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BMC Structural Biology - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-09-23T00:00:00Z Buried chloride stereochemistry in the Protein Data Bank
Background: Despite the chloride anion is involved in fundamental biological processes, its interactions with proteins are little known. In particular, we lack a systematic survey of its coordination spheres. Results: The analysis of a non-redundant set (pairwise sequence identity < 30%) of 1739 high resolution (<2 Å) crystal structures that contain at least one chloride anion shows that the first coordination spheres of the chlorides are essentially constituted by hydrogen bond donors. Amongst the side-chains positively charged, arginine interacts with chlorides much more frequently than lysine. Although the most common coordination number is 4, the coordination stereochemistry is closer to the expected geometry when the coordination number is 5, suggesting that this is the coordination number towards which the chlorides tend when they interact with proteins. Conclusions: The results of these analyses are useful in interpreting, describing, and validating new protein crystal structures that contain chloride anions.
 2014-09-17T12:00:00Z Structural insight into the recognition of amino-acylated initiator tRNA by eIF5B in the 80S initiation complex
Background: From bacteria to eukarya, the specific recognition of the amino-acylated initiator tRNA by the universally conserved translational GTPase eIF5B/IF2 is one of the most central interactions in the process of translation initiation. However, the molecular details, particularly also in the context of ribosomal initiation complexes, are only partially understood. Results: A reinterpretation of the 6.6 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of the eukaryal 80S initiation complex using the recently published crystal structure of eIF5B reveals that domain IV of eIF5B forms extensive interaction interfaces with the Met-tRNAi, which, in contrast to the previous model, directly involve the methionylated 3′ CCA-end of the acceptor stem. These contacts are mediated by a conserved surface area, which is homologous to the surface areas mediating the interactions between IF2 and fMet-tRNAfMet as well as between domain II of EF-Tu and amino-acylated elongator tRNAs. Conclusions: The reported observations provide novel direct structural insight into the specific recognition of the methionylated acceptor stem by eIF5B domain IV and demonstrate its universality among eIF5B/IF2 orthologs in the three domains of life.
 2014-07-19T00:00:00Z A simple method for finding a protein¿s ligand-binding pockets
Background: This paper provides a simple and rapid method for a protein-clustering strategy. The basic idea implemented here is to use computational geometry methods to predict and characterize ligand-binding pockets of a given protein structure. In addition to geometrical characteristics of the protein structure, we consider some simple biochemical properties that help recognize the best candidates for pockets in a protein’s active site. Results: Our results are shown to produce good agreement with known empirical results. Conclusions: The method presented in this paper is a low-cost rapid computational method that could be used to classify proteins and other biomolecules, and furthermore could be useful in reducing the cost and time of drug discovery.
 2014-07-07T00:00:00Z Characterization of the SAM domain of the PKD-related protein ANKS6 and its interaction with ANKS3
Background: Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common genetic disorder leading to end-stage renal failure in humans. In the PKD/Mhm(cy/+) rat model of ADPKD, the point mutation R823W in the sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain of the protein ANKS6 is responsible for disease. SAM domains are known protein-protein interaction domains, capable of binding each other to form polymers and heterodimers. Despite its physiological importance, little is known about the function of ANKS6 and how the R823W point mutation leads to PKD. Recent work has revealed that ANKS6 interacts with a related protein called ANKS3. Both ANKS6 and ANKS3 have a similar domain structure, with ankyrin repeats at the N-terminus and a SAM domain at the C-terminus. Results: The SAM domain of ANKS3 is identified as a direct binding partner of the ANKS6 SAM domain. We find that ANKS3-SAM polymerizes and ANKS6-SAM can bind to one end of the polymer. We present crystal structures of both the ANKS3-SAM polymer and the ANKS3-SAM/ANKS6-SAM complex, revealing the molecular details of their association. We also learn how the R823W mutation disrupts ANKS6 function by dramatically destabilizing the SAM domain such that the interaction with ANKS3-SAM is lost. Conclusions: ANKS3 is a direct interacting partner of ANKS6. By structurally and biochemically characterizing the interaction between the ANKS3 and ANKS6 SAM domains, our work provides a basis for future investigation of how the interaction between these proteins mediates kidney function.
 2014-05-29T00:00:00Z High-resolution crystal structure of spin labelled (T21R1) azurin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: a challenging structural benchmark for in silico spin labelling algorithms
Background: EPR-based distance measurements between spin labels in proteins have become a valuable tool in structural biology. The direct translation of the experimental distances into structural information is however often impaired by the intrinsic flexibility of the spin labelled side chains. Different algorithms exist that predict the approximate conformation of the spin label either by using pre-computed rotamer libraries of the labelled side chain (rotamer approach) or by simply determining its accessible volume (accessible volume approach). Surprisingly, comparisons with many experimental distances have shown that both approaches deliver the same distance prediction accuracy of about 3 Å. Results: Here, instead of comparing predicted and experimental distances, we test the ability of both approaches to predict the actual conformations of spin labels found in a new high-resolution crystal structure of spin labelled azurin (T21R1). Inside the crystal, the label is found in two very different environments which serve as a challenging test for the in silico approaches. Conclusions: Our results illustrate why simple and more sophisticated programs lead to the same prediciton error. Thus, a more precise treatment of the complete environment of the label and also its interactions with the environment will be needed to increase the accuracy of in silico spin labelling algorithms.
 2014-05-23T00:00:00Z Sequence analysis on the information of folding initiation segments in ferredoxin-like fold proteins
Background: While some studies have shown that the 3D protein structures are more conservative than their amino acid sequences, other experimental studies have shown that even if two proteins share the same topology, they may have different folding pathways. There are many studies investigating this issue with molecular dynamics or Go-like model simulations, however, one should be able to obtain the same information by analyzing the proteins’ amino acid sequences, if the sequences contain all the information about the 3D structures. In this study, we use information about protein sequences to predict the location of their folding segments. We focus on proteins with a ferredoxin-like fold, which has a characteristic topology. Some of these proteins have different folding segments. Results: Despite the simplicity of our methods, we are able to correctly determine the experimentally identified folding segments by predicting the location of the compact regions considered to play an important role in structural formation. We also apply our sequence analyses to some homologues of each protein and confirm that there are highly conserved folding segments despite the homologues’ sequence diversity. These homologues have similar folding segments even though the homology of two proteins’ sequences is not so high. Conclusion: Our analyses have proven useful for investigating the common or different folding features of the proteins studied.
 2014-04-24T00:00:00Z High resolution structure of cleaved Serpin 42 Da from Drosophila melanogaster
Background: The Drosophila melanogaster Serpin 42 Da gene (previously Serpin 4) encodes a serine protease inhibitor that is capable of remarkable functional diversity through the alternative splicing of four different reactive centre loop exons. Eight protein isoforms of Serpin 42 Da have been identified to date, targeting the protease inhibitor to both different proteases and cellular locations. Biochemical and genetic studies suggest that Serpin 42 Da inhibits target proteases through the classical serpin ‘suicide’ inhibition mechanism, however the crystal structure of a representative Serpin 42 Da isoform remains to be determined. Results: We report two high-resolution crystal structures of Serpin 42 Da representing the A/B isoforms in the cleaved conformation, belonging to two different space-groups and diffracting to 1.7 Å and 1.8 Å. Structural analysis reveals the archetypal serpin fold, with the major elements of secondary structure displaying significant homology to the vertebrate serpin, neuroserpin. Key residues known to have central roles in the serpin inhibitory mechanism are conserved in both the hinge and shutter regions of Serpin 42 Da. Furthermore, these structures identify important conserved interactions that appear to be of crucial importance in allowing the Serpin 42 Da fold to act as a versatile template for multiple reactive centre loops that have different sequences and protease specificities. Conclusions: In combination with previous biochemical and genetic studies, these structures confirm for the first time that the Serpin 42 Da isoforms are typical inhibitory serpin family members with the conserved serpin fold and inhibitory mechanism. Additionally, these data reveal the remarkable structural plasticity of serpins, whereby the basic fold is harnessed as a template for inhibition of a large spectrum of proteases by reactive centre loop exon ‘switching’. This is the first structure of a Drosophila serpin reported to date, and will provide a platform for future mutational studies in Drosophila to ascertain the functional role of each of the Serpin 42 Da isoforms.
 2014-04-15T00:00:00Z Designing and evaluating the MULTICOM protein local and global model quality prediction methods in the CASP10 experiment
Background: Protein model quality assessment is an essential component of generating and using protein structural models. During the Tenth Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP10), we developed and tested four automated methods (MULTICOM-REFINE, MULTICOM-CLUSTER, MULTICOM-NOVEL, and MULTICOM-CONSTRUCT) that predicted both local and global quality of protein structural models. Results: MULTICOM-REFINE was a clustering approach that used the average pairwise structural similarity between models to measure the global quality and the average Euclidean distance between a model and several top ranked models to measure the local quality. MULTICOM-CLUSTER and MULTICOM-NOVEL were two new support vector machine-based methods of predicting both the local and global quality of a single protein model. MULTICOM-CONSTRUCT was a new weighted pairwise model comparison (clustering) method that used the weighted average similarity between models in a pool to measure the global model quality. Our experiments showed that the pairwise model assessment methods worked better when a large portion of models in the pool were of good quality, whereas single-model quality assessment methods performed better on some hard targets when only a small portion of models in the pool were of reasonable quality. Conclusions: Since digging out a few good models from a large pool of low-quality models is a major challenge in protein structure prediction, single model quality assessment methods appear to be poised to make important contributions to protein structure modeling. The other interesting finding was that single-model quality assessment scores could be used to weight the models by the consensus pairwise model comparison method to improve its accuracy.
 2014-03-27T00:00:00Z Crystal structure of an engineered YopM-InlB hybrid protein
Background: The multi-domain protein InlB (internalin B) from Listeria monocytogenes is an agonist of the human receptor tyrosine kinase MET. Only the internalin domain directly interacts with MET. The internalin domain consists of seven central leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) flanked by an N-terminal helical cap domain and a C-terminal immunoglobulin-like structure. A potential function of the N-terminal cap in receptor binding could so far not be demonstrated by deleting the cap, since the cap is also implicated in nucleating folding of the LRR domain. Results: We generated an InlB variant (YopM-InlB) in which the InlB cap domain was replaced by the unrelated N-terminal capping structure of the LRR protein YopM from Yersinia enterocolitica. The crystal structure of the engineered protein shows that it folds properly. Because the first LRR is structurally closely linked to the cap domain, we exchanged LRR1 along with the cap domain. This resulted in unexpected structural changes extending to LRR2 and LRR3, which are deeply involved in MET binding. As a consequence, the binding of YopM-InlB to MET was substantially weaker than that of wild type InlB. The engineered protein was about one order of magnitude less active in colony scatter assays than wild type InlB. Conclusions: We obtained a well-behaved InlB variant with an altered N-terminal capping structure through protein design. The reduced affinity for MET precludes a straightforward interpretation of the results from cell-based assays. Still, the engineered hybrid protein induced cell scatter, suggesting that the cap is required for folding and stability of InlB but is not essential for interactions that assemble the signalling-active receptor complex. The cap swap approach described here is clearly applicable to other L. monocytogenes internalins and other LRR proteins such as YopM and may yield useful structure/function correlates within this protein family.
 2014-03-19T00:00:00Z A Sco protein among the hypothetical proteins of Bacillus lehensis G1: Its 3D macromolecular structure and association with Cytochrome C Oxidase
Background: At least a quarter of any complete genome encodes for hypothetical proteins (HPs) which are largely non-similar to other known, well-characterized proteins. Predicting and solving their structures and functions is imperative to aid understanding of any given organism as a complete biological system. The present study highlights the primary effort to classify and cluster 1202 HPs of Bacillus lehensis G1 alkaliphile to serve as a platform to mine and select specific HP(s) to be studied further in greater detail. Results: All HPs of B. lehensis G1 were grouped according to their predicted functions based on the presence of functional domains in their sequences. From the metal-binding group of HPs of the cluster, an HP termed Bleg1_2507 was discovered to contain a thioredoxin (Trx) domain and highly-conserved metal-binding ligands represented by Cys69, Cys73 and His159, similar to all prokaryotic and eukaryotic Sco proteins. The built 3D structure of Bleg1_2507 showed that it shared the βαβαββ core structure of Trx-like proteins as well as three flanking β-sheets, a 310 –helix at the N-terminus and a hairpin structure unique to Sco proteins. Docking simulations provided an interesting view of Bleg1_2507 in association with its putative cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (COXII) redox partner, Bleg1_2337, where the latter can be seen to hold its partner in an embrace, facilitated by hydrophobic and ionic interactions between the proteins. Although Bleg1_2507 shares relatively low sequence identity (47%) to BsSco, interestingly, the predicted metal-binding residues of Bleg1_2507 i.e. Cys-69, Cys-73 and His-159 were located at flexible active loops similar to other Sco proteins across biological taxa. This highlights structural conservation of Sco despite their various functions in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Conclusions: We propose that HP Bleg1_2507 is a Sco protein which is able to interact with COXII, its redox partner and therefore, may possess metallochaperone and redox functions similar to other documented bacterial Sco proteins. It is hoped that this scientific effort will help to spur the search for other physiologically relevant proteins among the so-called “orphan” proteins of any given organism.


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BMC Bioinformatics - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-09-30T00:00:00Z MAE-FMD: Multi-agent evolutionary method for functional module detection in protein-protein interaction networks
Background: Studies of functional modules in a Protein-Protein Interaction (PPI) network contribute greatly to theunderstanding of biological mechanisms. With the development of computing science,computational approaches have played an important role in detecting functional modules. Results: We present a new approach using multi-agent evolution for detection of functional modules in PPInetworks. The proposed approach consists of two stages: the solution construction for agents in apopulation and the evolutionary process of computational agents in a lattice environment, where eachagent corresponds to a candidate solution to the detection problem of functional modules in a PPInetwork. First, the approach utilizes a connection-based encoding scheme to model an agent, andemploys a random-walk behavior merged topological characteristics with functional information toconstruct a solution. Next, it applies several evolutionary operators, i. e., competition, crossover, andmutation, to realize information exchange among agents as well as solution evolution. Systematicexperiments have been conducted on three benchmark testing sets of yeast networks. Experimentalresults show that the approach is more effective compared to several other existing algorithms. Conclusions: The algorithm has the characteristics of outstanding recall, F-measure, sensitivity and accuracy whilekeeping other competitive performances, so it can be applied to the biological study which requireshigh accuracy.


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BMC Genomics - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-10-01T00:00:00Z Integrated analysis of miRNA and mRNA expression profiles in response to Cd exposure in rice seedlings
Background: Independent transcriptome profile analyses of miRNAs or mRNAs under conditions of cadmium (Cd) stress have been widely reported in plants. However, a combined analysis of sRNA sequencing expression data with miRNA target expression data to infer the relative activities of miRNAs that regulate gene expression changes resulting from Cd stress has not been reported in rice. To elucidate the roles played by miRNAs in the regulation of changes in gene expression in response to Cd stress in rice (Oryza sativa L.), we simultaneously characterized changes in the miRNA and mRNA profiles following treatment with Cd. Results: A total of 163 miRNAs and 2,574 mRNAs were identified to be differentially expressed under Cd stress, and the changes in the gene expression profile in the shoot were distinct from those in the root. At the miRNA level, 141 known miRNAs belonging to 48 families, and 39 known miRNAs in 23 families were identified to be differentially expressed in the root and shoot, respectively. In addition, we identified eight new miRNA candidates from the root and five from the shoot that were differentially expressed in response to Cd treatment. For the mRNAs, we identified 1,044 genes in the root and 448 genes in the shoot that were up-regulated, while 572 and 645 genes were down-regulated in the root and shoot, respectively. GO and KEGG enrichment analyses showed that genes encoding secondary, metabolite synthases, signaling molecules, and ABC transporters were significantly enriched in the root, while only ribosomal protein and carotenoid biosynthesis genes were significantly enriched in the shoot. Then 10 known miRNA-mRNA interaction pairs and six new candidate ones, that showed the opposite expression patterns, were identified by aligning our two datasets against online databases and by using the UEA sRNA toolkit respectively. Conclusions: This study is the first to use high throughput DNA sequencing to simultaneously detect changes in miRNA and mRNA expression patterns in the root and shoot in response to Cd treatment. These integrated high-throughput expression data provide a valuable resource to examine global genome expression changes in response to Cd treatment and how these are regulated by miRNAs.


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BMC Biochemistry - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-09-10T00:00:00Z Importance of extended protease substrate recognition motifs in steering BNIP-2 cleavage by human and mouse granzymes B
Background: Previous screening of the substrate repertoires and substrate specificity profiles of granzymes resulted in long substrate lists highly likely containing bystander substrates. Here, a recently developed degradomics technology that allows distinguishing efficiently from less efficiently cleaved substrates was applied to study the degradome of mouse granzyme B (mGrB). Results: In vitro kinetic degradome analysis resulted in the identification of 37 mGrB cleavage events, 9 of which could be assigned as efficiently targeted ones. Previously, cleavage at the IEAD75 tetrapeptide motif of Bid was shown to be efficiently and exclusively targeted by human granzyme B (hGrB) and thus not by mGrB. Strikingly, and despite holding an identical P4-P1 human Bid (hBid) cleavage motif, mGrB was shown to efficiently cleave the BCL2/adenovirus E1B 19 kDa protein-interacting protein 2 or BNIP-2 at IEAD28. Like Bid, BNIP-2 represents a pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein family member and a potential regulator of GrB induced cell death. Next, in vitro analyses demonstrated the increased efficiency of human and mouse BNIP-2 cleavage by mGrB as compared to hGrB indicative for differing Bid/BNIP-2 substrate traits beyond the P4-P1 IEAD cleavage motif influencing cleavage efficiency. Murinisation of differential primed site residues in hBNIP-2 revealed that, although all contributing, a single mutation at the P3′ position was found to significantly increase the mGrB/hGrB cleavage ratio, whereas mutating the P1′ position from I29 > T yielded a 4-fold increase in mGrB cleavage efficiency. Finally, mutagenesis analyses revealed the composite BNIP-2 precursor patterns to be the result of alternative translation initiation at near-cognate start sites within the 5′ leader sequence (5′UTR) of BNIP-2. Conclusions: Despite their high sequence similarity, and previously explained by their distinct tetrapeptide specificities observed, the substrate repertoires of mouse and human granzymes B only partially overlap. Here, we show that the substrate sequence context beyond the P4-P1 positions can influence orthologous granzyme B cleavage efficiencies to an unmatched extent. More specifically, in BNIP-2, the identical and hGrB optimal IEAD tetrapeptide substrate motif is targeted highly efficiently by mGrB, while this tetrapeptide motif is refractory towards mGrB cleavage in Bid.


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Nature   [more] [xml]
 2005-01-19 Einstein is dead
Until its next revolution, much of the glory of physics will be in engineering. It is a shame that the physicists who do so much of it keep so quiet about it.

Einstein is dead

Nature 433, 179 (2005). doi:10.1038/433179a

Until its next revolution, much of the glory of physics will be in engineering. It is a shame that the physicists who do so much of it keep so quiet about it.



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Science: Current Issue   [more] [xml]
 2014-09-26 [Editorial] The drought you can't see
The Western Hemisphere is experiencing a drought of crisis proportions. In Central America, crops are failing, millions are in danger of starvation, and if the drought doesn't break soon, even vessels transiting the Panama Canal will need to lighten their loads, which will increase prices for goods transported globally. In the western United States, the drought-stricken region spans a vast area responsible for much of the nation's fruits, vegetables, and beef. As the drought's grip has tightened, water users have turned to tapping groundwater aquifers to make up the deficit for people, crops, livestock, and industry. But even when the rain does return, regreening the landscape and filling again the streams, lakes, and reservoirs, those aquifers will remain severely depleted. It is this underground drought we can't see that is enduring, worrisome, and in need of attention. Author: Marcia McNutt

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