Scientific Watch N°16 - From 11/21/2015 to 12/04/2015

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2015-N°16 from 11/21/2015 to 12/04/2015]

From 11/07/2015 to 11/20/2015

Editors :

Gabriel BENET, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Julie METTA, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Justin MONIER, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Isabelle SAVES, Attachée for Scientific & Academic Affairs - Hong Kong

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- “Climate change and human development: from research to solutions”

The purpose of the multidisciplinary research conducted by IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) in over 25 countries is to build the capacity of the southern countries’ higher education and research communities so that they can play an active and visible part in the international scientific mobilisation relating to climate change.This document provides several examples in a variety of domains such as risk prevention or conservation of biodiversity. More importantly, it illustrates how this research also promotes the implementation of innovative projects, operational methods and decision-making aid tools which assist these countries in their fight for sustainable development.

Published on the "IRD" website on November 20, 2015 Source

1.2- 4 parts for 1000, soils for food security and climate

The world soil contains 2 to 3 times more carbon than the atmosphere. Increasing this storage of carbon by 4 parts for 1000 in the top 30 or 40 cm of the soil could stop the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
This would contribute not only in stabilizing the climate, but also to ensuring food security. Under the 4 parts for 1000 initiative, researchers are coming together with farmers, associations, economic stakeholders, regions and countries, for the purpose of food security and climate.

Published on the "IRD" website on November 26, 2015 Source

1.3- 60 successful research projects to tackle climate change

To coincide with the COP21, the 28 organization members of AllEnvi (National alliance for environmental research) published a special book. This collection of 64 pages is presenting scientific success stories on climate change, its consequences and how to implement mitigation and adaptation solutions. It demonstrates the remarkable mobilization of French researchers to cope with climate changes.

Published on the "Allenvi" website, on the November 18, 2015 Source

1.4- The biggest european photovoltaïc plant inaugurated in France

In Cestas (Gironde), about 20 km south of Bordeaux, more than a half of million solar panels were inaugurated on the 1st of December 2015. This is the biggest european solar photovoltaic system spread on 260 hectares. This gigantic project, owns by Neoen, will form the largest solar power plant in Europe. The plant will have a capacity of 300 megawatts (MW) and will produce 350 gigawatts / hour, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Bordeaux (300 000 inhabitants). This electricity will be sent to EDF at 105€ (861 HKD) per megawatt hour, a price lower than French nuclear energy.

Published on the "Les Echos" website, on the November 30, 2015 Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- Researchers reveal complex mechanism used by bacteria to synthesize antibiotics

Bacteria use hitherto-undescribed pathways and a newly discovered enzyme family to synthesize complex antibiotics from simple amino acids. These are the surprising results of a collaborative study recently published in Nature Communications that was carried out by Inra (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) researchers and their colleagues at the University of Michigan.This discovery has pharmacological implications, namely because it could help scientists design new antibiotics.

Published on the "Inra" website on November 27, 2015 Source

2.2- Inra works on antiparasitic drugs long-term use in animals

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 - awarded to Dr William C. Campbell from Ireland and Dr Satoshi Ōmura from Japan - honours an approach to developing antiparasitic drugs based on natural substances found in bacteria and plants in the 1970s. and at the same time, on the same subject (antiparasitic drugs based on natural substances), INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) has made significant contributions over the past thirty years alongside its research partners and the pharmaceutical industry to guide the responsible use of these medicines.

Published on "Inra" website on November 10, 2015 Source

2.3- New cases of H5N1 avian flu detected in Dordogne, France

Two new cases of avian flu have been detected in poultry farm in Dordogne (South-West of France). It has been announced by the French Ministry of Agriculture on November 30, 2015 as controls were carried out through a national plan for health emergency response after a first case of H5N1 influenza was detected on November 24. It is the first detection of H5N1 in France since 2007. The virus is highly pathogenic to poultry and the French food and health-safety agency (ANSES) is now sequencing the viral genome. In order to limit the propagation to other farms, the Ministry of Agriculture is currently proceeding to slaughter the animals in affected farms and has decided to set up biosecurity measures in the whole department of Dordogne. The origin of contamination has not been determined yet.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced on November 26 that in view of a notification from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) about an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in Dordogne Department, France, it has banned the import of poultry meat and products (including poultry eggs) from the area concerned with immediate effect to protect public health in Hong Kong.

Report of the French Ministry of Agriculture (in French), November 30, 2015 Source

Published on the "HK Governement" website on November 26, 2015 Source

2.4- The epigenomic landscape of African rainforest hunter-gatherers and farmers

Thanks to the genetic study of the populations of Pygmy, researchers from the Institut Pasteur and CNRS, in collaboration with French and international teams*, showed for the first time that our lifestyle can influence our epigenome (the whole system which controls the expression of our genes) without affecting the sequence.This study was published in the journal Nature Communications November 30, 2015.
*The “Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle”, INRA, universities of Colombie Britannique, of Lyon, of Yaoundé, of Libreville, of Pennsylvania and of Montreal.

Published on the "CNRS" website on November 30, 2015 Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- CNRS, the new international website for scientific information

The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) is launching a new scientific information website for the general public called This is roughly the English version of the current journal Both sites are sharing approximately the same contents but in different langages.

Please, discover the on the following link

Published on the "CNRS" website on November 25, 2015 Source

3.2- The CNRS tops international rankings

Present in all fields of knowledge, the CNRS features among the world’s leading research organizations. Among other rankings, for the fifth consecutive year, the CNRS features among the world’s 100 leading innovators, according to the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators list 2015.

Published on CNRS website on October 19, 2015. Source

3.3- Antiviral immunity in marine molluscs

A recent study, led by a research team from University of Montpellier, CNRS, University of Perpignan, Ifremer and The « Host-Pathogen-Environment Interactions » laboratory
(IHPE), on marine molluscs constantly exposed to viruses, proves that an interferon-like response and autophagy are involved in the antiviral defence of bivalves to viral infection. Multifunctional plasma proteins from gastropods and bivalves have been identified to have broad spectrum antiviral activity against mammalian viruses.

Published on "Ifremer" website on November 27, 2015. Source

3.4- The variability of legume crop yields in Europe and America

Despite their agronomic value, legumes are cultivated much less in Europe than in America. INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) scientists in Versailles-Grignon have demonstrated that crop yields vary more in Europe than in America, and have thus contributed to identifying the legume species and regions most favourable to their development in our part of the world.

Published on "Inra" website on November 18, 2015. Source

3.5- LISA Pathfinder : a step toward gravitational wave detection

ISA Pathfinder satellite, whose development has involved the contribution of the Astroparticle and Cosmology laboratory (operated jointly by the CNRS, University Paris Diderot, CEA and Observatoire de Paris). It will showcase the ambitious LISA mission, a series of three satellites designed for gravitational wave detection.

Published on "CNRS" website on December 1, 2015. Source

3.6- High Performance Computing, an essential tool for climate research

For modeling, understanding and measuring climate changes and the complex phenomena which drive them, research teams need to access highly performing computing resources. GENCI (Grand equipement national de calcul intensif) helps French climate research teams by giving them access access to a dedicated HPC (High Performance Computing) and to the national computing resources but also by specifically addressing their needs. For CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Phase Project 6), which will take place mainly between 2016 and 2018, the researchers intend to go even further. Slightly more than 300 million core hours (corresponding to the computing capacity of a desktop computer during nearly 9 000 years) will be reserved for them on the resources of GENCI that are operated at TGGC (Très Grand Centre de Calculs) and at Idris (Institut du développement et des ressources en informatique scientifique), the HPC center of CNRS, for achieving their studies; and a tailor-sized storage will be set up in 2016 for the 14 petabytes of useful data which should be produced until 2018.

Published on "Genci" website on November 30, 2015. Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- A promising new prototype of battery

A French team, including researchers from the CNRS and CEA within the RS2E network on electrochemical energy storage (Réseau sur le stockage électrochimique de l’énergie) have just designed an alternative technology to Li-ion for application in specific sectors.

The main advantage of the prototype is that it relies on sodium, an element far more abundant and less costly than lithium. The batteries have displayed performance levels comparable to their lithium counterparts, and this new technology is already attracting industrial interest. It could be used to store renewable energies in the future.

Published on "CNRS" website on November 27, 2015. Source

4.2- NanoCar Race, the first-ever race of molecule-cars

Five teams have presented their car prototype during the first-ever international race of molecule-cars on November 27, 2015 - in Toulouse. These cars, which only measure a few nanometers in length and are propelled by an electric current, are scheduled to compete on a gold atom surface next year. Participants will be able to synthesize and test their molecule-car until October 2016 prior to taking part in the NanoCar Race organized at the CNRS Centre d’élaboration des matériaux et d’études structurales (CEMES) by Christian Joachim, senior researcher at the CNRS and Gwénaël Rapenne, professor at Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier, with the support of the CNRS.

Published on "CNRS" website on November 27, 2015. Source

publié le 17/12/2015

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