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Last Update: 26-11-15

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  Fungal highways? Allies in the fight against toxins

Photo of article Fungi play an important role in the ecosystem, but scientists are still finding out just how big a role they really play in nature. Some fungi are easily recognisable, like mushrooms, most of which stick up out of the ground. Other fungi, however, exist beneath the Earth's surface where they extend, creating fungal threads through the soil. These fungal threads operate in a manner similar to road networks allowing bacteria to travel across them. Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany are only now discovering another important traveller on these fungal highways: contaminants that would have otherwise remained immobile in the ground. These networks contribute to the restoration of impacted areas. Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, this study was funded in part by the BIOGRID ('Biotechnology information and knowledge grid') project, which received almost EUR 835 000 under the Information Society Technologies (IST) Thematic area of the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).

Published: 3 September 2012

  Cigarettes do women more harm than men: study

Photo of article Women suffer from more arterial damage caused by cigarette smoking than men do, new EU-funded research shows. The amount of tobacco exposure during a person's lifetime correlates with the thickness of carotid arterial walls in both men and women, but the effect is twofold in females. The result is an outcome of the IMPROVE ('Carotid intima media thickness (IMT) and IMT-progression as predictors of vascular events in a high risk population') project, a large-scale epidemiological study that clinched a EUR 2.5 million grant under the 'Quality of life and management of living resources' (LIFE QUALITY) Thematic Programme of the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).

NB: This article is more than 4 years old so the information may not be up to date.

Published: 22 September 2011

  Too much lithium in water triggers hypothyroidism

Photo of article Hypothyroidism can be triggered by the ingestion of too much lithium via groundwater, new Swedish research shows. Lithium is used to treat bipolar disorder as well as treatment—resistant depression worldwide. But high concentrations of this element were found in villages of the Argentinean Andes mountains, where people treated for bipolar disorder exhibited altered thyroid function. The research, presented in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, was funded in part by the PHIME ('Public health impact of long—term, low-level mixed element exposure in susceptible population strata') project, which clinched EUR 13.43 million under the 'Food quality and safety' Thematic area of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). It is 1 of around 30 studies contributing to the PHIME objectives on the impact that toxic metals may have on several major diseases of great public health concern.

NB: This article is more than 4 years old so the information may not be up to date.

Published: 18 April 2011

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