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  1. Hasani A, Moghavvemi S, Hamzah A
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157624.
    PMID: 27341569 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157624
    In many countries, especially one such as Malaysia, tourism has become a key factor in economic development, and the industry heavily relies on feedback from local residents. It is essential to observe and examine the perceptions of residents towards tourists and tourism development for better planning in realizing successful and sustainable tourism development. Therefore, this research measured the relationship between residents' welcoming nature, emotional closeness, and sympathetic understanding (emotional solidarity) towards tourists and their respective attitudes towards supporting tourism development. To test the proposed research model, we collected data using a questionnaire survey from 333 residents in rural areas in Malaysia. We used the structural equation modelling technique (Amos) to evaluate the research model, and the results revealed that the residents' willingness (welcoming nature) to accept tourists is the strongest factor that effects the residents' attitudes towards supporting tourism development. However, there was no significant relationship between residents' emotional closeness and their sympathetic understanding towards tourists with their attitude and support towards tourism development. Welcoming nature, emotional closeness, and sympathetic understanding are able to predict 48% of residents' attitudes towards tourism development and 62% of their support towards tourism development.
  2. Ghane Kisomi M, Wong LP, Tay ST, Bulgiba A, Zandi K, Kho KL, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157987.
    PMID: 27341678 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157987
    BACKGROUND: Farmworkers are at high-risk for tick bites, which potentially transmit various tick-borne diseases. Previous studies show that personal prevention against tick bites is key, and certain factors namely, knowledge, experience of tick bites, and health beliefs influence compliance with tick bites preventive behaviour. This study aimed to assess these factors and their associations with tick bite preventive practices among Malaysian farmworkers.

    METHODS: A total of eight cattle, goat and sheep farms in six states in Peninsular Malaysia participated in a cross-sectional survey between August and October 2013.

    RESULTS: A total of 151 (72.2%) out of 209 farmworkers answered the questionnaire. More than half of the farmworkers (n = 91) reported an experience of tick bites. Farms with monthly acaricide treatment had significantly (P<0.05) a low report of tick bites. Tick bite exposure rates did not differ significantly among field workers and administrative workers. The mean total knowledge score of ticks for the overall farmworkers was 13.6 (SD±3.2) from 20. The mean total tick bite preventive practices score for all farmworkers was 8.3 (SD±3.1) from 15. Fixed effect model showed the effects of four factors on tick bite prevention: (1) farms, (2) job categories (administrative workers vs. field workers), (3) perceived severity of tick bites, and (4) perceived barriers to tick bite prevention.

    CONCLUSIONS: A high proportion of farmworkers, including administrative workers, reported an experience of tick bites. The effectiveness of monthly acaricide treatment was declared by low reports of tick bites on these farms. Tick bite preventive practices were insufficient, particularly in certain farms and for administrative workers. Our findings emphasise the need to have education programmes for all farmworkers and targeting farms with low prevention practices. Education and health programmes should increase the perception of the risk of tick bites and remove perceived barriers of tick bite prevention.

  3. Liew SM, Khoo EM, Ho BK, Lee YK, Omar M, Ayadurai V, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157631.
    PMID: 27336440 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157631
    BACKGROUND: The increasing incidence and geographical distribution of dengue has had significant impact on global healthcare services and resources. This study aimed to determine the factors associated with dengue-related mortality in a cohort of Malaysian patients.

    METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients in the Malaysian National Dengue Registry of 2013. The outcome measure was dengue-related mortality. Associations between sociodemographic and clinical variables with the outcome were analysed using multivariate analysis.

    RESULTS: There were 43 347 cases of which 13081 were serologically confirmed. The mean age was 30.0 years (SD 15.7); 60.2% were male. The incidence of dengue increased towards the later part of the calendar year. There were 92 probable dengue mortalities, of which 41 were serologically confirmed. Multivariate analysis in those with positive serology showed that increasing age (OR 1.03; CI:1.01-1.05), persistent vomiting (OR 13.34; CI: 1.92-92.95), bleeding (OR 5.84; CI 2.17-15.70) and severe plasma leakage (OR 66.68; CI: 9.13-487.23) were associated with mortality. Factors associated with probable dengue mortality were increasing age (OR 1.04; CI:1.03-1.06), female gender (OR 1.53; CI:1.01-2.33), nausea and/or vomiting (OR 1.80; CI:1.17-2.77), bleeding (OR 3.01; CI:1.29-7.04), lethargy and/or restlessness (OR 5.97; CI:2.26-15.78), severe plasma leakage (OR 14.72; CI:1.54-140.70), and shock (OR 1805.37; CI:125.44-25982.98), in the overall study population.

    CONCLUSIONS: Older persons and those with persistent vomiting, bleeding or severe plasma leakage, which were associated with mortality, at notification should be monitored closely and referred early if indicated. Doctors and primary care practitioners need to detect patients with dengue early before they develop these severe signs and symptoms.

  4. Cai Lian T, Bonn G, Si Han Y, Chin Choo Y, Chee Piau W
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157730.
    PMID: 27332883 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157730
    Obesity and rates of non-communicable diseases linked to physical inactivity have increased dramatically in Malaysia over the past 20 years. Malaysia has also been identified as one of the least physically active countries in the world with over 60% of adults being essentially sedentary. This study examines the relationship of socio-demographic factors to physical activity among 770 adults from 3 Malaysian states. Physical activity levels were significantly related to ethnicity, gender, age, occupation and educational level. Controlling for inter-relationships among these variables; age, gender, Chinese ethnicity and education level were found to have unique effects on total physical activity, as well as moderate and vigorous exercise. As would be expected, younger people were more physically active, engaging more in both moderate and vigorous types of exercise and males were generally more active than females. Contrary to findings from many developed countries, however, more educated Malaysians were less likely to engage in all types of physical activity. Ethnic Chinese participants, and to a lesser degree Indians also consistently reported lower levels of activity. Possible intervention strategies are discussed that specifically target ethnic and cultural norms related to physical activity. Future research programs exploring barriers to participation and perceptions of physical activity, as well as programs to encourage active life styles among youths are also suggested.
  5. Hora B, Keating SM, Chen Y, Sanchez AM, Sabino E, Hunt G, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157340.
    PMID: 27314585 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157340
    HIV-1 subtypes and drug resistance are routinely tested by many international surveillance groups. However, results from different sites often vary. A systematic comparison of results from multiple sites is needed to determine whether a standardized protocol is required for consistent and accurate data analysis. A panel of well-characterized HIV-1 isolates (N = 50) from the External Quality Assurance Program Oversight Laboratory (EQAPOL) was assembled for evaluation at seven international sites. This virus panel included seven subtypes, six circulating recombinant forms (CRFs), nine unique recombinant forms (URFs) and three group O viruses. Seven viruses contained 10 major drug resistance mutations (DRMs). HIV-1 isolates were prepared at a concentration of 107 copies/ml and compiled into blinded panels. Subtypes and DRMs were determined with partial or full pol gene sequences by conventional Sanger sequencing and/or Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). Subtype and DRM results were reported and decoded for comparison with full-length genome sequences generated by EQAPOL. The partial pol gene was amplified by RT-PCR and sequenced for 89.4%-100% of group M viruses at six sites. Subtyping results of majority of the viruses (83%-97.9%) were correctly determined for the partial pol sequences. All 10 major DRMs in seven isolates were detected at these six sites. The complete pol gene sequence was also obtained by NGS at one site. However, this method missed six group M viruses and sequences contained host chromosome fragments. Three group O viruses were only characterized with additional group O-specific RT-PCR primers employed by one site. These results indicate that PCR protocols and subtyping tools should be standardized to efficiently amplify diverse viruses and more consistently assign virus genotypes, which is critical for accurate global subtype and drug resistance surveillance. Targeted NGS analysis of partial pol sequences can serve as an alternative approach, especially for detection of low-abundance DRMs.
  6. Liew KJ, Ramli A, Abd Majid A
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156724.
    PMID: 27315105 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156724
    This paper examines the application of a bootstrap test error estimation of radial basis functions, specifically thin-plate spline fitting, in surface smoothing. The presence of noisy data is a common issue of the point set model that is generated from 3D scanning devices, and hence, point set denoising is one of the main concerns in point set modelling. Bootstrap test error estimation, which is applied when searching for the smoothing parameters of radial basis functions, is revisited. The main contribution of this paper is a smoothing algorithm that relies on a bootstrap-based radial basis function. The proposed method incorporates a k-nearest neighbour search and then projects the point set to the approximated thin-plate spline surface. Therefore, the denoising process is achieved, and the features are well preserved. A comparison of the proposed method with other smoothing methods is also carried out in this study.
  7. Velusamy P, Su CH, Venkat Kumar G, Adhikary S, Pandian K, Gopinath SC, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157612.
    PMID: 27304672 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157612
    In the current study, facile synthesis of carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and sodium alginate capped silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) was examined using microwave radiation and aniline as a reducing agent. The biopolymer matrix embedded nanoparticles were synthesized under various experimental conditions using different concentrations of biopolymer (0.5, 1, 1.5, 2%), volumes of reducing agent (50, 100, 150 μL), and duration of heat treatment (30 s to 240 s). The synthesized nanoparticles were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy, UV-Vis spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy for identification of AgNPs synthesis, crystal nature, shape, size, and type of capping action. In addition, the significant antibacterial efficacy and antibiofilm activity of biopolymer capped AgNPs were demonstrated against different bacterial strains, Staphylococcus aureus MTCC 740 and Escherichia coli MTCC 9492. These results confirmed the potential for production of biopolymer capped AgNPs grown under microwave irradiation, which can be used for industrial and biomedical applications.
  8. N Ahmed M, Abdullah AH, Kaiwartya O
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156885.
    PMID: 27285146 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156885
    Due to the continuous advancements in wireless communication in terms of quality of communication and affordability of the technology, the application area of Mobile Adhoc Networks (MANETs) significantly growing particularly in military and disaster management. Considering the sensitivity of the application areas, security in terms of detection of Denial of Service (DoS) and intrusion has become prime concern in research and development in the area. The security systems suggested in the past has state recognition problem where the system is not able to accurately identify the actual state of the network nodes due to the absence of clear definition of states of the nodes. In this context, this paper proposes a framework based on Finite State Machine (FSM) for denial of service and intrusion detection in MANETs. In particular, an Interruption Detection system for Adhoc On-demand Distance Vector (ID-AODV) protocol is presented based on finite state machine. The packet dropping and sequence number attacks are closely investigated and detection systems for both types of attacks are designed. The major functional modules of ID-AODV includes network monitoring system, finite state machine and attack detection model. Simulations are carried out in network simulator NS-2 to evaluate the performance of the proposed framework. A comparative evaluation of the performance is also performed with the state-of-the-art techniques: RIDAN and AODV. The performance evaluations attest the benefits of proposed framework in terms of providing better security for denial of service and intrusion detection attacks.
  9. Abdul Manaf MR, Mustafa M, Abdul Rahman MR, Yusof KH, Abd Aziz NA
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156937.
    PMID: 27280529 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156937
    BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Mental health problems are common in old age, but frequently remain undetected and untreated. Mental health problems in the elderly are the result of a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of mental health problems (depression, anxiety, and emotional stress) and their associated factors among the Malay elderly in a rural community of Perak, Malaysia.

    METHODS: It was a cross-sectional study. The Malay elderly aged 60 years and above were selected through convenient sampling to give a total of 230 respondents. The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) was used to assess the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Bivariate analyses were performed using chi-square tests and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between the factors and each of the mental health statuses assessed.

    RESULTS: The results showed that the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress among the elderly respondents was 27.8%, 22.6%, and 8.7%, respectively. The significant factors for depression were single elderly (Adjusted OR = 3.27, 95%CI 1.66, 6.44), living with family (Adjusted OR = 4.98, 95%CI 2.05, 12.10), and poor general health status (Adjusted OR = 2.28, 95%CI 1.20, 4.36). Living with family was the only significant factor for anxiety (Adjusted OR = 2.68, 95%CI 1.09, 6.57). There was no significant factor for stress.

    CONCLUSIONS: Depression and anxiety among the Malay elderly in the rural community were very worrying. More equity in health should be created or strengthened in order to intensify the opportunity to identify, diagnose, and treat those with mental health problems. Living arrangement in the rural community was an important factor that had influenced depression and anxiety. Therefore, further research is recommended for more comprehensive information, as a result of which appropriate intervention can be made.

  10. Liew TS, Schilthuizen M
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157069.
    PMID: 27280463 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157069
    Quantitative analysis of organismal form is an important component for almost every branch of biology. Although generally considered an easily-measurable structure, the quantification of gastropod shell form is still a challenge because many shells lack homologous structures and have a spiral form that is difficult to capture with linear measurements. In view of this, we adopt the idea of theoretical modelling of shell form, in which the shell form is the product of aperture ontogeny profiles in terms of aperture growth trajectory that is quantified as curvature and torsion, and of aperture form that is represented by size and shape. We develop a workflow for the analysis of shell forms based on the aperture ontogeny profile, starting from the procedure of data preparation (retopologising the shell model), via data acquisition (calculation of aperture growth trajectory, aperture form and ontogeny axis), and data presentation (qualitative comparison between shell forms) and ending with data analysis (quantitative comparison between shell forms). We evaluate our methods on representative shells of the genera Opisthostoma and Plectostoma, which exhibit great variability in shell form. The outcome suggests that our method is a robust, reproducible, and versatile approach for the analysis of shell form. Finally, we propose several potential applications of our methods in functional morphology, theoretical modelling, taxonomy, and evolutionary biology.
  11. Nazarbahjat N, Kadir FA, Ariffin A, Abdulla MA, Abdullah Z, Yehye WA
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156022.
    PMID: 27272221 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156022
    A series of new 2-(ethylthio)benzohydrazone derivatives (1-6) were prepared and characterised by IR, 1H NMR, and 13C NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. The newly prepared compounds were screened for their in vitro antioxidant activities using free radical scavenging 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assays. Among them, most powerful antioxidant, compound 1 has been selected in order to illustrate anti-ulcer effect on ethanol-induced gastric mucosal lesions in rats. Four groups of Sprague Dawley rats were respectively treated with 10% Tween 20 as ulcer control group, 20 mg/kg omeprazole as reference group, 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg compound 1 as experimental animals. Macroscopically, ulcer control group showed extensive hemorrhagic lesions of gastric mucosa compared with omeprazole or compound 1. Rats pre-treated with compound 1 showed increased in gastric pH and gastric mucus. Histologically, ulcer control group showed severe damage to gastric mucosa with edema and leucocytes infiltration of submucosal layer. In immunohistochemical analysis, rats which were pre-treated with compound 1 showed up-regulation of HSP70 and down-regulation of Bax proteins. In conclusion, the gastroprotective effect of compound 1 may be due to its antioxidant activity, and/or due to up-regulation of HSP70 and down-regulation of Bax protein in stained tissue section.
  12. Fransen HP, Peeters PH, Beulens JW, Boer JM, de Wit GA, Onland-Moret NC, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0156609.
    PMID: 27244088 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156609
    BACKGROUND: A healthy diet is important for normal growth and development. Exposure to undernutrition during important developmental periods such as childhood and adolescence can have effects later in life. Inhabitants of the west of the Netherlands were exposed to severe undernutrition during the famine in the last winter of the second World War (1944-1945).

    OBJECTIVE: We investigated if exposure of women to the Dutch famine during childhood and adolescence was associated with an unhealthy lifestyle later in life.

    DESIGN: We studied 7,525 women from the Prospect-EPIC cohort, recruited in 1993-97 and aged 0-18 years during the Dutch famine. An individual famine score was calculated based on self-reported information about experience of hunger and weight loss. We investigated the association between famine exposure in early life and four lifestyle factors in adulthood: smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity level and a Mediterranean-style diet.

    RESULTS: Of the 7,525 included women, 46% were unexposed, 38% moderately exposed and 16% severely exposed to the Dutch famine. Moderately and severely exposed women were more often former or current smokers compared to women that did not suffer from the famine: adjusted prevalence ratio 1.10 (95% CI: 1.05; 1.14) and 1.18 (1.12; 1.25), respectively. They also smoked more pack years than unexposed women. Severely exposed women were more often physically inactive than unexposed women, adjusted prevalence ratio 1.32 (1.06; 1.64). Results did not differ between exposure age categories (0-9 and 10-17 years). We found no associations of famine exposure with alcohol consumption and no dose-dependent relations with diet.

    CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to famine early in female life may be associated with higher prevalence of smoking and physical inactivity later in life, but not with unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption.

  13. Heinrichs J, Scheben A, Bechteler J, Lee GE, Schäfer-Verwimp A, Hedenäs L, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0156301.
    PMID: 27244582 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156301
    Cambay amber originates from the warmest period of the Eocene, which is also well known for the appearance of early angiosperm-dominated megathermal forests. The humid climate of these forests may have triggered the evolution of epiphytic lineages of bryophytes; however, early Eocene fossils of bryophytes are rare. Here, we present evidence for lejeuneoid liverworts and pleurocarpous mosses in Cambay amber. The preserved morphology of the moss fossil is inconclusive for a detailed taxonomic treatment. The liverwort fossil is, however, distinctive; its zig-zagged stems, suberect complicate-bilobed leaves, large leaf lobules, and small, deeply bifid underleaves suggest a member of Lejeuneaceae subtribe Lejeuneinae (Harpalejeunea, Lejeunea, Microlejeunea). We tested alternative classification possibilities by conducting divergence time estimates based on DNA sequence variation of Lejeuneinae using the age of the fossil for corresponding age constraints. Consideration of the fossil as a stem group member of Microlejeunea or Lejeunea resulted in an Eocene to Late Cretaceous age of the Lejeuneinae crown group. This reconstruction is in good accordance with published divergence time estimates generated without the newly presented fossil evidence. Balancing available evidence, we describe the liverwort fossil as the extinct species Microlejeunea nyiahae, representing the oldest crown group fossil of Lejeuneaceae.
  14. Al-Majedy YK, Al-Amiery AA, Kadhum AA, Mohamad AB
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0156625.
    PMID: 27243231 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156625
    The synthesis of derivatives of 4-Methylumbelliferone (4-MUs), which are structurally interesting antioxidants, was performed in this study. The modification of 4-Methylumbelliferone (4-MU) by different reaction steps was performed to yield the target compounds, the 4-MUs. The 4-MUs were characterized by different spectroscopic techniques (Fourier transform infrared; FT-IR and Nuclear magnetic resonance; NMR) and micro-elemental analysis (CHNS). The in vitro antioxidant activity of the 4-MUs was evaluated in terms of their free radical scavenging activities against 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), Nitric oxide radical scavenging activity assay, chelating activity and their (FRAP) ferric-reducing antioxidant power, which were compared with a standard antioxidant. Our results reveal that the 4-MUs exhibit excellent radical scavenging activities. The antioxidant mechanisms of the 4-MUs were also studied. Density Function Theory (DFT)-based quantum chemical studies were performed with the basis set at 3-21G. Molecular models of the synthesized compounds were studied to understand the antioxidant activity. The electron levels, namely HOMO (highest occupied molecular orbital) and LUMO (lowest unoccupied molecular orbital), for these synthesized antioxidants were also studied.
  15. Surya W, Chooduang S, Choong YK, Torres J, Boonserm P
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0158356.
    PMID: 27341696 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158356
    The binary toxin from Lysinibacillus sphaericus has been successfully used for controlling mosquito-transmitted diseases. An activation step shortens both subunits BinA and BinB before their interaction with membranes and internalization in midgut cells, but the precise role of this activation step is unknown. Herein, we show conclusively using three orthogonal biophysical techniques that protoxin subunits form only monomers in aqueous solution. However, in vitro activated toxins readily form heterodimers. This oligomeric state did not change after incubation of these heterodimers with detergent. These results are consistent with the evidence that maximal toxicity in mosquito larvae is achieved when the two subunits, BinA and BinB, are in a 1:1 molar ratio, and directly link proteolytic activation to heterodimerization. Formation of a heterodimer must thus be necessary for subsequent steps, e.g., interaction with membranes, or with a suitable receptor in susceptible mosquito species. Lastly, despite existing similarities between BinB C-terminal domain with domains 3 and 4 of pore-forming aerolysin, no aerolysin-like SDS-resistant heptameric oligomers were observed when the activated Bin subunits were incubated in the presence of detergents or lipidic membranes.
  16. Rafiq MK, Bachmann RT, Rafiq MT, Shang Z, Joseph S, Long R
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156894.
    PMID: 27327870 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156894
    This study examined the influence of pyrolysis temperature on biochar characteristics and evaluated its suitability for carbon capture and energy production. Biochar was produced from corn stover using slow pyrolysis at 300, 400 and 500°C and 2 hrs holding time. The experimental biochars were characterized by elemental analysis, BET, FTIR, TGA/DTA, NMR (C-13). Higher heating value (HHV) of feedstock and biochars was measured using bomb calorimeter. Results show that carbon content of corn stover biochar increased from 45.5% to 64.5%, with increasing pyrolysis temperatures. A decrease in H:C and O:C ratios as well as volatile matter, coupled with increase in the concentration of aromatic carbon in the biochar as determined by FTIR and NMR (C-13) demonstrates a higher biochar carbon stability at 500°C. It was estimated that corn stover pyrolysed at 500°C could provide of 10.12 MJ/kg thermal energy. Pyrolysis is therefore a potential technology with its carbon-negative, energy positive and soil amendment benefits thus creating win- win scenario.
  17. Kumar S, Ratnavelu K
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157633.
    PMID: 27322645 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157633
    Scholars (n = 580) from 69 countries who had contributed articles in the field of Economics during the year 2015 participated in a survey that gauged their perceptions of various aspects of co-authorship, including its benefits, motivations, working relationships, order of authorship and association preferences. Among the main findings, significant differences emerged in the proportion of co-authored papers based on age, gender and number of years the researchers had spent in their present institution. Female scholars had a greater proportion of co-authored papers than male scholars. Respondents considered improved quality of paper, contribution of mutual expertise, and division of labor as the biggest benefits of and motivation for co-authorship. Contrary to common perceptions that Economics researchers used a predominantly alphabetical order of authorship, our study found that a considerable percentage of respondents (34.5%) had practiced an order of authorship based on the significance of the authors' contribution to the work. The relative importance of tasks differed significantly according to whether researchers co-authored as mentors or co-authored as colleagues. Lastly, researchers were found to associate, to varying degrees, with other researchers based on socio-academic parameters, such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, professional position and friendship. The study indicates that Economics authors perceive co-authorship as a rewarding endeavor. Nonetheless, the level of contribution and even the choice of association itself as a co-author depends to a great extent on the type of working relationship and socio-academic factors.
  18. Abram NK, MacMillan DC, Xofis P, Ancrenaz M, Tzanopoulos J, Ong R, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156481.
    PMID: 27276218 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156481
    Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) aims to avoid forest conversion to alternative land-uses through financial incentives. Oil-palm has high opportunity costs, which according to current literature questions the financial competitiveness of REDD+ in tropical lowlands. To understand this more, we undertook regional fine-scale and coarse-scale analyses (through carbon mapping and economic modelling) to assess the financial viability of REDD+ in safeguarding unprotected forest (30,173 ha) in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain in Malaysian Borneo. Results estimate 4.7 million metric tons of carbon (MgC) in unprotected forest, with 64% allocated for oil-palm cultivations. Through fine-scale mapping and carbon accounting, we demonstrated that REDD+ can outcompete oil-palm in regions with low suitability, with low carbon prices and low carbon stock. In areas with medium oil-palm suitability, REDD+ could outcompete oil palm in areas with: very high carbon and lower carbon price; medium carbon price and average carbon stock; or, low carbon stock and high carbon price. Areas with high oil palm suitability, REDD+ could only outcompete with higher carbon price and higher carbon stock. In the coarse-scale model, oil-palm outcompeted REDD+ in all cases. For the fine-scale models at the landscape level, low carbon offset prices (US $3 MgCO2e) would enable REDD+ to outcompete oil-palm in 55% of the unprotected forests requiring US $27 million to secure these areas for 25 years. Higher carbon offset price (US $30 MgCO2e) would increase the competitiveness of REDD+ within the landscape but would still only capture between 69%-74% of the unprotected forest, requiring US $380-416 million in carbon financing. REDD+ has been identified as a strategy to mitigate climate change by many countries (including Malaysia). Although REDD+ in certain scenarios cannot outcompete oil palm, this research contributes to the global REDD+ debate by: highlighting REDD+ competitiveness in tropical floodplain landscapes; and, providing a robust approach for identifying and targeting limited REDD+ funds.
  19. Kuan CS, Ismail R, Kwan Z, Yew SM, Yeo SK, Chan CL, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156119.
    PMID: 27280438 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156119
    A yeast-like organism was isolated from the skin scraping sample of a stasis dermatitis patient in the Mycology Unit Department of Medical Microbiology, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The isolate produced no pigment and was not identifiable using chromogenic agar and API 20C AUX. The fungus was identified as Metschnikowia sp. strain UM 1034, which is close to that of Metschnikowia drosophilae based on ITS- and D1/D2 domain-based phylogenetic analysis. However, the physiology of the strain was not associated to M. drosophilae. This pathogen exhibited low sensitivity to all tested azoles, echinocandins, 5-flucytosine and amphotericin B. This study provided insight into Metschnikowia sp. strain UM 1034 phenotype profiles using a Biolog phenotypic microarray (PM). The isolate utilized 373 nutrients of 760 nutrient sources and could adapt to a broad range of osmotic and pH environments. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the isolation of Metschnikowia non-pulcherrima sp. from skin scraping, revealing this rare yeast species as a potential human pathogen that may be misidentified as Candida sp. using conventional methods. Metschnikowia sp. strain UM 1034 can survive in flexible and diverse environments with a generalist lifestyle.
  20. Abu Bakar SA, Nadarajah S, Absl Kamarul Adzhar ZA, Mohamed I
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156537.
    PMID: 27272043 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156537
    In this paper, we introduce the R package gendist that computes the probability density function, the cumulative distribution function, the quantile function and generates random values for several generated probability distribution models including the mixture model, the composite model, the folded model, the skewed symmetric model and the arc tan model. These models are extensively used in the literature and the R functions provided here are flexible enough to accommodate various univariate distributions found in other R packages. We also show its applications in graphing, estimation, simulation and risk measurements.
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