It is generally accepted that organisms that naturally exploit an ecosystem facilitate coexistence, at least partially, through resource partitioning. Resource availability is, however, highly variable in space and time and as such the extent of resource partitioning must be somewhat dependent on availability. Here we test aspects of resource partitioning at the inter- and intra-specific level, in relation to resource availability in an atypical aquatic environment using an isotope approach. Using closely related key organisms from an ephemeral pond, we test for differences in isotopic signatures between two species of copepod and between sexes within each species, in relation to heterogeneity of basal food resources over the course of the ponds hydroperiod. We show that basal food resource heterogeneity increases over time initially, and then decreases towards the end of the hydroperiod, reflective of the expected evolution of trophic complexity for these systems. Resource partitioning also varied between species and sexes, over the hydroperiod with intra- and inter-specific specialisation relating to resource availability. Intra-specific specialisation was particularly evident in the omnivorous copepod species. Our findings imply that trophic specialisation at both the intra- and inter-specific level is partly driven by basal food resource availability.
Tissue-specific transcriptional programs control most biological phenotypes, including disease states such as cancer. However, the molecular details underlying transcriptional specificity is largely unknown, hindering the development of therapeutic approaches. Here, we describe novel experimental reporter systems that allow interrogation of the endogenous expression of HIF2A, a critical driver of renal oncogenesis. Using a focused CRISPR-Cas9 library targeting chromatin regulators, we provide evidence that these reporter systems are compatible with high-throughput screening. Our data also suggests redundancy in the control of cancer type-specific transcriptional traits. Reporter systems such as those described here could facilitate large-scale mechanistic dissection of transcriptional programmes underlying cancer phenotypes, thus paving the way for novel therapeutic approaches.
Streptococcus suis (S. suis) is a gram-positive bacterial pathogen in pigs which can cause serious infections in human including meningitis, and septicaemia resulting in serious complications. There were discrepancies between different data and little is known concerning associated risk factors of S. suis. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to investigate on S. suis infection risk factors in human. We searched eight relevant databases using the MeSH terms "Streptococcus suis" OR "Streptococcus suis AND infection" limited in human with no time nor language restriction. Out of 4,999 articles identified, 32 and 3 studies were included for systematic review and meta-analysis respectively with a total of 1,454 Streptococcus suis cases reported. S. suis patients were generally adult males and the elderly. The mean age ranged between 37 to 63 years. Meningitis was the most common clinical manifestation, and deafness was the most common sequelae found among survivors followed by vestibular dysfunction. Infective endocarditis was also noted as among the most common clinical presentations associated with high mortality rate in a few studies. Meta-analyses categorized by type of control groups (community control, and non-S. suis sepsis) were done among 850 participants in 3 studies. The combined odd ratios for studies using community control groups and non-S. Suis sepsis as controls respectively were 4.63 (95% CI 2.94-7.29) and 78.00 (95% CI 10.38-585.87) for raw pork consumption, 4.01 (95% CI 2.61-6.15) and 3.03 (95% CI 1.61-5.68) for exposure to pigs or pork, 11.47, (95% CI 5.68-23.14) and 3.07 (95% CI 1.81-5.18) for pig-related occupation and 3.56 (95% CI 2.18-5.80) and 5.84 (95% CI 2.76-12.36) for male sex. The results were found to be significantly associated with S. suis infection and there was non-significant heterogeneity. History of skin injury and underlying diseases were noted only a small percentage in most studies. Setting up an effective screening protocol and public health interventions would be effective to enhance understanding about the disease.
The steady two dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) boundary layer flow and heat transfer over a stretching/shrinking permeable wedge is numerically investigated. The partial differential equations governing the flow and heat transfer are transformed into a system of ordinary differential equations using a similarity transformation. These equations are then solved numerically using the boundary value problem solver, bvp4c in Matlab software. It is found that dual solutions exist for a certain range of the shrinking strength. A stability analysis is performed to identify which solution is stable and physically reliable.
This study deals with the steady laminar slip flow of an incompressible Newtonian fluid in a non-uniform permeable channel under the influence of transverse magnetic field. The reabsorption through the wall is accounted for by considering flux as a function of downstream distance. The non-linear coupled partial differential equations of motion are first transformed into a single fourth order partial differential equation and then solved analytically using Adomain decomposition method. Effects of pertinent parameters on different flow properties are discussed by plotting graphs. Results reveal that magnetic field considerably influences the behavior of flow.
Highly oriented ZnO nanorod (NR) arrays were fabricated on a seeded substrate through a hydrothermal route. The prepared ZnO nanorods were used as an amperometric enzyme electrode, in which glucose oxidase (GOx) was immobilised through physical adsorption. The modified electrode was designated as Nafion/GOx/ZnO NRs/ITO. The morphology and structural properties of the fabricated ZnO nanorods were analysed using field-emission scanning electron microscope and X-ray diffractometer. The electrochemical properties of the fabricated biosensor were studied by cyclic voltammetry and amperometry. Electrolyte pH, electrolyte temperature and enzyme concentration used for immobilisation were the examined parameters influencing enzyme activity and biosensor performance. The immobilised enzyme electrode showed good GOx retention activity. The amount of electroactive GOx was 7.82 × 10-8 mol/cm2, which was relatively higher than previously reported values. The Nafion/GOx/ZnO NRs/ITO electrode also displayed a linear response to glucose ranging from 0.05 mM to 1 mM, with a sensitivity of 48.75 µA/mM and a low Michaelis-Menten constant of 0.34 mM. Thus, the modified electrode can be used as a highly sensitive third-generation glucose biosensor with high resistance against interfering species, such as ascorbic acid, uric acid and L-cysteine. The applicability of the modified electrode was tested using human blood samples. Results were comparable with those obtained using a standard glucometer, indicating the excellent performance of the modified electrode.
An irregular-shaped plate with dimensions identical to a guitar soundboard is chosen for this study. It is well known that the classical guitar soundboard is a major contributor to acoustic radiation at high frequencies when compared to the bridge and sound hole. This paper focuses on using an analytical model to compute the sound power of an unbraced irregular-shaped plate of variable thickness up to frequencies of 5 kHz. The analytical model is an equivalent thin rectangular plate of variable thickness. Sound power of an irregular-shaped plate of variable thickness and with dimensions of an unbraced Torres' soundboard is determined from computer analysis using ANSYS. The number of acoustic elements used in ANSYS for accurate simulation is six elements per wavelength. Here we show that the analytical model can be used to compute sound power of an unbraced irregular-shaped plate of variable thickness.
Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS) includes two novel GIS-based ensemble artificial intelligence approaches called imperialistic competitive algorithm (ICA) and firefly algorithm (FA). This combination could result in ANFIS-ICA and ANFIS-FA models, which were applied to flood spatial modelling and its mapping in the Haraz watershed in Northern Province of Mazandaran, Iran. Ten influential factors including slope angle, elevation, stream power index (SPI), curvature, topographic wetness index (TWI), lithology, rainfall, land use, stream density, and the distance to river were selected for flood modelling. The validity of the models was assessed using statistical error-indices (RMSE and MSE), statistical tests (Friedman and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests), and the area under the curve (AUC) of success. The prediction accuracy of the models was compared to some new state-of-the-art sophisticated machine learning techniques that had previously been successfully tested in the study area. The results confirmed the goodness of fit and appropriate prediction accuracy of the two ensemble models. However, the ANFIS-ICA model (AUC = 0.947) had a better performance in comparison to the Bagging-LMT (AUC = 0.940), BLR (AUC = 0.936), LMT (AUC = 0.934), ANFIS-FA (AUC = 0.917), LR (AUC = 0.885) and RF (AUC = 0.806) models. Therefore, the ANFIS-ICA model can be introduced as a promising method for the sustainable management of flood-prone areas.
The integration of Bayesian analysis into existing great ape survey methods could be used to generate precise and reliable population estimates of Bornean orang-utans. We used the Marked Nest Count (MNC) method to count new orang-utan nests at seven previously undocumented study sites in Sarawak, Malaysia. Our survey teams marked new nests on the first survey and revisited the plots on two more occasions; after about 21 and 42 days respectively. We used the N-mixture models to integrate suitability, abundance and detection models which account for zero inflation and imperfect detection for the analysis. The result was a combined estimate of 355 orang-utans with the 95% highest density interval (HDI) of 135 to 602 individuals. We visually inspected the posterior distributions of our parameters and compared precisions between study sites. We subsequently assess the strength or reliability of the generated estimates using identifiability tests. Only three out of the seven estimates had <35% overlap to indicate strong reliability. We discussed the limitations and advantages of our study design, and made recommendations to improve the sampling scheme. Over the course of this research, two of the study sites were gazetted as extensions to the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary for orang-utan conservation.
The value of image cytometry DNA ploidy analysis and dysplasia grading to predict malignant transformation has been determined in oral lesions considered to be at 'high' risk on the basis of clinical information and biopsy result. 10-year follow up data for 259 sequential patients with oral lesions clinically at 'high' risk of malignant transformation were matched to cancer registry and local pathology database records of malignant outcomes, ploidy result and histological dysplasia grade. In multivariate analysis (n = 228 patients), 24 developed carcinoma and of these, 14 prior biopsy samples were aneuploid. Aneuploidy was a significant predictor (hazard ratio 7.92; 95% CI 3.45, 18.17) compared with diploidy (p
We previously identified an expressed sequence tag clone, Der f 22, showing 41% amino acid identity to published Der f 2, and show that both genes are possible paralogues. The objective of this study was to characterize the genomic, proteomic and immunological functions Der f 22 and Der f 2. The full-length sequence of Der f 2 and Der f 22 coded for mature proteins of 129 and 135 amino acids respectively, both containing 6 cysteine residues. Phylogenetic analysis of known group 2 allergens and their homologues from our expressed sequence tag library showed that Der f 22 is a paralogue of Der f 2. Both Der f 2 and Der f 22 were single gene products with one intron. Both allergens showed specific IgE-binding to over 40% of the atopic patients, with limited of cross-reactivity. Both allergens were detected at the gut region of D. farinae by immunostaining. Der f 22 is an important allergen with significant IgE reactivity among the atopic population, and should be considered in the diagnostic panel and evaluated as future hypoallergen vaccine therapeutic target.
A systematic review was performed to estimate the duration of protection of Hepatitis-B vaccine after primary vaccination during infancy. The number of seropositive participants with anti-HBs antibody titer ≥ 10 mIU/ml and seronegative participants who had anti-HBs antibody titer ≤ 10 mIU/ml after booster dose was the main outcome criteria to find out the protection time of Hepatitis-B vaccine. Twelve studies were selected for systematic review. Overall, results from the meta-analysis have revealed that the risk of Anti-HBs Titer ≤ 10 mIU/ml reduced by 50%. Upon performing the sub-group analysis it was revealed that the overall risk of having Anti-HBs Titre ≤ 10 mIU/ml was reduced up to 62% among the subjects age 21-30 years (0.38 [0.34, 0.44]; I2 = 0.0%, p = 0.938). Furthermore, it was observed that the risk of having titre level less than 10 mIU/ml for plasma derived vaccines were to be 56% [0.44, CI 0.33-0.57, I2 90.9%, p = <0.001]. Vaccination in early infancy does not ensure protection against Hepatitis-B infection. There is a strong correlation between the duration of protection and time elapsed after primary immunization during infancy.
Esophageal cancer (EC) is the eighth most aggressive malignancy and its treatment remains a challenge due to the lack of biomarkers that can facilitate early detection. EC is identified in two major histological forms namely - Adenocarcinoma (EAC) and Squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), each showing differences in the incidence among populations that are geographically separated. Hence the detection of potential drug target and biomarkers demands a population-centric understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of EC. To provide an adequate impetus to the biomarker discovery for ESCC, which is the most prevalent esophageal cancer worldwide, here we have developed ESCC ATLAS, a manually curated database that integrates genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic, and proteomic ESCC-related genes from the published literature. It consists of 3475 genes associated to molecular signatures such as, altered transcription (2600), altered translation (560), contain copy number variation/structural variations (233), SNPs (102), altered DNA methylation (82), Histone modifications (16) and miRNA based regulation (261). We provide a user-friendly web interface ( http://www.esccatlas.org , freely accessible for academic, non-profit users) that facilitates the exploration and the analysis of genes among different populations. We anticipate it to be a valuable resource for the population specific investigation and biomarker discovery for ESCC.
We explored the gut microbiota profile among HIV-infected individuals with diverse immune recovery profiles following long-term suppressive ART and investigated the relationship between the altered bacteria with markers of immune dysfunction. The microbiota profile of rectal swabs from 26 HIV-infected individuals and 20 HIV-uninfected controls were examined. Patients were classified as suboptimal responders, sIR (n = 10, CD4 T-cell <350 cells/ul) and optimal responders, oIR (n = 16, CD4 T-cell >500 cells/ul) after a minimum of 2 years on suppressive ART. Canonical correlation analysis(CCA) and multiple regression modelling were used to explore the association between fecal bacterial taxa abundance and immunological profiles in optimal and suboptimal responders. We found Fusobacterium was significantly enriched among the HIV-infected and the sIR group. CCA results showed that Fusobacterium abundance was negatively correlated with CD4 T-cell counts, but positively correlated with CD4 T-cell activation and CD4 Tregs. Multiple linear regression analysis adjusted for age, baseline CD4 T-cell count, antibiotic exposure and MSM status indicated that higher Fusobacterium relative abundance was independently associated with poorer CD4 T-cell recovery following ART. Enrichment of Fusobacterium was associated with reduced immune recovery and persistent immune dysfunction following ART. Modulating the abundance of this bacterial taxa in the gut may be a viable intervention to improve immune reconstitution in our setting.
Soft robots driven by stimuli-responsive materials have their own unique advantages over traditional rigid robots such as large actuation, light weight, good flexibility and biocompatibility. However, the large actuation of soft robots inherently co-exists with difficulty in control with high precision. This article presents a soft artificial muscle driven robot mimicking cuttlefish with a fully integrated on-board system including power supply and wireless communication system. Without any motors, the movements of the cuttlefish robot are solely actuated by dielectric elastomer which exhibits muscle-like properties including large deformation and high energy density. Reinforcement learning is used to optimize the control strategy of the cuttlefish robot instead of manual adjustment. From scratch, the swimming speed of the robot is enhanced by 91% with reinforcement learning, reaching to 21 mm/s (0.38 body length per second). The design principle behind the structure and the control of the robot can be potentially useful in guiding device designs for demanding applications such as flexible devices and soft robots.
Various techniques are commonly used to produce nano-crystalline NiAl2O4 materials; however, their practical applications in the microwave region remain very limited. In this work, flexible substrates for metamaterials containing two different concentrations of NiAl2O4 (labelled Ni36 and Ni42) have been synthesised using a sol-gel method. The formation of spinel structures in the synthesised materials is confirmed, and their crystalline sizes are determined using scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and energy dispersive X-ray techniques. The dielectric properties, conductivities, loss tangents, and other parameters of the NiAl2O4-based substrates are analysed to evaluate their applicability as dielectric materials for the microwave frequency range. The obtained results show that the fabricated Ni36 and Ni42 nickel aluminates possess dielectric constants of 4.94 and 4.97 and loss tangents of 0.01 and 0.007, respectively; in addition, they exhibit high flexibility and light weight, which make them suitable for applications as metamaterial substrates. The synthesised structures are also validated experimentally using a commercially available electromagnetic simulator; as a result, double negative behaviour of the flexible metamaterials has been observed. Furthermore, it is found that the prepared NiAl2O4 substrates can be used in the S-, C-, and X-bands of the microwave frequency region.
Two members of 6-cysteine (6-cys) protein family, P48/45 and P230, are important for gamete fertility in rodent and human malaria parasites and are leading transmission blocking vaccine antigens. Rodent and human parasites encode a paralog of P230, called P230p. While P230 is expressed in male and female parasites, P230p is expressed only in male gametocytes and gametes. In rodent malaria parasites this protein is dispensable throughout the complete life-cycle; however, its function in P. falciparum is unknown. Using CRISPR/Cas9 methodology we disrupted the gene encoding Pfp230p resulting in P. falciparum mutants (PfΔp230p) lacking P230p expression. The PfΔp230p mutants produced normal numbers of male and female gametocytes, which retained expression of P48/45 and P230. Upon activation male PfΔp230p gametocytes undergo exflagellation and form male gametes. However, male gametes are unable to attach to red blood cells resulting in the absence of characteristic exflagellation centres in vitro. In the absence of P230p, zygote formation as well as oocyst and sporozoite development were strongly reduced (>98%) in mosquitoes. These observations demonstrate that P230p, like P230 and P48/45, has a vital role in P. falciparum male fertility and zygote formation and warrants further investigation as a potential transmission blocking vaccine candidate.
Zinc-air batteries are a promising technology for large-scale electricity storage. However, their practical deployment has been hindered by some issues related to corrosion and passivation of the zinc anode in an alkaline electrolyte. In this work, anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and nonionic surfactant Pluronic F-127 (P127) are examined their applicability to enhance the battery performances. Pristine zinc granules in 7 M KOH, pristine zinc granules in 0-8 mM SDS/7 M KOH, pristine zinc granules in 0-1000 ppm P127/7 M KOH, and SDS coated zinc granules in 7 M KOH were examined. Cyclic voltammograms, potentiodynamic polarization, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy confirmed that using 0.2 mM SDS or 100 ppm P127 effectively suppressed the anode corrosion and passivation. Nevertheless, direct coating SDS on the zinc anode showed adverse effects because the thick layer of SDS coating acted as a passivating film and blocked the removal of the anode oxidation product from the zinc surface. Furthermore, the performances of the zinc-air flow batteries were studied. Galvanostatic discharge results indicated that the improvement of discharge capacity and energy density could be sought by the introduction of the surfactants to the KOH electrolyte. The enhancement of specific discharge capacity for 30% and 24% was observed in the electrolyte containing 100 ppm P127 and 0.2 mM SDS, respectively.
Abnormal conduction and improper electrical impulse propagation are common in heart after myocardial infarction (MI). The scar tissue is non-conductive therefore the electrical communication between adjacent cardiomyocytes is disrupted. In the current study, we synthesized and characterized a conductive biodegradable scaffold by incorporating graphene oxide gold nanosheets (GO-Au) into a clinically approved natural polymer chitosan (CS). Inclusion of GO-Au nanosheets in CS scaffold displayed two fold increase in electrical conductivity. The scaffold exhibited excellent porous architecture with desired swelling and controlled degradation properties. It also supported cell attachment and growth with no signs of discrete cytotoxicity. In a rat model of MI, in vivo as well as in isolated heart, the scaffold after 5 weeks of implantation showed a significant improvement in QRS interval which was associated with enhanced conduction velocity and contractility in the infarct zone by increasing connexin 43 levels. These results corroborate that implantation of novel conductive polymeric scaffold in the infarcted heart improved the cardiac contractility and restored ventricular function. Therefore, our approach may be useful in planning future strategies to construct clinically relevant conductive polymer patches for cardiac patients with conduction defects.
Neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, are becoming more prevalent and an increasing burden on society. Neurodegenerative diseases often arise in the milieu of neuro-inflammation of the brain. Reactive astrocytes are key regulators in the development of neuro-inflammation. This study describes the effects of Palm Fruit Bioactives (PFB) on the behavior of human astrocytes which have been activated by IL-1β. When activated, the astrocytes proliferate, release numerous cytokines/chemokines including TNFα, RANTES (CCL5), IP-10 (CXCL10), generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), and express specific cell surface biomarkers such as the Intercellular Adhesion Molecule (ICAM), Vascular Cellular Adhesion Molecule (VCAM) and the Neuronal Cellular Adhesion Molecule (NCAM). Interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β) causes activation of human astrocytes with marked upregulation of pro-inflammatory genes. We show significant inhibition of these pro-inflammatory processes when IL-1β-activated astrocytes are exposed to PFB. PFB causes a dose-dependent and time-dependent reduction in specific cytokines: TNFα, RANTES, and IP-10. We also show that PFB significantly reduces ROS production by IL-1β-activated astrocytes. Furthermore, PFB also reduces the expression of ICAM and VCAM, both in activated and naïve human astrocytes in vitro. Since reactive astrocytes play an essential role in the neuroinflammatory state preceding neurodegenerative diseases, this study suggests that PFB may have a potential role in their prevention and/or treatment.