4,413 research outputs found

    Pathogens manipulating tick behavior—through a glass, darkly

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    Pathogens can manipulate the phenotypic traits of their hosts and vectors, maximizing their own fitness. Among the phenotypic traits that can be modified, manipulating vector behavior represents one of the most fascinating facets. How pathogens infection affects behavioral traits of key insect vectors has been extensively investigated. Major examples include Plasmodium, Leishmania and Trypanosoma spp. manipulating the behavior of mosquitoes, sand flies and kissing bugs, respectively. However, research on how pathogens can modify tick behavior is patchy. This review focuses on current knowledge about the behavioral changes triggered by Anaplasma, Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia and tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) infection in tick vectors, analyzing their potential adaptive significance. As a general trend, being infected by Borrelia and TBEV boosts tick mobility (both questing and walking activity). Borrelia and Anaplasma infection magnifies Ixodes desiccation resistance, triggering physiological changes (Borrelia: higher fat reserves; Anaplasma: synthesis of heat shock proteins). Anaplasma infection also improves cold resistance in infected ticks through synthesis of an antifreeze glycoprotein. Being infected by Anaplasma, Borrelia and Babesia leads to increased tick survival. Borrelia, Babesia and Bartonella infection facilitates blood engorgement. In the last section, current challenges for future studies are outlined

    On a Magical Mystery Tour of Green Insecticide Research: Current Issues and Challenges

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    The Editorial outlines recent research advances in green insecticide research. Particular attention is devoted to studies shedding light on the modes of action and non-target toxicity of natural substances of plant origin. Research focusing on the development of new formulations (including those relating to nano-objects) to magnify the effectiveness and stability of green insecticides in the field represents key advances. Herein, a carefully reviewed selection of cutting edge articles about green pesticide development recently published in Molecules is presented. The impact of sub-lethal doses of green insecticides on insect behavioral traits is still overlooked, representing a timely challenge for further research

    CloudScout: A deep neural network for on-board cloud detection on hyperspectral images

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    The increasing demand for high-resolution hyperspectral images from nano and microsatellites conflicts with the strict bandwidth constraints for downlink transmission. A possible approach to mitigate this problem consists in reducing the amount of data to transmit to ground through on-board processing of hyperspectral images. In this paper, we propose a custom Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) deployed for a nanosatellite payload to select images eligible for transmission to ground, called CloudScout. The latter is installed on the Hyperscout-2, in the frame of the Phisat-1 ESA mission, which exploits a hyperspectral camera to classify cloud-covered images and clear ones. The images transmitted to ground are those that present less than 70% of cloudiness in a frame. We train and test the network against an extracted dataset from the Sentinel-2 mission, which was appropriately pre-processed to emulate the Hyperscout-2 hyperspectral sensor. On the test set we achieve 92% of accuracy with 1% of False Positives (FP). The Phisat-1 mission will start in 2020 and will operate for about 6 months. It represents the first in-orbit demonstration of Deep Neural Network (DNN) for data processing on the edge. The innovation aspect of our work concerns not only cloud detection but in general low power, low latency, and embedded applications. Our work should enable a new era of edge applications and enhance remote sensing applications directly on-board satellite

    Insights on Funeral Practices and Insects Associated with the Tombs of King Ferrante II d'Aragona and Other Renaissance Nobles

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    The impressive Sacristy of the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore contains 38 wooden sarcophagi with the bodies of 10 Aragonese princes and other Neapolitan nobles, who died in the 15th and 16th centuries. To improve the knowledge about the entomofauna associated with bodies in archaeological contexts, herein we provide insights on the funerary practices and the insect community associated to Ferrante II King of Naples and other Italian Renaissance mummies of the Aragonese dynasty buried in the Basilica of St. Domenico Maggiore. We identified 842 insect specimens: 88% were Diptera (Muscidae, Fanniidae, and Phoridae), followed by 9% Lepidoptera (Tineidae) and 3% Coleoptera (Dermestidae and Ptinidae). Ninety-seven percent of the specimens were collected from the coffin of Francesco Ferdinando d'Avalos, which was the best preserved. A lack of fly species characterizing the first colonization waves of exposed bodies was noted. The most common fly was the later colonizing muscid Hydrotaea capensis (Wiedemann); only a few Fanniidae (Fannia spp.) were retrieved. The lack of blowflies, coupled with recording H. capensis as the dominant fly, supports our hypothesis that corpses have been kept indoors for a long time under confined environmental conditions. Other explanations include odorous oils/balms having been used in the embalming process, causing the delay or stopping the arrival of first colonizer flies. Hermetically sealing of the coffin with bitumen may also have played a role in preventing access to the corpses. This scenario describes a historical context characterized by a well-advanced knowledge of body preparation, with specific burial techniques adopted for nobles

    Impact of Different Developmental Instars on Locusta migratoria Jumping Performance

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    Ontogenetic locomotion research focuses on the evolution of locomotion behavior in different developmental stages of a species. Unlike vertebrates, ontogenetic locomotion in invertebrates is poorly investigated. Locusts represent an outstanding biological model to study this issue. They are hemimetabolous insects and have similar aspects and behaviors in different instars. This research is aimed at studying the jumping performance of Locusta migratoria over different developmental instars. Jumps of third instar, fourth instar, and adult L. migratoria were recorded through a high-speed camera. Data were analyzed to develop a simplified biomechanical model of the insect: the elastic joint of locust hind legs was simplified as a torsional spring located at the femur-tibiae joint as a semilunar process and based on an energetic approach involving both locomotion and geometrical data. A simplified mathematical model evaluated the performances of each tested jump. Results showed that longer hind leg length, higher elastic parameter, and longer takeoff time synergistically contribute to a greater velocity and energy storing/releasing in adult locusts, if compared to young instars; at the same time, they compensate possible decreases of the acceleration due to the mass increase. This finding also gives insights for advanced bioinspired jumping robot design
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