Short Science, March 10, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 1:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 2:53am


New Antarctic bacteria found in subglacial lake

Russian scientists believe they have found a new type of bacteria in the subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica. The samples obtained from the underground lake in May last year contained a bacteria, which bore no resemblance to existing types, said Sergei Bulat of the Saint Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics. The sample remains unclassified and unidentified, the RIA Novosti news agency said. AFP


Bid to restrict Canada's polar bear trade fails

The export of polar bear skins, teeth and paws from Canada will continue after a bitter debate at the world's biggest wildlife summit ended in defeat for a US proposal to outlaw the trade. The US, with strong support from former cold war foe Russia, argued that while climate change and the increasing loss of the Arctic sea ice was the greatest threat to the 20,000 left in the wild, hunting was an intolerable additional pressure. "Science paints a stark future for the polar bear. An [export ban] will give the polar bear a better chance to persist in the world until we can deal with climate change," the US delegation leader said. But Canada - home to two-thirds of the world's polar bears and the only nation allowing exports - argued there is not enough scientific evidence to show they are in danger of population collapse. Canada has strict rules to ensure hunting is sustainable. The result saw  38 countries vote for  the US proposal, with 42 against, and 46 abstaining. The Guardian


High-salt diet linked to autoimmune diseases

A high-salt diet may be a risk factor for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), say three papers  in the journal Nature. Two studies showed salt can induce the production of aggressive cells involved in the development of autoimmune diseases in mice and humans, while a third indicated that mice on high-salt diets develop a type of disease similar to human MS. The scientists cautioned that these were early results. "It's premature to say: 'You shouldn't eat salt because you'll get an autoimmune disease'," said one of the study authors, Aviv Regev from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "We're putting forth an interesting hypothesis - a connection between salt and autoimmunity - that must now be tested." In two studies in mice and human cells, scientists showed that salt boosted the development of an  immune cell known as T helper 17, or Th17, that has been implicated in diseases like MS and psoriasis. AFP