4,265 research outputs found

    Probing Evolutionary Repeatability: Neutral and Double Changes and the Predictability of Evolutionary Adaptation

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    The question of how organisms adapt is among the most fundamental in evolutionary biology. Two recent studies investigated the evolution of Escherichia coli in response to challenge with the antibiotic cefotaxime. Studying five mutations in the beta-lactamase gene that together confer significant antibiotic resistance, the authors showed a complex fitness landscape that greatly constrained the identity and order of intermediates leading from the initial wildtype genotype to the final resistant genotype. Out of 18 billion possible orders of single mutations leading from non-resistant to fully-resistant form, they found that only 27 (1.5x10(-7)%) pathways were characterized by consistently increasing resistance, thus only a tiny fraction of possible paths are accessible by positive selection. I further explore these data in several ways.Allowing neutral changes (those that do not affect resistance) increases the number of accessible pathways considerably, from 27 to 629. Allowing multiple simultaneous mutations also greatly increases the number of accessible pathways. Allowing a single case of double mutation to occur along a pathway increases the number of pathways from 27 to 259, and allowing arbitrarily many pairs of simultaneous changes increases the number of possible pathways by more than 100 fold, to 4800. I introduce the metric 'repeatability,' the probability that two random trials will proceed via the exact same pathway. In general, I find that while the total number of accessible pathways is dramatically affected by allowing neutral or double mutations, the overall evolutionary repeatability is generally much less affected.These results probe the conceivable pathways available to evolution. Even when many of the assumptions of the analysis of Weinreich et al. (2006) are relaxed, I find that evolution to more highly cefotaxime resistant beta-lactamase proteins is still highly repeatable

    The evolution and distribution of phage ST160 within Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium

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    Salmonellosis is an internationally important disease of mammals and birds. Unique epidemics in New Zealand in the recent past include two Salmonella serovars: Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium definitive type (DT) 160 (S. Typhimurium DT160) and S. Brandenburg. Although not a major threat internationally, in New Zealand S. Typhimurium DT160 has been the most common serovar isolated from humans, and continues to cause significant losses in wildlife. We have identified DNA differences between the first New Zealand isolate of S. Typhimurium DT160 and the genome-sequenced strain, S. Typhimurium LT2. All the differences could be accounted for in one cryptic phage ST64B, and one novel P22-like phage, ST160. The majority of the ST160 genome is almost identical to phage SE1 but has two regions not found in SE1 which are identical to the P22-like phage ST64T, suggesting that ST160 evolved from SE1 via two recombination events with ST64T. All of the New Zealand isolates of DT160 were identical indicating the clonal spread of this particular Salmonella. Some overseas isolates of S. Typhimurium DT160 differed from the New Zealand strain and contained SE1 phage rather than ST160. ST160 was also identified in New Zealand isolates of S. Typhimurium DT74 and S. Typhimurium RDNC-April06 and in S. Typhimurium DT160 isolates from the USA. The emergence of S. Typhimurium DT160 as a significant pathogen in New Zealand is postulated to have occurred due to the sensitivity of the Salmonella strains to the ST160 phage when S. Typhimurium DT160 first arrived. © 2010 Cambridge University Press

    Study of alkaline hydrothermal activation of belite cements by thermal analysis

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    The effect of alkaline hydrothermal activation of class-C fly ash belite cement was studied using thermal analysis (TG/DTG) by determining the increase in the combined water during a period of hydration of 180 days. The results were compared with those obtained for a belite cement hydrothermally activated in water. The two belite cements were fabricated via the hydrothermal-calcination route of class-C fly ash in 1 M NaOH solution (FABC-2-N) or demineralised water (FABC-2-W). From the results, the effect of the alkaline hydrothermal activation of belite cement (FABC-2-N) was clearly differentiated, mainly at early ages of hydration, for which the increase in the combined water was markedly higher than that of the belite cement that was hydrothermally activated in water. Important direct quantitative correlations were obtained among physicochemical parameters, such as the combined water, the BET surface area, the volume of nano-pores, and macro structural engineering properties such as the compressive mechanical strength

    Cross infection control measures and the treatment of patients at risk of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease in UK general dental practice

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    AIMS: To determine the suitability of key infection control measures currently employed in UK dental practice for delivery of dental care to patients at risk of prion diseases. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Subjects: Five hundred dental surgeons currently registered with the General Dental Council of the UK. Data collection: Structured postal questionnaire. Analysis: Frequencies, cross-tabulations and chi-squared analysis. RESULTS: The valid response rate to the questionnaire was 69%. 33% of practices had no policy on general disinfection and sterilisation procedures. Only 10 of the 327 responding practices (3%) possessed a vacuum autoclave. 49% of dentists reported using the BDA medical history form but less than 25% asked the specific questions recommended by the BDA to identify patients at risk of iatrogenic or familial CJD. However, 63% of practitioners would refer such patients, if identified, to a secondary care facility. Of the 107 practitioners who were prepared to provide dental treatment, 75 (70%) would do so using routine infection control procedures. CONCLUSIONS: Most of the dental practices surveyed were not actively seeking to identify patients at risk of prion diseases. In many cases, recommended procedures for providing safe dental care for such patients were not in place

    The Mondrian Kernel

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    We introduce the Mondrian kernel, a fast random feature\textit{random feature} approximation to the Laplace kernel. It is suitable for both batch and online learning, and admits a fast kernel-width-selection procedure as the random features can be re-used efficiently for all kernel widths. The features are constructed by sampling trees via a Mondrian process [Roy and Teh, 2009], and we highlight the connection to Mondrian forests [Lakshminarayanan et al., 2014], where trees are also sampled via a Mondrian process, but fit independently. This link provides a new insight into the relationship between kernel methods and random forests.Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Alan Turing Institute, Google, Microsoft Research and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (Grant ID: EP/N014162/1), NSERC (Discovery Grant), European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) (Grant agreement no. 617071

    Ecological succession of a Jurassic shallow-water ichthyosaur fall.

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    After the discovery of whale fall communities in modern oceans, it has been hypothesized that during the Mesozoic the carcasses of marine reptiles created similar habitats supporting long-lived and specialized animal communities. Here, we report a fully documented ichthyosaur fall community, from a Late Jurassic shelf setting, and reconstruct the ecological succession of its micro- and macrofauna. The early 'mobile-scavenger' and 'enrichment-opportunist' stages were not succeeded by a 'sulphophilic stage' characterized by chemosynthetic molluscs, but instead the bones were colonized by microbial mats that attracted echinoids and other mat-grazing invertebrates. Abundant cemented suspension feeders indicate a well-developed 'reef stage' with prolonged exposure and colonization of the bones prior to final burial, unlike in modern whale falls where organisms such as the ubiquitous bone-eating worm Osedax rapidly destroy the skeleton. Shallow-water ichthyosaur falls thus fulfilled similar ecological roles to shallow whale falls, and did not support specialized chemosynthetic communities

    Using Mitochondrial and Nuclear Sequence Data for Disentangling Population Structure in Complex Pest Species: A Case Study with Dermanyssus gallinae

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    Among global changes induced by human activities, association of breakdown of geographical barriers and impoverishered biodiversity of agroecosystems may have a strong evolutionary impact on pest species. As a consequence of trade networks' expansion, secondary contacts between incipient species, if hybrid incompatibility is not yet reached, may result in hybrid swarms, even more when empty niches are available as usual in crop fields and farms. By providing important sources of genetic novelty for organisms to adapt in changing environments, hybridization may be strongly involved in the emergence of invasive populations

    Conformational effects on the Circular Dichroism of Human Carbonic Anhydrase II: a multilevel computational study

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    Circular Dichroism (CD) spectroscopy is a powerful method for investigating conformational changes in proteins and therefore has numerous applications in structural and molecular biology. Here a computational investigation of the CD spectrum of the Human Carbonic Anhydrase II (HCAII), with main focus on the near-UV CD spectra of the wild-type enzyme and it seven tryptophan mutant forms, is presented and compared to experimental studies. Multilevel computational methods (Molecular Dynamics, Semiempirical Quantum Mechanics, Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory) were applied in order to gain insight into the mechanisms of interaction between the aromatic chromophores within the protein environment and understand how the conformational flexibility of the protein influences these mechanisms. The analysis suggests that combining CD semi empirical calculations, crystal structures and molecular dynamics (MD) could help in achieving a better agreement between the computed and experimental protein spectra and provide some unique insight into the dynamic nature of the mechanisms of chromophore interactions
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