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    57417 research outputs found

    Prebiotic potential of new sweeteners based on the simultaneous biosynthesis of galactooligosaccharides and enzymatically modified steviol glycosides

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    Prebiotics are known for their health-promoting functions associated with the modulation of the colonic microbiota and the products of fermentation. Recently, single-pot syntheses of galactooligosaccharides in combination with steviol glycosides (mSG-GOS) have been developed. This work was conducted to evaluate their prebiotic effect by using faecal inoculum from healthy human donors during in vitro batch fermentations. Additionally, their relative sweetness was evaluated to determine their suitability as food ingredients. The results showed a significant growth (p < 0.05) of bacteria, including the genera Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides and Clostridium, and a corresponding increase in short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in comparison to either positive and negative controls. The sweetness equivalence to 1 % w:v of SG-GOS was 0.8 % w:v when compared to sucrose. Considering the bacteria and organic acids analyses and their sweetness values of these new biosynthesized compounds, SG-GOS could act as a prebiotic sweetener with potential health benefits warranting further evaluation through human studies

    Spatial distribution, risk index, and correlation of heavy metals in the Chuhe River (Yangtze Tributary): preliminary research analysis of surface water and sediment contamination

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    This comprehensive study aimed to evaluate the water quality and sediment contamination in the Chuhe River in Nanjing. The spatial assessment of 10 samples collected in September highlighted that, in surface water, Copper (Cu) &gt; Nickel (Ni) &gt; Zinc (Zn) &gt; Chromium (Cr) &gt; Lead (Pb) &gt; Arsenic (As) &gt; Cadmium (Cd) &gt; Mercury (Hg), whereas in sediments, Zn &gt; Cr &gt; Cu &gt; Pb &gt; Ni &gt; As &gt; Cd &gt; Hg. The coefficient of variation (CV) for Ni and Zn in surface water was &gt;15, whereas As, Cu, Pb, and Ni had a CV that was higher than 15 in sediments, indicating variability in contamination sources. The Pollution Load Index values ranged between 2.16 and 3.05, reflecting varying contamination levels across samples. The Geoaccumulation Index data also showed moderate-to-considerable contamination, especially for elements such as Cd and Cu. Correlation analyses in water and sediments unearthed significant relationships, with notable links between Cu and Pb in the water and strong correlations between As and Cu and between Cr and Ni in sediments. In sediments, Total Nitrogen and Phosphorus were significantly correlated with As, Cu, Pb, and Ni. The Potential Ecological Response Index for sediments indicated that they are at medium to high risk (307.47 ± 33.17) and could be potentially detrimental to aquatic life in the tributary. The tributary, influenced by agricultural runoff, residential areas, and other anthropogenic activities, showed that despite Nemerow pollution index values for water samples being below 1, sediment analysis indicated areas of concern. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was conducted to identify the potential sources of heavy metal contamination. In surface water, shared negative loadings on PC 1 (60.11%) indicated a unified influence, likely from agricultural runoff, while PC 2 (14.26%) revealed additional complexities. Sediments exhibited a unique signature on PC 1 (67.05%), associated with cumulative agricultural impacts, with PC 2 (18.08%) providing insights into nuanced factors, such as sediment composition and dynamic interactions. These findings offer a complete insight into the Chuhe River tributary’s condition, underlining the urgency for ongoing monitoring and potential remediation measures

    Self-assembly and antimicrobial activity of lipopeptides containing lysine-rich tripeptides

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    The conformation and self-assembly of two pairs of model lipidated tripeptides in aqueous solution are probed using a combination of spectroscopic methods along with cryogenic-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The palmitoylated lipopeptides comprise C16-YKK or C16-WKK (with two l-lysine residues) or their respective derivatives containing d-lysine (k), i.e., C16-Ykk and C16-Wkk. All four molecules self-assemble into spherical micelles which show structure factor effects in SAXS profiles due to intermicellar packing in aqueous solution. Consistent with micellar structures, the tripeptides in the coronas have a largely unordered conformation, as probed using spectroscopic methods. The molecules are found to have good cytocompatibility with fibroblasts at sufficiently low concentrations, although some loss of cell viability is noted at the highest concentrations examined (above the critical aggregation concentration of the lipopeptides, determined from fluorescence dye probe measurements). Preliminary tests also showed antimicrobial activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria

    Size dependent effectiveness of engineering and administrative control strategies for both short- and long-range airborne transmission control

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    Ventilation is recognized as an effective mitigation strategy for long-range airborne transmission. However, a recent study by Li et al. revealed its potential impact on short-range airborne transmission as well. Our study extends their work by developing size-dependent transmission models for both short- and long-range airborne transmission and evaluates the impact of various control strategies, including ventilation. By adopting a recently determined mode-dependent viral load, we first analyzed the role of different sizes of droplets in airborne transmission. In contrast to models with a constant viral load where large droplets contain more viruses, our findings demonstrated that droplets ranging from ∼2–4 μm are more critical for short-range airborne transmission. Meanwhile, droplets in the ∼1–2 μm range play a significant role in long-range airborne transmission. Furthermore, our study indicates that implementing a size-dependent filtration/mask strategy considerably affects the rate of change (ROC) of virus concentration in relation to both distancing and ventilation. This underscores the importance of factoring in droplet size during risk assessment. Engineering controls, like ventilation and filtration, as well as administrative controls, such as distancing and masks, have different effectiveness in reducing virus concentration. Our findings indicate that high-efficiency masks can drastically reduce virus concentrations, potentially diminishing the impacts of other strategies. Given the size-dependent efficiency of filtration, ventilation has a more important role in reducing virus concentration than filtration, especially for long-range airborne transmission. For short-range airborne transmission, maintaining distance is far more effective than ventilation, and its effectiveness is largely unaffected by ventilation. However, the influence of ventilation on virus concentration and its variation with the distance mainly depend on the specific transmission model utilized. In sum, this research delineates the differential roles of droplet sizes and control strategies in both short- and long-range airborne transmission, offering valuable insights for future size-dependent airborne transmission control measures

    Substance P-Botulinum mediates long-term silencing of pain pathways that can be re-instated with a second injection of the construct in mice

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    Chronic pain presents an enormous personal and economic burden and there is an urgent need for effective treatments. In a mouse model of chronic neuropathic pain, selective silencing of key neurons in spinal pain signalling networks with botulinum constructs resulted in a reduction of pain behaviours associated with the peripheral nerve. However, to establish clinical relevance it was important to know how long this silencing period lasted. Now, we show that neuronal silencing and the concomitant reduction of neuropathic mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity lasts for up to 120d following a single injection of botulinum construct. Crucially, we show that silencing and analgesia can then be reinstated with a second injection of the botulinum conjugate. Here we demonstrate that single doses of botulinum-toxin conjugates are a powerful new way of providing long-term neuronal silencing and pain relief. PERSPECTIVE: This research demonstrates that botulinum-toxin conjugates are a powerful new way of providing long-term neuronal silencing without toxicity following a single injection of the conjugate and have the potential for repeated dosing when silencing reverses

    Global change in agricultural flash drought over the 21st century

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    Agricultural flash droughts are high-impact phenomena, characterized by rapid soil moisture dry down. The ensuing dry conditions can persist for weeks to months, with detrimental effects on natural ecosystems and crop cultivation. Increases in the frequency of these rare events in a future warmer climate would have significant societal impact. This study uses an ensemble of 10 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) models to investigate the projected change in agricultural flash drought during the 21st century. Comparison across geographical regions and climatic zones indicates that individual events are preceded by anomalously low relative humidity and precipitation, with long-term trends governed by changes in temperature, relative humidity, and soil moisture. As a result of these processes, the frequency of both upper-level and root-zone flash drought is projected to more than double in the mid-and-high latitudes over the 21st century, with hot spots developing in the temperate regions of Europe, and humid regions of South America, Europe, and southern Africa

    Chitosan and chitosan nanoparticles differentially alleviate salinity stress in Phaseolus vulgaris L. plants

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    Salinity stress can significantly cause negative impacts on the physiological and biochemical traits of plants and, consequently, a reduction in the yield productivity of crops. Therefore, the current study aimed to investigate the effects of chitosan (Cs) and chitosan nanoparticles (CsNPs) to mitigate salinity stress (i.e., 25, 50, 100, and 200 mM NaCl) and improve pigment fractions, carbohydrates content, ions content, proline, hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxidation, electrolyte leakage content, and the antioxidant system of Phaseolus vulgaris L. grown in clay–sandy soil. Methacrylic acid was used to synthesize CsNPs, with an average size of 40 ± 2 nm. Salinity stress negatively affected yield traits, pigment fractions, and carbohydrate content. However, in plants grown under salt stress, the application of either Cs or CsNPs significantly improved yield, pigment fractions, carbohydrate content, proline, and the antioxidant system, while these treatments reduced hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxidation, and electrolyte leakage. The positive effects of CsNPs were shown to be more beneficial than Cs when applied exogenously to plants grown under salt stress. In this context, it could be concluded that CsNPs could be used to mitigate salt stress effects on Phaseolus vulgaris L. plants grown in saline soils

    Deleterious effects of mercury contamination on immunocompetence, liver function and egg volume in an antarctic seabird

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    Mercury (Hg) is a globally important pollutant that can negatively impact metabolic, endocrine and immune systems of marine biota. Seabirds are long-lived marine top predators and hence are at risk of bioaccumulating high Hg concentrations from their prey. Here, we measured blood total mercury (THg) concentrations and relationships with physiology and breeding parameters of breeding brown skuas (Stercorarius antarcticus) (n = 49 individuals) at Esperanza/Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. Mean blood THg concentrations were similar in males and females despite the differences in body size and breeding roles, but differed between study years. Immune markers (hematocrit, Immunoglobulin Y [IgY] and albumin) were negatively correlated with blood THg concentrations, which likely indicates a disruptive effect of Hg on immunity. Alanine aminotransferase (GPT) activity, reflecting liver dysfunction, was positively associated with blood THg. Additionally, triacylglycerol and albumin differed between our study years, but did not correlate with Hg levels, and so were more likely to reflect changes in diet and nutritional status rather than Hg contamination. Egg volume correlated negatively with blood THg concentrations. Our study provides new insights into the sublethal effects of Hg contamination on immunity, liver function and breeding parameters in seabirds. In this Antarctic species, exposure to sublethal Hg concentrations reflects the short-term risks which could make individuals more susceptible to environmental stressors, including ongoing climatic changes

    Portfolio management with alternative investments

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    Alternative assets such as private equity, hedge funds, real estate and infrastructure now form a substantial part of the portfolios of institutional investors, with their popularity having increase very substantially over the past two decades. This is principally due to their perceived diversification benefits. However, the application of portfolio theory to portfolios which include alternative assets presents a number of problems, as they differ in some important ways from more traditional assets such as equities and bonds. Alternative assets usually have a highly non-normal returns distribution, and illiquid alternative assets such as real estate and hedge funds have smoothed measured returns, leading to positive autocorrelation and reduced variances and correlations. Therefore, reported returns are a biased measure of true returns and their riskiness. Since the application of portfolio theory requires forecasts of returns, variances and correlations, the estimation errors for alternative assets are generally larger than for equities and bonds. These issues of non-normality and smoothed reported returns mean that the use of portfolio theory to form portfolios including alternative assets may not lead to an improved performance, and a few studies have found that adding alternative assets to portfolios of equities and bonds can have a negative effect on performance

    The electoral effects of large-scale infrastructure policies: evidence from a rural electrification scheme in Brazil

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    This paper analyzes the conditions under which major infrastructural investments generate electoral returns. It addresses when and how the constraints imposed by myopic voters under democracy can be overcome. We argue that sustained policy spillovers are critical to broadening the pool of beneficiaries and yielding significant returns to the incumbent in the medium to long run. We make this case by analyzing Luz para Todos (LPT)-- a large-scale rural electrification scheme implemented in Brazil by the Workers' Party (PT). Leveraging the LPT's quasi-experimental allocation, we document its positive and persistent impact on the PT's vote support several years after the program started running. We then illustrate the mechanism of policy spillovers by showing the impact of the LPT on the provision of education in targeted areas. Our findings suggest that infrastructure policies are more likely to generate electoral returns when the policy provision entails spillover effects through other policies

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