Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
  • Graz, Styria, Austria
Recent publications
Populations and infrastructure in high mountain regions are exposed to a wide range of natural hazards, the frequency, magnitude, and location of which are extremely sensitive to climate change. In cases where several hazards can occur simultaneously or where the occurrence of one event will change the disposition of another, assessments need to account for complex process chains. While process chains are widely recognized as a major threat, no systematic analysis has hitherto been undertaken. We therefore establish new understanding on the factors that directly trigger or alter the disposition for subsequent events in the chain and derive a novel classification scheme and parameters to aid natural hazard assessment. Process chains in high mountains are commonly associated with glacier retreat or permafrost degradation. Regional differences exist in the nature and rate of sequencing—some process chains are almost instantaneous, while other linkages are delayed. Process chains involving rapid sequences are difficult to predict, and impacts are often devastating. We demonstrate that process chains are triggered most frequently by progressive failures, being the result of gradual landscape weakening and not due to the occurrence of a distinct process. If fluvial processes are part of the process chain the reach (or mobility) of process chains is increased. Increased mobility can also occur if sediment deposition areas along river channels are activated. As climate changes causes glacial environments to transform into sediment‐rich paraglacial and fluvial landscapes, it is expected that the mobility of process chains will increase in the future.
Molecular genetic analyses of Caribbean populations of the supposedly widespread intertidal oribatid mite Alismobates inexpectatus revealed the existence of a cryptic species. The new species, Alismobates piratus sp. n., shows considerable COI and 18S rRNA gene sequence divergences and although morphometric analyses indicate considerable variation between the taxa, no distinguishing morphological feature could be detected. The extreme intertidal environment is suggested to be responsible for the observed morphological stasis of the two species and vicariance is supposed to be responsible for their speciation. Alismobates piratus sp. n. was found on Hispaniola, Guadeloupe, Barbados and Curaçao indicating a predominant distribution on the Greater and Lesser Antilles, whereas the occurrence of A. inexpectatus is primarily restricted to Central America, the northern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles. Haplotype network analyses indicate distinct geographic structuring and the absence of recent gene flow among the Antillean A. piratus sp. n. populations. Central American and Antillean populations of A. inexpectatus show similar patterns but populations from Bermuda and the Bahamas are characterized by a common origin and subsequent expansion. Genetic landscape analysis demonstrates that vast stretches of open ocean, like the Caribbean Basin and the Western Atlantic, act as rather effective barriers, whereas the continuous continental coastline of Central and North America may facilitate dispersal. Genetic data also indicates that the Gulf Stream plays an important role for the biogeography of intertidal oribatid mites as it may be responsible for the strong link between Central and North American populations as well as for the colonization of Bermuda.
In 2012, European Union Member States committed to implement policies for the Validation of Nonformal and Informal Learning (VNFIL). In this article, we examine Austria and Italy and ask how VNFIL policies in these two countries relate to informal learning (IL) and how this can be interpreted from a workplace learning (WPL) perspective. The notion of IL in VNFIL is largely based on a psychological understanding of learning. We argue that a WPL perspective complements this understanding and serves to better understand learning at work. Based on assumptions concerning the influence of national education and training systems on VNFIL, a comparison is made along three categories: the preferred type of VNFIL, the notion of IL, and the references to workplaces. Despite preferences for summative types of VNFIL, Austria acknowledges a range of types, while Italy is still in the process of development and prefers the so-called autonomous type. Findings suggest a minimalistic understanding of IL in Austria contrasting with Italy, in which IL is seen as firmly embedded within Lifelong Learning. The references to workplaces are weak in both countries. We finally address the role of employers as a delicate issue for VNFIL, when embedded in educational policies.
Background Sarcopenia in liver cirrhosis is associated with low quality of life and high mortality risk. The pathogenesis has yet to be fully understood. We hypothesized that gut microbiome, bile acid (BA) composition and metabolites differ between cirrhotic patients with and without sarcopenia and contribute to pathogenesis. Methods Cirrhotic patients with ( n = 78) and without ( n = 38) sarcopenia and non‐cirrhotic controls with ( n = 39) and without ( n = 20) sarcopenia were included in this study. Faecal microbiome composition was studied by 16S rDNA sequencing, serum and faecal BA composition by ultra‐high‐performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry, and metabolite composition in serum, faeces and urine by nuclear magnetic resonance. Results Bacteroides fragilis , Blautia marseille , Sutterella spp. and Veillonella parvula were associated with cirrhotic patients with sarcopenia, whereas Bacteroides ovatus was more abundant in cirrhotic patients without sarcopenia. We observed significantly elevated secondary BAs, deoxycholic acid (DCA; P = 0.01) and lithocholic acid (LCA; P = 0.02), and the ratios of deoxycholic acid to cholic acid (DCA:CA; P = 0.04), lithocholic acid to chenodeoxycholic acid (LCA:CDCA; P = 0.03) and 12 alpha‐hydroxylated to non‐12 alpha‐hydroxylated BAs (12‐α‐OH:non‐12‐α‐OH BAs; P = 0.04) in serum of cirrhotic patients with sarcopenia compared with cirrhotic patients without sarcopenia, indicating an enhanced transformation of primary to secondary BAs by the gut microbiome. CA ( P = 0.02) and the ratios of CA:CDCA ( P = 0.03) and total ursodeoxycholic acid to total secondary BAs (T‐UDCA:total‐sec‐BAs, P = 0.03) were significantly reduced in the stool of cirrhotic patients with sarcopenia compared with cirrhotic patients without sarcopenia. Also, valine and acetate were significantly reduced in the serum of cirrhotic patients with sarcopenia compared with cirrhotic patients without sarcopenia ( P = 0.01 and P = 0.03, respectively). Multivariate logistic regression further confirmed the association of B. ovatus ( P = 0.01, odds ratio [OR]: 12.8, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 168.1; 2.2), the ratios of 12‐α‐OH:non‐12‐α‐OH BAs ( P = 0.03, OR: 2.54, 95% CI: 0.99; 6.55) and T‐UDCA:total‐sec‐BAs ( P = 0.04, OR: 0.25, 95% CI: 0.06; 0.98) in serum and stool CA:CDCA ( P = 0.04, OR: 0.79, 95% CI: 0.62; 0.99), and serum valine ( P = 0.04, OR: 1.00, 95% CI: 1.02; 1.00) with sarcopenia in cirrhosis after correcting for the severity of liver disease and sex. Conclusions Our study suggests a potential functional gut microbiome–host interaction linking sarcopenia with the altered gut microbiomes, BA profiles and amino acids pointing towards a potential mechanistic interplay in understanding sarcopenia pathogenesis.
The seventh pandemic of the diarrheal cholera disease, which began in 1960, is caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae . Its environmental persistence provoking recurring sudden outbreaks is enabled by V. cholerae's rapid adaption to changing environments involving sensory proteins like ToxR and ToxS. Located at the inner membrane, ToxR and ToxS react to environmental stimuli like bile acid, thereby inducing survival strategies e.g. bile resistance and virulence regulation. The presented crystal structure of the sensory domains of ToxR and ToxS in combination with multiple bile acid interaction studies, reveals that a bile binding pocket of ToxS is only properly folded upon binding to ToxR. Our data proposes an interdependent functionality between ToxR transcriptional activity and ToxS sensory function. These findings support the previously suggested link between ToxRS and VtrAC-like co-component systems. Besides VtrAC, ToxRS is now the only experimentally determined structure within this recently defined superfamily, further emphasizing its significance. In-depth analysis of the ToxRS complex reveals its remarkable conservation across various Vibrio species, underlining the significance of conserved residues in the ToxS barrel and the more diverse ToxR sensory domain. Unravelling the intricate mechanisms governing ToxRS's environmental sensing capabilities, provides a promising tool for disruption of this vital interaction, ultimately inhibiting Vibrio's survival and virulence. Our findings hold far-reaching implications for all Vibrio strains that rely on the ToxRS system as a shared sensory cornerstone for adapting to their surroundings.
Although it is clear that people experience physiological arousal in anticipation of news-focused medical consultations, our knowledge of people’s experiences during and throughout these consultations is scarce. We examine interbeat interval responses (IBI) of patients and doctors during real-life medical consultations to understand how the experiences of both parties change throughout these encounters and whether they differ from each other. We also examine how the type of news delivered affects responses. We measured the IBI responses of patients and their oncologists throughout 102 consultations in which providers delivered news (classified as good, bad, or status quo) to patients about a recent computerized tomography scan. We observed two distinct phases of consultations: an initial “news” delivery phase and a subsequent “information” phase. During the news phase, on average, patients’ IBI responses rapidly increased–indicating less autonomic arousal over time – whereas doctors’ responses did not change over time. In contrast, throughout the information phase, on average, both patients’ and doctors’ responses remained steady. During the information phase, responses differed based on news type: on average, status quo consultations involved an increase in autonomic arousal, whereas good and bad news consultations involved no changes. Lastly, we observed significant variability in patients’ responses during both phases. In sum, on average, patients (but not doctors) experience decreases in autonomic arousal while news is being delivered, suggesting that anticipatory distress regarding these consultations wanes quickly. However, our results also indicate that patients’ experiences vary from one another, and future research should focus on factors explaining this variability
Evaluating intraspecific genetic structure and diversity is fundamental to assessing a species’ conservation status, but direct incorporation of such information into legal frameworks such as the EU's Habitats Directive is surprisingly rare. How genetic structure aligns with EU member state boundaries or biogeographic regions may be very important in designing management plans or achieving legislative goals. The Eurasian fish otter experienced a sharp population decline during the 20th century but is currently re‐expanding in several countries. The species is listed under Annex II and IV of the European Habitats Directive, and member states are obliged to assess the species separately across different biogeographic regions. We genotyped 2492 otter spraints across four provinces in Austria, collected between 2017 and 2021. A total of 384 different genotypes were identified, supporting densities along river habitats from 0.1 to 0.47 otters per river km (mean: 0.306), with a resampling‐based simulation supporting limited density overestimation at survey lengths of 20 km or more. Three distinct genetic clusters were revealed, two of them presumably reflecting two relict populations whereas the source of the third cluster is unknown. The geographic extent of the three clusters does not coincide with provincial or biogeographic boundaries, both relevant for assessment and management within existing national or European legislative frameworks. We advocate more consideration of genetic structure in the assessment and conservation management planning of species listed in the European Habitats Directive.
Although young people spend increasing amounts of time online, many gaps remain in the literature regarding the effect of time spent online on young people's development of well-being. We focus on the influence of time spent online on feelings of self-reported (a) depression and (b) health of adolescents. We also consider the mediating role of digital skills and digital activities, each of which is broken down into five dimensions. We collected data through a two-wave longitudinal online survey among 3,942 adolescents aged 12–17 years in six European countries (first wave [W1] = 2021; second wave [W2] = 2022). We specifically want to understand how feelings of self-reported depression and health at W2 are affected by the time spent online at W1, and how digital skills and digital activities at W2 mediate these relationships. Findings indicate a significant increase in feelings of depression and a decrease in self-reported health between W1 and W2. Regarding digital skills, information navigation and communication and interaction were linked to greater well-being (lower depression and greater self-reported health). Regarding digital activities, the development of social relationships online was linked to lower self-reported depression and greater health, while frequently using the Internet to look up information on physical or mental health issues was strongly linked to greater depression and lower health. We discuss the implications of these findings for practice and policy on young people's well-being.
We expand research on the daily dynamics of employee effectiveness at work by integrating the core tenets of the Conservation of Resources Theory with the Broaden-and-Build Theory of positive emotions. Specifically, we argue that daily work-related self-control demands as a stressor deplete employees’ regulatory resources, which in turn impair work effectiveness because employees try to protect their remaining regulatory resources. Assuming that positive affect can replenish regulatory resources, we further propose that enhancing positive affect can alleviate employees from entering a resource preservation state on days with high self-control demands at work. We examined this integrated affect-resource model in a within-person field experiment over 12 workdays with 85 employees who received a daily text- or video-based positivity micro-intervention. Consistent with our predictions, the adverse effects of noon self-control demands on afternoon measures of employee effectiveness (work engagement, organizational citizenship behaviour, and creativity) via regulatory resource availability were attenuated on days when participants experienced positive affect, which was enhanced through the positivity micro-intervention. We discuss theoretical implications for the regulatory resource literature, methodological implications for the growing body of research on within-person field experiments in organizational research, and practical implications for introducing short interventions in daily working life.
First, we look at available and affordable state-of-the-art DOKs for AM for educational use. We then start with the hypothesis that the active approach of rebuilding a 3D Printing model is of a more profound didactic impact, using the user’s more dynamic interaction. Each part can be felt by the users in the hands, seen, and utilized interactively by building the whole 3D printing system together, building an interactive representation of knowledge in his or her brain. While educating the theoretical aspects, this co-building process deepens the impact of learning, as all the machine parts are theoretically and practically learned by their user interaction. This then implements the Rapid Manufacturing approach in so far as AM is involved in the learning environment of this system itself, on the building and (possibly) construction level. Hence it is an explicit cybernetic second-order approach. For the educational purpose in DOK for AM, we give an example of a possible learning unit and introduce by this, for the first time, a universal new model of human deep learning.
Generalised pustular psoriasis (GPP) is a rare, chronic, neutrophilic inflammatory skin disease characterised by episodes of widespread eruption of sterile, macroscopic pustules that can be accompanied by systemic inflammation and symptoms. A systematic literature review and narrative synthesis were conducted to determine the impact of GPP on patients’ health‐related quality of life (HRQoL) and patient‐reported severity of symptoms, and to compare its impact to patients with plaque psoriasis (plaque PsO). Searches were undertaken in Embase, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Library from January 1 st , 2002 to September 15 th , 2022. Screening was carried out by two reviewers independently. Outcome measures included generic (e.g. EQ‐5D, SF‐36) and dermatology‐specific (e.g. DLQI) clinical outcome assessments, and other relevant patient‐reported outcome measures (PROMs) (e.g. severity of pain measured by a numerical rating scale). Overall, 20 studies were found to be eligible for inclusion, of which seven also had data for plaque PsO. The DLQI was the most frequently reported outcome measure (16/20 studies). When reported, mean DLQI(SD) scores varied from 5.7 (1.2) to 15.8 (9.6) across the studies, indicating a moderate to very large effect on HRQoL; the wide range of scores and large SDs were explained by the small population sizes (n ≤12 for all studies except two). Similar ranges and large SDs were also observed for other measures within individual studies. However, in general, people with GPP reported a greater impact of their skin condition on HRQoL, when compared to people with plaque PsO (i.e. higher DLQI scores) and higher severity for itch, pain and fatigue. This systematic review highlighted the need for studies with a larger population size, a better understanding of the impact of cutaneous and extracutaneous symptoms and co‐morbidities on HRQoL during and between GPP flares, and outcome measures specifically tailored to the unique symptoms and the natural course/history of GPP.
Atherosclerosis, the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, cannot be sufficiently explained by established risk factors such as cholesterol. Elevated plasma homocysteine (Hcy) is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and is closely linked to cardiovascular mortality. However, its role in atherosclerosis has not been fully clarified. We have previously shown that rabbits fed a diet deficient in B vitamins and choline (VCDD), required for Hcy degradation, exhibit an accumulation of macrophages and lipids in the aorta, impairment of its biomechanical properties, and disorganization of aortic collagen in the absence of hypercholesterolemia and an aggravation of atherosclerosis in its presence. In the current study, plasma Hcy levels were increased by intravenous injections of Hcy into balloon-injured rabbits fed VCDD in the absence of hypercholesterolemia. This led to VCDD-like thin collagen-containing plaques with low levels of macrophages and lipids, massive accumulation of VLDL-triglycerides as well as an impaired K ⁺ -induced contraction and acetylcholine-induced relaxation of the aorta compared to rabbits fed VCDD alone. The observed elastin fragmentation and collagen disorganization indicate remodeling of scaffold proteins in response to elevated Hcy. Decreased total protein methylated arginine in blood cells and liver as well as altered metabolic profiles in blood cells, serum, and liver suggest additional mechanisms triggered in response to elevated plasma Hcy levels. We therefore conclude that elevated Hcy contributes to atherogenic transformation of the aorta not only in the presence but also in the absence of hypercholesterolemia.
This paper compares the social impact of the steel industry in Belgium, China, and the United States as well as the effects of substituting fossil coal with waste wood following the social Lifecycle Assessment (s-LCA) principles defined by the UNEP/SETAC guidelines. It also aims to be beneficial for practitioners by introducing the s-LCA method and its application to the steel industry. A simplified approach is used by identifying social impacts via the social hotspot database and basing the analysis on national figures for the steel industry. The analysis demonstrates that social risks in the production chain of a Belgian steel mill are mainly situated in the iron ore and coal mining area; for the steel mill in China in the steel-making process itself as well as in coal and limestone mining, whereas the risks are rather equally distributed across the production chain in the United States. As for replacing fossil coal with waste wood, the analysis shows that the effects of this substitution process depend on the location of the steel factory and the previous use of waste wood. Graphical Abstract
Identifying (bio)catalysts displaying high enantio/stereoselectivity is a fundamental prerequisite for the advancement of asymmetric catalysis. Here, a high‐throughput, stereoselective screening assay is reported giving information on enantioselectivity, stereopreference and activity showcased for peroxygenase catalyzed hydroxylation. The assay is based on analyzing spectrophotometrically the simultaneous formation of NAD(P)H from the alcohol dehydrogenase catalyzed enantioselective oxidation of the sec‐alcohol product during the peroxygenase reaction. The assay was applied to investigate a library comprising 44 unspecific peroxygenases (UPOs) containing 25 UPOs not reported yet. Thereby, previously non‐described wild‐type UPOs displaying (S)‐ as well as (R)‐stereoselectivity for the hydroxylation of representative model substrates were identified reaching up to 98% ee for the (R)‐ and 94% ee for the (S)‐enantiomer. Homology models with concomitant docking studies indicated the structural reason of the observed complementary stereopreference.
Identifying (bio)catalysts displaying high enantio/stereoselectivity is a fundamental prerequisite for the advancement of asymmetric catalysis. Here, a high‐throughput, stereoselective screening assay is reported giving information on enantioselectivity, stereopreference and activity showcased for peroxygenase catalyzed hydroxylation. The assay is based on analyzing spectrophotometrically the simultaneous formation of NAD(P)H from the alcohol dehydrogenase catalyzed enantioselective oxidation of the sec‐alcohol product during the peroxygenase reaction. The assay was applied to investigate a library comprising 44 unspecific peroxygenases (UPOs) containing 25 UPOs not reported yet. Thereby, previously non‐described wild‐type UPOs displaying (S)‐ as well as (R)‐stereoselectivity for the hydroxylation of representative model substrates were identified reaching up to 98% ee for the (R)‐ and 94% ee for the (S)‐enantiomer. Homology models with concomitant docking studies indicated the structural reason of the observed complementary stereopreference.
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9,238 members
Martina Schweiger
  • Institute of Molecular Biosciences
Siegfried J. Bauer
  • Department of Geophysics, Astrophysics and Meteorology/Institute of Physics
Friedrich M. Zimmermann
  • Department of Geography and Regional Sciences
Christian Promitzer
  • Department of History
Universitaetsplatz 3, 8010, Graz, Styria, Austria