2,144 research outputs found

    Fire and climate: contrasting pressures on tropical Andean timberline species

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    Department of Biological Sciences; Florida Institute of Technology; Melbourne FL USA Department of Biological Sciences; Florida Institute of Technology; Melbourne FL USA Department of Biological Sciences; Florida Institute of Technology; Melbourne FL USA Geography, College of Life & Environmental Sciences; University of Exeter; Exeter UK Department of Biological Sciences; Florida Institute of Technology; Melbourne FL USA CEPSAR; The Open University; Milton Keynes UK Instituto de Geología; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Ciudad Universitaria; Mexico City Mexico Department of Forest and Soil Sciences; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna; Vienna Austria Department of Biology and Center for Energy; Environment and Sustainability; Wake Forest University; Winston Salem NC USACopyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Aim: The aim was to test competing hypotheses regarding migration of the Andean timberline within the last 2000 years. Location: The upper forest limit in Manu National Park, Peru. Methods: A randomized stratified design provided 21 soil profiles from forested sites just below the timberline, 15 from puna grassland sites just above the timberline and 15 from the transitional habitat at the puna–forest boundary. From each profile a surface sample (hereafter modern) and a sample from the base of the organic horizon (hereafter historical) were collected. Pollen and charcoal were analysed from the modern and historical layers of the 51 soil profiles. A chronological framework was provided by 24 14C dates. Data were ordinated as modern and historical groups and the temporal trends illustrated by Procrustes rotation. Results: The organic layer from the soil profiles represented the last 600–2000 years. Fire was much more abundant in all habitat types (puna, transitional and forested) in the modern compared with the historical groups. Samples that had historically been in puna just above the timberline showed encroachment by woody species. Samples that had been forested were still classified as forest but their composition had become more transitional. Sites that were transitional appeared to represent a new or expanded class of sites that was far less abundant historically. Main conclusions: Our results are consistent with ongoing warming causing an upslope migration of species, although not necessarily of the timberline. Weedy fire-tolerant species are spreading upslope, creating a transitional forest, softening the boundary between forest and puna. Simultaneously, fire introduced to improve grazing outside the park has increasingly penetrated the forest and is causing the upper timberline to shift towards more fire-tolerant and weedy species. Consequently, both the form of the ecotone between forest and grassland and the species composition of these forests is changing and is expected to continue to change, representing a shifting baseline for what is considered to be natural.Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Andes-to-Amazon programmeBlue Moon FundNational Science Foundatio

    An integrated fuzzy-stochastic model for revenue management: The hospitality industry case

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    Revenue management aims at improving the performance of an organization by selling the right product/service to the right customer at the right time. This task is very dependent on uncontrollable external factors. In the hospitality industry, rooms of the hotel represent perishable assets and fixed capacities at the same time. Therefore, in the case of a stochastic process for customers calling in reservations prior to a particular booking date, a common problem for hotels is to devise a policy for maximizing the total expected profit conditional on the set of bookings. We propose a fuzzy model for the hotel revenue management under an uncertain and vague environment. Fuzziness of objective and constraint functions have been incorporated into a stochastic booking model considering multiple-day stays to show the effect of uncertainty on the optimal demand. By changing the relaxation parameters of the objective function, we have found a set of optimal solutions with, in most of the cases, a value of the objective function equal to the optimal solution of the stochastic model, providing several alternative optimal room allocations

    Structure-activity relationships of anthraquinone derivatives derived from bromaminic acid as inhibitors of ectonucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolases (E-NTPDases)

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    Reactive blue 2 (RB-2) had been characterized as a relatively potent ectonucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase (E-NTPDase) inhibitor with some selectivity for NTPDase3. In search for the pharmacophore and to analyze structure-activity relationships we synthesized a series of truncated derivatives and analogs of RB-2, including 1-amino-2-sulfo-4-ar(alk)ylaminoanthraquinones, 1-amino-2-methyl-4-arylaminoanthraquinones, 1-amino-4-bromoanthraquinone 2-sulfonic acid esters and sulfonamides, and bis-(1-amino-4-bromoanthraquinone) sulfonamides, and investigated them in preparations of rat NTPDase1, 2, and 3 using a capillary electrophoresis assay. Several 1-amino-2-sulfo-4-ar(alk)ylaminoanthraquinone derivatives inhibited E-NTPDases in a concentration-dependent manner. The 2-sulfonate group was found to be required for inhibitory activity, since 2-methyl-substituted derivatives were inactive. 1-Amino-2-sulfo-4-p-chloroanilinoanthraquinone (18) was identified as a nonselective competitive blocker of NTPDases1, 2, and 3 (Ki 16–18 μM), while 1-amino-2-sulfo-4-(2-naphthylamino)anthraquinone (21) was a potent inhibitor with preference for NTPDase1 (Ki 0.328 μM) and NTPDase3 (Ki 2.22 μM). Its isomer, 1-amino-2-sulfo-4-(1-naphthylamino)anthraquinone (20), was a potent and selective inhibitor of rat NTPDase3 (Ki 1.5 μM)

    Internal and external cooling methods and their effect on body temperature, thermal perception and dexterity

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    © 2018 The Authors. Published by PLOS. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191416© 2018 Maley et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Objective The present study aimed to compare a range of cooling methods possibly utilised by occupational workers, focusing on their effect on body temperature, perception and manual dexterity. Methods Ten male participants completed eight trials involving 30 min of seated rest followed by 30 min of cooling or control of no cooling (CON) (34C, 58% relative humidity). The cooling methods utilised were: ice cooling vest (CV0), phase change cooling vest melting at 14C (CV14), evaporative cooling vest (CVEV), arm immersion in 10C water (AI), portable water-perfused suit (WPS), heliox inhalation (HE) and ice slushy ingestion (SL). Immediately before and after cooling, participants were assessed for fine (Purdue pegboard task) and gross (grip and pinch strength) manual dexterity. Rectal and skin temperature, as well as thermal sensation and comfort, were monitored throughout. Results Compared with CON, SL was the only method to reduce rectal temperature (P = 0.012). All externally applied cooling methods reduced skin temperature (P0.05). Conclusion The present study observed that ice ingestion or ice applied to the skin produced the greatest effect on rectal and skin temperature, respectively. AI should not be utilised if workers require subsequent fine manual dexterity. These results will help inform future studies investigating appropriate pre-cooling methods for the occupational worker.This project is financially supported by the US Government through the Technical Support Working Group within the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.Published versio

    Design principles for riboswitch function

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    Scientific and technological advances that enable the tuning of integrated regulatory components to match network and system requirements are critical to reliably control the function of biological systems. RNA provides a promising building block for the construction of tunable regulatory components based on its rich regulatory capacity and our current understanding of the sequence–function relationship. One prominent example of RNA-based regulatory components is riboswitches, genetic elements that mediate ligand control of gene expression through diverse regulatory mechanisms. While characterization of natural and synthetic riboswitches has revealed that riboswitch function can be modulated through sequence alteration, no quantitative frameworks exist to investigate or guide riboswitch tuning. Here, we combined mathematical modeling and experimental approaches to investigate the relationship between riboswitch function and performance. Model results demonstrated that the competition between reversible and irreversible rate constants dictates performance for different regulatory mechanisms. We also found that practical system restrictions, such as an upper limit on ligand concentration, can significantly alter the requirements for riboswitch performance, necessitating alternative tuning strategies. Previous experimental data for natural and synthetic riboswitches as well as experiments conducted in this work support model predictions. From our results, we developed a set of general design principles for synthetic riboswitches. Our results also provide a foundation from which to investigate how natural riboswitches are tuned to meet systems-level regulatory demands

    Comparison of embedded and added motor imagery training in patients after stroke: Study protocol of a randomised controlled pilot trial using a mixed methods approach

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    Copyright @ 2009 Schuster et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.Background: Two different approaches have been adopted when applying motor imagery (MI) to stroke patients. MI can be conducted either added to conventional physiotherapy or integrated within therapy sessions. The proposed study aims to compare the efficacy of embedded MI to an added MI intervention. Evidence from pilot studies reported in the literature suggests that both approaches can improve performance of a complex motor skill involving whole body movements, however, it remains to be demonstrated, which is the more effective one.Methods/Design: A single blinded, randomised controlled trial (RCT) with a pre-post intervention design will be carried out. The study design includes two experimental groups and a control group (CG). Both experimental groups (EG1, EG2) will receive physical practice of a clinical relevant motor task ('Going down, laying on the floor, and getting up again') over a two week intervention period: EG1 with embedded MI training, EG2 with MI training added after physiotherapy. The CG will receive standard physiotherapy intervention and an additional control intervention not related to MI.The primary study outcome is the time difference to perform the task from pre to post-intervention. Secondary outcomes include level of help needed, stages of motor task completion, degree of motor impairment, balance ability, fear of falling measure, motivation score, and motor imagery ability score. Four data collection points are proposed: twice during baseline phase, once following the intervention period, and once after a two week follow up. A nested qualitative part should add an important insight into patients' experience and attitudes towards MI. Semi-structured interviews of six to ten patients, who participate in the RCT, will be conducted to investigate patients' previous experience with MI and their expectations towards the MI intervention in the study. Patients will be interviewed prior and after the intervention period.Discussion: Results will determine whether embedded MI is superior to added MI. Findings of the semi-structured interviews will help to integrate patient's expectations of MI interventions in the design of research studies to improve practical applicability using MI as an adjunct therapy technique

    Ecto-5′-Nucleotidase: A Candidate Virulence Factor in Streptococcus sanguinis Experimental Endocarditis

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    Streptococcus sanguinis is the most common cause of infective endocarditis (IE). Since the molecular basis of virulence of this oral commensal bacterium remains unclear, we searched the genome of S. sanguinis for previously unidentified virulence factors. We identified a cell surface ecto-5′-nucleotidase (Nt5e), as a candidate virulence factor. By colorimetric phosphate assay, we showed that S. sanguinis Nt5e can hydrolyze extracellular adenosine triphosphate to generate adenosine. Moreover, a nt5e deletion mutant showed significantly shorter lag time (P<0.05) to onset of platelet aggregation than the wild-type strain, without affecting platelet-bacterial adhesion in vitro (P = 0.98). In the absence of nt5e, S. sanguinis caused IE (4 d) in a rabbit model with significantly decreased mass of vegetations (P<0.01) and recovered bacterial loads (log10CFU, P = 0.01), suggesting that Nt5e contributes to the virulence of S. sanguinis in vivo. As a virulence factor, Nt5e may function by (i) hydrolyzing ATP, a pro-inflammatory molecule, and generating adenosine, an immunosuppressive molecule to inhibit phagocytic monocytes/macrophages associated with valvular vegetations. (ii) Nt5e-mediated inhibition of platelet aggregation could also delay presentation of platelet microbicidal proteins to infecting bacteria on heart valves. Both plausible Nt5e-dependent mechanisms would promote survival of infecting S. sanguinis. In conclusion, we now show for the first time that streptococcal Nt5e modulates S. sanguinis-induced platelet aggregation and may contribute to the virulence of streptococci in experimental IE
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