Hexbyte Glen Cove Dogs show signs of mourning after loss of canine companions

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Dogs exhibit behaviors consistent with grief after the death of a canine companion, a new study shows.

Dogs are deeply affected by the deaths of canine companions, eating and playing less and seeking attention more following a loss, a large scientific study said Thursday.

Signs of grief have previously been reported across many species, including great apes, whales, dolphins, elephants and birds.

Among the canid family, there were some prior indications: some wild wolves have been reported burying the carcasses of two-week-old pups, and a dingo mother had been observed transporting its deceased pup to different locations in the days following its death.

But the evidence was overall sparse, and, when it came to , confined to anecdotal reports from owners, which run the risk of anthropomorphism and over-stating the case.

The new study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, involved a survey completed by 426 Italian adults who owned at least two dogs, one of whom had died while the other was alive.

Negative changes were reported by 86 percent of owners, with a quarter saying these lasted longer than six months.

These behaviors included more attention seeking (67 percent), reduced playfulness (57 percent), and reduced overall activity (46 percent).

Surviving dogs also slept more, became more fearful, ate less, and whined or barked more.

The researchers found that the length of time the two had lived together was not an important factor in determining grief—rather it was the quality of the relationship the pair had shared that mattered.

How much the owner felt the loss also played a significant role, suggesting that the surviving dog was also responding to the human’s emotional cues.

“This is potentially a major welfare issue that has been overlooked,” with better understanding of behavior patterns key to meeting the animals’ emotional needs, concluded the authors.

More information:
Federica Pirrone, Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) grieve over the loss of a conspecific, Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-05669-y. www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-05669-y

© 2022 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Australian ‘rain bomb’ floods claim sixth life

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A girl looks at rising floodwaters of the Bremer river in West Ipswich, Queensland.

Flooding on Australia’s east coast claimed another life overnight, bringing the death toll from the extreme weather to six as a “rain bomb” continued to move south Sunday.

Police in the state of Queensland said a 34-year-old man had died after his car became submerged in floodwaters around 2:30am on Sunday (1530 GMT Saturday).

While the man was able to free himself from his vehicle and tried to swim to safety, he failed to surface and his body was found a short time later.

Huge downpours have battered eastern Australia for the better part of a week, unleashing decades-high floods, inundating homes and roads, and sweeping away cars.

Adrian Schrinner, lord mayor of Queensland’s capital city Brisbane, described the weather system as a “rain bomb above South East Queensland”.

State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pleaded that people living in Brisbane stay home as the system moved south Sunday into major residential areas.

“This water is unrelenting at the moment,” she said.

With intense rain expected to continue into next week, more than 1,400 homes in Brisbane were at risk from the floodwaters, she said.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has issued flood warnings for vast swathes of Queensland and northern New South Wales, with more than 300 mm (11.8 inches) falling in some areas in the last 24 hours.

Police continue to search for a man in his 70s who fell into the Brisbane River on Friday.

© 2022 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Rash-causing moth spreading due to warming, scientists find

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This 2017 photo by Holland Haverkamp shows a browntail moth caterpillar in Maine. The caterpillars can cause an itchy rash in humans, and a new study by University of Maine scientists states that their spread appears aided by climate change. Credit: Holland Haverkamp/ University of Maine via AP

A forest pest that bedevils Maine residents and tourists with hairs that cause an itchy rash appears to be spreading due to warming temperatures, a group of scientists has found.

The browntail is a scourge in America’s most forested state, where it defoliates trees and causes a rash in humans that resembles poison ivy. The hairs of the caterpillars, which have been the subject of an outbreak in the state for about seven years, can also cause respiratory trouble.

The growth and spread of the moth is tied to increasingly warm weather, especially in the fall, the scientists wrote recently in the journal Environmental Entomology. And, unfortunately, climate trends suggest upcoming years could be even worse, they wrote.

Warmer fall temperatures are especially beneficial to the pesky bugs because that allows them to get fatter before they hibernate for the winter, said Eleanor Groden, professor emerita of entomology at University of Maine and the principal investigator on the study.

“If they come out of those webs as hearty individuals, older individuals maturity wise, then they are better able to withstand that period and you get higher populations,” Groden said. “And you get defoliation that spring, and populations are raising havoc for anyone who has them in their yards.”

The browntail moth is native to Europe and neighboring countries in Asia and Africa. It was accidentally introduced in Massachusetts in the late 19th century and is now found in coastal Maine and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The caterpillars become active from April to June and have been identified as “an insect of both forest and human health concern” by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The population of the moths has ebbed and flowed in the decades since it first arrived in Maine in 1904. But the outbreak has been steadily worsening in Maine in recent years, and entomologists said last year was the worst year for browntail moth infestations in state history. The bugs have been growing in both number and territory, as the Maine Forest Service said they’ve spread into northern and western areas of the state in the last two years.

The study found early fall temperatures are a key determinant of population levels the following year, and that “indicate continued increases in fall temperatures” since the moth’s resurgence in the state.

It’s another example of how can aggravate pest problems and jeopardize human health, said David Wagner, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut who was not involved in the study. Climate change has already exacerbated problems with disease-causing pests such as mosquitoes and ticks, he said.

“Climate change appears to be an important driver in this system,” Wagner said. “So this outbreak can continue to increase, and it could come at great expense to land owners and great nuisance for landowners.”

Maine communities have tried numerous strategies to try to slow the spread of the moth, including informing residents about how to safely remove their nests. The Maine Legislature is considering creating a special grant fund to pay for mitigation measures.

They’re a tough species to manage because they’re spreading fast and not native to the ecosystem, Groden said.

“What we are left with is how can we mitigate the localized problem in our yards and public spaces,” she said.

© 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Solving a decades-old structural mystery surrounding the birth of energy-storing lipid droplets

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Depiction of the seipin complex from a top (above) and side view. The 10-unit seipin cage, made of A-shaped and B-shaped units, may become 10 A-shaped units right before and during budding of the lipid droplet. Triglycerides (yellow) are the fat component of the lipid droplet. Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

In humans, virtually every cell stores fat. However, patients with a rare condition called congenital lipodystrophy, which is often diagnosed in childhood, cannot properly store fat, which accumulates in the body’s organs and increases the risk of early death from heart or liver disease. In 2001, a transmembrane protein called seipin was identified as a molecule essential for proper fat storage, although its mechanism has remained unknown.

An international study published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology is the first to solve and model virtually the entire structure of seipin, revealing it exists in two conformations and pointing to the mechanism for birthing the used for fat storage in healthy cells.

“Lipid droplets (LDs) have been described since the invention of microscopes that could show the inside of cells. For about a century, they’ve been known to store lipids, or fats, but they were considered inactive. During the past 20 years, lipid droplets have been shown to be very dynamic,” said Joel M. Goodman, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology at UT Southwestern, a Distinguished Teaching Professor, and one of the study’s three corresponding authors.

Dr. Goodman has played a key role in seipin biology, discovering in 2007 that seipin is responsible for packaging fat into LDs and that the same mechanism occurs in animals, plants, and fungi. In 2010, the Goodman lab was the first to purify seipin and reported that it was composed of about nine identical subunits that resembled a donut.

Ever since, scientists around the world had tried to solve the structure, which proved very difficult because seipin stretches across the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum, an organelle within the cell. That transmembrane placement made the complex resistant to X-ray crystallography, the longtime gold standard for such studies. Membrane proteins are notoriously difficult to crystallize, a requirement for that technique.

To tackle the problem, Dr. Goodman turned to (cryo-EM) after discussions with Boston cell biologist Tobias C. Walther, Ph.D., at a scientific conference. Dr. Walther, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and his colleague, Robert V. Farese Jr., M.D., are the study’s other corresponding authors. They both have appointments at Harvard Medical School, the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The study used the Harvard cryo-EM facility.

Cryo-EM uses flash-frozen samples, electron beams, and an electron detector rather than a camera to gather data on biological structures at near-atomic scale. Using cryo-EM enabled the researchers to determine that the “donut” they hypothesized was actually a 10-unit cage, a sort of incubator to create and grow lipid droplets. The second conformation showed seipin opening to release the lipid droplet onto the surface of the endoplasmic reticulum. Once on the surface, the LDs face the cell’s soupy interior (the cytoplasm), where passing enzymes can break down the LDs and free the fatty acids inside to provide energy such as during times of starvation, Dr. Goodman said.

“Getting two conformations was amazing, totally unexpected,” Dr. Goodman said, adding that previously other research teams had gotten a partial solution showing the lower layer of the seipin complex contained within the tube-like endoplasmic reticulum. The two conformations in the current investigation solve the elusive upper part of the structure, which extends across the organelle’s membrane.

“Cryo-EM made it possible,” Dr. Goodman said. “We hope that this structure will lead to a way of connecting seipin’s role in lipid-droplet creation to whatever goes wrong in lipodystrophy as well as help us better understand lipid-droplet formation in general,” he added. “There are likely several other proteins involved in the creation of lipid droplets, but seipin appears to be the main one. It seems to be a machine that generates lipid droplets.”

More information:
Henning Arlt et al, Seipin forms a flexible cage at lipid droplet formation sites, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41594-021-00718-y

Solving a decades-old structural mystery surrounding the birth of energy-storing lipid droplets (2022, February 25)
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