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News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.medicalnewstoday.com

In a land where survival is precarious, Komodo dragons thrive despite being exposed to scads of bacteria that would kill less hardy creatures. Now in a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists report that they have detected antimicrobial protein fragments in the lizard's blood that appear to help them resist deadly infections. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs capable of combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The world's largest lizard, Komodo dragons live on five small islands in Indonesia. The saliva of these creatures contains at least 57 species of bacteria, which are believed to contribute to the demise of their prey. Yet, the Komodo dragon appears resistant to these bacteria, and serum from these animals has been shown to have antibacterial activity. Substances known as cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) are produced by nearly all living creatures and are an essential part of the innate immune system. So, Barney Bishop, Monique van Hoek and colleagues at the College of Science at George Mason University wondered whether they could isolate CAMPs from Komodo dragon blood, as they previously had done with alligator blood to expand the library of known CAMPs for therapeutic studies. The team used an approach known as bioprospecting. They incubated Komodo dragon blood with negatively charged hydrogel particles that they developed to capture the peptides, which are positively charged. With this method, they identified and sequenced 48 potential CAMPs with mass spectrometry. All but one of these was derived from histone proteins, which are known to have antimicrobial activities. Eight were synthesized and tested against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Seven of the peptides showed significant potency against both bacteria. The eighth was only effective against P. aeruginosa. The researchers conclude that Komodo dragon blood plasma contains a host of potentially viable antimicrobial peptides that could help lead to new therapeutics. The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Article: Discovery of Novel Antimicrobial Peptides from Varanus komodoensis (Komodo dragon) by Large Scale Analyses and De Novo-Assisted Sequencing using Electron Transfer Dissociation Mass Spectrometry, Barney M. Bishop, Melanie L. Juba, Paul S. Russo, Megan Devine, Stephanie M Barksdale, Shaylyn Scott, Robert Settlage, Pawel Michalak, Kajal Gupta, Kent Vliet, Joel M. Schnur, and Monique L. van Hoek, Journal of Proteome Research, doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00857, published online 6 February 2017.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.sciencemag.org

Under cover of night, a blacked-out fishing boat slips into Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter moves to apprehend the intruder. But before officers can board, both boats and much of Baltimore disappear in an intense flash: A nuclear bomb hidden on the boat has detonated. As first responders rush to victims, nuclear forensics specialists scrutinize data on radiation and acoustic and seismic waves from sensors placed around the city in a breakneck effort to decipher the bomb’s design and perhaps determine who was behind the blast. At a time when a bomb smuggled by terrorists is as big a concern as one from a foreign power, delivered by missile or airplane, an attack at a port is “definitely a more likely scenario,” says Thomas Cartledge, a nuclear engineer with the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. But forensic experts, who rely largely on nuclear test data collected years ago in Western deserts, lack a clear picture of how energy from a detonation would propagate in the highly saturated geology of many U.S. port cities. To remedy that, DTRA last October quietly staged Humming Terrapin: a 2-week test series at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland that detonated nearly 2 metric tons of conventional explosives to simulate nuclear blast effects in shallow water. Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has mounted a major effort to prevent a nuclear bomb from being smuggled into a port. It has outfitted points of entry with radiation detectors, and it is working with foreign ports toward a goal of having all U.S.-bound cargo scanned for nuclear materials before departure. But it’s well nigh impossible to track the myriad small craft flitting in and out of the 361 U.S. ports and 153,000 kilometers of open shoreline. “There are a zillion fishing boats that leave U.S. ports and nobody inspects them when they come home,” says Matthew Bunn, a specialist on nuclear terrorism at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “If there is highly enriched uranium metal that’s shielded and below the water line, it’s going to be really tough to detect at long range.” In case the unthinkable happens, a sensor array called Discreet Oculus that is being installed in major U.S. cities would capture key forensic information. The array, which DTRA is still developing, would record radiation and seismic waves emanating from the blast. “Discreet Oculus is up and running in several U.S. cities now,” Cartledge says. A sister system—a portable array that runs on battery or solar power called Minikin Echo—will be deployed at major events such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl. Data from Cold War–era nuclear testing and simulations are being used to calibrate the sensors. Yet past U.S. testing is a poor proxy for detonations at a port, says Tamara VanHoose, a U.S. Army major and nuclear engineer at DTRA. A closer analog is a little-known campaign in 1963–64 in which the U.S. Air Force conducted a series of detonations of as much as 10 tons of chemical explosives at the bottom of Lake Superior. The tests offered a wealth of data on how seismic waves traverse the land-water interface, but they “were not instrumented to meet our needs,” VanHoose says. Humming Terrapin aims to fill that gap. VanHoose and colleagues set up Discreet Oculus and two Minikin Echo arrays at Aberdeen, adding hydrophones, which are not currently included in either array. Another set of sensors probed how seismic signals ripple through East Coast rock layers. “These are wet-type geologies versus the granite geologies that we see out at the typical desert sites where we’ve done historic testing,” VanHoose says. The team set out to test several scenarios. “We were looking at how a weapon might be delivered,” Cartledge says. A detonation above the water line—say in a container on the deck of a cargo ship—would produce a mostly acoustic signal, he says, whereas a detonation in a ship’s hull, below the surface, would be mostly seismic. “Really challenging,” he says, is the seismo-acoustic coupling “right at the surface”—a scenario one might expect for a detonation aboard a smaller boat. Finally came the big bangs. Working with U.S. Navy hydrosound experts, the DTRA-led team detonated eight 175-kilogram TNT explosions at Aberdeen’s Briar Point Test Pond, as well as one 455-kilogram TNT explosion at a nearby underwater explosives facility. The team sheltered in a bunker about 450 meters away and watched the explosions on closed-circuit TV. Less than a second after a detonation, the seismic waves arrived. The bunker “really rocks,” Cartledge says. “Wow, you don’t think it would shake us much as it does. That’s the fun part of the job.” A moment later came the airborne shock wave: “a very intense bang,” recalls Mark Leidig, a seismologist at Weston Geophysical Corp., a consulting firm in Lexington, Massachusetts, that designed the tests. Now comes the hard work of sifting the data and “building our models to account for the coupling effects of the water we observed,” VanHoose says. DTRA will stage its next test series back on dry land at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where an unshielded “fast-burst” nuclear reactor is normally used to test how military hardware might withstand a nuke’s high-energy neutron barrage. In June the DTRA team will verify that the speed-of-light sensors it is developing—detectors for gamma rays, radio waves, and light—can capture and model the fast burst, or the exponential rise of the nuclear reaction going critical. Such data provide “valuable forensic insight into weapon characteristics,” Cartledge says. Revealing a weapon’s design would speed the government’s response to a once-unimaginable act of terrorism, wherever it took place.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.24-7pressrelease.com

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, February 15, 2017-- Lt. General (Retired) Robert D. Chelberg has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are taken into account during the selection process.General Chelberg graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1961. Later in his military career he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from New Mexico State University. Based on academic achievements, he is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. He has attended all the normal military educational schools including the National War College in Washington, D.C. General Chelberg has been listed in the Marquis editions of Who's Who in America since 1993, and Who's Who in the World since 2007.He has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. Army during his 32-year career. He has commanded at all levels of the Field Artillery, and served two tours in Vietnam as the operations officer of three different battalions. He served for two years as 528th Artillery Group Commander in the early 1980s. This unit had the responsibility of protecting and assembling all the nuclear weapons in Turkey. His assignments in the Pentagon have included the Army Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he was a Deputy Director for Military Personnel Policy.In 1986 he held the position of Executive to the Supreme Allied Command Europe (SACEUR). He then served as the Chief Defense Planner in the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the headquarters for all the military forces of NATO. In September 1990, he was reassigned to Brussels, Belgium, to serve in the private office as a Special Advisor to the NATO Secretary General. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in January 1991, and then served as the Chief of Staff, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in Stuttgart, Germany. During his time at EUCOM, the command participated in Desert Storm, Operation Provide Comfort to save 455,000 Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, and in other numerous relief and rescue contingency operations in Africa.General Chelberg retired on July 31, 1993 and subsequently assumed the duties of the Deputy Director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. In conjunction with the German Government the school taught students from the former WARSAW Pact Nations and from the former Soviet Union. From the initial development and continuing for two years, he had budgetary, personnel, logistics, and construction responsibilities. For his performance at the Marshall Center, he was presented with the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.His military decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; the Army Distinguished Service Medal; two Defense Superior Service Medals; the Legion of Merit; five Bronze Stars; two Meritorious Service Medals; ten Air Medals; three Army Commendation Medals; and the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy).General Chelberg was named the 1986 Outstanding Alumnus of Lake Superior State University, and he was for 1985 the Veteran of the Year for VFW Post 3676. He was presented the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1990. Only four percent of Eagle Scouts receive this honor. While in Europe, he served as District Commissioner for the Transatlantic Council Boy Scouts of America in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium from 1987-90, and was the council vice president for membership from 2004-08. He was inducted into New Mexico State University's Business School Hall of Fame in 2001.After military and civilian service of 34 years, General Chelberg has worked for Cubic Applications as a Managing Director in Europe and a Special Advisor in the U.S. For seven years, he promoted providing advice on organizational structure and computer assisted training exercises to former Warsaw Pact Nations.He has served as a Senior Fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia from 2001 to 2011. In January 2003, General Chelberg accepted the position of Program Manager for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Field Office located in Belgium. This organization had the responsibility of working nuclear, chemical and biological threats against SHAPE, NATO, and EUCOM. After spending three plus years in this position, he returned to the U.S., but made a number of trips in the next three years back to Europe to perform the role of a Senior Mentor for Foreign Consequence Management Exercises. These exercises were designed to develop solutions for weapons of mass destruction attacks made against NATO forces and NATO populations. During his time with DTRA and as a Senior Mentor, General Chelberg was employed by Northrop Grumman Information Systems. From 2010-16, he served as a senior advisor to TASC.He is a lifetime member of the Association of the United States Army, and the Military Officers Association of America. In the past he has been a member of Rotary International and was a Paul Harris Fellow. When he was in Europe in the mid 90's, he was a member of the Federation of German American Clubs, and served as the organization's president from 1994-96.General Chelberg currently serves as a volunteer President of sixteen volunteer Board Members for the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund which receives referrals from all the major Veterans Administration Medical Centers in Florida. This 501(c)3 organization provides temporary emergency financial needs to service connected disabled veterans who have served in our wars and conflicts since 9/11. The funds are paid to creditors to preclude eviction from a domicile for rent or mortgage payments, for electric, gas or water utilities, for car repair, license, insurance, and gas, home repairs, and other emergencies. Since 2014 over seven thousand veterans and their families have been assisted. The Military Officers Association of America presented their Community Hero's Assistance Award to the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund in October 2015.As for the future, Lt. General (Retired) Chelberg intends to continue serving his country and deserving veterans and assisting others as appropriate.About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com


TARPON SPRINGS, FL / ACCESSWIRE / February 15, 2017 / Dr. Ruggero M. Santilli, CEO and Chief Scientist of Thunder Energies Corporation (OTC PINK: TNRG), a publicly traded company with stock symbol TNRG, announces the filing of a grant application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Department of Defense, program HDTRA1-17-S-0002 Science and Technology New Initiatives, for the development of Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations. In preparation of this application, the company has completed all of the requirements to be admitted to federal procurement and has strengthened its technical team, including the hiring of a grant specialist (see the executive Summary www.thunder-energies.com/docs/DTRA-Proposal-FINAL.pdf ). A schematic view of the scanning of suitcases with Thunder Energies’ neutron source to detect smuggled nuclear weapons. Dr. Santilli continues, "Our governmental agencies have spent seven hundred million dollars for the detection of smuggled nuclear weapons without achieving a needed detection station. This is because the use of X-ray and other conventional technologies under which nuclear fuels, such as Uranium-235 cannot be effectively distinguished from ordinary materials since they are stable metals (for details, see: http://www.thunder-energies.com/docs/Detection-fissionable-material.pdf). Following decades of preparatory mathematical and theoretical research initiated when I was at Harvard University under support from the Department of Energy, Thunder Energies Corporation has developed a new source of low energy neutrons synthesized from the hydrogen gas (patent pending by Thunder Energies Corporation, see the review by Business Television: http://www.b-tv.com/thunder-energies-nuclear-corporate-video/ ). This neutron source is ideally suited to detect nuclear weapons smuggled in containers or suitcases because, when hit by low energy neutrons, Uranium-235 and other nuclear fuels disintegrate by releasing a variety of radiations, allowing the clear detection of smuggled nuclear weapons." "The application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency," continues Dr. Santilli, "requests funds, as well as the collaboration of the U.S. National Laboratories and qualified corporations, for the development of remotely operated and properly shielded Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations comprising: Thunder Energies neutron source; a collection of radiation detectors; radiation shielding for the protection of operators and the environment; remote monitoring and controls; and various accessories. It is rewarding to see that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has released a program specifically intended for new start up corporations, thus providing great opportunities for the development of new technologies." (see the review: www.thunder-energies.com/docs/ThunderEnergies16.CEOCFOMagazine-Article.pdf) A view of the Pulsing Power Unit developed by Thunder Energies Corporation Certain statements in this news release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Rule 175 under the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 3b-6 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those rules. All statements, other than statements of fact, included in this release, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential future plans and objectives of the company, are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Technical complications, which may arise, could prevent the prompt implementation of any strategically significant plan(s) outlined above. The Company undertakes no duty to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release. TARPON SPRINGS, FL / ACCESSWIRE / February 15, 2017 / Dr. Ruggero M. Santilli, CEO and Chief Scientist of Thunder Energies Corporation (OTC PINK: TNRG), a publicly traded company with stock symbol TNRG, announces the filing of a grant application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Department of Defense, program HDTRA1-17-S-0002 Science and Technology New Initiatives, for the development of Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations. In preparation of this application, the company has completed all of the requirements to be admitted to federal procurement and has strengthened its technical team, including the hiring of a grant specialist (see the executive Summary www.thunder-energies.com/docs/DTRA-Proposal-FINAL.pdf ). A schematic view of the scanning of suitcases with Thunder Energies’ neutron source to detect smuggled nuclear weapons. Dr. Santilli continues, "Our governmental agencies have spent seven hundred million dollars for the detection of smuggled nuclear weapons without achieving a needed detection station. This is because the use of X-ray and other conventional technologies under which nuclear fuels, such as Uranium-235 cannot be effectively distinguished from ordinary materials since they are stable metals (for details, see: http://www.thunder-energies.com/docs/Detection-fissionable-material.pdf). Following decades of preparatory mathematical and theoretical research initiated when I was at Harvard University under support from the Department of Energy, Thunder Energies Corporation has developed a new source of low energy neutrons synthesized from the hydrogen gas (patent pending by Thunder Energies Corporation, see the review by Business Television: http://www.b-tv.com/thunder-energies-nuclear-corporate-video/ ). This neutron source is ideally suited to detect nuclear weapons smuggled in containers or suitcases because, when hit by low energy neutrons, Uranium-235 and other nuclear fuels disintegrate by releasing a variety of radiations, allowing the clear detection of smuggled nuclear weapons." "The application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency," continues Dr. Santilli, "requests funds, as well as the collaboration of the U.S. National Laboratories and qualified corporations, for the development of remotely operated and properly shielded Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations comprising: Thunder Energies neutron source; a collection of radiation detectors; radiation shielding for the protection of operators and the environment; remote monitoring and controls; and various accessories. It is rewarding to see that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has released a program specifically intended for new start up corporations, thus providing great opportunities for the development of new technologies." (see the review: www.thunder-energies.com/docs/ThunderEnergies16.CEOCFOMagazine-Article.pdf) A view of the Pulsing Power Unit developed by Thunder Energies Corporation Certain statements in this news release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Rule 175 under the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 3b-6 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those rules. All statements, other than statements of fact, included in this release, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential future plans and objectives of the company, are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Technical complications, which may arise, could prevent the prompt implementation of any strategically significant plan(s) outlined above. The Company undertakes no duty to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release.


News Article | February 13, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and collaborators have captured a movie of how large populations of carbon nanotubes grow and align themselves. Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes and advanced yarns and fabrics. New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National Laboratory(link is external) (BNL) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). In a pair of studies reported in recent issues of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Nano, the researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction ETEM at BNL to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth. "This knowledge may enable new pathways toward mitigating self-termination and promoting growth of ultra-dense and aligned carbon nanotube materials, which would directly impact several application spaces, some of which are being pursued here at the Laboratory," Meshot said. Meshot has led the CNT synthesis development at LLNL for several projects, including those supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) that use CNTs as fluidic nanochannels for applications ranging from single-molecule detection to macroscale membranes for breathable and protective garments.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: phys.org

Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes and advanced yarns and fabrics. New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). In a pair of studies reported in recent issues of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Nano , the researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction ETEM at BNL to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth. "This knowledge may enable new pathways toward mitigating self-termination and promoting growth of ultra-dense and aligned carbon nanotube materials, which would directly impact several application spaces, some of which are being pursued here at the Laboratory," Meshot said. Meshot has led the CNT synthesis development at LLNL for several projects, including those supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) that use CNTs as fluidic nanochannels for applications ranging from single-molecule detection to macroscale membranes for breathable and protective garments. Explore further: 'Second skin' protects soldiers from biological and chemical agents More information: Viswanath Balakrishnan et al. Real-Time Imaging of Self-Organization and Mechanical Competition in Carbon Nanotube Forest Growth, ACS Nano (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b07251 Mostafa Bedewy et al. Measurement of the Dewetting, Nucleation, and Deactivation Kinetics of Carbon Nanotube Population Growth by Environmental Transmission Electron Microscopy, Chemistry of Materials (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b00798


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of all U.S. water. Making fertilizers uses 1 to 2 percent of all the world's energy each year. A new program hopes to develop better crops -- super plants that are drought-resistant, use less fertilizer and remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The program, ROOTS, or Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration, is sponsored by the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Sandia National Laboratories has received $2.4 million to adapt previously developed sensors to monitor root function and plant health in new, noninvasive ways through one ROOTS project. The insights gained from these sensors, with plant experts from The University of New Mexico (UNM) and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, will guide breeding of better varieties of sorghum. Sorghum is a drought-tolerant grain mostly grown for animal fodder and biofuels in the U.S. but relied upon as an important food crop in Africa and parts of Asia. The sensors will be easy to adapt to other crops too, said Eric Ackerman, manager of Sandia's Nanobiology department and principal investigator for the ROOTS project. Though roots are hard to access and study, thoroughly understanding how they work and how to improve them is essential for drought-resistant crops that need less fertilizer. Deep roots can tap additional water sources and extensive root systems can gather more nutrients, Ackerman said. Roots also are critical for depositing carbon into the soil, instead of the air. "It is really exciting to see how Eric Ackerman and his team are repurposing miniaturized sensing technologies originally developed for national security applications, such as warfighter health monitoring or detection of chemical agents for real-time monitoring of hard-to-access root systems," said Anup Singh, director of Sandia's Biological and Engineering Sciences Center. One technology researchers will adapt is a microneedle-based fluidic sensor. This matchbox-size device was originally developed for biomedical applications, such as the painless detection of electrolyte levels of warfighters on arduous missions. However, due to its size, minimally invasive set-up and ability to constantly measure the levels of important chemicals, Sandia researchers believe it's valuable for other research, such as plant monitoring. For the ROOTS project, researchers are interested in monitoring the products of photosynthesis, such as simple sugars, important root excretions, such as oxalic acid, and water pressure. Water pressure, or turgor pressure, is an important measure of plant health, even before they wilt. Current methods for measuring these critical indicators are costly, too invasive or don't provide continual data. "The microneedles will help us measure sugars transported by the plant to and from the roots before soil microbes can use them, and will give us a better understanding of how plants add to soil carbon," said Ben Duval, a plant and soil expert at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Ronen Polsky, who leads the microneedles research, doesn't think the detection chemistry or the needles themselves will need much tweaking to work with plants, but one challenge will be determining the best way to attach the sensors to the plants. "The cool thing with our task on ROOTS," he said, "is that nobody has done this in plants before. It's such an intriguing project to take these sensors and apply them to plants." Initial support for developing the microneedle sensors came from Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program with additional funding by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The sensor was also the subject of doctoral work by Philip Miller, currently a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia working on the ROOTS project. The other Sandia technology used in the ROOTS project is a micro gas chromatography system, or micro-GC. Sandia has been working on hand-held systems that detect and analyze gases indicative of chemical, biological and other threats for almost 20 years. For ROOTS, researchers will use the micro-GC systems to measure volatile organic compounds (VOC) above and in the ground. Ethylene, a common VOC that triggers fruit ripening, also can signal drought stress. Plants also use chemicals related to menthol and a component of eucalyptus smell as distress signals, for instance, if they are plagued by pests. UNM plant biologist Dave Hanson, co-principal investigator, said the "micro-GCs will be used to detect signals from environmental stress, such as drought, heat and nutrients, and biological stress, such as insect and pathogen attacks, as well as assess root growth." By placing very thin sample collection spikes in the ground and using cutting-edge detectors, Ron Manginell, who leads the micro-GC research, plans to monitor normal plant VOCs and these stress signals in almost real-time. "First, we have to figure out what the important VOCs actually are, which is always a challenging problem," Manginell said. "Once we figure out what those are, the challenge is putting together the miniaturized system to go after those." Then Manginell's team will take their prototype hand-held system and test it in the field. Initial support for developing the micro-GC system came from Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program with additional funding from the DOE, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and DTRA. Systems based on the same body of research are being used to analyze water quality and could be used to monitor diseases by just "smelling" a patient's breath, said Manginell. Sandia's project is one of 10 ROOTS projects funded by ARPA-E. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a number of universities will use other approaches and technologies to tackle the challenge of breeding better crops to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. "The microneedles and micro-GC developed by Sandia are extremely exciting because of their potential to provide critical data on plant function that have been unattainable in any setting," said Hanson. "If successful, these technologies will usher in a new era for research on plant function. They would also contribute to economic growth." Since both technologies are small, less expensive than alternatives and offer critical insights, the team hopes they could directly aid agricultural research and even commercial farming quickly and easily. Ackerman said, "The overall hope for Sandia is that this could open an important new national security area for the biology program to study beyond our current focus on bio-threats and biofuels. It brings us into the energy, water, climate, agriculture nexus, and we are hoping that there will be more opportunities in the future to use even more Sandia technologies." Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

In a land where survival is precarious, Komodo dragons thrive despite being exposed to scads of bacteria that would kill less hardy creatures. Now, in a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists report that they have detected antimicrobial protein fragments in the lizard’s blood that appear to help them resist deadly infections. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs capable of combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The world’s largest lizard, Komodo dragons live on five small islands in Indonesia. The saliva of these creatures contains at least 57 species of bacteria, which are believed to contribute to the demise of their prey. Yet, the Komodo dragon appears resistant to these bacteria, and serum from these animals has been shown to have antibacterial activity. Substances known as cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) are produced by nearly all living creatures and are an essential part of the innate immune system. So, Barney Bishop, Monique van Hoek and colleagues at the College of Science at George Mason University wondered whether they could isolate CAMPs from Komodo dragon blood, as they previously had done with alligator blood to expand the library of known CAMPs for therapeutic studies. The team used an approach known as bioprospecting. They incubated Komodo dragon blood with negatively charged hydrogel particles that they developed to capture the peptides, which are positively charged. With this method, they identified and sequenced 48 potential CAMPs with mass spectrometry. All but one of these was derived from histone proteins, which are known to have antimicrobial activities. Eight were synthesized and tested against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Seven of the peptides showed significant potency against both bacteria. The eighth was only effective against P. aeruginosa. The researchers conclude that Komodo dragon blood plasma contains a host of potentially viable antimicrobial peptides that could help lead to new therapeutics. The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

In a land where survival is precarious, Komodo dragons thrive despite being exposed to scads of bacteria that would kill less hardy creatures. Now in a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists report that they have detected antimicrobial protein fragments in the lizard's blood that appear to help them resist deadly infections. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs capable of combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The world's largest lizard, Komodo dragons live on five small islands in Indonesia. The saliva of these creatures contains at least 57 species of bacteria, which are believed to contribute to the demise of their prey. Yet, the Komodo dragon appears resistant to these bacteria, and serum from these animals has been shown to have antibacterial activity. Substances known as cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) are produced by nearly all living creatures and are an essential part of the innate immune system. So, Barney Bishop, Monique van Hoek and colleagues at the College of Science at George Mason University wondered whether they could isolate CAMPs from Komodo dragon blood, as they previously had done with alligator blood to expand the library of known CAMPs for therapeutic studies. The team used an approach known as bioprospecting. They incubated Komodo dragon blood with negatively charged hydrogel particles that they developed to capture the peptides, which are positively charged. With this method, they identified and sequenced 48 potential CAMPs with mass spectrometry. All but one of these was derived from histone proteins, which are known to have antimicrobial activities. Eight were synthesized and tested against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Seven of the peptides showed significant potency against both bacteria. The eighth was only effective against P. aeruginosa. The researchers conclude that Komodo dragon blood plasma contains a host of potentially viable antimicrobial peptides that could help lead to new therapeutics. The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The abstract that accompanies this study is available here. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 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. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.


News Article | February 10, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and collaborators have captured a movie of how large populations of carbon nanotubes grow and align themselves. Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes, and advanced yarns and fabrics. New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National and Massachusetts Institute of Technology has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). In a pair of studies reported in recent issues of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Nano, the researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction ETEM at BNL to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth. "This knowledge may enable new pathways toward mitigating self-termination and promoting growth of ultra-dense and aligned carbon nanotube materials, which would directly impact several application spaces, some of which are being pursued here at the Laboratory," Meshot says. Meshot has led the CNT synthesis development at LLNL for several projects, including those supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) that use CNTs as fluidic nanochannels for applications ranging from single-molecule detection to macroscale membranes for breathable and protective garments.

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