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3 October 2012

Thursday October 4

Argentine scientists discover four new yeast species in Patagonian glaciers, stray dogs a health hazard in Mexico, and Chile opens up concessions for its lithium reserves.

ARGENTINA

Argentine scientists have identified four new strains of yeast in Patagonian glaciers and reported their findings in the journal Microbiology Ecology. The yeasts have adapted to living at low temperatures and even show metabolic activity below freezing, says Virginia de Garcia, lead author of the paper. Studying the metabolic adaptations of these organisms to freezing temperatures could lead to applications of antifreeze proteins in the pharmaceutical, microbiological, and other industries.

    Argentine scientists have found four new strains of yeast in Patagonian glaciers. Credit: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr.

CHILE

Chile has awarded its research institutions universal access to the world’s major scientific journals. The country’s science institute Conicyt announced it would invest $9 million to pay for annual journal subscriptions and sign up dozens of national research centers to its Electronic Library of Scientific Information (BEIC).

More than a half of the world’s lithium reserves are found in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. The “Saudi Arabia of Lithium,” as Forbes dubbed the region in 2008, could control the market for the metal used in batteries for laptops, cellphones and hybrid cars. Chile, which sits on the largest reserves in the Southern Cone, is currently in the thorny process of awarding lithium concessions to national and international companies and extracts about half of the world’s annual supply of lithium.

ECUADOR

Ecuador’s captial Quito has launched a reforestation campaign to patch up more than 9,000 acres of land left barren by fires. A long dry summer with high winds exacerbated fires in the capital and the surrounding areas. At least half a million trees will be planted under a city program.

An American ornithologist has recruited locals in Ecuador to help as researcher assistants and educators in schools. Jordan Karubian of Tulane University is studying the endangered long-wattled umbrellabird in Ecuador’s Choco rainforest. Deforestation has eliminated much of the bird’s habitat and Karubian is encouraging locals to join his research and education projects.

MEXICO

Mexico’s estimated 10 million stray dogs could be a health problem, say officials with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico’s veterinary school. With an estimated 1.2 million street dogs in Mexico City creating 696 tons of feces every day, which create a breeding grounds for parasitic and infectious bacteria. Carlos Esquivel Lacroix of the UNAM’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Husbandry says: “regarding the problem of overpopulation there are efficacious and sustainable practices to confront it and eliminate it by the root, for example adoption, sterilization and responsible pet-keeping.”