Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac with news from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
This information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance ACS Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Journal Article: “Increase in Nutritionally Important Sweet Corn Kernel Carotenoids following Mesotrione and Atrazine Applications”
Scientists are reporting for the first time that the use of weed killers in farmers’ fields boosts the nutritional value of an important food a crop. Application of two common herbicides to several varieties of sweet corn significantly increased the amount of key nutrients termed carotenoids in the corn kernels, according to a study scheduled for publication in the July 22 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
In the new study, Dean Kopsell and colleagues note that farmers grow about 240,000 acres of sweet corn in the United States each year, making it an important food crop. Corn is among only a few vegetable crops that are good sources of zeaxanthin carotenoids. Consuming carotenoid-rich vegetables may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss among older people), heart disease, and cancer, the study notes.
The scientists exposed several varieties of sweet corn plants to the herbicide mesotrione or a combination of mesotrione and atrazine, another commonly used weed killer, and harvested mature corn 45 days later. Herbicide applications made the corn an even-better source of carotenoids, boosting levels in the mature kernels of some varieties by up to 15 percent. It specifically increased levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, the major carotenoids in sweet corn kernels, which studies have linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Journal: Environmental Science & Technology
Journal Article: “Mitigating the Health Impacts of Pollution from Oceangoing Shipping: An Assessment of Low-Sulfur Fuel Mandates”
Rising levels of smokestack emissions from oceangoing ships will cause an estimated 87,000 deaths worldwide each year by 2012 — almost one-third higher than previously believed, according to the second major study on that topic. The study says that government action to reduce sulfur emissions from shipping fuel (the source of air pollution linked to an increased risk of illness and death) could reduce that toll. The study is in the current issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), a semi-monthly publication.
James Winebrake and colleagues note that most oceangoing ships burn fuels with a high sulfur content that averages 2.4 percent. Their smokestacks emit sulfur-containing particles linked to increased risks of lung and heart disease. A 2007 study by the researchers estimated that about 60,000 people died prematurely around the world due to shipping-related emissions in 2002. The new study estimates that the toll could rise to 87,000 by 2012, assuming that the global shipping industry rebounds from the current economic slump and no new regulation occurs.
Policymakers now are considering limiting ships emissions by either restricting sulfur content in fuel or designating air pollution control areas to reduce air pollution near highly populated coastal areas. Requiring ships to use marine fuel with 0.5 per cent sulfur within 200 nautical miles of shore would reduce premature deaths by about 41,200, the study concludes. Lower sulfur reductions could reduce deaths even further, they say, adding that designated emission control areas will also have a positive impact.
Journal: Crystal Growth & Design
Journal Article: “Biomineralization on an Ancient Sculpture of the Apoxyomenos: Effects of a Metal-Rich Environment on Crystal Growth in Living Organisms”
The restoration of a 2,000-year-old bronze sculpture of the famed ancient Greek athlete Apoxyomenos may help modern scientists understand how to prevent metal corrosion, discover the safest ways to permanently store nuclear waste, and understand other perplexing problems. That’s the conclusion of a new study on the so-called “biomineralization” of Apoxyomenos, is in the current issue of ACS’ Crystal Growth & Design, a bi-monthly journal. Best known as “The Scraper,” the statue depicts an athlete scraping sweat and dust from his body with a small curved instrument.
In the report, Davorin Medakovic and colleagues point out that Apoxyomenos was discovered in 1998 on floor of the Adriatic Sea. While the discovery was a bonanza for archaeologists and art historians, it also proved to be an unexpected boon to scientists trying to understand biomineralization. That’s the process in which animals and plants use minerals from their surroundings and form shells and bone. Apoxyomenos was encrusted with such deposits.
“As studies of long-term biofouled manmade structures are limited, the finding of an ancient sculpture immersed for two millennia in the sea provided a unique opportunity to probe the long-term impact of a specific artificial substrate on biomineralizng organisms and the effects of biocorrosion,” the report said. By evaluating the mineral layers and fossilized organisms on the statue, the researchers were able to evaluate how underwater fouling organisms and communities interacted with the statue as well as how certain mineral deposits on the bronze sculpture slowed its deterioration.
Scientists in Japan are reporting development of a faster, less expensive version of the fabled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) a DNA test widely used in criminal investigations, disease diagnosis, biological research and other applications. The new method could lead to expanded use of PCR in medicine, the criminal justice system and elsewhere, the researchers say. Their study is scheduled for the July 15 issue of Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
In the new study, Naohiro Noda and colleagues note that PCR works by “amplifying” previously undetectable traces of DNA almost like photocopiers produce multiple copies of documents. With PCR crime scene investigators, for instance, can change traces of DNA into amounts that can be identified and linked to a suspect. Biologists can produce multiple copies of individual genes to study gene function, evolution, and other topics. Doctors can amplify the DNA from microbes in a patient’s blood to diagnose an infection. Current PCR methods, however, are too expensive and cumbersome for wide use.
The scientists describe development and testing of a new PCR method, called the universal QProbe system, that overcomes these problems. Existing PCR processes require several “fluorescent probes” to seek out DNA. QProbe substitutes a single “fluorescent probe” that can detect virtually any target, saving time and cutting costs. The new method also is more specific, accurately detecting DNA even in the presence of unfavorable PCR products in the samples that may interfere with quantification results.
Despite the current economic downturn, consumers can expect an exciting array of new and innovative electronic devices in the near future, including smaller and more powerful computers, brighter flat-screen television displays, and flexible films for electronic paper. That’s because manufacturers are continuing to make steady advances in new electronic materials, according to an article scheduled for the July 13 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
Journal: Chemical & Engineering News
Journal Article: “Electronic Materials Tough It Out”
This story will be available on July 13.
C&EN senior correspondent Jean-Franåois Tremblay notes in the magazine’s cover story that a steep decline in demand for electronic chemicals — materials used to make electronic components — has lead to big declines in profits and production among electronics manufacturers during the past year. But the pace of new product development remains surprisingly steady, with some electronic materials suppliers preserving and even strengthening their research and development capabilities, the article notes.
This continued focus on research has produced advanced materials that are paving the way for new and improved electronic devices that are smaller, consume less power, and emit less heat. Semiconductor manufacturers, for example, are developing new materials that cram more memory into smaller computer chips. Manufacturers of flat screen displays are developing materials that allow flat-screen televisions and cell phones to show brighter images while using less power. One manufacturer is developing new films that could lead to breakthroughs in flexible displays, electronic paper, and solar cells. As a result of these and other innovations, better days are ahead for the electronics industry, the article suggests.
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PressPac information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.