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American Chemical Society's weekly PressPac -- Jan. 9, 2008

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Weekly PressPac with news from ACS 36 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. Please credit the individual journal or the American Chemical Society as the source for this information.

ALL CONTENT IS FOR IMMEDIATE USE EXCEPT ARTICLE #5, which is embargoed for 9 A. M., Eastern Time, Jan. 14, 2008.


Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills
Environmental Science & Technology

Like the proverbial coal miners canary-in-the-cage, seagulls may become living sentinels to monitor oil pollution levels in marine environments, report scientists in Spain. Their study is scheduled for the Feb. 1 issue of ACS Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, Alberto Velando and colleagues note that researchers have known for years that large oil spills can increase levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in marine environments. Studies have linked these compounds to cancer in humans. While oil spills quickly kill large numbers of seabirds and other animals, scientists do not fully understand the non-lethal biological effects of these spills, the Spanish researchers say.

The researchers measured PAH levels in the blood of Yellow-legged gulls living in the vicinity of the oil spill caused by the 2002 shipwreck of the Prestige, one of Europes largest oil spills. Gulls exposed to the oil showed twice the levels of PAHs in their blood than unexposed birds, even though these levels were measured 17 months after the initial spill, the researchers say. The findings give support to the nondestructive use of seabirds as biomonitors of oil pollution in marine environments, the article states. - MTS

ARTICLE #1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monitoring Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Pollution in Marine Environment after the Prestige Oil Spill by Means of Seabird Blood Analysis



CONTACT: Alberto Velando, Ph.D.
Universidade de Vigo
Vigo, Spain
Phone: 34-986812590
Fax: 34-986812556


Edible antifreeze prevents unwanted ice crystals in ice cream and frozen foods
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

A scientist in Wisconsin reports development of an edible and tasteless antifreeze that prevents the formation of ice crystals that can spoil the smooth, silky texture of ice cream and interfere with the palatability of other frozen foods. The study is scheduled for the Jan. 9 issue of ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the new report, Srinivasan Damodaran explains that preventing the formation of large ice crystals is a major challenge for frozen food manufacturers and consumers who store packages in home freezers. Although several different substances have been added to frozen foods to prevent ice crystal growth, none is really effective, the researcher says.

Damodarans solution is gelatin hydrolysate, a protein known to act as a natural antifreeze. In a controlled study using batches of ice cream prepared with and without the non-toxic compound, ice cream containing the antifreeze developed significantly smaller and fewer ice crystals than batches prepared without the compound, the researcher says. - MTS

ARTICLE #2 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Inhibition of Ice Crystal Growth in Ice Cream Mix by Gelatin Hydrolysate



CONTACT: Srinivasan Damodaran, Ph.D.
Department of Food Science
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Phone: 608-263-2012
Fax: 608-262-6872


Solving the mystery of the metallic sheen of fish
Crystal Growth & Design

The bright, metallic sheen of fish skin source of endless fascination for fishermen and aquarium owners is due to a sophisticated system of crystals that enhance light reflection and may help fish hide from predators in the wild, scientists in Israel are reporting. Their study is scheduled for the current issue of ACS Crystal Growth & Design, a bi-monthly journal.

In the new study, Lia Addadi and colleagues note that researchers have known for years that guanine crystals in the skin underneath the scales of fish reflect light to produce a mirror-like sheen. This silvery reflectance acts as a form of camouflage that helps protect fish from predators as fish swim near the waters surface. However, the exact shape of these guanine crystals and how they work remained a mystery.

The researchers extracted guanine crystals from the skin of the Japanese Koi fish and analyzed the crystals using X-ray diffraction and an electron microscope. They compared the results to guanine crystals made in the laboratory. The researchers found that the biogenic crystals develop in an unexpected direction that differs from the lab-made crystals and that their unique shape improves light reflectivity. The arrangement represents a strategy evolved by fish to produce more efficient photonic crystals, the article states. - MTS

ARTICLE #3 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Biogenic Guanine Crystals from the Skin of Fish May Be Designed to Enhance Light Reflectance



CONTACT: Lia Addadi, Ph.D.
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel
Phone: 972-934-2228
Fax: 972-934-4151


Rice that Snaps, Crackles and Pops with Protein
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Scientists in the United States and India are reporting development of a high-protein variety of rice, dietary staple for half the worlds population. The study is scheduled for the Jan. 23 issue of ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a biweekly publication.

Researchers have been trying to bolster the protein in rice for five decades. Rice already is a main source of calories as well as protein intake for billions of people, and its enrichment of protein would have a positive impact on millions of poor and malnourished people in developing countries, the report says.

In the study, Hari B. Krishnan and colleagues created a hybrid by crossing a commonly cultivated rice species called Oryza sativa with a wild species, Oryza nivara. The product showed a protein content of 12.4 percent, which is 18 percent and 28 percent higher than those of the parents. The results demonstrate the potential for wild rices relatives for boosting the protein content in rice. The researchers conclude that the hybrid could serve as initial breeding material for new rice genotypes that could combine types with superior cooking quality with those of high protein content. - JS

ARTICLE #4 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Interspecific Rice Hybrid of Oryza sativa Oryza nivara Reveals a Significant Increase in Seed Protein Content



CONTACT: Hari B. Krishnan, Ph. D.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
Columbia, Mo. 65211
Phone: 573-882-8151
Fax: 573-884-7850


Once-irrelevant compound may have medical role in preventing diabetes complications
Chemical & Engineering News

A compound formed during insulin production and once dismissed as irrelevant in diabetes may be a key to preventing the complications that make Type 1 diabetes such a serious disease, according to an article [] scheduled for the Jan. 14 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS weekly newsmagazine. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, afflicts about 800,000 people in the U.S. alone, sharply increasing their risk of heart attacks, vision loss, kidney failure, and other complications.

In the article, C&EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud notes that scientists previously believed that the compound, called C-peptide, had little biological activity and was a useless byproduct of insulin production. In recent years, however, researchers have seen beneficial effects of C-peptide in patients with type 1 diabetes, including improved kidney function, nerve function, and blood flow. New laboratory research now bolsters that view, suggesting that the compound may work by enhancing the ability of red blood cells to utilize glucose similar to the role that insulin plays for other cell types but only when it binds a metal ion, the article notes.

Clinical studies on the compound, so far inconclusive, may determine if C-peptide can help prevent or delay complications of type 1 diabetes, Arnaud points out. The new research is a significant contribution to our understanding of C-peptide biology, according to the article.

ARTICLE #5 EMBARGOED FOR 9 A.M., EASTERN TIME, Jan. 14, 2008 A role for C-peptide

This story will be available on Jan. 14 at


Michael Bernstein
ACS News Service
Phone: 202-872-6042
Fax: 202-872-4370

For Wired Readers

Bytesize Science, a podcast for young listeners

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Communications has launched Bytesize Science, an educational, entertaining podcast for young listeners. Bytesize Science translates cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS' 36 peer-reviewed journals into stories for young listeners about science, health, medicine, energy, food, and other topics. New installments of Bytesize Science are posted every Monday and available without charge. Bytesize Science is now listed as a "new and notable" podcast on iTunes. It is also being recommended by "Podcasting in Education," an organization that encourages educators to embrace podcasts as a classroom tool. The archive includes items on environmental threats to killer whales, a scientific explanation for why some people love chocolate, some unlikely new uses for compact discs, and a hairy tale about "hairy roots." The podcaster for Bytesize Science is Adam Dylewski, an ACS science writer and recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in genetics and science communication.

Science Elements: ACS Science News Podcast

The ACS Office of Communications is podcasting PressPac contents in order to make cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS journals available to a broad public audience at no charge. Science Elements includes selected content from ACSs prestigious suite of 36 peer-reviewed scientific journals and Chemical & Engineering News, ACSs weekly news magazine. Those journals, published by the worlds largest scientific society, contain about 30,000 scientific reports from scientists around the world each year. The reports include discoveries in medicine, health, nutrition, energy, the environment and other fields that span sciences horizons from astronomy to zoology. Podcaster for Science Elements is Steve Showalter, Ph.D., a chemist at the U. S. Department of Energys Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., and ACS member.

Journalists Resources

Highlights, resources from ACS Chocolate Workshop now online

The American Chemical Societys workshop, Cooks with Chemistry The Elements of Chocolate provided reporters with a delectable assortment of new information on the worlds favorite treat. Held Oct. 11, 2007, at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and sponsored by the ACS Office of Communications, the chocolate workshop featured presentations from Harold McGee and Shirley Corriher, award-winning cookbook authors, and Sara Risch, the noted food and flavor chemist. With chocolate consumption nearing an annual peak as the holidays approach, we are providing content from this event to news media unable to attend the workshop. The material includes ACS journal articles about the chemistry of chocolate; advice for cooks who run into trouble with chocolate recipes; tips on how to successfully use new chocolates in old favorite recipes; and a fascinating comparison of the health benefits and flavor components of different kinds of chocolate. For interviews with the chocolate workshop participants or other information, please contact

[Web link: ]

ACS Press Releases

General Chemistry Glossary

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Science Inquiries: Michael Woods, editor

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Contact: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

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