Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is a suite of laboratory techniques designed to rescue infertile phenotypes. While ART has led to the birth of 5 million ART babies worldwide, success rates rarely exceed 40%. One potential factor for this could be iatrogenic (‘clinician-induced’) damage to critical sperm proteins, such as phospholipase C zeta (PLCζ) and protamine, which are fundamental for oocyte activation and sperm DNA integrity, respectively. This report describes how we have begun to investigate the adverse effects of ART techniques upon these key sperm proteins. We also describe the pathway taken by Miss Suseela Yelumalai to acquire a scholarship from the Malaysian Government and her postgraduate experience at the University of Oxford. We introduce the facilities and learning opportunities available at the Institute of Reproductive Sciences (IRS) which houses Dr Kevin Coward’s research laboratory, and finally, highlight the potential for collaborative development between the Universities of Oxford and Malaya.
A high-performance liquid chromatographic method was developed to enable dapsone, monoacetyl dapsone and pyrimethamine to be measured simultaneously in plasma samples from volunteers in England and Malaysia who had been dosed with Maloprim. Mean half-lives of 25 and 80 h were calculated for dapsone and pyrimethamine, respectively, but there was wide individual variation. All subjects were found to be classifiable as "slow acetylators".
We report measurements of atmospheric composition over a tropical rainforest and over a nearby oil palm plantation in Sabah, Borneo. The primary vegetation in each of the two landscapes emits very different amounts and kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), resulting in distinctive VOC fingerprints in the atmospheric boundary layer for both landscapes. VOCs over the Borneo rainforest are dominated by isoprene and its oxidation products, with a significant additional contribution from monoterpenes. Rather than consuming the main atmospheric oxidant, OH, these high concentrations of VOCs appear to maintain OH, as has been observed previously over Amazonia. The boundary-layer characteristics and mixing ratios of VOCs observed over the Borneo rainforest are different to those measured previously over Amazonia. Compared with the Bornean rainforest, air over the oil palm plantation contains much more isoprene, monoterpenes are relatively less important, and the flower scent, estragole, is prominent. Concentrations of nitrogen oxides are greater above the agro-industrial oil palm landscape than over the rainforest, and this leads to changes in some secondary pollutant mixing ratios (but not, currently, differences in ozone). Secondary organic aerosol over both landscapes shows a significant contribution from isoprene. Primary biological aerosol dominates the super-micrometre aerosol over the rainforest and is likely to be sensitive to land-use change, since the fungal source of the bioaerosol is closely linked to above-ground biodiversity.
More than half the world's rainforest has been lost to agriculture since the Industrial Revolution. Among the most widespread tropical crops is oil palm (Elaeis guineensis): global production now exceeds 35 million tonnes per year. In Malaysia, for example, 13% of land area is now oil palm plantation, compared with 1% in 1974. There are enormous pressures to increase palm oil production for food, domestic products, and, especially, biofuels. Greater use of palm oil for biofuel production is predicated on the assumption that palm oil is an "environmentally friendly" fuel feedstock. Here we show, using measurements and models, that oil palm plantations in Malaysia directly emit more oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds than rainforest. These compounds lead to the production of ground-level ozone (O(3)), an air pollutant that damages human health, plants, and materials, reduces crop productivity, and has effects on the Earth's climate. Our measurements show that, at present, O(3) concentrations do not differ significantly over rainforest and adjacent oil palm plantation landscapes. However, our model calculations predict that if concentrations of oxides of nitrogen in Borneo are allowed to reach those currently seen over rural North America and Europe, ground-level O(3) concentrations will reach 100 parts per billion (10(9)) volume (ppbv) and exceed levels known to be harmful to human health. Our study provides an early warning of the urgent need to develop policies that manage nitrogen emissions if the detrimental effects of palm oil production on air quality and climate are to be avoided.