Posts tagged cause
As a result of a state mandate to eliminate “List A” noxious weed species from all public and private property in Colorado communities, the City of Boulder is proposing an update to its existing weed ordinance to require property owners to remove the weeds from all properties.
“List A” weed species, as provided in the Colorado Noxious Weed Act, are plants that have yet to be well established in Colorado but are either present in small populations or are invasive in nearby states. There are two species of “List A” weeds that are of most concern within Boulder’s city limits: myrtle spurge and Japanese knotweed. The city was awarded a grant through the Colorado Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Management Fund to assist in an educational plan.
“Early detection and eradication of these particular species can prevent them from becoming a major problem in Colorado,” said city Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Rella Abernathy. “Most of these plants are ‘escaped’ ornamental plants and many residents may not realize that they present a threat to the natural lands surrounding Boulder and are illegal to grow here.”
These noxious, invasive plants can negatively impact biodiversity, threaten endangered species, degrade native habitat, displace wildlife, increase soil erosion, damage streams and other wetlands and increase the risk and frequency of wildfires if allowed to spread. Boulder is in compliance with the Colorado Noxious Weed Act on city-owned properties but has not been enforcing the statue on private property.
The city will focus on education and outreach to notify the public of the requirements and to provide information for identification, environmentally-sound weed removal and suggested replacement plant options.
“A soft enforcement approach is being implemented with voluntary compliance being the goal and enforcement action being a last resort,” said Code Enforcement Supervisor Jennifer Riley. “However, ticketing is possible if property owners do not comply with repeated requests from officers to address illegal weeds.”
Education will begin with a “Purge Your Spurge” event on May 18 where residents are encouraged to pull their myrtle spurge and exchange it for free native plants. This event will occur as part of Boulder Community Day at the East Boulder Community Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other education efforts will include a webpage; fact sheets; media engagement; outreach to nurseries, landscapers and lawn care companies; and code enforcement officers who assist with education in the field.
“Identifying and removing noxious weeds from private property can take some effort, but it’s important to prevent these weeds from spreading to our neighbors’ yards and ultimately to natural areas,” said Abernathy. “Fortunately, only two of the weeds from the list are widespread within the Boulder city limits, myrtle spurge being the most common. We want to make sure people can easily identify the weeds, know how to remove them safely and know what native plants can be used to replace them.”
Myrtle spurge has been commonly used as a decorative plant. People should be aware that it contains a white sap that can cause skin irritation including blistering if touched. Those removing it should wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves and eye protection. Removing at least four inches of the root is recommended to prevent its return. It should be placed in a plastic bag and tightly fastened. DON’T compost noxious weeds as that will cause the weed to spread.
The city’s weed ordinance is expected to be modified through a City Manager rule change, which will be published in the Daily Camera on May 3, as well as on the city’s website. Public feedback will be accepted until May 20. The rule is anticipated to go into effect on June 1, 2013.
For more information or to provide feedback on the proposed City Manager’s rule, contact Rella Abernathy at 303-441-1901.
– CITY OF BOULDER NEWS RELEASE –
Closed trailheads lie just southwest of the Town of Lyons
Boulder County, Colo. – The Picture Rock Trail at Heil Valley Ranch and the Nelson Loop at Hall Ranch are closed until further notice.
Recent and forecasted snowfall, combined with expected warm temperatures, will cause extremely muddy conditions and significant trail damage if these trails are used. The trails will reopen when staff determines conditions have improved and are stable.
All other trails at Heil Valley Ranch and Hall Ranch remain open at this time.
Check the latest trail conditions at www.BoulderCountyOpenSpace.org/trailconditions.
Below, council member Ken Wilson openly confesses to the “liberal” use of de-icing material — or “salt.”
Regardless of the brand or quality of the product, this behavior can lead to consequences on several levels — here’s a quote from a standard reference:
Deicing salts such as sodium chloride or calcium chloride leach into the soils, where the ions (especially the cations) may accumulate and eventually become toxic to the organisms and plants growing in these soils. The chemicals could also reach water bodies in concentrations that are toxic to the ecosystems. Organic compounds are biodegraded and may cause oxygen-depletion issues. Small creeks and ponds with long turnover time are especially vulnerable.
Propylene glycol used to de-ice aircraft can contaminate drinking water supplies and harm aquatic life. Some airports are now capturing and treating de-icing runoff before allowing it to enter waterways.”
Certainly there’s a range of possible impacts — council members, particularly ones who claim a “science” background, as Ken Wilson most certainly has on many occasions, should be AWARE of what they are doing and promoting as it affects the surrounding community.
A response is always welcome.
BY THE WAY…. there are recommended alternatives — one that I personally prefer are an add-on to shoes (sometimes called “crampons”) that are available at shoe, department stores, and running stores here in Boulder and online. They provide excellent help for situations where you can’t predict the snow or ice shoveling proficiency of neighbors.
Happy snow day. Cheers!
City Council Barb
Sender: Brautigam, Jane
Thanks for your email, Ken. I spoke with Chief Beckner and learned that we do not have Code Enforcement officers assigned to work weekends. Code enforcement
will begin again on Monday. Our code enforcement team does an excellent job of addressing issues and will do all they can within the strictures of the ordinance to handle snow removal calls.
From: Wilson, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 9:49 AM
Subject: Snow shoveling enforcement
I am wondering if we will have snow shoveling enforcement tomorrow (Saturday). We have a situation which I was concerned about when Matt made a motion to change the ordinance from
a “morning after” requirement to a 24 hour requirement as we were doing second reading several years ago. Because of the way this snow fell, enforcement won’t begin today (Friday) as there were a few flakes falling late yesterday. Will there be any enforcement
over the weekend? If not, then it would begin on Monday. Of course, more snow is expected Monday, which would reset the clock on all the offenders. We could have slippery sidewalks for a week.
I thought of this all the way to the bus stop this morning as I was trying not to slip and fall on all the uncleared sidewalks. I don’t heal like I used to and it was almost enough
to make me want to turn around and drive instead. Fortunately I didn’t fall – yet.
My sidewalk is clean and dry – which the Camera can verify if they like. We shoveled twice as it was coming down and used salt liberally.
Rob smoke is a sometime columnist for Boulder Channel 1
CU-Boulder amphibian study shows how
biodiversity can protect against disease
The richer the assortment of amphibian species living in a pond, the more protection that community of frogs, toads and salamanders has against a parasitic infection that can cause severe deformities, including the growth of extra legs, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The findings, published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature, support the idea that greater biodiversity in larger-scale ecosystems, such as forests or grasslands, may also provide greater protection against diseases, including those that attack humans. For example, a larger number of mammal species in an area may curb cases of Lyme disease, while a larger number of bird species may slow the spread of West Nile virus.
“How biodiversity affects the risk of infectious diseases, including those of humans and wildlife, has become an increasingly important question,” said Pieter Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study. “But as it turns out, solidly testing these linkages with realistic experiments has proven very challenging in most systems.”
Researchers have struggled to design comprehensive studies that could illuminate the possible connection between disease transmission and the number of species living in complex ecosystems. Part of the problem is simply the enormous number of organisms that may need to be sampled and the vast areas over which those organisms may roam.
The new CU-Boulder study overcomes that problem by studying smaller, easier-to-sample ecosystems. Johnson and his team visited hundreds of ponds in California, recording the types of amphibians living there as well as the number of snails infected by the pathogen Ribeiroia ondatrae. Snails are an intermediate host used by the parasite during part of its life cycle.
“One of the great challenges in studying the diversity-disease link has been collecting data from enough replicate systems to differentiate the influence of diversity from background ‘noise,’ ” Johnson said. “By collecting data from hundreds of ponds and thousands of amphibian hosts, our group was able to provide a rigorous test of this hypothesis, which has relevance to a wide range of disease systems.”
Johnson’s team buttressed its field observations both with laboratory tests designed to measure how prone to infection each amphibian species is and by creating pond replicas outside using large plastic tubs stocked with tadpoles that were exposed to a known number of parasites. All of the experiments told the same story, Johnson said. Greater biodiversity reduced the number of successful amphibian infections and the number of deformed frogs.
In all, the CU-Boulder researchers spent three years sampling 345 wetlands and recording malformations — which include missing, misshapen or extra sets of hind legs — caused by parasitic infections in 24,215 amphibians. They also cataloged 17,516 snails. The results showed that ponds with half a dozen amphibian species had a 78 percent reduction in parasite transmission compared to ponds with just one amphibian species. The research team also set up experiments in the lab and outdoors using 40 artificial ponds, each stocked with 60 amphibians and 5,000 parasites.
The reason for the decline in parasitic infections as biodiversity increases is likely related to the fact that ponds add amphibian species in a predictable pattern, with the first species to appear being the most prone to infection and the later species to appear being the least prone. For example, the research team found that in a pond with just one type of amphibian, that amphibian was almost always the Pacific chorus frog, a creature that is able to rapidly reproduce and quickly colonize wetland habitats, but which is also especially vulnerable to infection and parasite-induced deformities.
On the other hand, the California tiger salamander was typically one of the last species to be added to a pond community and also one of the most resistant to parasitic infection. Therefore, in a pond with greater biodiversity, parasites have a higher chance of encountering an amphibian that is resistant to infection, lowering the overall success rate of transmission between infected snails and amphibians.
This same pattern — of less diverse communities being made up of species that are more susceptible to disease infection — may well play out in more complex ecosystems as well, Johnson said. That’s because species that disperse quickly across ecosystems appear to trade off the ability to quickly reproduce with the ability to develop disease resistance.
“This research reaches the surprising conclusion that the entire set of species in a community affects the susceptibility to disease,” said Doug Levey, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which helped fund the research. “Biodiversity matters.”
The sheer magnitude of the recent study also reinforces the connection between deformed frogs and parasitic infection, Johnson said. Beginning in the mid-1990s reports of frogs with extra, missing or misshapen legs skyrocketed, attracting widespread attention in the media and motivating scientists to try to figure out the cause. Johnson was among the researchers who found evidence of a link between infection with Ribeiroia and frog deformities, though the apparent rise in reports of deformations, and its underlying cause, remains controversial.
While the new study has implications beyond parasitic infections in amphibians, it does not mean that an increase in biodiversity always results in a decrease in disease, Johnson cautioned. Other factors also affect rates of disease transmission. For example, a large number of mosquitoes hatching in a particular year will increase the risk of contracting West Nile virus, even if there has been an increase in the biodiversity of the bird population. Birds act as “reservoir hosts” for West Nile virus, harboring the pathogen indefinitely with no ill effects and passing the pathogen onto mosquitoes.
“Our results indicate that higher diversity reduces the success of pathogens in moving between hosts,” Johnson said. “Nonetheless, if infection pressure is high, for instance in a year with high abundance of vectors, there will still be a significant risk of disease; biodiversity will simply function to dampen transmission success.”
CU-Boulder graduate students Dan Preston and Katie Richgels co-authored the study along with Jason Hoverman, a former postdoctoral researcher in Johnson’s lab who is now an assistant professor at Purdue. The research was funded by NSF, the National Geographic Society and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
To view photos and a video about the research, visit http://freshwatersillustrated.org/link/AmphibianDeformities.
BOULDER, CO: An army of zombies, a catalyst in bringing awareness to critical student crises/issues, is set to invade Fairview High School at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Richard Goode-Allen, of CU-Boulder, will be shooting an Awareness Drive week “zombie-video” about problems such as substance abuse, cutting, stress, depression and eating disorders.
Students aren’t scheduled to attend class that day, leaving the school mostly vacant for the video production. Fairview’s Zombies vs. Humans Club is serving as the nuclei in the video, and club members and participants will receive professional makeup and costuming provided by Theatrical Costumes, Etc. of Boulder. The video will be used to promote the Awareness Drive week at Fairview during the week of March 18-22. This effort is a pilot for what organizers hope to roll out to other schools in the district and beyond.
“A lot of kids aren’t getting the help they need,” Goode-Allen said. The goal of Awareness Drive week is to provide tools, internal and external resources, and guidance to students dealing with critical personal crises and issues. The zombies in the video represent the “zombie emotions” that can cause destructive behaviors, such as cutting and eating disorders, Goode-Allen said. “It will give the students the ability to look metaphorically at these issues.”
The video, to be available during the week long event and online at a planned AwarenessDrive.org website, will help make students aware of the support that is available to them to deal with these challenges.
“The commonality is that we really need to promote awareness, tools, support and make sure students don’t feel like they are alone,” Goode-Allen said.
The Awareness Drive week events are as follows:
Tuesday, March 19 – “Voices Out of Silence” to present in Choir classes
Wednesday, March 20 – Resource Fair during block lunch
Thursday, March 21 – Resource Fair and Denver Gay Men’s Chorus presentation during block lunch
Friday, March 22 – “We Are Fairview” Day
Creeping climate change in the Southwest appears to be having a negative effect on pinyon pine reproduction, a finding with implications for wildlife species sharing the same woodland ecosystems, says a University of Colorado Boulder-led study.
The new study showed that pinyon pine seed cone production declined by an average of about 40 percent at nine study sites in New Mexico and northwestern Oklahoma over the past four decades, said CU-Boulder doctoral student Miranda Redmond, who led the study. The biggest declines in pinyon pine seed cone reproduction were at the higher elevation research sites experiencing more dramatic warming relative to lower elevations, said Redmond of CU’s ecology and evolutionary biology department.
“We are finding significant declines in pinyon pine cone production at many of our study sites,” said Redmond. “The biggest declines in cone production we measured were in areas with greater increases in temperatures over the past several decades during the March to October growing season.”
The cones in which the pinyon seeds are produced are initiated two years prior to seed maturity, and research suggests the environmental stimulus for cone initiation is unseasonably low temperatures during the late summer, said Redmond. Between 1969 and 2009, unseasonably low temperatures in late summer decreased in the study areas, likely inhibiting cone initiation and development.
The study is one of the first to examine the impact of climate change on tree species like pinyon pines that, instead of reproducing annually, shed vast quantities of cones every few years during synchronous, episodic occurrences known as “masting” events. Redmond said such masting in the pinyon pine appears to occur every three to seven years, resulting in massive “bumper crops” of cones covering the ground.
In the new Ecosphere study, the researchers compared two 10-year sequences of time. In addition to showing that total pinyon pine cone production during the 2003-2012 decade had declined from the 1969-1978 decade in the study areas, the team found the production of cones during masting events also declined during that period.
Some scientists believe masting events evolved to produce a big surplus of nut-carrying cones — far too many for wildlife species to consume in a season — making it more likely the nuts eventually will sprout into pinyon pine seedlings, she said. Others have suggested masting events occur during favorable climate conditions and/or to increase pollination efficiency. “Right now we really don’t know what drives them,” Redmond said.
“Across a range of forested ecosystems we are observing widespread mortality events due to stressors such as changing climate, drought, insects and fire,” said CU’s Barger. “This study provides evidence that increasing air temperatures may be influencing the ability of a common and iconic western U.S. tree, pinyon pine, to reproduce. We would predict that declines in pinyon pine cone production may impact the long-term viability of these tree populations.”
Wildlife biologists say pinyon-juniper woodlands are popular with scores of bird and mammal species ranging from black-chinned hummingbirds to black bears. A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Northern Arizona estimated that 150 Clark’s Nutcrackers cached roughly 5 million pinyon pine nuts in a single season, benefiting not only the birds themselves but also the pines whose nuts were distributed more widely for possible germination.
For the new study, Redmond revisited nine pinyon pine study sites scattered throughout New Mexico and Oklahoma that had been studied previously in 1978 by Forcella. Both Forcella and Redmond were able to document pinyon pine masting years by counting small, concave blemishes known as “abscission scars” on individual tree branches that appeared after the cones have been dropped, she said.
Since each year in the life of a pinyon pine tree is marked by a “whorl” — a single circle of branches extending around a tree trunk — the researchers were able to bracket pinyon pine reproductive activity in the nine study areas for the 1969-1978 decade and 2003-2012 decade, which were then compared.
Pinyon pines take three growing seasons, or about 26 months, to produce mature cones from the time of cone initiation. Low elevation conifers including pinyon pines grow in water-limited environments and have been shown to have higher cone output during cool and/or wet summers, said Redmond. In addition to the climate-warming trend under way in the Southwest, the 2002-03 drought caused significant mortality in pinyon pine forests, Redmond said.
“Miranda’s ideas and accompanying results will be of value to ecologists and land managers in the deserts of the Southwest and beyond,” said Forcella, now a research agronomist in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. “The work is evidence that the University of Colorado continues to cultivate a cadre of high-caliber graduate students for which it rightfully can take tremendous pride.”
Pinyon nuts, the Southwest’s only commercial source of edible pine seeds today, were dietary staples of indigenous Americans going back millennia.
For more information on CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department visit http://ebio.colorado.edu.
It is Christmas eve 2012 here in Boulder on a snowy night in the Rocky Mountain west. 2012 years ago tonight the savior of the world was born. His name Jesus of Nazareth. He is followed by more men and women in the world than any guru, profit or teacher ever. Boulder is predominantly a Christian community with followers who are relatively quiet about their devotion to Christ. There are very vocal atheists here who are a tiny minority, small group of Jews, and a very small group of Buddhists. Sprinkled in are a few Muslims ( who also follow Jesus) and several hundred very tiny cults of religions. But far and above is Jesus Christ. Tonight is his night. He is the reason for the season.
His power knows no limits. For those who call his name profound miracles have happened even in this day. The following is the story of the first miracle.
The Christmas Story of the Birth of Jesus – Paraphrased from the Bible:
Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.
The Conception of Jesus Foretold
Mary, a virgin, was living in Galilee of Nazareth and was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. An angel visited her and explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of theHoly Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.
At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel’s words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, “How will this be?” The angel explained that the child would be God’s own Son and, therefore, “nothing is impossible with God.” Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.
Surely Mary reflected with wonder on the words found in Isaiah 7:14 foretelling this event, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus:
While Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning.
Although Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to verify Mary’s story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God’s will. The angel explained that the child within Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us.
When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose him to be the Messiah’s earthly father.
Joseph too must have wondered in awe as he remembered the words found in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (NIV)
At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken, and every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being of the line of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Probably due to the census, the inn was too crowded, and Mary gave birth in a crude stable. She wrapped the baby in cloths and placed him in a manger.
The Shepherd’s Worship the Savior:
Out in the fields, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Savior had been born in the town of David. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angels and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds decided to travel to Bethlehem and see the Christ-child.
There they found Mary, Joseph and the baby, in the stable. After their visit, they began to spread the word about this amazing child and everything the angel had said about him. They went on their way still praising and glorifying God. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. It must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the tender child she had just borne—was the Savior of the world.
The Magi Bring Gifts:
After Jesus’ birth, Herod was king of Judea. At this time wise men (Magi) from the east saw a star, they came in search, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews. The wise men came to the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The rulers explained, “In Bethlehem in Judea,” referring to Micah 5:2. Herod secretly met with the Magi and asked them to report back after they had found the child. Herod told the Magi that he too wanted to go and worship the babe. But secretly Herod was plotting to kill the child.So the wise men continued to follow the star in search of the new born king and found Jesus with his mother in Bethlehem. (Most likely Jesus was already two years of age by this time.) They bowed and worshiped him, offering treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh. When they left, they did not return to Herod. They had been warned in a dream of his plot to destroy the child.
By Mary Fairchild, About.com Guide
CU-Boulder, vet hospital team up for
clinical study to treat canine pain
A University of Colorado Boulder professor and her biomedical spinoff company Xalud Therapeutics Inc. of San Francisco are teaming up with a Front Range veterinarian to conduct a clinical study targeting an effective treatment for dogs suffering from chronic pain.
Distinguished Professor Linda Watkins of CU-Boulder’s psychology and neuroscience department said the study involves treating ailing dogs with a gene therapy using Interleukin-10, or IL-10, a protein and anti-inflammatory that both dogs and humans produce naturally. Watkins is working with veterinarian Robert Landry of Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital and Pain Management Center in Lafayette, who will be treating canine patients suffering from chronic and painful conditions, some of which already are being treated with various other medications with limited success.
Animals perceive and experience several levels of pain that are similar to humans, and chronic pain can be debilitating and also shorten the lives of pets, said Landry, one of only a handful of credentialed American Academy of Pain Management practitioners in Colorado. Landry currently is seeking Denver-Boulder area pet owners who have dogs suffering from chronic pain and who might be interested in participating in the study, which is free.
The new study is driven by research spearheaded by Watkins indicating a type of cell known as glial cells found in the nervous system of mammals plays a key role in pain. Under normal conditions, glial cells act as central nervous system “housekeepers,” cleaning up cellular debris and providing support for neurons, said Watkins. But glial cells also can play a pivotal role in pain enhancement by exciting neurons that both transmit pain signals and release a host of chemical compounds that cause problems like chronic neuropathic pain and other medical issues.
The team will use Xalud’s lead product candidate, XT-101, a gene therapy that harnesses the power of the potent anti-inflammatory IL-10 to normalize glial activity and eliminate neuropathic pain for up to 90 days with a single injection.
The gene therapy based on IL-10 has a number of advantages, including suppressing glial activity in the spinal cord, stimulating tissue regeneration and growth, decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory substances and increasing the production of anti-inflammatory substances, Watkins said. Landry and Watkins also have been working with the American Kennel Club on potential funding for additional clinical studies involving the treatment of chronic pain in dogs, said Watkins.
“We have already tested this new therapy in two pet dogs, and both have had remarkable reversals of their pain for long durations after a single injection of the therapeutic,” she said. “Our early peek at the potential of this therapeutic treatment in dogs shows essentially the same positive effects we have seen in laboratory rats used in our studies that have been treated with the therapy.”
Watkins said demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the new gene therapy in a second species of mammal is important in terms of moving it forward to eventually meet FDA regulations for human clinical trials.
In addition to studying what triggers glial cells to become activated and begin releasing pain-enhancing substances and ways to control chronic pain, Watkins and her research team recently discovered that clinically prescribed opioids also activate glial cells and cause them to release pain-enhancing substances. “Our ultimate goal is to find a means by which clinical pain control can be improved so as to relieve human suffering,” she said.
To contact Landry about possible participation in the study by family dogs suffering chronic pain and that might benefit from the experimental treatment, call the Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital at 303-665-4852.
For more information on CU-Boulder’s psychology and neuroscience department visit http://psych-www.colorado.edu/. For more information on Xalud Therapeutics Inc. visit http://www.xaludthera.com/. For more information on Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital visit http://www.mountainridgevet.com/.
A University of Colorado Boulder-led team has discovered two prime targets of the Hepatitis B virus in liver cells, findings that could lead to treatment of liver disease in some of the 400 million people worldwide currently infected with the virus.
CU-Boulder Professor Ding Xue, who led the studies, said scientists have been looking for cellular targets of the Hepatitis B virus, or HBV, for more than three decades. Infections from HBV promote hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer and can be transmitted through blood and bodily fluids, unprotected sex, unsterile needles and from infected mother to offspring during birth.
Xue said scientists have known for some time that HBV encodes a pathogenic, tumor-promoting protein known as HBx, but how it works has remained largely unknown. In two new studies, Xue and his colleagues showed that the “host targets” of HBx in human cells are two small cell proteins known as Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, both of which are well-known cell death inhibitors but which have not previously been implicated in HBV infection.
HBx uses a particular “motif,” a small string of protein building blocks known as amino acids that resemble those seen in some cell death-causing proteins, to interact with the Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL targets and stimulate an elevation of calcium in the host cell. The calcium elevation then triggers both viral HBV replication and cell death, said Xue.
When the researchers introduced gene mutations into the motif, HBx binding to the Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL proteins and viral replication were prevented. Similarly, when either Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL proteins were “knocked out” or weakened in human liver cells, HBx was less able to cause an increase in calcium and viral replication inside the infected cells.
“Our most important findings are the identification of the motif itself and the two HBx host targets,” said Xue of CU-Boulder’s molecular, cellular and developmental biology department. “Now we can start thinking about new drug targets to treat HBV.”
Two papers on the subject led by Xue were published online Oct. 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to major CU-Boulder co-authors Xin Geng, Brian Harry, Qinghua Zhou, Yan Qin and Amy Palmer, a group led by Professor Ning-Shao Xia from the National Institute of Diagnostics and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases at Xiamen University in China collaborated on one of the studies.
The World Health Organization estimated in July that about 600,000 people die annually from acute or chronic HBV infection, which is most predominant in Asia and Africa.
In one of the PNAS studies, the authors used a tiny roundworm known as C. elegans, a widely used animal model in biomedical research, to identify HBx host targets within the cell. Xue and his team showed that HBx can induce cell death in C. elegans through a protein known as CED-9, mimicking an early stage of liver infection by HBV.
Previous work had shown CED-9 in C. elegans is a homolog of the human Bcl-2 protein — a different protein in a different animal that has a similar function. Despite the stark differences between roundworms and humans, scientists estimate 35 percent of C. elegans genes have human homologs.
“Our results suggest that C. elegans can serve as a good animal model for identifying crucial host factors and cell signaling pathways and aid in development of strategies to treat HBV-induced liver disorders,” said Xue. “I think the use of C. elegans will galvanize the field of HBV study, which has been in search of a good animal model for three decades.”
Simple animal models like fruit flies and roundworms have been critical for understanding fundamental biological processes such as aging, cell death and the regulation of gene expression. “Many would not have considered using C. elegans as a model to study HBV, but the genetic ‘tools’ of C. elegans are ideal for the identification of viral host targets, even though C. elegans is not a native host for the virus,” said CU’s Harry. Harry is pursuing both a Ph.D. degree in MCD Biology at CU-Boulder and an M.D. at the CU School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora through the Medical Scientist Training Program.
“Both studies show that if you create two mutations in this small HBx motif, it takes away its ability to bind to Bcl-2 family proteins. This wipes out viral replication and host cell death caused by HBx expression,” said Harry.
Xue said there currently is no effective treatment for chronic HBV carriers, although some people with chronic HBV are treated with interferon and anti-viral drugs. But such treatments are either unavailable or too expensive in developing countries where most of the HBV infections are occurring. “That’s why these new findings could have profound clinical and pharmaceutical implications for the treatment of HBV patients,” he said.
Harry said the Hepatitis B vaccine, which was developed in 1982, is administered around the world and has been shown to work well in preventing new infections. “The problem is that once you are infected, there is no effective way to remove the virus from the body,” he said. “When the virus replicates in liver cells, it causes cycles of cellular damage, inflammation and tissue regeneration, resulting in the accumulation of genetic mutations and liver cancer.”
HBV is 50 to 100 times more infectious than the HIV virus, according to WHO officials. In China and other parts of Asia, most people acquire HBV during childhood and 8 to 10 percent of the adult population is chronically infected. “Because of this, understanding how HBV and HBx cause pathogenesis can have dramatic clinical impact,” said Xue.
Funding for the two PNAS studies was provided by the National Institutes of Health grants F30 NS070596 and R01 GM059083, GM079097, GM088241 and GM084027. Additional funding came from the China National Science Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Residents encouraged to secure trash and food sources to protect bears
With bears foraging for food in preparation for their winter hibernation, it is important that residents take measures to deter bears by securing any potential food sources on their properties. See the Inside Boulder News segment about recent bear activity.
Bear-proofing food items and trash is the best way for residents to minimize the chance that bears will show interest in their property. Common bear attractants include garbage, compost, fruit from trees, bird feeders, food from outdoor grills and pet food left outside.
City regulations require that curbside garbage/compost bins not be placed out for pick up until 5 a.m. the day collection occurs. Alleyway bins are exempt from these regulations.
To be safe, the city recommends that residents west of Broadway store all garbage and compost bins in a garage or shed until the morning of collection, or keep their waste in a bear-resistant trash container. Residents within Boulder city limits can contact their trash hauler for specific information about bear-resistant trash containers.
Bears that learn that people are a source of food are sometimes killed to keep the public safe. During the past six years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has killed five bears in Boulder because of nuisance behavior or a threat to public safety. Please do your part to ensure that bears are not unnecessarily attracted to your property.
If there is a bear in your backyard, the following tips are recommended:
- Keep your distance. Back away slowly from the bear, ensuring it has a clear escape path;
- Never run. Running may cause a bear to chase you;
- Never approach a bear, or get in between a cub and its mother;
- Never provide food to a bear. This teaches it to approach people for food;
- Do not let the bear become comfortable around your home; and
- Once you are safely inside, do your best to scare the bear away. Yell, clap your hands and make other loud noises to encourage the bear to leave.
If the bear is observed within the city limits, call the Boulder Police Department at 303-441-3333. To report past bear sightings and encounters, call 303-441-3004.
The city is currently conducting an Urban Black Bear Education and Enforcement Pilot Program in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. For more information about the pilot program, contact Urban Wildlife Conservation Coordinator Val Matheson at 303-441-3004 or visit www.boulderwildlifeplan.net.
For a detailed discussion about bears in the urban/foothill interface, watch the “Bears in Boulder” segment of A Boulder View.
CU-NOAA study provides first direct evidence of
heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles
When the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Within 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles.
“For the first time we were able to measure these warming effects minute-by-minute as the fire progressed,” said CIRES scientist Dan Lack, lead author of the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers also were able to record a phenomenon called the “lensing effect,” in which oils from the fire coat the soot particles and create a lens that focuses more light onto the particles. This can change the “radiative balance” in an area, sometimes leading to greater warming of the air and cooling of the surface.
While scientists had previously predicted such an effect and demonstrated it in laboratory experiments, the Boulder researchers were one of the first to directly measure the effect during an actual wildfire. Lack and his colleagues found that lensing increased the warming effect of soot by 50 to 70 percent.
“When the fire erupted on Labor Day, so many researchers came in to work to turn on instruments and start sampling that we practically had traffic jams on the road into the lab,” Lack said. “I think we all realized that although this was an unfortunate event, it might be the best opportunity to collect some unique data. It turned out to be the best dataset, perfectly suited to the new instrument we had developed.”
The instrument called a spectrophotometer can capture exquisite detail about all particles in the air, including characteristics that might affect the smoke particles’ tendency to absorb sunlight and warm their surroundings. While researchers know that overall, wildfire smoke can cause this lensing effect, the details have been difficult to quantify, in part because of sparse observations of particles from real-world fires.
Once the researchers began studying the data they collected during the fire, it became obvious that the soot from the wildfire was different in several key ways from soot produced by other sources — diesel engines, for example.
“When vegetation burns, it is not as efficient as a diesel engine, and that means some of the burning vegetation ends up as oils,” Lack said. In the smoke plume, the oils coated the soot particles and that microscopic sheen acted like a magnifying glass, focusing more light onto the soot particles and magnifying the warming of the surrounding air.
The researchers also discovered that the oils coating the soot were brown, and that dark coloration allowed further absorption of light, and therefore further warming the atmosphere around the smoke plume.
The additional warming effects mean greater heating of the atmosphere enveloped in dark smoke from a wildfire, and understanding that heating effect is important for understanding climate change, Lack said. The extra heating also can affect cloud formation, air turbulence, winds and even rainfall.
The discovery was made possible by state-of-the-art instruments developed by CIRES, NOAA and other scientists, Lack said. The instruments can capture fine-scale details about particles sent airborne by the fire, including their composition, shape, size, color and ability to absorb and reflect sunlight of various wavelengths.
“With such well-directed measurements, we can look at the warming effects of soot, the magnifying coating and the brown oils and see a much clearer, yet still smoky picture of the effect of forest fires on climate,” Lack said.
CU-Boulder ‘photo origami’ proposal
wins $2 million NSF grant
The art of origami has inspired children and artists all over the world because of the amazing objects that can be created by folding a simple piece of paper.
Now an engineering research team at the University of Colorado Boulder has won a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a light-controlled approach for “self-assembly” mechanisms in advanced devices based on the same principles.
Known as “photo origami,” the idea is supported by NSF’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program, which supports interdisciplinary teams working on rapidly advancing frontiers of fundamental engineering research.
CU-Boulder associate professor of mechanical engineering Jerry Qi will lead the team developing the photo origami technique. Collaborators will include CU faculty Robert McLeod of electrical engineering, Kurt Maute of aerospace engineering sciences and Elisabeth “Beth” Stade of mathematics, along with Patrick Mather of Syracuse University.
The ability to transform a flat polymer sheet into a sophisticated, mechanically robust 3-D structure will enable new approaches to manufacturing and design of devices from the microscopic to centimeter scales, according to the team. Examples include using extremely low-weight, high-strength materials to create micro-electromechanical systems with complicated 3-D architectures that can be used for microscopic sensors such as antennas or microphones, and miniature robotic devices for environmental monitoring.
Present barriers to the development of folding and unfolding mechanisms stem from the lack of understanding of scaling laws that allow researchers to generalize results obtained at various size scales, the inability to easily cause matter to “reorient” itself to achieve the desired folding patterns, and challenges in automated, sequential folding.
To overcome these challenges, the CU team will make use of recent fundamental advances in the control of polymer architecture through light-triggered chemical reactions.
“One has to accurately control how much deformation a material should have in order to obtain a precise folding angle and to determine where to fold or stop folding in order to avoid interference in the folding path and form the desired structure,” said McLeod, who will use the interaction of light with material deformation to develop optical waveguide transistors.
In this new form of logic circuit, light triggers the deformation of a soft polymer, which in turn switches the light on or off. In this way, the optical waveguide transistor will enable a structure to be pre-programmed with a folding pattern through a sequential set of switching events controlled by the shape of an origami sheet.
In recent years, CU researchers and their collaborators have made significant progress in using light to control and alter the structure of a polymer. They are able to both bend and stiffen polymer structures and to develop new, soft, shape-memory composite materials through photo-initiation techniques. Shape-memory composites are “smart” materials that have the ability to return from a temporary, deformed shape to their original shape when induced by a trigger.
In addition, the team will work with the local school district to provide research and educational opportunities for K-12 students and teachers.
CU-led team discovers new atmospheric compound
tied to climate change and human health issues
An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth’s atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health.
The new compound, a type of carbonyl oxide, is formed from the reaction of ozone with alkenes, which are a family of hydrocarbons with both natural and man-made sources, said Roy “Lee” Mauldin III, a research associate in CU-Boulder’s atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and lead study author. The study charts a previously unknown chemical pathway for the formation of sulfuric acid, which can result both in increased acid rain and cloud formation as well as negative respiratory effects on humans.
“We have discovered a new and important, atmospherically relevant oxidant,” said Mauldin. “Sulfuric acid plays an essential role in Earth’s atmosphere, from the ecological impacts of acid precipitation to the formation of new aerosol particles, which have significant climatic and health effects. Our findings demonstrate a newly observed connection between the biosphere and atmospheric chemistry.”
A paper on the subject is being published in the Aug. 9 issue of Nature.
Typically the formation of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere occurs via the reaction between the hydroxyl radical OH — which consists of a hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom with unpaired electrons that make it highly reactive — and sulfur dioxide, Mauldin said. The trigger for the reactions to produce sulfuric acid is sunlight, which acts as a “match” to ignite the chemical process, he said.
But Mauldin and his colleagues had suspicions that there were other processes at work when they began detecting sulfuric acid at night, particularly in forests in Finland — where much of the research took place — when the sun wasn’t present to catalyze the reaction. “There were a number of instances when we detected sulfuric acid and wondered where it was coming from,” he said.
In the laboratory, Mauldin and his colleagues combined ozone — which is ubiquitous in the atmosphere — with sulfur dioxide and various alkenes in a gas-analyzing instrument known as a mass spectrometer hooked up with a “flow tube” used to add gases. “Suddenly we saw huge amounts of sulfuric acid being formed,” he said.
Because the researchers wanted to be sure the hydroxyl radical OH was not reacting with the sulfur dioxide to make sulfuric acid, they added in an OH “scavenger” compound to remove any traces of it. Later, one of the research team members held up freshly broken tree branches to the flow tube, exposing hydrocarbons known as isoprene and alpha-pinene — types of alkenes commonly found in trees and which are responsible for the fresh pine tree scent.
“It was such a simple little test,” said Mauldin. “But the sulfuric acid levels went through the roof. It was something we knew that nobody had ever seen before.”
Mauldin said the new chemical pathway for sulfuric acid formation is of interest to climate change researchers because the vast majority of sulfur dioxide is produced by fossil fuel combustion at power plants. “With emissions of sulfur dioxide, the precursor of sulfuric acid, expected to rise globally in the future, this new pathway will affect the atmospheric sulfur cycle,” he said.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 90 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. Other sulfur sources include volcanoes and even ocean phytoplankton. It has long been known that when sulfur dioxide reacts with OH, it produces sulfuric acid that can form acid rain, shown to be harmful to terrestrial and aquatic life on Earth.
Airborne sulfuric acid particles — which form in a wide variety of sizes — play the main role in the formation of clouds, which can have a cooling effect on the atmosphere, he said. Smaller particles near the planet’s surface have been shown to cause respiratory problems in humans.
Mauldin said the newly discovered oxidant might help explain recent studies that have shown large parts of the southeastern United States might have cooled slightly over the past century. Particulates from sulfuric acid over the forests there may be forming more clouds than normal, cooling the region by reflecting sunlight back to space.
Most of the laboratory experiments for the study were conducted at the Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig, Germany.
Co-authors on the study include Torsten Berndt and Frank Stratmann from the Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research; Mikko Sipilä, Pauli Paasonen, Tuukka Petäjä, Theo Kurtén, Veli-Matti Kerminen and Markku Kulmula from the University of Helsinki in Finland; and Saewung Kim from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Mauldin also is affiliated with NCAR and the University of Helsinki.
The study was funded by the European Commission Sixth Framework program, the Academy of Finland, The Finnish Center of Excellence, the European Research Council, the Kone Foundation, the Väisälä Foundation, the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, the Otto Malm Foundation and the U.S. National Science Foundation.
It is raining Boulder. As of 8:00pm the following are the only incidents that the city or county are working. The city recommends you go to the OEM website. OEM does not have a feed with updates. We suggest listening to sheriffs office scanner. If things get bad later tonight we will broadcast all scanner emergency traffic here, call dispatch and command and report for you
July 7 – 5:40 p.m. – Lefthand Canyon Drive closed
Lefthand Canyon Drive is closed between Olde Stage Road and James Canyon Drive. Debris flows caused by the thunderstorm have impacted some roads mountain roads in western Boulder County.
July 7 – 5:20 p.m. – Boulder Creek flows expected to increase
With the heavy rainfall this afternoon, the City of Boulder is expecting to see an increase in Boulder Creek water levels. Last night, the creek was running at 161 cfs. It is currently at 287 cfs and is likely to run between 500 and 600 cfs by nightfall. This is not expected to cause significant spillage along the banks, but pedestrians and cyclists in the area are urged to use caution. Please remember that it is not safe to seek shelter under bridges or in other underpasses. These are designed to move floodwaters through and can be very dangerous in these conditions.
The city is also receiving some reports of nuisance street flooding in the Table Mesa area and a few other neighborhoods. Safety officials would like to remind motorists to avoid driving through floodwaters, which can be deeper than they may seem.
The latest on the spate of lighting cause fire here in the city of Boulder from the office of emergency management:
June 26, 4:45 p.m. – Pre-evacuation notices go to city residents
Pre-evacuation notices went out to 931 City of Boulder phone numbers. The area that received calls is bordered by Dartmouth on the north, Broadway on the east, all the way to the south edge of town. People should be ready to evacuate quickly. A Type 1 Federal Incident team is on its way.
June 26 – 4:19 p.m. – All Open Space properties are closed from Eldo. Springs to Boulder Canyon
All open space and recreational areas from Eldorado Springs to Boulder Canyon are closed until further notice.
June 26 – 4 p.m.
NCAR is voluntarily evacuating.
Media briefing at 4:30 p.m. at Criminal Justice Center at 6th and Canyon.
All Pets Animal Hospital is taking small animals. 303-499-5335. 5290 Manhattan Circle.
Fire is estimated to be 200-300 acres.
June 26 – 3:45 p.m. Road Closures – Bison Drive, Flagstaff Rd.
Bison Drive from 1000 block West
Flagstaff Rd. from Baseline & 6th Ave
Hard closures. No public access allowed. Residents are urged to take vital records and proof of residency when they leave.
June 26 – 3:28 p.m. – Flagstaff Fire evacuations ordered
Sheriff’s Command has issued evacuation orders for approximately 26 households in the area of Bison Drive and Pine Needle Notch subdivision. An evacuation point is being established at New Vista High School at 700 20th Street near Broadway and Baseline. Red Cross is on its way. Residents are advised to take vital records, proof of residency and all pets with them.
Follow #FlagstaffFire on Twitter
June 25 3:18 p.m. – Flagstaff Road is restricted to fire response
Flagstaff Rd. is being used for transport of firefighting equipment. Public access will be restricted or closed along this road until further notice.
June 26 – 3:01 p.m. Bison Fire
A helicopter and heavy air tanker are working on the Bison Fire which is estimated at 6 acres and growing. Smoke can be seen from the city of Boulder and surrounding areas. Rocky Mountain Fire is in charge of the fire.
Fire in Boulder County – June 26 – 2:51 p.m.
There is a fire burning near Bison Drive east of Walker Ranch in the foothills of southern Boulder County. A heavy air tanker is en route and 39 pre-evacuation notices have been sent to residents on Bison Drive and in the Pine Needle Notch subdivision.