Scotland's Rural College
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Recent publications
Known in the literature as underutilized, neglected or orphan crops, these crops have been cited as having the potential to improve food and nutritional security. The literature also highlights however that consumers in developing countries are increasingly abandoning their traditional diets that these crops are part of, and are replacing them by western diets. In this context, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the consumption and nutritional implications of expanding the participation of underutilized crops in current diets. This was done using a modified version of the microeconomic consumer problem. This was augmented with a linear constraint using generalized rationing theory that can be found in the economics literature. The method was applied to the case study of the consumption of millet (finger millet, botanical name: Eleusine coracana) by rural, urban-poor and urban-affluent Ugandan socioeconomic groups. The results indicated that millet could contribute to improving the intake of macronutrients and of some micronutrients, though the overall picture is complex. However, under current preferences and given its demand inelasticity, to achieve a substantial increase in the quantity of millet in the diet will require a significant reduction of its price. Otherwise, the net impact on nutrition as measured by the mean adequacy ratio will be only slightly positive for rural and urban-poor households. Our findings indicate that supply-side initiatives aimed at increasing the productivity of underutilized crops (reducing crop price) are likely to produce disappointing results in restoring their importance unless accompanied by specific interventions to expand demand. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s40100-021-00206-3.
A method is proposed which considers Integrated Pest Management (IPM) through several lenses, in order to obtain a more holistic view of the potential for IPM, and is described using a case study of Scottish spring barley. Long-term experimental field trial databases are used to determine which management methods are best suited to the system at hand. Stakeholder engagement provides insight into which of these methods are most likely to be taken up by farmers. Finally, a database of commercial practice allows an estimate of the potential for improving management patterns, based on current levels of IPM uptake across a wider sample of Scottish farmers. Together, these diverse sources of information give a more complete view of a complex system than any individual source could and allow the identification of IPM methods which are robust, practical, and not already in widespread use in this system. Bringing together these sources of information may be of particular value for policy and other decision makers, who need information about strategies which are both practical and likely to have a large positive impact. In the case of Scottish spring barley, there is good potential to reduce the need for fungicide use through the increased use of highly resistant barley varieties.
The boom of the biodiesel industry has ramped up global glycerol production. Unfortunately, a large portion of the glycerol generated by this growing industry is recklessly discharged into the environment, overshadowing the environmental benefits of biodiesel fuel. Glycerol can be a valuable chemical platform in various processes to produce a wide spectrum of chemicals and fuels. A promising application pathway is to return glycerol to the fuel cycle by converting it into fuels or additives. The energy content of glycerol can then be effectively recovered while the harmful exhaust emissions of combustion engines can be substantially mitigated. This paper offers a broader review of the state-of-the-art advances in using glycerol and its derivatives to improve the operation of internal combustion (IC) engines. Various routes developed to convert glycerol into oxygenated fuel additives are first introduced. The effects of glycerol and its derivatives on the behavior of IC engines are then comprehensively summarized and mechanistically discussed. The pros and cons of using glycerol and its derivatives in diesel/gasoline fuel formulations are examined to highlight important future research directions in this domain. Overall, the straight or emulsified use of glycerol in IC engines is not recommended because of several challenging technical and environmental issues. Nevertheless, incorporating well-elaborated glycerol derivatives into diesel and gasoline fuels can improve engine performance while potentially lowering hazardous exhaust emissions. Future investigations should focus on manufacturing and examining new glycerol derivatives to enhance the performance of IC engines while meeting stringent emission norms.
Liquid transportation biofuel production is a promising strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrothermal gasification (HTG) has shown great potential as an effective method for valorizing wet biomass. The high-quality syngas produced using the HTG process can be chemically/biochemically converted to liquid biofuels. Therefore, this paper aims to comprehensively review and critically discuss syngas production from biomass using the HTG process and its conversion into liquid biofuels. The basics and mechanisms of biomass HTG processing are first detailed to provide a comprehensive and deep understanding of the process. Second, the effects of the main operating parameters on the performance of the HTG process are numerically analyzed and mechanistically discussed. The syngas cleaning/conditioning and Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis are then detailed, aiming to produce liquid biofuels. The economic performance and environmental impacts of liquid biofuels using the HTG-FT route are evaluated. Finally, the challenges and prospects for future development in this field are presented. Overall, the maximum total gas yield in the HTG process is obtained at temperature, pressure, and residence time in the range of 450–500 °C, 28–30 MPa, and 30–60 min, respectively. The highest C5+ liquid hydrocarbon selectivity in the FT process is achieved at temperatures between 200 and 240 °C. Generally, effective conversion of biomass to syngas using the HTG process and its successful upgrading using the FT process can offer a viable route for producing liquid biofuels. Future studies should use HTG technology in the biorefinery context to maximize biomass valorization and minimize waste generation.
This article describes the technology of organic recycling of polylactide/halloysite biocomposites using the sugar- protein condensation theory. For this purpose, polymer biocomposites were produced with a polylactic acid structure and reinforced in the form of halloysite nanoparticles by 1; 2.5; and 5% by mass. A new method of decomposition of the produced biocomposites was developed. For this purpose, the composting process uses complex sugars in the form of beet molasses. This action is based on Stevenson’s theory of protein-sugar condensation. Thus, the validity of this theory was confirmed, as research showed that this modification significantly influences the acceleration of the composting process of the produced biomaterials. For each phase of the process, the parameters of accelerated composting were defined by determining the temperature, degree of humidity, and quantitative scale of acidity and alkalinity. The degree of decomposition of biocomposites was assessed based on microbiological tests, hardness, weight loss, viscosity-average molecular weight tests, and structure assessment using macro and microscopic examinations (SEM). Based on the microbial tests, it was shown that composting also seems to be an alternative method of infectious waste disposal in the case of using biocomposites for products, e.g., medical product.
In this study, a bacterial carbonic anhydrase (CA) was purified from Corynebacterium flavescens for the CO2 conversion into CaCO3. The synthesized CaCO3 can be utilized in the papermaking industry as filler material, construction material and in steel industry. Herein, the CA was purified by using a Sephadex G-100 column chromatography having 29.00 kDa molecular mass in SDS-PAGE analysis. The purified CA showed an optimal temperature of 35 °C and pH 7.5. In addition, a kinetic study of CA using p-NPA as substrate showed Vmax (166.66 μmoL/mL/min), Km (5.12 mM), and Kcat (80.56 s−1) using Lineweaver Burk plot. The major inhibitors of CA activity were Na2+, K+, Mn2+, and Al3+, whereas Zn2+ and Fe2+ slightly enhanced it. The purified CA showed a good efficacy to convert the CO2 into CaCO3 with a total conversion rate of 65.05 mg CaCO3/mg of protein. In silico analysis suggested that the purified CA has conserved Zn2+ coordinating residues such as His111, His113, and His 130 in the active site centre. Further analysis of the CO2 binding site showed conserved residues such as Val132, Val142, Leu196, Thr197, and Val205. However, substitution has been observed where Trp208 of its closest structural homolog T. ammonificans CA is replaced with Arg207 of C. flavescens. The presence of a hydrophilic mutation in the CO2 binding hydrophobic region is a further subject of investigation.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in humans and is increasingly linked to the pathogenesis of a multitude of diseases including obesity and metabolic syndrome. The biology of vitamin D in horses is poorly described; the relative contribution of the diet and skin synthesis to circulating concentrations is unclear and associations with endocrine disease have not been explored. To determine the relationship between management, season and endocrine disease and vitamin D status in horses. Cross‐sectional cohort study. Plasma concentrations of 25‐hydroxyvitamin D2 (25(OH)D2) and D3 (25(OH)D3) were measured by LC‐MS/MS in 34 healthy unsupplemented grazing ponies and 22 stabled Thoroughbreds receiving supplementary vitamin D3 in feed. A nested group of 18 grazing ponies were sampled on long and short‐days (>12and<12h of light/day) to determine the effect of sunlight exposure. Additionally, the relationships between age, sex, adiposity, serum insulin, adrenocorticotropic hormone and vitamin D status were assessed in a mixed group of 107 horses using a linear regression model. All animals had measurable level of 25(OH)D2 (median 10.7nmol/L) while 25(OH)D3 was only detected in Thoroughbreds receiving D3 supplementation. Thoroughbreds had lower concentrations of 25(OH)D2 than ponies (7.4nmol/L v 12.6nmol/L p<0.01). In grazing ponies 25(OH)D2 concentrations were significantly higher on long‐days compared to short‐days (14.4nmol/L v 8.7nmol/L p<0.01), while 25(OH)D3 was undetectable. Measures of increased adiposity, but not basal insulin, were associated with higher 25(OH)D2 concentrations, conversely to humans. Increasing ACTH was associated with lower 25(OH)D2 (p<0.01). Vitamin D2 concentrations were not measured in grass or forage. In horses 25(OH)D2 is the predominant vitamin D metabolite, and there is an apparent lack of endogenous vitamin D3 production. The relationship between vitamin D and endocrine disorders in horses does not reflect that of other species and warrants further investigation.
Background Identification of transposons or retrotransposons is still a difficult task and can not be accomplished without specialist knowledge. Tc1/mariner is a superfamily of DNA transposons that have been discovered in animals, plants, and fungi. Tc1/mariner transposons are probably the most widespread DNA transposons in nature. However, Tc1 transposons have not been identified and characterized in yeast and their nucleotide sequences are not available in public databases. Results In the present study, we reported the discovery of two intact Tc1 transposons in yeast and. filamentous fungi, respectively. The first one, named Tc1-OP1, can be used as a signature of Ogataea parapolymorpha. The second one, named Tc1-MP1, represents a subfamlily of Tc1 transposons in Rhizopus, Mucor, Circinella, etc. Notablely, Tc1-OP1 may encode a protease and a transposase, challenging the classical model of DNA transposons. Conclusions Tc1-OP1 is the first reported Tc1 transposon in yeast. Tc1-OP1 and Tc1-MP1 can be used for the identification and characterization of Tc1 transposons in future studies. The discovery of Tc1-OP1 revealed a nonclassical model of DNA transposons, which could challenge and enrich fundamental concepts of DNA transposons.
The commercial conquest of the ethanol industry has raised curiosity within operations that transform biomass into biofuels. The energy production from biomass, bioenergy, is an outlook conception to substitute fossil fuels in the coming days, as it is productive, pure, and carbon dioxide neutral. Biomass may be combusted instantly to cause heat and power and employ advanced thermochemical techniques. It can be restored within bio-fuels in solid, liquid, and gas constitutions that may be utilized additionally towards heat and energy production. Here, in this review article, we have discussed the properties of biomass fuels, sustainability attention towards energy production from biomass along with different types of wastes to energy generation, and the advanced thermochemical conversion technologies that can be used for energy production from wastes. In the last, we have compared the advantages and drawbacks of these technologies and concluded our article with current challenges and future perspectives in this field.
Nanocarriers have received special attention in biomedicine for the treatment of various diseases, especially cancer, as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Nanocarriers can improve the potential of contemporary strategies in cancer therapy and also provide new methods for diagnosis and biosensing. The present review focuses on the biomedical application of nanocarriers in the treatment of prostate cancer (PCa), one of the most common urological cancers in men. The chemotherapeutic and radiotherapeutic potentials in PCa may be improved using nanocarriers by providing targeted drug delivery and inducing PCa cells' sensitivity via induction of cell death. Delivery of nucleic acid drugs such as siRNA, shRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 system by nanocarriers in PCa therapy enhances the intracellular accumulation of these therapeutics and increases their efficacy in gene expression regulation. The high proliferation rate and metastasis of PCa cells result in poor prognosis. They may be dually suppressed by nanocarriers, as nanoplatforms facilitate co-delivery of drugs and gene therapeutics in PCa suppression. Selectivity toward PCa cells may be enhanced via surface modification of the nanocarriers to facilitate internalization via endocytosis. In addition to their applications for PCa treatment, nanocarriers mediate the detection of biomarkers for PCa diagnosis.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a dangerous infectious disease of even-toed ungulates, however since 1991, the European Union has banned preventive vaccination. During the occupation of the USSR, there were two outbreaks in Estonia: the first started in 1952 (at which time the barns typically housed about 20 cows); and the second began in 1982 (a period when barns typically housed several 100 animals). Neither outbreak was reported to the international community. At that time, it was also forbidden to talk about the disease in the internal media, and speakers could be punished. This study sought to find answers as to how the disease was treated and eliminated in the Estonian SSR, how infected animals and milk were handled, and if some of the methods used can be applied today. Written archival sources and 29 interviews with specialists remembering the outbreaks were used. Preventive slaughter of animals in the USSR was prohibited during the outbreak. As a preventive measure vaccination was used, traveling out of their counties by people were restricted and disinfection mats were used on the roads. In sick animals, udder wounds were treated with various wound ointments, such as zinc ointment, but also ointment made from boiled spruce resin. Birch tar was also recommended in the literature for leg treatments. Mouth wounds were washed with potassium permanganate solution. Workers used rubber gloves when handling sick animals. The barns were disinfected with lime and ash water. The milk from the diseased cows was pasteurized and given to calves, pigs, or diseased animals. Animals that did not recover were transferred to a meat processing plant. The meat was kept in potassium permanganate solution before processing and canned or made into sausages. When the disease was discovered, farm workers were locked in barns and released only when the disease had been eliminated. Such inhumane treatment could only be practiced in a totalitarian society.
In developing countries, specifically Nigeria, the vulnerability of smallholder farmers to agricultural uncertainties and risks is a major concern. Several studies that examine Nigerian farmers have highlighted how risk attitudes influence farming decisions. However, there is a gap in the synthesis of evidence necessary to enhance our understanding of farmers' attitudes to uncertainty and risk. Thus, we conducted a systematic review of the literature to understand farmers' attitudes to uncertainty and risk and the implication on farm-decision making. After the final screening, 39 papers met the inclusion criteria for our review. We find that the literature on the topic in Nigeria is small but expanding. We also find that risk attitude is measured through both econometrics and experiment methods, with the former being the most popular method. Twenty-six (26) papers (67%) reported that most farmers are risk-averse, although at different levels. The most consistent predictors for risk attitudes are age, household size, education, income, poverty status, farm size and access to credit. Other significant determinants of farmers’ attitudes towards risk are household size, years of farming experience, health status, leadership position, and organisation membership. Attitudes to risk were also used to explain the differences in several farm decisions and livelihood strategies. Although the reference to risks took a relatively different perspective and constructs, the overarching finding was that a risk-averse farmer is more likely to make production and management decisions that will result in a lower average return if the associated uncertainty is lower. One benefit of our findings is that policymakers will be informed to accurately predict the choices and behaviour of farmers under different policy interventions. We conclude that there is a need for more empirical research, and accordingly, we suggest a research agenda that could address the gaps identified.
A fundamental understanding of behavior is essential to improving the welfare of billions of farm animals around the world. Despite living in an environment managed by humans, farm animals are still capable of making important behavioral decisions that influence welfare. In this review, we focus on social interactions as perhaps the most dynamic and challenging aspects of the lives of farm animals. Social stress is a leading welfare concern in livestock, and substantial variation in social behavior is seen at the individual and group level. Here, we consider how a fundamental understanding of social behavior can be used to: (i) understand agonistic and affiliative interactions in farm animals; (ii) identify how artificial environments influence social behavior and impact welfare; and (iii) provide insights into the mechanisms and development of social behavior. We conclude by highlighting opportunities to build on previous work and suggest potential fundamental hypotheses of applied relevance. Key areas for further research could include identifying the welfare benefits of socio–positive interactions, the potential impacts of disrupting important social bonds, and the role of skill in allowing farm animals to navigate competitive and positive social interactions. Such studies should provide insights to improve the welfare of farm animals, while also being applicable to other contexts, such as zoos and laboratories.
Biohydrogen production using renewable sources has been regarded as one of the most sustainable ways to develop low-cost and green production technology. In order to achieve this objective, herein biohydrogen production has been conducted using the combination of untreated secondary sewage sludge (Sss), algal biomass hydrolyzate (Abh), graphene oxide (GO) and bacterial consortia that forms a granular system. Thus, naturally formed granular system produced cumulative H2 of 1520 mL/L in 168 h with the maximum production rate of 13.4 mL/L/h in 96 h at initial pH 7.0, and optimum temperature of 37 oC. It is noticed that the combination of Abh, Sss and GO governed medium showed 42.05% higher cumulative H2 production along with 22.71% higher production rate as compared to Abh and Sss based H2 production medium. The strategy presented herein may find potential applications for the low-cost biohydrogen production using waste biomasses including Sss and Abh.
Purpose Nitrogen (N) transfer from white clover ( Trifolium repens cv.) to ryegrass ( Lolium perenne cv.) has the potential to meet ryegrass N requirements. This study aimed to quantify N transfer in a mixed pasture and investigate the influence of the microbial community and land management on N transfer. Methods Split root ¹⁵ N-labelling of clover quantified N transfer to ryegrass via exudation, microbial assimilation, decomposition, defoliation and soil biota. Incorporation into the microbial protein pool was determined using compound-specific ¹⁵ N-stable isotope probing approaches. Results N transfer to ryegrass and soil microbial protein in the model system was relatively small, with one-third arising from root exudation. N transfer to ryegrass increased with no microbial competition but soil microbes also increased N transfer via shoot decomposition. Addition of mycorrhizal fungi did not alter N transfer, due to the source-sink nature of this pathway, whilst weevil grazing on roots decreased microbial N transfer. N transfer was bidirectional, and comparable on a short-term scale. Conclusions N transfer was low in a model young pasture established from soil from a permanent grassland with long-term N fertilisation. Root exudation and decomposition were major N transfer pathways. N transfer was influenced by soil biota (weevils, mycorrhizae) and land management (e.g. grazing). Previous land management and the role of the microbial community in N transfer must be considered when determining the potential for N transfer to ryegrass.
Key Message Modeling of the distribution of allele frequency over year of variety release identifies major loci involved in historical breeding of winter wheat. Abstract Winter wheat is a major crop with a rich selection history in the modern era of crop breeding. Genetic gains across economically important traits like yield have been well characterized and are the major force driving its production. Winter wheat is also an excellent model for analyzing historical genetic selection. As a proof of concept, we analyze two major collections of winter wheat varieties that were bred in Western Europe from 1916 to 2010, namely the Triticeae Genome (TG) and WAGTAIL panels, which include 333 and 403 varieties, respectively. We develop and apply a selection mapping approach, Regression of Alleles on Years (RALLY), in these panels, as well as in simulated populations. RALLY maps loci under sustained historical selection by using a simple logistic model to regress allele counts on years of variety release. To control for drift-induced allele frequency change, we develop a hybrid approach of genomic control and delta control. Within the TG panel, we identify 22 significant RALLY quantitative selection loci (QSLs) and estimate the local heritabilities for 12 traits across these QSLs. By correlating predicted marker effects with RALLY regression estimates, we show that alleles whose frequencies have increased over time are heavily biased toward conferring positive yield effect, but negative effects in flowering time, lodging, plant height and grain protein content. Altogether, our results (1) demonstrate the use of RALLY to identify selected genomic regions while controlling for drift, and (2) reveal key patterns in the historical selection in winter wheat and guide its future breeding.
Current interest towards ionic liquids (ILs) stems from some of their novel characteristics, like low vapour pressure, thermal stability and non-flammability, integrated through high ionic conductivity and broad range of electrochemical strength. Nowadays, ionic liquids represent a new category of chemical-based compounds for developing superior and multifunctional substances with potential in several fields. ILs can be used in solvents such as salt electrolyte and additional materials. By adding functional physiochemical characteristics, a variety of IL-based electrolytes can also be used for energy storage purposes. We hope that the present review will supply guidance for future research focused on IL-based polymer nanocomposites electrolytes for sensors, high performance, biomedicine, and environmental applications. Additionally, we provide in this review a comprehensive overview about the polymer-based composites' ILs components, including a classification of the types of polymer matrix available. More focus is placed upon ILs-based polymeric nanocomposites used in multiple applications such as electrochemical biosensors, energy-related materials, biomedicine, actuators, environmental, and the aviation and aerospace industries. At last, we discuss existing challenges and prospects in this field and provide concluding remarks.
Polyaniline, a special class of intrinsic conducting polymers, has a wide range of potential applications in multiple fields, such as in biosensors, electronics devices and biomedical applications. Polyaniline possesses high electrical conductivity, low toxic contents, hydrophilic character, better environmental stability and nanostructured surface characteristics. Polyaniline has however a current limited set of applications because of its low degradation rate and poor processibility; for this reason, polyaniline has been blended with different nano/micro cellulosic biomaterials (i.e. cellulose nano crystals and nano fibers, bacterial cellulose and macro cellulose). Furthermore, cellulose-reinforced polyaniline matrices have shown significant potential for antibacterial agents, antioxidants, sensors, electromagnetic shielding device, adsorbent in water treatment, fuel cells, electrochromic and in biomedical applications. These biodegradable and environmentally benign conducting polymers have also been used in tissue engineering, biosensors, and drug delivery. In the present review article we have surveyed recent advancements in the synthesis process and progress of polyaniline/cellulose based bio-composites for water treatment, electrical devices, biosensors, biomedical application and other areas. The article aims at providing a comprehensive background on the topic, as well as at proposing innovative strategies among investigators for the use of these biobased polymers in future work. The various factors and conditions that impact the adsorption/deterioration behavior of cellulose/PANI composites during the removal of heavy metals, dyes, and other effluents from waste water have also been discussed. Additionally, a comparative view of various fuel cells, electrochromic devices and the electrical and magnetic properties of different cellulose/polyaniline composites has also been provided.
Since ancient times, medicinal plants are widely accepted to promote the health and wellness of animals and mankind. The medicinal plant-based therapies have limitations of delayed onset of action, inconsistent absorption, low bioavailability, oxidation, and poor solubility. The encapsulation studies suggested improved efficacy. Therefore, the present study attempts to evaluate the efficacy of Curcuma longa extracts encapsulated in Ethosome on wound healing model compared to crude extract. The Curcuma longa extract swere prepared by cold percolation method and total curcuminoid content was determined by Reverse phase-HPLC. Three Ethosomal suspensions (ETS1, ETS2, and ETS3) were prepared and characterized for particle distribution, morphology, and absorption spectrum by Zetasizer, Scanning Electron Microscopy, and FTIR respectively. The Ethosomal suspension with the highest entrapment efficiency was applied topically at a varying concentrations (0.25, 0.5, and 1 g/cm²) on the surgically created wounds in rats. The efficacy of wound healing was evaluated by clinical observation, macroscopic evaluation of granulation tissue, colour digital image processing, and histology. The methanolic extract of Curcuma longa showed better antibacterial potential than ethanolic and aqueous. The total Curcuminoid content in the Curcuma longa rhizome was 4.03%. The size, PDI, zeta potential, and viscosity of Ethosomal suspension ranged from 34.8 to 371 nm, 0.236–1.178, 15.6-36.8mV, and 0.8460–0.8510, respectively. The ETS3 was found the most optimum combination with the highest entrapment efficiency and the topical application at a dose rate of 0.5 g/cm² and 1.0 g/cm² resulted in comparable wound contracture, pain score, histopathological score as compared to control groups.It was concluded that the Curcuma longa encapsulation in Ethosome resulted in improved wound appearance, granulation tissue score, and appearance with a shortened period of wound resolution at the cellular level as compared to crude extract. Graphical abstract
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988 members
Geoffrey Foster
  • SRUC Veterinary Services (SACCVS)
Jayne Glass
  • Rural Society Team
Marko Kass
  • Animal Behaviour and Welfare Division
West Mains Road, EH9 3JG, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
+44 (0) 131 535 4420 / Tel: 0131 535 4074 (Research)