Mois : February - January -
10/02/2016 - Plankton network linked to ocean's biological carbon pump revealed
The ocean is the largest carbon sink on the planet. The community of planktonic organisms involved in the removal of carbon from the upper layers of the ocean has now been described by an interdisciplinary team bringing together oceanographers, biologists and computer scientists, principally from the CNRS, UPMC, Nantes University, VIB, EMBL and CEA. This first overview of the network of species linked to the oceanic biological pump has revealed some new players as well as the main bacterial functions participating in the process. It was obtained by analyzing samples collected by the Tara Oceans expedition in the nutrient-poor regions that cover most of the oceans. The scientists have also shown that the presence of a small number of bacterial and viral genes predicts variation in carbon export from the upper layers of the ocean. These findings should enable researchers to better understand the sensitivity of this network to a changing ocean and to better predict the effects that climate change will have on the functioning of the biological carbon pump, which is a key process for sequestering carbon at global scale. Published on 10 February 2016 on the website of the journal Nature, this work highlights the important role played by plankton in the climate system. more...
09/02/2016 - Update on the search for gravitational waves by the VIRGO and LIGO collaborations
A hundred years after Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, researchers of the LIGO and VIRGO collaborations (of which the CNRS is a founding member), are issuing an update on these tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time. more...
08/02/2016 - Toxoplasmosis: morbid attraction to leopards in parasitized chimpanzees
Researchers from the Centre d'Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive (CNRS/Université de Montpellier/Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3/EPHE) have shown that chimpanzees infected with toxoplasmosis are attracted by the urine of their natural predators, leopards, but not by urine from other large felines. The study, published on 8 February 2016 in Current Biology, suggests that parasite manipulation by Toxoplasma gondii is specific to each host. It fuels an ongoing debate on the origin of behavioral modifications observed in humans infected with toxoplasmosis: they probably go back to a time when our ancestors were still preyed upon by large felines. more...
01/02/2016 - Molecular models help to better understand shale gas
Although shale gas development is attracting a lot of attention, the recovery method used, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is raising increasing concerns. In order to develop more environmentally friendly methods, researchers need models and simulations validated by experiment and capable of reconstructing the complexity of such geological structures. With this in mind, molecular models of kerogen, whose breakdown produces shale gas, have been developed by researchers from the CNRS/MIT International Joint Unit 'Multi-Scale Materials Science for Energy and Environment' and the Institut de Sciences des Matériaux de Mulhouse (CNRS/Université de Haute-Alsace). Such models, derived from experimentally determined properties of kerogen, can be used to investigate the behavior of this organic material. This work is published on the website of Nature Materials
on 1 February 2016. more...
27/01/2016 - Tuberculosis: discovery of a critical stage in the evolution of the bacillus towards pathogenicity
It is the disappearance of a glycolipid from the bacterial cell envelope during evolution that may have considerably increased the virulence of tuberculosis bacilli in humans. Scientists from the CNRS, the Institut Pasteur and the Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier1
have hown that this disappearance modified the surface properties of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
, favoring its aggregation in "cords" and increasing its pathogenicity. These findings, which enable a better understanding of the mechanisms linked to the evolution and emergence of tuberculosis bacilli, constitute a major advance in our knowledge on this disease. They are published in Nature Microbiology
on 27 January 2016. more...
22/01/2016 - Cats domesticated in China earlier than 3000 BC
Were domestic cats brought to China over 5 000 years ago? Or were small cats domesticated in China at that time? There was no way of deciding between these two hypotheses until a team from the 'Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique: Sociétés, Pratiques et Environnements' laboratory (CNRS/MNHN), in collaboration with colleagues from the UK and China1
, succeeded in determining the species corresponding to cat remains found in agricultural settlements in China, dating from around 3500 BC. All the bones belong to the leopard cat, a distant relation of the western wildcat, from which all modern domestic cats are descended. The scientists have thus provided evidence that cats began to be domesticated in China earlier than 3 000 BC. This scenario is comparable to that which took place in the Near East and Egypt, where a relationship between humans and cats developed following the birth of agriculture. Their findings2
are published on 22 January 2016 in the journal PLOS ONE
21/01/2016 - The Snail-Absolute Tuning: visualize sounds and tune instruments precisely and intuitively
A novel process for analyzing and visualizing sound has been designed by the Laboratoire Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son (CNRS/IRCAM/French Ministry of Culture and Communication/UPMC). The Snail-Absolute Tuning is a patented CNRS technology1
that offers novel ways of tuning a musical instrument, working on intonation, and visualizing music and sounds in real time. Beyond the marked scientific advance that it constitutes, this software program is innovative for musicians and all those who work with sound. It is suitable for both amateurs and professionals. It will be launched on January 21, 2016 and will be presented in Paris at the Salon Musicora on February 6-7, 20162
18/01/2016 - How ants self-organize to build their nests
Ants collectively build nests whose size can reach several thousand times that of individual ants and whose architecture is sometimes highly complex. However, their ability to coordinate several thousand individuals when building their nests remains a mystery. To understand the mechanisms involved in this process, researchers from CNRS, Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier and Université de Nantes1
combined behavioral analysis, 3D imaging and computational modeling techniques. Their work shows that ants self-organize by interacting with the structures they build thanks to the addition of a pheromone to their building material. This chemical signal controls their building activity locally and determines the shape of the nest. Its breakdown over time and due to environmental conditions also enables the ants to adapt the shape of their nests. This work is published in PNAS
on 18 January 2016. more...
18/01/2016 - Curiosity is not a "bad" defect in mice
When an unexpected event occurs, it is often necessary to act, even if one does not control all of the consequences. According to scientists in the Laboratoire Neurosciences Paris-Seine (CNRS/UPMC/INSERM)1
, mice will display their curiosity in a situation of uncertainty: they tend to explore their environment in order to comprehend it better. As a step on from this, the scientists have demonstrated the crucial role of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) in modulating these behaviors. Their findings may help us to clarify our understanding of certain psychiatric disorders. They were published on 18 January 2016 on the Nature Neuroscience
15/01/2016 - Anne Peyroche named CNRS Chief Research Officer
CNRS President Alain Fuchs has appointed Anne Peyroche as new Chief Research Officer. She will take up her post on 18 January 2016, replacing Philippe Baptiste, who is taking up other duties. Peyroche, a researcher at the French Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), is currently deputy cabinet director (in charge of research) at the French State Secretariat for Higher Education and Research. more...
12/01/2016 - Is autism hiding in a fold of the brain?
Scientists at CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université and AP-HM have identified a cerebral marker specific to autism that can be detected by MRI and is present as from the age of two years. The abnormality thus detected consists in a less deep fold in Broca's area, a region of the brain specialized in language and communication, functions that are impaired in autistic patients. This discovery may assist in the earlier diagnosis and management of these patients. It has been made possible by the medical imaging processing skills of the Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université) and access to a homogeneous cohort of patients diagnosed at a very young age and all assessed using the same protocol at the Centre de Ressources Autisme PACA. The results of their collaboration are published on 12 January 2016 in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neurosciences and Neuroimaging
12/01/2016 - Why prostate cancer is more aggressive in obese patients
Obesity has direct consequences on health and is associated with the onset of aggressive cancers, but the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are little known. Researchers from the Institut de Pharmacologie et Biologie Structurale (CNRS/Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier)1
have recently elucidated one of these mechanisms in prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers in men: in obese patients, the adipose tissue surrounding the prostate gland facilitates the propagation of tumor cells outside the prostate. A patent2
has been filed for these results, which open new avenues for the treatment of prostate cancer, and are published in Nature Communications
on January 12, 2016. more...
27/01/2015 - Film: Gérard Berry, A Programming Pioneer
This film draws the portrait of Gérard Berry, computer scientist, awarded the 2014 CNRS Gold Medal. Gérard Berry, holder of the first chair in computer science at the Collège de France since 2012. From the formal processing of programming languages to the computer-assisted design of integrated circuits and parallel real-time programming, Berry's achievements have led to major advances in information technology, finding myriad applications in the daily lives of computer users the world over. more...
27/01/2015 - The January issue of CNRS International Magazine is now available
Scientific fraud, long downplayed or even denied, is now taken very seriously and has prompted a global response at all levels of research. Our special report investigates the causes, extent, and consequences of this shameful dysfunction of science, as well as the measures being implemented to eradicate it. Also in this issue, Rosetta’s close encounter with a comet; a novel method to predict solar flares; how letter recognition repurposes neural circuitry used to detect threats; 2014 CNRS Gold Medalist Gérard Berry; philosopher Barbara Cassin emphasizes the importance of linguistic diversity; the 1000 start-ups generated by CNRS research; understanding Africa’s next challenges; 60 years of CERN; why mangroves are an asset to treasure, and much more. more...
27/01/2015 - Snapshot: Scanning a Temple
In 2013, researchers from the MAP1 laboratory were able to render a 3D model of the Tholos of Delphi, a one-of-its-kind Greek temple at the base of Mount Parnassus... more...