In photosynthesis, a very small amount of the solar energy absorbed is transformed into chemical energy, while the rest is wasted as heat and fluorescence. This excess energy can be harvested through biophotovoltaic platforms to generate electrical energy. In this study, algal biofilms formed on ITO anodes were investigated for use in the algal biophotovoltaic platforms. Sixteen algal strains, comprising local isolates and two diatoms obtained from the Culture Collection of Marine Phytoplankton (CCMP), USA, were screened and eight were selected based on the growth rate, biochemical composition and photosynthesis performance using suspension cultures. Differences in biofilm formation between the eight algal strains as well as their rapid light curve (RLC) generated using a pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) fluorometer, were examined. The RLC provides detailed information on the saturation characteristics of electron transport and overall photosynthetic performance of the algae. Four algal strains, belonging to the Cyanophyta (Cyanobacteria) Synechococcus elongatus (UMACC 105), Spirulina platensis. (UMACC 159) and the Chlorophyta Chlorella vulgaris (UMACC 051), and Chlorella sp. (UMACC 313) were finally selected for investigation using biophotovoltaic platforms. Based on power output per Chl-a content, the algae can be ranked as follows: Synechococcus elongatus (UMACC 105) (6.38×10(-5) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a)>Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 051 (2.24×10(-5) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a)>Chlorella sp.(UMACC 313) (1.43×10(-5) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a)>Spirulina platensis (UMACC 159) (4.90×10(-6) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a). Our study showed that local algal strains have potential for use in biophotovoltaic platforms due to their high photosynthetic performance, ability to produce biofilm and generation of electrical power.
Phthalocyanines are excellent photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy as they have strong absorbance in the near infra-red region which is most relevant for in vivo activation in deeper tissular regions. However, most phthalocyanines present two major challenges, ie, a strong tendency to aggregate and low water-solubility, limiting their effective usage clinically. In the present study, we evaluated the potential enhancement capability of glycerol substitution on the photodynamic properties of zinc (II) phthalocyanines (ZnPc). Three glycerol substituted ZnPc, 1-3, (tetra peripherally, tetra non-peripherally and mono iodinated tri non-peripherally respectively) were evaluated in terms of their spectroscopic properties, rate of singlet oxygen generation, partition coefficient (log P), intracellular uptake, photo-induced cytotoxicity and vascular occlusion efficiency. Tetrasulfonated ZnPc (ZnPcS4) was included as a reference compound. Here, we showed that 1-3 exhibited 10-100 nm red-shifted absorption peaks with higher molar absorptivity, and at least two-fold greater singlet oxygen generation rates compared to ZnPcS4. Meanwhile, phthalocyanines 1 and 2 showed more hydrophilic log P values than 3 consistent with the number of glycerol attachments but 3 was most readily taken up by cells compared to the rest. Both phthalocyanines 2 and 3 exhibited potent phototoxicity against MCF-7, HCT-116 and HSC-2 cancer cell-lines with IC50 ranging 2.8-3.2 µM and 0.04-0.06 µM respectively, while 1 and ZnPcS4 (up to 100 µM) failed to yield determinable IC50 values. In terms of vascular occlusion efficiency, phthalocyanine 3 showed better effects than 2 by causing total occlusion of vessels with diameter <70 µm of the chorioallantoic membrane. Meanwhile, no detectable vascular occlusion was observed for ZnPcS4 with treatment under similar experimental conditions. These findings provide evidence that glycerol substitution, in particular in structures 2 and 3, is able to improve the photodynamic properties of ZnPc.
Stress alters the oxidant-antioxidant state and immune cell responses which disrupts its function to combat infection. Blastocystis hominis, a common intestinal protozoan has been reported to be opportunistic in immunocompromised patients namely cancer. B. hominis infectivity in other altered immune system conditions especially stress is unknown. We aimed to demonstrate the stress effects towards the susceptibility and pathogenicity of B. hominis infection.
Magnetic field influence on unsteady free convection flow of a second grade fluid near an infinite vertical flat plate with ramped wall temperature embedded in a porous medium is studied. It has been observed that magnitude of velocity as well as skin friction in case of ramped temperature is quite less than the isothermal temperature. Some special cases namely: (i) second grade fluid in the absence of magnetic field and porous medium and (ii) Newtonian fluid in the presence of magnetic field and porous medium, performing the same motion are obtained. Finally, the influence of various parameters is graphically shown.
Between 10 and 25% of individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) develop hepatic fibrosis leading to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To investigate the molecular basis of disease progression, we performed a genome-wide analysis of copy number variation (CNV) in a total of 49 patients with NAFLD [10 simple steatosis and 39 non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)] and 49 matched controls using high-density comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) microarrays. A total of 11 CNVs were found to be unique to individuals with simple steatosis, whilst 22 were common between simple steatosis and NASH, and 224 were unique to NASH. We postulated that these CNVs could be involved in the pathogenesis of NAFLD progression. After stringent filtering, we identified four rare and/or novel CNVs that may influence the pathogenesis of NASH. Two of these CNVs, located at 13q12.11 and 12q13.2 respectively, harbour the exportin 4 (XPO4) and phosphodiesterase 1B (PDE1B) genes which are already known to be involved in the etiology of liver cirrhosis and HCC. Cross-comparison of the genes located at these four CNV loci with genes already known to be associated with NAFLD yielded a set of genes associated with shared biological processes including cell death, the key process involved in 'second hit' hepatic injury. To our knowledge, this pilot study is the first to provide CNV information of potential relevance to the NAFLD spectrum. These data could prove invaluable in predicting patients at risk of developing NAFLD and more importantly, those who will subsequently progress to NASH.
This paper examines the impact of two important geometrical parameters, namely the thickness and source/drain extensions on the performance of low doped p-type double lateral gate junctionless transistors (DGJLTs). The three dimensional Technology Computer-Aided Design simulation is implemented to calculate the characteristics of the devices with different thickness and source/drain extension and based on that, the parameters such as threshold voltage, transconductance and resistance in saturation region are analyzed. In addition, simulation results provide a physical explanation for the variation of device characteristics given by the variation of geometric parameters, mainly based on investigation of the electric field components and the carries density variation. It is shown that, the variation of the carrier density is the main factor which affects the characteristics of the device when the device's thickness is varied. However, the electric field is mainly responsible for variation of the characteristics when the source/drain extension is changed.
Developmental delay and/or intellectual disability (DD/ID) affects 1-3% of all children. At least half of these are thought to have a genetic etiology. Recent studies have shown that massively parallel sequencing (MPS) using a targeted gene panel is particularly suited for diagnostic testing for genetically heterogeneous conditions. We report on our experiences with using massively parallel sequencing of a targeted gene panel of 355 genes for investigating the genetic etiology of eight patients with a wide range of phenotypes including DD/ID, congenital anomalies and/or autism spectrum disorder. Targeted sequence enrichment was performed using the Agilent SureSelect Target Enrichment Kit and sequenced on the Illumina HiSeq2000 using paired-end reads. For all eight patients, 81-84% of the targeted regions achieved read depths of at least 20×, with average read depths overlapping targets ranging from 322× to 798×. Causative variants were successfully identified in two of the eight patients: a nonsense mutation in the ATRX gene and a canonical splice site mutation in the L1CAM gene. In a third patient, a canonical splice site variant in the USP9X gene could likely explain all or some of her clinical phenotypes. These results confirm the value of targeted MPS for investigating DD/ID in children for diagnostic purposes. However, targeted gene MPS was less likely to provide a genetic diagnosis for children whose phenotype includes autism.
Oxalate toxicity is mediated through generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) via a process that is partly dependent on mitochondrial dysfunction. Here, we investigated whether C-phycocyanin (CP) could protect against oxidative stress-mediated intracellular damage triggered by oxalate in MDCK cells. DCFDA, a fluorescence-based probe and hexanoyl-lysine adduct (HEL), an oxidative stress marker were used to investigate the effect of CP on oxalate-induced ROS production and membrane lipid peroxidation (LPO). The role of CP against oxalate-induced oxidative stress was studied by the evaluation of mitochondrial membrane potential by JC1 fluorescein staining, quantification of ATP synthesis and stress-induced MAP kinases (JNK/SAPK and ERK1/2). Our results revealed that oxalate-induced cells show markedly increased ROS levels and HEL protein expression that were significantly decreased following pre-treatment with CP. Further, JC1 staining showed that CP pre-treatment conferred significant protection from mitochondrial membrane permeability and increased ATP production in CP-treated cells than oxalate-alone-treated cells. In addition, CP treated cells significantly decreased the expression of phosphorylated JNK/SAPK and ERK1/2 as compared to oxalate-alone-treated cells. We concluded that CP could be used as a potential free radical-scavenging therapeutic strategy against oxidative stress-associated diseases including urolithiasis.
Species of Anoxybacillus are widespread in geothermal springs, manure, and milk-processing plants. The genus is composed of 22 species and two subspecies, but the relationship between its lifestyle and genome is little understood. In this study, two high-quality draft genomes were generated from Anoxybacillus spp. SK3-4 and DT3-1, isolated from Malaysian hot springs. De novo assembly and annotation were performed, followed by comparative genome analysis with the complete genome of Anoxybacillus flavithermus WK1 and two additional draft genomes, of A. flavithermus TNO-09.006 and A. kamchatkensis G10. The genomes of Anoxybacillus spp. are among the smaller of the family Bacillaceae. Despite having smaller genomes, their essential genes related to lifestyle adaptations at elevated temperature, extreme pH, and protection against ultraviolet are complete. Due to the presence of various competence proteins, Anoxybacillus spp. SK3-4 and DT3-1 are able to take up foreign DNA fragments, and some of these transferred genes are important for the survival of the cells. The analysis of intact putative prophage genomes shows that they are highly diversified. Based on the genome analysis using SEED, many of the annotated sequences are involved in carbohydrate metabolism. The presence of glycosyl hydrolases among the Anoxybacillus spp. was compared, and the potential applications of these unexplored enzymes are suggested here. This is the first study that compares Anoxybacillus genomes from the aspect of lifestyle adaptations, the capacity for horizontal gene transfer, and carbohydrate metabolism.
The success of Genome Wide Association Studies in the discovery of sequence variation linked to complex traits in humans has increased interest in high throughput SNP genotyping assays in livestock species. Primary goals are QTL detection and genomic selection. The purpose here was design of a 50-60,000 SNP chip for goats. The success of a moderate density SNP assay depends on reliable bioinformatic SNP detection procedures, the technological success rate of the SNP design, even spacing of SNPs on the genome and selection of Minor Allele Frequencies (MAF) suitable to use in diverse breeds. Through the federation of three SNP discovery projects consolidated as the International Goat Genome Consortium, we have identified approximately twelve million high quality SNP variants in the goat genome stored in a database together with their biological and technical characteristics. These SNPs were identified within and between six breeds (meat, milk and mixed): Alpine, Boer, Creole, Katjang, Saanen and Savanna, comprising a total of 97 animals. Whole genome and Reduced Representation Library sequences were aligned on >10 kb scaffolds of the de novo goat genome assembly. The 60,000 selected SNPs, evenly spaced on the goat genome, were submitted for oligo manufacturing (Illumina, Inc) and published in dbSNP along with flanking sequences and map position on goat assemblies (i.e. scaffolds and pseudo-chromosomes), sheep genome V2 and cattle UMD3.1 assembly. Ten breeds were then used to validate the SNP content and 52,295 loci could be successfully genotyped and used to generate a final cluster file. The combined strategy of using mainly whole genome Next Generation Sequencing and mapping on a contig genome assembly, complemented with Illumina design tools proved to be efficient in producing this GoatSNP50 chip. Advances in use of molecular markers are expected to accelerate goat genomic studies in coming years.
The HIV epidemic is primarily characterised by the circulation of HIV-1 group M (main) comprising of 11 subtypes and sub-subtypes (A1, A2, B-D, F1, F2, G, H, J, and K) and to date 55 circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). In Southeast Asia, active inter-subtype recombination involving three main circulating genotypes--subtype B (including subtype B', the Thai variant of subtype B), CRF01_AE, and CRF33_01B--have contributed to the emergence of novel unique recombinant forms. In the present study, we conducted the molecular epidemiological surveillance of HIV-1 gag-RT genes among 258 people who inject drugs (PWIDs) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2009 and 2011 whereby a novel CRF candidate was recently identified. The near full-length genome sequences obtained from six epidemiologically unlinked individuals showed identical mosaic structures consisting of subtype B' and CRF01_AE, with six unique recombination breakpoints in the gag-RT, pol, and env regions. Among the high-risk population of PWIDs in Malaysia, which was predominantly infected by CRF33_01B (>70%), CRF58_01B circulated at a low but significant prevalence (2.3%, 6/258). Interestingly, the CRF58_01B shared two unique recombination breakpoints with other established CRFs in the region: CRF33_01B, CRF48_01B, and CRF53_01B in the gag gene, and CRF15_01B (from Thailand) in the env gene. Extended Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling analysis showed that CRF58_01B and other recently discovered CRFs were most likely to have originated in Malaysia, and that the recent spread of recombinant lineages in the country had little influence from neighbouring countries. The isolation, genetic characterization, and evolutionary features of CRF58_01B among PWIDs in Malaysia signify the increasingly complex HIV-1 diversity in Southeast Asia that may hold an implication on disease treatment, control, and prevention.
Recent research has shown facial adiposity (apparent weight in the face) to be a significant predictor of both attractiveness and health, thus making it an important determinant of mate selection. Studies looking at the relationship between attractiveness and health have shown that individuals differentiate between the two by preferring a lower weight for attractiveness than for health in female faces. However, these studies have either been correlational studies, or have investigated weight perceived from only the face. These differences have been discussed with regard to sociocultural factors such as pressure from parents, peers and also media, which has been seen to have the highest influence. While exposure to media images has been shown to influence women's own-body image, no study has yet directly tested the influence of these factors on people's preferred weight in other women's bodies. Here we examine how a short exposure to images of models influences men's and women's judgments of the most healthy looking and attractive BMI in Malaysian Chinese women's bodies by comparing differences in preferences (for attractiveness and health) between groups exposed to images of models of varying attractiveness and body weight. Results indicated that participants preferred a lower weight for attractiveness than for health. Further, women's but not men's preferred BMI for attractiveness, but not health, was influenced by the type of media images to which they were exposed, suggesting that short term exposure to model images affect women's perceptions of attractiveness but not health.
Automatic speech recognition (ASR) is currently used in many assistive technologies, such as helping individuals with speech impairment in their communication ability. One challenge in ASR for speech-impaired individuals is the difficulty in obtaining a good speech database of impaired speakers for building an effective speech acoustic model. Because there are very few existing databases of impaired speech, which are also limited in size, the obvious solution to build a speech acoustic model of impaired speech is by employing adaptation techniques. However, issues that have not been addressed in existing studies in the area of adaptation for speech impairment are as follows: (1) identifying the most effective adaptation technique for impaired speech; and (2) the use of suitable source models to build an effective impaired-speech acoustic model. This research investigates the above-mentioned two issues on dysarthria, a type of speech impairment affecting millions of people. We applied both unimpaired and impaired speech as the source model with well-known adaptation techniques like the maximum likelihood linear regression (MLLR) and the constrained-MLLR(C-MLLR). The recognition accuracy of each impaired speech acoustic model is measured in terms of word error rate (WER), with further assessments, including phoneme insertion, substitution and deletion rates. Unimpaired speech when combined with limited high-quality speech-impaired data improves performance of ASR systems in recognising severely impaired dysarthric speech. The C-MLLR adaptation technique was also found to be better than MLLR in recognising mildly and moderately impaired speech based on the statistical analysis of the WER. It was found that phoneme substitution was the biggest contributing factor in WER in dysarthric speech for all levels of severity. The results show that the speech acoustic models derived from suitable adaptation techniques improve the performance of ASR systems in recognising impaired speech with limited adaptation data.
The current-voltage characteristics of Ni contacts with the surfaces of ZnO thin films as well as single crystal (0001) ZnO substrate are investigated. The ZnO thin film shows a conversion from Ohmic to rectifying behavior when annealed at 800°C. Similar findings are also found on the Zn-polar surface of (0001) ZnO. The O-polar surface, however, only shows Ohmic behavior before and after annealing. The rectifying behavior observed on the Zn-polar and ZnO thin film surfaces is associated with the formation of nickel zinc oxide (Ni1-xZnxO, where x = 0.1, 0.2). The current-voltage characteristics suggest that a p-n junction is formed by Ni1-xZnxO (which is believed to be p-type) and ZnO (which is intrinsically n-type). The rectifying behavior for the ZnO thin film as a result of annealing suggests that its surface is Zn-terminated. Current-voltage measurements could possibly be used to determine the surface polarity of ZnO thin films.
The photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. strain 6803, is a potential platform for the production of various chemicals and biofuels. In this study, direct photosynthetic production of a biopolymer, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), in genetically engineered Synechocystis sp. achieved as high as 14 wt%. This is the highest production reported in Synechocystis sp. under photoautotrophic cultivation conditions without the addition of a carbon source. The addition of acetate increased PHA accumulation to 41 wt%, and this value is comparable to the highest production obtained with cyanobacteria. Transcriptome analysis by RNA-seq coupled with real-time PCR was performed to understand the global changes in transcript levels of cells subjected to conditions suitable for photoautotrophic PHA biosynthesis. There was lower expression of most PHA synthesis-related genes in recombinant Synechocystis sp. with higher PHA accumulation suggesting that the concentration of these enzymes is not the limiting factor to achieving high PHA accumulation. In order to cope with the higher PHA production, cells may utilize enhanced photosynthesis to drive the product formation. Results from this study suggest that the total flux of carbon is the possible driving force for the biosynthesis of PHA and the polymerizing enzyme, PHA synthase, is not the only critical factor affecting PHA-synthesis. Knowledge of the regulation or control points of the biopolymer production pathways will facilitate the further use of cyanobacteria for biotechnological applications.
Corynebacteria are used for a wide variety of industrial purposes but some species are associated with human diseases. With increasing number of corynebacterial genomes having been sequenced, comparative analysis of these strains may provide better understanding of their biology, phylogeny, virulence and taxonomy that may lead to the discoveries of beneficial industrial strains or contribute to better management of diseases. To facilitate the ongoing research of corynebacteria, a specialized central repository and analysis platform for the corynebacterial research community is needed to host the fast-growing amount of genomic data and facilitate the analysis of these data. Here we present CoryneBase, a genomic database for Corynebacterium with diverse functionality for the analysis of genomes aimed to provide: (1) annotated genome sequences of Corynebacterium where 165,918 coding sequences and 4,180 RNAs can be found in 27 species; (2) access to comprehensive Corynebacterium data through the use of advanced web technologies for interactive web interfaces; and (3) advanced bioinformatic analysis tools consisting of standard BLAST for homology search, VFDB BLAST for sequence homology search against the Virulence Factor Database (VFDB), Pairwise Genome Comparison (PGC) tool for comparative genomic analysis, and a newly designed Pathogenomics Profiling Tool (PathoProT) for comparative pathogenomic analysis. CoryneBase offers the access of a range of Corynebacterium genomic resources as well as analysis tools for comparative genomics and pathogenomics. It is publicly available at http://corynebacterium.um.edu.my/.
A high leaf vein density is both an essential feature of C4 photosynthesis and a foundation trait to C4 evolution, ensuring the optimal proportion and proximity of mesophyll and bundle sheath cells for permitting the rapid exchange of photosynthates. Two rice mutant populations, a deletion mutant library with a cv. IR64 background (12,470 lines) and a T-DNA insertion mutant library with a cv. Tainung 67 background (10,830 lines), were screened for increases in vein density. A high throughput method with handheld microscopes was developed and its accuracy was supported by more rigorous microscopy analysis. Eight lines with significantly increased leaf vein densities were identified to be used as genetic stock for the global C4 Rice Consortium. The candidate population was shown to include both shared and independent mutations and so more than one gene controlled the high vein density phenotype. The high vein density trait was found to be linked to a narrow leaf width trait but the linkage was incomplete. The more genetically robust narrow leaf width trait was proposed to be used as a reliable phenotypic marker for finding high vein density variants in rice in future screens.
Dengue represents one of the most serious life-threatening vector-borne infectious diseases that afflicts approximately 50 million people across the globe annually. Whilst symptomatic infections are frequently reported, asymptomatic dengue remains largely unnoticed. Therefore, we sought to investigate the immune correlates conferring protection to individuals that remain clinically asymptomatic.
Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is the most frequent progressive autosomal recessive disorder associated with unstable expansion of GAA trinucleotide repeats in the first intron of the FXN gene, which encodes for the mitochondrial frataxin protein. The number of repeats correlates with disease severity, where impaired transcription of the FXN gene results in reduced expression of the frataxin protein. Gene expression studies provide insights into disease pathogenicity and identify potential biomarkers, an important goal of translational research in neurodegenerative diseases. Here, using real-time PCR (RT-PCR), the expression profiles of mitochondrial (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) genes that encode for the mitochondrial subunits of respiratory oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complex I in the blood panels of 21 FRDA patients and 24 healthy controls were investigated. Here, the expression pattern of mtDNA-encoded complex I subunits was distinctly different from the expression pattern of nDNA-encoded complex I subunits, where significant (p<0.05) down-regulation of the mitochondrial ND2, ND4L, and ND6 complex I genes, compared to controls, were observed. In addition, the expression pattern of one nDNA-encoded gene, NDUFA1, was significantly (p<0.05) down-regulated compared to control. These findings suggest, for the first time, that the regulation of complex I subunit expression in FRDA is complex, rather than merely being a reflection of global co-regulation, and may provide important clues toward novel therapeutic strategies for FRDA and mitochondrial complex I deficiency.