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Discovered: An alternative to embryonic stem cells, some fish can handle all that CO2, a photo of an atom's shadow, and the salmon aren't spawning so much anymore.

  • An alternative to embryonic stem cells. Here's something for the anti-stem cell crowd: Amniotic fluid -- a.k.a birthing goo -- might act as a replacement for embryonic stem cells, which some people don't approve of for ethical reasons. The fluid is a potential stand-in for those political cells because they have a property called pluripotency, meaning it can become fully flexible -- an important property of the embryonic version. "The advantages of generating pluripotent cells without any genetic manipulation make them more likely to be used for therapy," explains researcher Paolo De Coppi. [Reuters]
  • Some fish can handle all that CO2. Good news on the climate change front. (We know! Finally!) Turns out some fish are prepared for all the extra CO2 that will fill up our oceans. "There has been a lot of concern around the world about recent findings that baby fish are highly vulnerable to small increases in acidity, as more CO2 released by human activities dissolves into the oceans," explains researcher Dr. Gabi Miller. "Our work with anemone fish shows that their babies, at least, can adjust to the changes we expect to occur in the oceans by 2100, provided their parents are also raised in more acidic water," he continues. Oh good, at least some creature out there can handle our ever-warming, carbon-dioxide filled planet. [ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies]
  • A photo of an atom's shadow. It's like science got a little bored here. Here's the motivation for this one. "We have reached the extreme limit of microscopy; you can not see anything smaller than an atom using visible light," explains resarcher Dave Kielpinski. So we've read the limit on taking photos of atom-related things then, right? Wrong. "We wanted to investigate how few atoms are required to cast a shadow and we proved it takes just one," added Kielpinski. Turns out it has some useful implications, too. This is important if you want to look at very small and fragile biological samples such as DNA strands where exposure to too much UV light or x-rays will harm the material," he adds. [Griffith University]
  • The salmon aren't spawning so much anymore. Today is a good news day for some fish, and a bad news day for others, as research finds that the number of adult sockeye salmon produced per spawner has been decreasing over the last decade. It probably has to do with climate change, but maybe not. "It is possible that the downward trends in productivity across the sockeye stocks south of central Alaska result from a variety of causes, such as freshwater habitat degradation or contaminants, that have each independently affected many small regions," says researcher Randall Peterman. "However, the large spatial extent of similar time trends in productivity for over 25 stocks has occurred in both relatively pristine and heavily disturbed habitats. This suggests that shared mechanisms are a more likely explanation – for example, high mortality owing to predators, pathogens, or poor food supply that occurs across Washington, B.C., southeast Alaska, and the Yakutat region of Alaska," he continues. [Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences]

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