out -- once you hit 105
The chances of reaching the ripe old age of 110 are within reach -- if you survive the perilous 90s and make it to 105 when death rates level out, according to a study of extremely old Italians led by the University of California, Berkeley, and Sapienza University of Rome.
Study provides promise in search for simple, early test for Alzheimer's disease
Researchers at Indiana University have found early evidence that tiny snippets of genetic material called microRNA may help with early detection of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Dollar for dollar: Consumers willing to pay more for financial advisers with designations
Whether it's buying a car, purchasing a home, or preparing to start a family, consumers are faced with many financial decisions throughout their lives.
'Music of speech' linked to brain area unique to humans
New research by UC San Francisco scientists reveals what area of the human brain controls the vocal folds of the larynx, or voice box, to let us control the pitch of our speech.
Nanoaggregation on command
A combination of natural microtubules and synthetic macrocyclic receptors allows for the light-controlled, reversible aggregation of the microtubules into larger nanostructures.
Penn study reveals secrets of 'hot' and 'cold' pancreatic cancer tumors
So-called 'hot' tumors filled with T cells are often considered to be more sensitive to immunotherapy compared to 'cold' tumors with fewer T cells, but a clear demonstration of why has eluded cancer biologists -- until now.
Some existing anti-cancer drugs may act in part by targeting RNA, study shows
The research offers another approach for tackling diseases that have been considered 'undruggable,' including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and certain cancers.
SNMMI 65th Annual Meeting sets the stage for a revolution in precision medicine
More than 5,000 physicians, technologists, scientists and exhibitors gathered for the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging's 65th Annual Meeting, held June 23-26 in Philadelphia.
Path to zero emissions starts out easy, but gets steep
Carbon dioxide emissions from human activities must approach zero within several decades to avoid risking grave damage from the effects of climate change.
Major study reveals Great Barrier Reef's 30,000-year fight for survival
A landmark international study, recently published in Nature Geoscience, shows that the Great Barrier Reef has suffered 5 death events in the last 30,000 years.
Sandia light mixer generates 11 colors simultaneously
A multicolor laser pointer you can use to change the color of the laser with a button click -- similar to a multicolor ballpoint pen -- is one step closer to reality thanks to a new tiny synthetic material made at Sandia National Laboratories.
CMS Policy to reduce hospital-acquired conditions had minimal impact
Hospitals may have avoided financial penalties by billing hospital-associated conditions (HAC) as present at the time of the patient's admission, supporting prior work that showed that a Medicare policy designed to monetarily penalize hospitals for preventable complications had an insignificant impact on reducing healthcare-associated infections.
Organizing a cell's genetic material from the sidelines
A tremendous amount of genetic material must be packed into the nucleus of every cell--a tiny compartment.
It's all relative: How our brains overstate the prevalence and intensity of threats
In a series of experiments, David Levari et al. reveal how people are deceived by their own perceptions, where threatening or harmful stimuli are perceived as remaining abundant even when they are, in fact, decreasing in prevalence.
Living longer in poor neighborhoods, tied to higher risk of not gaining healthy pregnancy weight
The length of time a woman spends in poorer neighborhoods was found to be negatively tied to gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight, which is important for newborn health.
Building bridges with water molecules
A team based at TU Wien has now managed to uncover the mystery behind the structure of water molecules on iron oxide surfaces, and their work has revealed that water molecules can form of complex structures reminiscent of bridges, which play a significant role when it comes to chemical reactions on the surface.
I am human, hear me roar: Judging formidability from human vocalizations
Many animals use vocalizations to judge one another's size and physical formidability when in competition for mates or other resources.
Out of the darkness: A new spider found deep within an Indiana cave
A small cave in southern Indiana turned out to be the one and only home of a new species of spider, now going by the name Islandiana lewisi.
Spectral cloaking could make objects invisible under realistic conditions
Researchers and engineers have long sought ways to conceal objects by manipulating how light interacts with them.
Mutations in gene TRAF7 are associated with a multisystem disorder
Four mutations of gene TRAF7 have been associated with a multisystem disorder.
Correcting the eyesight of microscopes
Researchers have discovered that, if light passes through asymmetric apertures, astigmatism arises and can degrade image resolution.
Crucial new data on the origin of the Dolmens of Antequera, a World Heritage Site
The results obtained indicate the Neolithic chronology of the cave (probably, at least, at the beginning of the 4th millennium BC) and its importance as a place of reference for the Neolithic (and possibly even older) population of the region, which would explain the anomalous orientation of the Menga dolmen.
'Lower status' people more likely to share wealth than 'higher status' people
When playing an economic game those that were assigned as 'lower status' were more likely to share their wealth than their 'higher status' counterparts, according to a new study at Queen Mary University of London.
For some bladder cancer patients, simple test could reduce over-treatment, ease high cost
Georgetown-led investigators have found that a fairly simple test significantly improves the identification of bladder tumors that will likely become invasive.
The meteorite 'Black Beauty' expands the window for when life might have existed on Mars
New evidence for a rapid crystallization and crust formation on Mars has just been published in a study from the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.
For dialysis patients with AFib, a newer blood thinner may provide a safer option
A new study finds a newer blood thinner may be a safer choice for reducing stroke risk in those who have both end-stage kidney disease and atrial fibrillation.
Continental microbes helped seed ancient seas with nitrogen
ASU researcher Ferran Garcia-Pichel, along with Christophe Thomazo, from the Laboratoire Biogéosciences in Dijon, France, and Estelle Couradeau, a former Marie Curie postdoc in both labs, show that biological soil crusts -- colonies of microorganisms that today colonize arid, desert environments -- may have played a significant role in the Earth's nitrogen cycle, helping to fertilize early oceans and create a nutrient link between atmosphere, continents and oceans.

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