Expectant mothers may now have a new reason to worry about bisphenol-A (BPA), a common component of hard plastics. In the FASEB Journal, School of Medicine reproductive biologist Hugh S. Taylor ’83 and colleagues reported that in mice, BPA exposure during pregnancy resulted in female offspring with permanently altered DNA, infertility, and an increased sensitivity to estrogen, which has been linked to the development of cancers.


Flowering plants, thought to have emerged between 140 million and 190 million years ago, may have appeared much earlier. Using a new molecular technique, a team led by botanist Michael Donoghue tracked several genes in 154 modern land plants and placed the origin of angiosperms at around 215 million years ago. The analysis, published in PNAS, suggests that flowering plants were contemporaries of early bees, ants, and butterflies in the Triassic period.


Young women are gaining on their male counterparts in a disturbing category: the percentage involved in alcohol-related fatal car accidents. In Injury Prevention, emergency medicine researcher Federico E. Vaca and his colleagues report that between 1995 and 2007, the number of women aged 16 to 24 involved in such crashes rose by 3.1 percent; among men that age, the increase was 1.2 percent. Overall, young men are still far ahead, involved in more than 85 percent of crashes during the period.


Geophysicist Christopher Brierly and a research team have used an analysis of the earth’s climate three million to five million years ago to predict the possible effects of global warming. The world then—warmer by 3.6 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit—was characterized by a cycle of stronger and more frequent hurricanes and typhoons. In Nature, the team forecasts that a similar pattern could develop if average global temperatures keep increasing.  

The comment period has expired.