[Experimental] List of manuscripts available for review volunteers
32 manuscripts available for review volunteers
February 15, 2018
Evolutionary biology has entered an era of unprecedented amounts of DNA sequence data, as new sequencing platforms such as Massive Parallel Sequencing (MPS) can generate billions of nucleotides within less than a day. The current bottleneck is how to efficiently handle, process, and analyze such large amounts of data in an automated and reproducible way. To tackle these challenges we introduce the Sequence Capture Processor (SECAPR) pipeline for processing raw sequencing data into multiple sequence alignments for downstream phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses. SECAPR is user-friendly and we provide an exhaustive empirical data tutorial intended for users with no prior experience with analyzing MPS output. SECAPR is particularly useful for the processing of sequence capture (synonyms: target or hybrid enrichment) datasets for non-model organisms, as we demonstrate using an empirical sequence capture dataset of the palm genus Geonoma (Arecaceae). Various quality control and plotting functions help the user to decide on the most suitable settings for even challenging datasets. SECAPR is an easy-to-use, free, and versatile pipeline, aimed to enable efficient and reproducible processing of MPS data for many samples in parallel.
February 13, 2018
Understanding how and why individual movement translates into dispersal between populations is a long-term goal in ecology. Movement is broadly defined as “any change in the spatial location of an individual”, whereas dispersal is more narrowly defined as a movement that may lead to gene flow. Because the former may create the condition for the latter, behavioural decisions that lead to dispersal may be detectable in underlying movement behaviour. In addition, dispersing individuals also have specific sets of morphological and behavioural traits that help them coping with the costs of movement and dispersal, and traits that mitigate costs should be under selection and evolve if they have a genetic basis. Here we experimentally study the relationships between movement behaviour, morphology and dispersal across 44 genotypes of the actively dispersing unicellular, aquatic model organism Tetrahymena thermophila. We used two-patch populations to quantify individual movement trajectories, as well as activity, morphology and dispersal rate. First, we studied variation in movement behaviour among and within genotypes (i.e. between dispersers and residents) and tested whether this variation can be explained by morphology. Then, we address how much the dispersal rate is driven by differences in the underlying movement behaviour. Genotypes expressed different movements in terms of speed and path tortuosity. We also detected marked movement differences between resident and dispersing individuals, mediated by the genotype. Movement variation was partly explained by morphological properties such as cell size and shape, with larger cells consistently showing higher movement speed and lower tortuosity. Genetic differences in activity and diffusion rates were positively related to the observed dispersal and jointly explained 45% of the variation in dispersal rate. Our study shows that a detailed understanding of the interplay between morphology, movement and dispersal may have potential to improve dispersal predictions over broader spatio-temporal scales.
February 10, 2018
Accurate detection of target microbial species in metagenomic datasets from environmental samples remains limited because the limit of detection of current methods is typically inaccessible and the frequency of false-positives, resulting from inadequate identification of regions of the genome that are either too highly conserved to be diagnostic (e.g., rRNA genes) or prone to frequent horizontal genetic exchange (e.g., mobile elements) remains unknown. To overcome these limitations, we introduce imGLAD, which aims to detect genomic sequences in metagenomic datasets. imGLAD achieves high accuracy because it uses the sequence-discrete population concept for discriminating between metagenomic reads originating from the target organism compared to reads from co-occurring close relatives, masks regions of the genome that are not informative using the MyTaxa engine, and models both the sequencing breadth and depth to determine relative abundance and limit of detection. We validated imGLAD by analysing metagenomic datasets derived from spinach leafs inoculated with the enteric pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 and showed that its limit of detection is comparable to that of PCR-based approaches (~1 cell/gram).
February 10, 2018
Schistosomiasis is a debilitating disease affecting over 200 million people with the highest burden of morbidity and mortality in African countries. Despite its huge impact on the health and socioeconomic status of the society, it remains a neglected tropical disease with limited attention from governments and stakeholders in healthcare. One of the critical areas hugely neglected is the development of accurate diagnostics for both intestinal and urinary schistosomiasis. Diagnosis of schistosomiasis is important for the detection and treatment of disease in endemic and non-endemic settings. A conclusive detection method is also an indispensable part of treatment, both in the clinic and during mass drug administration (MDA) for monitoring the efficacy of treatment. Here, we review the available diagnostic methods and discuss the challenges encountered in diagnosis in resource limited settings. We also present available diagnostics, strengths, weaknesses and their applicability in resource-poor settings. Lastly, we emphasize the need for more funding directed towards development of rapid diagnostic tools that can accurately detect both intestinal and urinary schistosomiasis that is applicable in resource-limited settings where the highest burden of disease is present.
February 9, 2018

Background. Sustainable purchasing can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at healthcare facilities (HCF). A previous study found that converting from disposable to reusable sharps containers (DSC, RSC) reduced sharps waste stream GHG by 84% but, in finding transport distances impacted significantly on GHG outcomes, recommended further studies where transport distances are large. This case-study examines the impact on GHG of nation-wide transport distances when a large US health system converted from DSC to RSC.

Methods. The study examined the alternate use of DSC and RSC at a large US university hospital where: the source of polymer was distant from the RSC manufacturing plant; both manufacturing plants were over 3,000 km from the HCF; and the RSC disposal plant was considerably further from the HCF than was the DSC disposal plant. Using a “cradle to grave” life cycle assessment (LCA) tool we calculated annual GHG emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O) in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2eq) to assess the impact on global warming potential (GWP) of each container system. Primary energy input data was used wherever possible and region-specific impact conversions used to calculate GWP of each activity over a 12-month period. Unit process GHG were collated into Manufacture, Transport, Washing, and Treatment & disposal. Emission totals were workload-normalized and analysed using CHI2 test with P ≤0.05 and rate ratios at 95% CL.

Results. The hospital reduced its annual GWP by 168 MTCO2eq (-64.5%; p < 0.001), and annually eliminated 50.2 tonnes of plastic DSC and 8.1 tonnes of cardboard from the sharps waste stream. Of the plastic eliminated, 31.8 tonnes were diverted from landfill and 18.4 from incineration.

Discussion. Unlike GHG reduction strategies dependent on changes in staff behaviour (waste segregation, recycling, turning off lights, car-pooling, etc), purchasing strategies can enable immediate, sustainable and institution-wide GHG reductions to be achieved. Medical waste containers contribute significantly to the supply chain carbon footprint and, although non-sharp medical waste volumes have decreased significantly with avid segregation, sharps wastes have increased,and can account for 50% of total medical waste volume. Thus converting from DSC to RSC can assist reduce the GWP footprint of the medical waste stream. This study confirmed that large transport distances between polymer manufacturer and container manufacturer; container manufacturer and user; and/or between user and processing facilities, can significantly impact the GWP of sharps containment systems. However, even with large transport distances, we found that a large university health system significantly reduced the GWP of their sharps waste stream by converting from DSC to RSC.

February 8, 2018
Study of the ecology of mesopelagic fish is central to assessing the active biological pump in the ocean, especially in the mesopelagic layer. As a consequence of the small size and pressure change, traditional stomach content analysis is not useful for analyzing the feeding behavior of mesopelagic fish. The use of δ13C and fatty acid analyses can help to resolve this problem. The mesopelagic fish examined in this study were collected from the continental slope in the north of the South China Sea (SCS), and are compared with nearshore SCS fish and fish collected from the Southern Ocean. The unusually high lipid content of the mesopelagic fish resulted in △δ13C values (i.e., the difference in δ13C between unextracted and extracted tissues) exceeding 1‰, which is more than the enrichment factor in the food web. Thus, extraction of lipids was conducted prior to δ13C isotope analysis for the study of trophic interactions of mesopelagic fish. Compared with other fish, mesopelagic fish had high C18:1n-9/C18:1n-7 and C20:1n-9/ C18:1n-7 ratios, which confirms that plankton is their main dietary source. Diatoms comprise a higher proportion of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean and a lower proportion in the SCS, and this is reflected in the C20:5n-3/C22:6n-3 (EPA/DHA) ratio in mesopelagic fish in each region. The low EPA/DHA ratio in SCS fish indicates that diatoms are not the main component in the diet of mesopelagic fish. The SCS mesopelagic fish had higher C20:4n-6/C22:6n-3 (ARA/DHA) and C20:4n-6/C20:5n-3 (ARA/EPA) ratios than fish in the Southern Ocean. This result suggests that physical factors (e.g., temperature) also affect the fatty acid composition of these fish, particularly because certain fatty acids enable the fish to better adapt to extreme environmental conditions. Future studies of the synthesis of fatty acids in particular species should take account of both the dietary sources and physical factors in their environment.
February 7, 2018

Background and Objective: Clinical and experimental observations emphasize the role of inflammation as a direct risk factor for stroke. To better characterize the inflammation, we have conducted a detailed histological analysis of the inflammatory cell population after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in a rat model.

Methods: Fifteen adult Wistar male rats were divided randomly into test (n=10) and sham (n=5) groups. In the ischemic group, transient focal cerebral ischemia was induced with an intraluminal filament technique. Histologic lesions of the ischemic core and the surrounding penumbra zone were evaluated, based on a complex algorithm. Representative morphological changes in the core and the penumbra zone were compared. Immunohistochemistry was performed for leukocytes markers (CD15, CD68, CD3), leukocyte-released effectors (MMP-9 and COX-2), and FXIII (possibly involved in microglia and macrophage activation)

Results: Neuronal vacuolation and degeneration were significantly more in the core lesion, whereas cellular edema and inflammatory infiltrate were increased in the penumbra. CD68, CD3, FXIII and Cox-2 expression were significantly higher in the penumbra than in the core (p=0.026; p=0.006; p=0.002; and p<0.001).

Discussion: In the rat model of middle cerebral artery occlusion, inflammatory mechanisms, microglia/macrophage cells, and T-lymphocytes likely play an important role in the penumbra. The deterioration of neurons is less in the penumbra than in the core. Appreciation of the role of the inflammatory cells and mechanisms involved in stroke might lead to measures to inhibit the injury and save brain volume.

February 6, 2018
Oligo-carrageenan (OC) kappa increases net photosynthesis, and basal and secondary metabolism enzyme activitiesin Eucalyptus globulus trees. Here, trees were sprayed on leaves with water (control) or with OC kappa 1 mg ml-1, once a week, four times in total, and cultivated for 17 additional weeks (21 weeks in total). Height, level of glucose, trehalose, TOR phosphorylated in Ser2448 (TOR-P) and transcripts encoding TOR and S6 kinase (S6K) as well as the level of transcripts encoding proteins and enzymes involved in glucose accumulation, photosynthesis, C, N and S assimilation, and synthesis of phenylpropanoid compounds (PPCs) and terpenes were determined. Treated trees showed an increase in height of 105% compared to controls at week 21. Treated trees showed an increase in glucose and trehalose level having an oscillatory pattern with maximal levels for glucose at week 1, 9-11 and 17-19, and for trehalose at weeks 1-3, 5, 8-9, 12, 15-16 and 18-21. TOR-P showed increases from week 1 until the end of the experiment with peaks at weeks 2, 6, 12 and 16. The level of tor transcripts showed peaks at weeks 3, 6, 10-11 and 13 whereas the level of s6k transcripts remained unchanged. In addition, transcripts encoding proteins involved in photosynthesis, and enzymes involved in glucose accumulation, C, N and S assimilation, and synthesis of secondary metabolites showed an oscillatory pattern with increases mainly at weeks 3-4, 5-6, 10-11, and in some cases at weeks 13-14 and 16-18. Thus, the increases in trehalose levels better correlate with increases in TOR-P and transcript levels. Therefore, OC kappa induced an increase in the levels of glucose, trehalose, TOR-P and expression of genes involved in photosynthesis, and basal and secondary metabolism which may explain, at least in part, the increase in growth and defense responses in E. globulus trees.
February 3, 2018
The regulation of signalling molecules plays an important role in the ability of plants to adapt to changing environments. Nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) are important signalling molecules in plant abiotic stress responses. NO and H2O2 transmit signals that influence gene expression by increasing Ca2+ levels in the cytoplasm. In addition, polyamines (PA) independently affect Ca2+ influx. PA metabolism can be mediated by H2O2, which is the product of oxidation during PA degradation. NO is also an essential signalling molecule that mediates physiological functions and protects plants from abiotic stresses. The PA biosynthetic pathway is an important target for improving plant tolerance to abiotic stress. Moreover, the results of transcriptional expression analyses of select genes revealed that some components of the salt stress signalling pathways are activated by exogenous PAs in response to salt stress. A complex relationship exists between H2O2, NO and PA metabolism. In this review, we attempt to elucidate the roles and interactive effects of these two signalling molecules based on current research. We also highlight the involvement of NO and H2O2 accumulation in the PA-related signalling pathway.
February 3, 2018
Background: Differently expressed circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been reported to play considerable role in tumor behavior, however, the expression profile and biological function of circRNAs in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) remains unknown. Thus, the study aimed to characterize the circRNA expression profile to comprehensively understand the biological behavior of PTC. Methods: We investigated the expression profile of circRNAs using circRNA microarray in three pairs of PTC and adjacent normal tissues. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to validate eight candidate circRNAs in 40 paired PTC tumors and adjacent normal samples. Next, we employed the bioinformatics tool to identify putative miRNA and circRNA-associated downstream genes, followed by constructing a network map of circRNA-miRNA-mRNA interactions and exploring the potential role of the candidate circRNAs. Results: A total of 206 up- and 177 down- deregulated circRNAs were identified in PTC tissues (fold change >1.5; p< 0.05). The expression of eight candidate circRNAs confirmed by qRT-PCR were significantly different between PTC and normal samples. The downstream genes of candidate circRNAs participated in various biological processes and signaling pathways. The most up and down deregulated circRNAs are has_circRNA_047771 and has_circRNA_007148. The lower expression level of has_circRNA_047771 was associated BRAFV600 mutation, lymph node metastasis (LNM), as well as with advance TNM stages (all P<0.05). The higher expression level of has_circRNA_007148 was significantly correlated with LNM (P<0.05). The area under receiver operating curve were0.876 (95% CI, 0.78-0.94) for has_circRNA_047771, and 0.846 (95% CI, 0.75-0.96) for has_circRNA_007148. Discussion: The study suggests that dysregulated circRNAs play critical role in PTC pathogenesis. PTC-related has_circRNA_047771 and has_circRNA_007148 may serve as potential diagnostic biomarkers and prognostic predictors for PTC patients.
February 2, 2018

Background. Experiencing an adequate amount of cold temperatures over winter is necessary for many temperate tree species to break dormancy and flower in spring. Thus, changes in winter and spring temperatures associated with climate change may influence when trees break dormancy and flower in the future. There have been several experimental studies that have quantified the effectiveness of cold temperatures for chilling requirements for vegetative budburst of temperate trees, however, there are few experimental studies addressing the chilling requirements for reproductive budburst of trees, as it is difficult to place reproductively mature trees in temperature-controlled environments.

Methods. To identify how changing temperatures associated with climate change may impact reproductive phenology, we completed a temperature-controlled growth chamber experiment using cuttings of reproductive branches of red alder (Alnus rubra), one of the most widespread hardwood tree species of the Pacific Northwest, USA. The purpose of this study was to examine how colder (4 °C) and warmer (9 °C) winter temperature regimes influenced the timing of reproductive budburst of red alder cuttings in spring.

Results. We found that cuttings flowered earlier after pretreatment with a 4 °C winter temperature regime than after a 9 °C winter temperature regime. We used our experimental data to estimate a “possibility-line” showing the accumulated chilling and forcing temperatures necessary prior to reproductive budburst of red alder.

Discussion. This study provides a preliminary indication that warmer winters with climate change may not be as effective for satisfying chilling temperature requirements of Northwest hardwood tree species.

February 2, 2018
Gammaherpesviruses are host specific DNA viruses that infect a large range of mammalian species. These viruses preferentially target host lymphocyte cell populations and infection may lead to morbidity or mortality in immunocompromised, co-infected, or non-adapted hosts. In this study, we tested for the presence of GHV in a northeastern United States population of wild bobcats (Lynx rufus) and estimated prevalence of infection using quantitative real-time PCR. Intensity of Lynx rufus gammaherpesvirus 1 (LruGHV1) infection was estimated by quantifying viral load from spleen DNA collected from 64 Vermont bobcats. We observed an overall prevalence of 64% using this methodology. Bobcat age was significantly positively associated with GHV infection status, and we noted a trend for higher viral loads in young animals, but prevalence and viral load were similar in male and female bobcats. A single LruGHV1 variant was identified from the sequencing of the viral glycoprotein B gene of Vermont bobcats. This gene sequence was 100% similar to that reported in Florida bobcats and slightly variant from other strains identified in the Western US. Our work suggests broad geographic distribution and high prevalence of LruGHV1 in bobcat populations across the United States with infection attributes that suggest horizontal transmission of the agent. Geographic differences in viral genotype may reflect historical migration and expansion events among bobcat populations.
February 2, 2018

Background. Woody plant encroachment into drylands is a geographically extensive land cover change that can have strong impacts on the structure and function of arid and semiarid ecosystems. This vegetation change often modifies soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and dynamics, and appears to be an important yet uncertain component of the carbon (C) cycle in global drylands. To reduce this uncertainty, sampling is needed at broader spatial scales, at greater depths in the soil profile, and within a chronological context.

Methods. We quantified spatial patterns of soil δ13C across a landscape to a depth of 1.2 m in a subtropical savanna undergoing woody encroachment. These data were then examined in a chronological context using prior soil radiocarbon (14C) measurements and historical aerial photography to provide an integrated assessment of the timing of this vegetation change and its impacts on SOC dynamics.

Results. We found that woody encroachment dramatically altered spatial patterns of soil δ13C through the entire soil profile, with soil δ13C being lowest in the centers of woody patches, increasing towards canopy edges, and reaching highest values within the grassland matrix. Soil δ13C and radiocarbon measurements on SOC throughout the soil profile indicated that this landscape was once primarily dominated by C4 grasses over timescales of hundreds to thousands of years ago. However, a rapid shift in vegetation dominance occurred during the past 100-200 years, characterized by (1) the increasing abundance of C3 forbs within the remnant grassland matrix, and (2) the active formation and expansion of woody patches across this landscape. This shift in vegetation dominance has substantially increased the proportion of new soil C derived from C3 plants into the SOC pool throughout the soil profile.

Discussion. These findings are consistent with other reports that vegetation in many dryland ecosystems is undergoing dramatic and rapid changes resulting in increased SOC storage, with implications for the C cycle at regional and global scales.

February 2, 2018
One often overlooked property of estrogens is their ability to modulate nociception. Aromatase, an enzyme which performs a one-way conversion of an androgen into an estrogen, is present and active in the brain and spinal cord and is necessary for proper pain perception. This review discusses both rapid and classical estrogen signaling, estrogen's ability to modulate other neurotransmitters, and its influence on long-term potentiation. Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome associated with central sensitization, is an example of a disorder that may be caused by dysregulated central aromatase activity. Symptoms of fibromyalgia that are not directly associated with pain, such as sleep and mood disturbances, are also discussed in the context of how they may be influenced by estrogens in the central nervous system.
February 2, 2018
Color is a central aspect of biology, with important impacts on ecology and evolution. Organismal color may be adaptive or incidental, seasonal or permanent, species- or population-specific, or modified for breeding, defense or camouflage. Thus, measuring and comparing color among organisms provides important biological insights. However, color comparison is limited by color categorization methods, with few universal tools available for quantitative color profiling and comparison. We present a package of R tools for processing images of organisms (or other objects) in order to quantify color profiles, gather color trait data, and compare color palettes in a reproducible way. The package treats image pixels as 3D coordinates in “color space", producing a multidimensional color histogram for each image. Pairwise distances between histograms are computed using earth mover's distance or a combination of more conventional distance metrics. The user sets parameters for generating color histograms, and comparative color profile analysis is performed through pairwise comparisons to produce a color distance matrix for a set of images. The toolkit provided in the colordistance R package can be used for analyses involving quantitative color variation in organisms with statistical testing. We illustrate the use of colordistance with three biological examples: hybrid coloration in butterflyfishes; mimicry in wing coloration in Heliconius butterflies; and analysis of background matching in camouflaging flounder fish. The tools presented for quantitative color analysis may be applied to a broad range of questions in biology and other disciplines.
January 31, 2018
Background
Although previous evidence has shown that physical activity and physical fitness lower the level of psychological distress, little is known of simultaneous associations between physical activity and physical fitness and psychological distress, especially in young adults. Therefore, the main purpose of the present study was to explore both separate and simultaneous association between physical activity and physical fitness with psychological distress.
Methods
Participants in this cross-sectional study were 2100 university students (1041 men and 1059 women) chosen from 8 faculties in the city of Zagreb. Physical activity, physical fitness and psychological distress were assessed using structured questionnaires. The associations were examined using logistic regression analysis.
Results
In unadjusted model, 'insufficient' physical activity (OR=3.16; 95% CI 2.37-4.21) and 'lower' physical fitness (tertile 2; OR=2.39; 95% CI 1.56-3.66 and tertile 1; OR=3.77; 95% CI 2.45-5.81) were associated with 'high' psychological distress. After adjusting for gender, body-mass index, self-rated health, material status, binge drinking, chronic disease/s and sleep quality, 'insufficient' physical activity (OR=2.35; 95% CI 1.72-3.21) and 'lower' physical fitness (tertile 2; OR=1.77; 95% CI 1.14-2.77 and tertile 1; OR=2.00; 95% CI 1.26-3.20) remained associated with 'high' psychological distress.
Conclusions
Our study shows that both 'insufficient' physical activity and 'lower' levels of physical fitness are associated with 'high' psychological distress, even after adjusting for numerous covariates. Therefore, special policies aiming to increase the levels of physical activity and fitness are warranted.
January 30, 2018
Biomonitoring is a common method to monitor environmental change in river ecosystems, a key advantage of biomonitoring over snap-shot physicochemical monitoring is that it provides a more stable, long-term. insight into change that is also effects-based. In New Zealand, the main biomonitoring method is a macroinvertebrate sensitivity scoring index, with little established methods available for biomonitoring of fish. This study models the contemporary distribution of common freshwater fish and then uses those models to predict freshwater fish assemblages for each river reach under reference conditions. Comparison of current fish assemblages with those predicted in reference conditions (as observed/expected ratios) may provide a suitable option for freshwater fish biomonitoring. Most of the fish communities throughout the central North Island and lower reaches show substantial deviation from the modelled reference community. Most of this deviation is explained by nutrient enrichment, followed by downstream barriers (i.e., dams) and loss of riparian vegetation. The presence of modelled introduced species had relatively little on the presence of the modelled native fish. The maps of observed/expected fish assemblage may provide a rapid way to identify potential restoration sites.
January 30, 2018

Background The spruce forests are dominant communities in northwest China, and play a key role in national carbon budgets. However, the patterns of carbon stock distribution and accumulation potential across stand ages are poorly documented.

Methods We investigated the carbon stocks in biomass and soil in the natural spruce forests in the region by surveys on 39 plots. Biomass of tree components were estimated using allometric equations previously established based on tree height and diameter at breast height, while biomass in understory (shrub and herb) and forest floor were determined by total harvesting method. Fine root biomass was estimated by soil coring technique. Carbon stocks in various biomass components and soil (0–100 cm) were estimated by analyzing the carbon content of each component.

Results The results showed that carbon stock in these forest ecosystems can be as high as 510.1 t ha-1, with an average of 449.4 t ha-1. Carbon stock ranged from 28.1 to 93.9 t ha-1 and from 0.6 to 8.7 t ha-1 with stand ages in trees and deadwoods, respectively. The proportion of shrubs, herbs, fine roots, litter, and deadwoods ranged from 0.1%–1% of the total ecosystem carbon, and was age-independent. Fine roots and deadwood which contribute to about 2% of the biomass carbon should be attached considerable weight in the investigation of natural forests. Soil carbon stock did not show a changing trend with stand age, ranging from 254.2 to 420.0 t ha-1 with an average of 358.7 t ha-1. The average value of carbon sequestration potential for these forests was estimated as 29.4 t ha-1, with the lower aged ones being the dominant contributor. The maximum carbon sequestration rate was 2.47 t ha-1 year-1 appearing in the growth stage of 37–56 years.

Conclusion The carbon stock in biomass was the major contributor to the increment of carbon stock in ecosystems. Stand age is not a good predictor of soil carbon stocks and accurate evaluation of the soil carbon dynamics thus requires long-term monitoring in situ. The results not only revealed carbon stock status and dynamics in these natural forests but were helpful to understand the role of Natural Forest Protection project in forest carbon sequestration as well.

January 30, 2018
Objective. To verify self-reported basic and instrumental activities of daily living disability and the results of performance-based tests, including the Taiwan Performance-based Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (TPIADL), the two-minute step test, the 30-second chair-stand test and handgrip dynamometer measurement in order to identify disability early and assess the associations with functional fitness in advanced chronic kidney disease patients. Methods. A cross-sectional study of 99 chronic kidney disease (stage 4-5) and 57 normal health elder adults were recruited. Self-reported measures were used to collect information on basic (Barthel Index) and instrumental activities of daily living (Lawton-Brody scale). Objective measures of TPIADL and functional fitness (2-minute step test, 30-second chair-stand test, handgrip dynamometer) were also assessed. Results. Only instrumental activities of daily living impairment, as detected by TPIADL, was greater than normal health elderly adults. Of all patients with CKD, the greater impaired at TPIADL remained statistically associated with the lower ability of two-minute step test. 1 time increase in 2-minute step test was significantly associated with about 0.2 second decrease in total performance time of TPIADL. Conclusion. Performance-based measure, such as TPIADL, may detect a functional limitation before it becomes measurable by traditional self-reported basic and instrumental activities of daily living scales and is mainly associated with cardiac endurance for the advanced chronic kidney disease.
January 30, 2018
Homeoviscous adaptation (HVA) is a key cellular response by which fish protect their membranes against thermal stress. We investigated evolutionary HVA (long time scale) in Antarctic and non-Antarctic fish. Membrane lipid composition was determined for four Perciformes fish: two closely related Antarctic notothenioid species (Trematomus bernacchii and Pagothenia borchgrevinki); a diversified related notothenioid Antarctic icefish (Chionodraco hamatus); and a New Zealand species (Notolabrus celidotus). The membrane lipid compositions were consistent across the three Antarctic species and these were significantly different from that of the New Zealand species. Furthermore, acclimatory HVA (short time periods with seasonal changes) was investigated to determine whether stenothermal Antarctic fish, which evolved in the cold, stable environment of the Southern Ocean, have lost the acclimatory capacity to modulate their membrane saturation states, making them vulnerable to anthropogenic global warming. We compared liver membrane lipid composition in two closely related Antarctic fish species acclimated at 0 °C (control temperature), 4 °C for a period of 14 days in Trematomus bernacchii and 28 days for Pagothenia borchgrevinki, and 6 °C for 7 days in both species. Thermal acclimation at 4 °C did not result in changed membrane saturation states in either Antarctic species. Despite this, membrane functions were not compromised, as indicated by declining serum osmolality, implying positive compensation by enhanced hypo-osmoregulation. Increasing the temperature to 6 °C did not change the membrane lipids of P. borchgrevinki. However, in T. bernacchii, thermal acclimation at 6 °C resulted in an increase of membrane saturated fatty acids and a decline in unsaturated fatty acids. This is the first study to show a homeoviscous response to higher temperatures in an Antarctic fish, although for only one of the two species examined.
January 29, 2018
Background. When suffering from chronic pain, attempts to control or avoid pain often compete with other daily activities. Engaging in one activity excludes engaging in another, equally valued activity, which is referred to as “goal conflict”. As yet, the presence and effects of goal conflicts in patients with chronic pain remain poorly understood.

Methods. Therefore, this study systematically mapped the presence and experience of goal conflicts in patients with fibromyalgia compared to healthy controls. Forty patients and 37 controls completed a semi-structured interview in which they first reconstructed the previous day, identified conflicts experienced during that day, and classified each of the conflicting goals in one of nine goal categories.

Results. Additionally, they assessed how they experienced the previous day and the reported conflicts. Results showed that patients did not experience more goal conflicts than healthy controls, but that they did differ in the type of conflicts experienced. Compared to controls, patients reported more conflicts related to pain, and fewer conflicts involving work-related, social or pleasure-related goals. Moreover, patients experienced conflicts as more aversive and more difficult to resolve than control participants.

Discussion. This study provides more insight in the dynamics of goal conflict in daily life, and indicates that patients experience conflict as more aversive than controls, and that conflict between pain control (and avoidance) and other valued activities is part of the life of patients.

January 26, 2018
Background: Previous research suggests motion induced fatigue (MIF) contributes to significant performance degradation and is likely related to a higher incidence of accidents and injuries. However, the exact effect of continuous multidirectional platform perturbations on energy cost with experienced personnel on boats and other seafaring vessels remains unknown. Objective: The objective of this experiment was to measure the metabolic energy costs (EC) associated with maintaining postural stability in a motion-rich environment. Methods: Twenty volunteer participants, who were free of any musculoskeletal or balance disorders, performed three tasks while immersed in a moving environment that varied motion profiles similar to those experienced by workers on a mid-size commercial fishing vessel (static platform (baseline), low and high motions). Measures of ventilation were collected using a portable metabolic system that continuously measured breath-by-breath samples and heart rate using a wireless heart monitor. Results: Results indicate a systematic increase in metabolic costs associated with increased platform motions. The increases were most pronounced during the standing and lifting activities and were 50% greater during the high motion condition when compared to no motion. Increased heart rates were also observed. Discussion: Platform motions have a significant impact on metabolic costs that are both task and magnitude of motion dependent. Practitioners must take into consideration the influence of motion rich environments upon the systematic accumulation of operator fatigue.
January 25, 2018
In order to save resources, honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in the temperate zones stop brood rearing during winter. Brood rearing is resumed in late winter to build up a sufficient worker force that allows to exploit floral resources in upcoming spring. The timing of brood onset in hibernating colonies is crucial and a premature brood onset could lead to an early depletion of energy reservoirs. However, the mechanisms underlying the timing of brood onset and potential risks of mistiming in the course of ongoing climate change are not well understood. To assess the relative importance of ambient temperature and photoperiod as potential regulating factors for brood rearing activity in hibernating colonies, we overwintered 24 honey bee colonies within environmental chambers. The colonies were assigned to two different temperature treatments and three different photoperiod treatments to disentangle the individual and interacting effects of temperature and photoperiod. Tracking in-hive temperature as indicator for brood rearing activity revealed that increasing ambient temperature triggered brood onset. Under cold conditions, photoperiod alone did not affect brood onset, but the light regime altered the impact of higher ambient temperature on brood rearing activity. Further the number of brood rearing colonies increased with elapsed time which suggests the involvement of an internal clock. We conclude that timing of brood onset in late winter is mainly driven by temperature but modulated by photoperiod. Climate warming might change the interplay of these factors and result in mismatches of brood phenology and environmental conditions.
January 25, 2018

Background. Acitretin is a second-generation synthetic retinoid, and is widely used for treating the severe psoriasis vulgaris. However, it should be chosen with caution for its cardiovascular risk, and it is reported that acitretin may increase the serum lipids. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between the SFRP4 rs1802073 polymorphism and the changes of serum lipids in Chinese psoriatic patients during the treatment with acitretin.

Methods. In our study, 100 psoriatic patients were recruited and systematically treated with acitretin (30 mg/day) for at least 8 weeks. Data of the patients’ demographic and clinical characteristics and the results of serum triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) were collected pre- and post-treatment.

Results. A total of 84 psoriatic patients were enrolled and divided into three groups by SFRP4 rs1802073 genotypes. The patients who carried with TT genotype had maintained levels of TG and LDL-C after acitretin treatment, while patients with GG/GT genotypes had significantly elevated levels of serum TG and LDL-C compared to the TT genotype (△TG%: 27.53±59.13 vs -1.47±37.79, p=0.026, △LDL-C%: 10.62±26.57 vs -1.29±17.07, p=0.042). The association of rs1802073 with TG and LDL-C profiles remained significant after adjusting for age, gender, and body mass index. Although without significance, the pre-post change in serum level of TC across rs1802073 GG/GT genotypes demonstrated a trend similar to TG and LDL.

Conclusions. Our results demonstrated that SFRP4 rs1802073 polymorphism was found to be associated with elevated serum lipid levels after acitretin treatment, and it may serve as a genetic marker of safe and precise treatment for individual psoriatic patients.

January 24, 2018

Background: Experts suggest we switch our focus from burnout to measuring positive organizational psychology. Concerns include burnout being a late sign of organizational decline. The Baldrige survey is promoted by the U.S. Department of Commerce to measure positive worksite conditions of industries including health care and education. For years, the survey has been completed by external examiners of organizations, but now the same survey is also promoted for completion by the organization’s workforce. We tested the structure of the Baldrige survey, when completed by the workforce, and also whether the results in an academic worksite correlate with an example metric of an organizational mission.

Methods: In 2015, our academic health center surveyed faculty and staff with the Baldrige. The validity of the Baldrige was tested with confirmatory factor analyses. Within the School of Medicine, responses for the Baldrige’s concepts were correlated against a measure of organizational outcome: graduates’ assessments of Departmental educational quality.

Results: The structure of the Baldrige did not validate from the workforce’s perspective (RMSEA=0.086; CFI=0.829; TLI=0.815). None of its concepts correlated with learner reported educational quality.

Conclusions: The Baldrige survey, when administered to a workforce, does not appear to measure workforce well-being within an academic health care center. We discourage use of the current survey for this purpose.

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