Background: Human microbiomes assemble in an ordered, reproducible manner yet there is limited information about early colonisation and development of bacterial communities that constitute the oral microbiome. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of exposure to breastmilk on assembly of the infant oral microbiome during the first 20 months of life. Methods: The oral microbiomes of 39 infants, 13 who were never breastfed and 26 who were breastfed for more than 10 months, from the longitudinal VicGeneration birth cohort study, were determined at four ages. In total, 519 bacterial taxa were identified and quantified in saliva by sequencing the V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Results: There were significant differences in the development of the oral microbiomes of never breastfed and breastfed infants. Bacterial diversity was significantly higher in never breastfed infants at 2 months, due largely to an increased abundance of Veillonella and species from the Bacteroidetes phylum compared with breastfed infants. Conclusion: These differences likely reflect breastmilk playing a prebiotic role in selection of early-colonising, health-associated oral bacteria, such as the Streptococcus mitis group. The microbiomes of both groups became more heterogenous following the introduction of solid foods.
Unexplained weight changes that occur in Parkinson’s disease (PD), are often neglected and remain a poorly understood non-motor feature in patients with PD. A specific ‘Park-weight’ phenotype with low body weight has been described, and our aim was to evaluate the clinical and prognostic trajectories and biomarkers of weight variability in PD. We evaluated body weight-related biomarkers in 405 de novo PD patients and 187 healthy controls (HC) over a 5-year follow-up period from the PPMI database. Body-weight variability was defined as intra-individual variability in body weight between visits. PD patients were categorized as weight losers, gainers, or patients with stable weight. The differential progression of motor and non-motor clinical variables between groups was explored using linear mixed-effects models. Finally, we estimated longitudinal changes in weight as a function of baseline and longitudinal striatal presynaptic dopaminergic transporter imaging. PD patients presented a greater weight variability compared to HC ( p = 0.003). Patients who developed weight loss had lower CSF amyloid-beta 1–42 ( p = 0.009) at baseline. In addition, patients with weight loss showed a faster cognitive decline ( p = 0.001), whereas patients with weight gain showed a slower motor progression ( p = 0.001), compared to patients with stable weight. Baseline right striatal denervation was a predictor of weight variability in both PD patients and HC ( p < 0.001). Similarly, weight variability in PD patients was associated with the progression of right striatal denervation ( p < 0.001). Weight variability and specifically weight loss are more frequent in PD compared to HC, and are associated with specific motor, non-motor and cognitive progression patterns. A greater CSF amyloid burden was present at baseline in patients with subsequent weight loss. Presynaptic dopaminergic imaging in the right striatum may serve as a predictor of future weight changes in PD and HC.
This is the original, accepted version of the paper prior to editing. The final version of the article is published in the journal Communist and Post-Communist Studies, volume 54, issue 4. Please access the published version and cite it as such. Abstract: In competitive authoritarian systems, aspiring autocrats must win elections and marginalize the political opposition. In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko's strategy for political hegemony heavily relied on socioeconomic co-optation, offering privileges to supporters and imposing sanctions on dissenters. In an economy dominated by the state, co-optation had a coercive effect on behavior. Without sizable areas of activity autonomous from the government, citizens could not defy or mitigate the cost of reprisals for openly supporting the political opposition. Through co-optation, Lukashenko weakened the opposition and built an authoritarian regime without resorting to extensive political violence, which could have undermined his claim of public legitimacy.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to protect and improve water quality across Europe through an integrative and multi-level water governance approach. The goal is to ensure that water quality in Europe meets good ecological status by 2027. Whilst the WFD has been hailed as a cornerstone for governance innovation in water management, most EU member states (MS) still struggle to achieve good ecological status of their waters. The realignment to a multi-level governance structure under the WFD is discretionary, and has generated diversity in WFD multi-level governance implementation approaches and final governance arrangements across MS. This diversity may contribute to low goal achievement and weak compliance. This paper investigates how visual impressions of legislative structure across nine MS can illustrate and contribute to understanding the differences in multi-level implementation of WFD and associated water protection directives. We explore, in-depth, the drivers of visual differences in Portugal, Germany (Lower Saxony) and France. We hypothesise that many of the challenges of WFD implementation, and resulting governance arrangements can be explained in terms of the legacy effects of previous water governance choices. With this conceptual framework of investigating the history and legacy, we found the three in depth studies have had different starting points, paths, and end points in their water governance, with sticking points influencing the decision-making processes and compliance required by the WFD. Sticking points include the complexity of existing water governance structures, lobbying by different sectors, and the mandatory WFD timeline for implementation. Portugal had to resolve its focus on water infrastructure and engineering to enable a re-focus on water quality. France and Portugal experienced ‘top down’ governance at different points in time, slowing the shift to a multi-level governance system. Lower Saxony, representing just one of 16 federal state systems in Germany, highlighted the complex historic governance structures which cannot easily be restructured, generating a layering effect where new governance systems are fitted to old governance systems. We conclude that there is a need to implement a hybrid approach to water governance and WFD implementation including decentralisation (discretionary) to ensure collaboration and engagement of stakeholders at the local level. This hybrid governance system should run in parallel with a centralised (mandatory) governance and regulatory system to enable national environmental standards to be set and enforced. Such systems may provide the best of both worlds (bottom-up involvement of stakeholders meeting top-down goal achievements) and is worthy of further research.
Habitat fragmentation is a major threat to natural forests, causing unprecedented biodiversity loss and habitat destruction. To date, the social-economic factors affecting the conservation of fragmented urban forest remnants have been rarely investigated, particularly in the tropics. The objective of this study is to understand the attitudes and willingness to conserve natural urban forests in local communities living nearby. We interviewed 450 respondents living near three natural urban forests in Greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, using a structured questionnaire. We found that the majority of the respondents had a positive attitude towards natural urban forest conservation. Local communities had high willingness to conserve these natural urban forest patches. The main contributing factors to attitudes and willingness were the presence of forest patches in their neighbourhood, education level, and length of stay. The relationships between urban forests and humans are complex, as this study demonstrates. Regardless of patch size, the local communities were concerned about the conservation of natural urban forest patches and their ecological integrity. Our findings can inform policy-makers to support better planning of urban green spaces and biodiversity conservation, which are especially important for cities in low and middle income countries in the Global South.
The problem of observables and their supposed lack of change has been significant in Hamiltonian quantum gravity since the 1950s. This paper considers the unrecognized variety of ideas about observables in the thought of constrained Hamiltonian dynamics co-founder Peter Bergmann, who trained many students at Syracuse and invented observables. Whereas initially Bergmann required a constrained Hamiltonian formalism to be mathematically equivalent to the Lagrangian, in 1953 Bergmann and Schiller introduced a novel postulate, motivated by facilitating quantum gravity. This postulate held that observables were invariant under transformations generated by each individual first-class constraint. While modern works rely on Bergmann's authority and sometimes speak of “Bergmann observables,” he had much to say about observables, generally interesting and plausible but not all mutually consistent and much of it neglected. On occasion he required observables to be locally defined (not changeless and global); at times he wanted observables to be independent of the Hamiltonian formalism (implicitly contrary to a definition involving separate first-class constraints). But typically he took observables to have vanishing Poisson bracket with each first-class constraint and took this result to be justified by the example of electrodynamics. He expected observables to be analogous to the transverse true degrees of freedom of electromagnetism. Given these premises, there is no coherent concept of observables which he reliably endorsed, much less established. A revised definition of observables that satisfies the requirement that equivalent theories should have equivalent observables using the Rosenfeld–Anderson–Bergmann–Castellani gauge generator G, a tuned sum of first-class constraints that changes the canonical action ∫dt(pq̇−H) by a boundary term. Bootstrapping from theory formulations with no first-class constraints, one finds that the “external” coordinate gauge symmetry of GR calls for covariance (a transformation rule and hence a 4-dimensional Lie derivative for the Poisson bracket), not invariance (0 Poisson bracket), under G (not each first-class constraint separately).
Potentially, the restoration of native ecosystems could be combined with the land application of treated municipal wastewater (TMW), reducing TMW discharge into waterbodies. High levels of nutrients, pathogens, and other contaminants from TMW can degrade water quality. The land application of TMW onto native vegetation reduces the nutrient load in water bodies and may create zones of ecological value. However, establishing native plants may be challenging if the species are not adapted to highly fertile environments, such as those resulting from TMW irrigation. There is a critical knowledge gap about the response of native plant species to irrigation with TMW. We aimed to determine the distribution and speciation of nutrients in the soil-plant system following application of TMW onto 11 species of native plants in a long-term field trial on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand (NZ). TMW was irrigated at a rate of 1000 mm per annum, equivalent to N, and P loading rates of 194 and 110 kg ha yr⁻¹, respectively. We determined physicochemical properties from soil profiles (0–65 cm) under selected species as well as the growth and chemical composition of the plants. Despite the site receiving 950 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ of Na, there was no evidence of impaired soil structure following TMW irrigation. Nitrogen did not accumulate in the soil, and it is likely to have been taken up by plants or lost through denitrification and nitrate leaching. The accumulation rate of P indicated that soil P concentrations will remain within the range found in NZ agricultural soils for at least 50 years. TMW irrigation increased plant height by 10% compared to the control after 3.5 years of growth. Plant species significantly affected the concentrations of total C, total N, nitrate (NO3⁻), and Na in the soil. TMW application had negligible effects on the elemental composition of plant foliage. NZ native vegetation can facilitate the land application of TMW. Future work should elucidate the maximum rates that can be applied as well as the effect of TMW on the soil microbiota.
Quadratic time-frequency (TF) methods are commonly used for the analysis, modeling, and classification of time-varying non-stationary electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. Commonly employed TF methods suffer from an inherent tradeoff between cross-term suppression and preservation of auto-terms. In this paper, we propose a new convolutional neural network (CNN) based approach to enhancing TF images. The proposed method trains a CNN using the Wigner-Ville distribution as the input image and the ideal time-frequency distribution with the total concentration of signal energy along the IF curves as the output image. The results show significant improvement compared to the other state-of-the-art TF enhancement methods. The codes for reproducing the results can be accessed on the GitHub via https://github.com/nabeelalikhan1/CNN-based-TF-image-enhancement.
Biochar application in agricultural salt-affected soils has shown strong potential to amend soil and promote production. The effect of biochar on soil properties and crop yield varies with crop, soil, biochar properties and climate. Thus, it is critical to select suitable biochar and their application amounts for ameliorating salt-affected soils while improving its conditions and crop yields. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effect of biochar application rates on soil properties, water and temperature conditions and crop yields in saline-alkali soils under cotton-sugarbeet intercropping. We used a three-year (2018–2020) field experiment with biochar application rates of 0, 10, 50 and 100 t ha⁻¹ in 2018, 0, 10, 25, 50 and100 t ha⁻¹ in 2019 and 0, 10, 25 and 30 t ha⁻¹ in 2020. Soil bulk density decreased and thus porosity increased with application of biochar. Soil pH decreased with increasing biochar application amount and the rate of change ranged from −0.003 to −0.004 per ton of biochar. Biochar application at 10 t ha⁻¹ increased soil water content (SWC) and weighted planar soil water storage (WPSWS) in all three experimental years, while oversupply of biochar decreased SWC. Application of biochar moderated soil temperature fluctuations. The yield of cotton and sugarbeet first increased and then decreased with increasing amount of biochar. Considering the effects of biochar on soil water, temperature, and crop yields, 10 t ha⁻¹ biochar amount was proposed as an appropriate application rate for saline-alkali soils. The results provided valuable information on appropriate biochar rates to amend salt-affected soils and their properties while increase crop yields.
Exotic plants have the potential to increase pathogen inoculum that can affect native plants. New Zealand’s iconic kauri tree (Agathis australis) is threatened by disease caused by Phytophthora agathidicida, which is most prevalent in fragmented forests that have been invaded by or are adjacent to populations of exotic species. Exotic plants have been introduced intentionally (i.e., plantations and pastures) and unintentionally along the margins of kauri forests, yet it is unclear if invasive species play a role in pathogen spread. To determine the extent to which native and exotic plant litter supports P. agathidicida inoculum, we performed a phylogenetically controlled detached leaf assay. We inoculated 60 native and 44 invasive species’ leaves with three isolates of P. agathidicida collected from two different geographical regions of New Zealand, measured disease symptoms and re-isolated the pathogen from infected leaves. Lesions grew larger and faster on exotic leaves across all three isolates tested. However, pathogen recovery was not necessarily more likely from exotic leaves. In contrast, one of the three isolates grew faster when recovered from native compared with exotic leaves. Phylogeny did not predict disease expression. This data suggests that native and exotic plant litter may be reservoirs for P. agathidicida, but reservoir potential varies among isolates. These results also support key management tools used in New Zealand aimed at reducing pathogen spread by foot traffic in fragmented kauri forests, such as hygiene stations for shoe cleaning at trailheads and boardwalks in sensitive forest areas. Further, these tools may benefit forest management worldwide, as pathogens and exotic, invasive species increase at a global scale.
Ligand-based targeting of the receptors that are overexpressed explicitly on cancer cells represents an effective drug delivery approach to enhance the chemotherapeutic efficacy. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) which is a serine protease enzyme primarily produced by the liver cells, can potentially be used as a targeting ligand. PCSK9 binds to the LDL-r on hepatocytes' surface, leading to endocytosis and endosomal degradation. High LDL-r expression, which is believed to meet the higher demand of the cholesterol and phospholipids to build proliferating cancer cell membrane, ensures selective uptake of the PCSK9 conjugated liposomes. In the present work, the PCSK9 conjugated liposomal system was developed to deliver paclitaxel (PTX) to cancer cells. The protein was conjugated by EDC and NHS in a two-step coupling reaction to the liposomes containing COOH-PEG2000-COOH lipid. Conjugation was confirmed by NMR, and liposomes were further characterized by SEM and zeta sizer. PCSK9-conjugated liposomes showed high encapsulation efficiency of 69.1% with a diameter of 90.0 ± 4.9 nm. Long-term stability (30 days) study (Zeta potential: −9.88) confirmed excellent constancy and significant drug retention (58.2%). Invitro cytotoxicity and targeting efficiency was explored using MTS assay in human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293), liver hepatocellular cells (HEPG2), and a human colon cancer cell line (HCT116) for 24 h. PCSK9 conjugated liposomes exhibited significantly higher growth inhibition than the unconjugated (control) liposomes in HCT116 cell line (p < 0.001). The novel PCSK9 conjugated liposomes presented potent and precise in vitro anticancer activity and, therefore, are suggested for the first time as a promising targeted delivery system for cancer treatment.
We develop and test an integrated model to understand how individual differences based on internal or external locus of control can influence the effects of COVID-19 perceptions on job insecurity, anxiety, alienation, job satisfaction, customer orientation, organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB), and turnover intention among customer service employees working in hospitality organisations in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. The investigation utilises variance-based Structural Equation Modelling to evaluate a sample of 847 subject responses. We found that externally controlled employees are more likely to develop negative emotions as a result of pandemic-triggered job insecurity as well as poorer customer orientation and engagement in OCB due to worsened job satisfaction than those internally controlled. Wholistically, COVID-19 perceptions tend to indirectly hit externally controlled employees’ anxiety, customer orientation and OCB more intensely than those with internal locus of control.
Within post‐conflict communities, attempts to identify and repatriate unidentified and missing individuals poses a difficult task. As current forensic strategies commonly lack the capacity to provide region of origin assessments, forensic anthropologists/investigators are often unable to identify sources of DNA for kinship analysis. Using Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS), hair samples from 10 volunteers were used to assess the variation in strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) between extant people in Guatemala City and Coban; with a leach (external) and digest (dietary) signal analyzed for each sample. A two‐way anova demonstrated that the difference between 87Sr/86Sr of Guatemala City and Coban was statistically significant (F [1, 16] = 259.839, p < 0.05), with no statistically significant differences observed between leach and digest 87Sr/86Sr (F [1,16] = 4.319, p = 0.054). Overall, individuals from Coban demonstrate 87Sr/86Sr comparable to previously recorded baseline values, demonstrating a minimal change in diet which is reflected in associated surveys. Volunteers from Guatemala City, however, show a marked shift in 87Sr/86Sr away from predicted values highlighting the potential influence of imported goods. The results here highlight the applicability of 87Sr/86Sr in hair to serve as a potential tool to support the identification of unknown individuals in Guatemala in a forensic context.
- Lauren Hall
- Lyndsey Harris
Despite increasing academic focus on intimate relationships as positive influences on desistance, research has yet to examine the experience and impact of support provision for women who are intimate partners of desisters. This exploratory study draws on six in-depth interviews with partners of desisters to elucidate their experiences of support provision and the impact of desistance. This paper finds that women provide resources to their desisting partners, and that identities and agency can be strained through this provision. The desistance process entails an investment of emotional work and capital from intimate partners which is conceptualised in this paper as Desistance Emotional Work (DEW). Desistance research has not yet acknowledged the support needs of women who invest in their partner’s desistance, and so DEW should be considered further both theoretically and in policy and practice.
The aim of this study was to examine cross-cultural differences, as operationalized by Schwartz's refined theory of basic values, in burnout levels among psychotherapists from 12 European countries during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. We focused on the multilevel approach to investigate if individual- and country-aggregated level values could explain differences in burnout intensity after controlling for sociodemographic, work-related characteristics and COVID-19-related distress among participants. 2915 psychotherapists from 12 countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Great Britain, Serbia, Spain, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and Switzerland) participated in this study. The participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Service Survey, the revised version of the Portrait Values Questionnaire, and a survey questionnaire on sociodemographic, work-related factors and the COVID-19 related distress. In general, the lowest mean level of burnout was noted for Romania, whereas the highest mean burnout intensity was reported for Cyprus. Multilevel analysis revealed that burnout at the individual level was negatively related to self-transcendence and openness-to-change but positively related to self-enhancement and conservation values. However, no significant effects on any values were observed at the country level. Male sex, younger age, being single, and reporting higher COVID-19-related distress were significant burnout correlates. Burnout among psychotherapists may be a transcultural phenomenon, where individual differences among psychotherapists are likely to be more important than differences between the countries of their practice. This finding enriches the discussion on training in psychotherapy in an international context and draws attention to the neglected issue of mental health among psychotherapists in the context of their professional functioning.
Rhizobial nitrogen fixation in legumes provides spillover benefits to neighbouring plants such as pasture grasses. Generally, it is understood to be unidirectional between plant functional groups, providing a benefit from legumes to grasses. We question whether bidirectional complementarity also exists in terms of exploiting the wider soil nutrient pool. We test this hypothesis using soil cores with their component vegetation assemblages sampled from a hill country pasture in South Island, New Zealand. The soil was deficient in key essential elements: P, S, B, Mo and Ni. Facilitation from grasses to clovers was evident; legume–grass mixtures procured more nutrients from the soil than when either species was growing alone. When grasses and clover grow together in unfertilized grassland, more nitrogen is procured by the plant community, and other limiting plant nutrients in the soil are better exploited. Coexistence with grasses is favourable to clovers in terms of soil biogeochemistry. Nitrogen fixation by legumes into the soil has long been known to benefit other plants, but this study finds a bidirectional relationship by which grasses help provide key nutrients for legumes. Grasses and clovers exploit soil nutrients better together than separately.
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