214 research outputs found

    Mass mortality events of invasive freshwater bivalves: Current understanding and potential directions for future research

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    Mass mortality events, the rapid, catastrophic die-off of organisms, have recently been recognized as important events in controlling population size, but are difficult to quantify given their infrequency. These events can lead to large inputs of animal carcasses into aquatic ecosystems, which can have ecosystem scale impacts. Invasive freshwater bivalves such as the Asian clam Corbicula fluminea, the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha, the golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei, and the Chinese pond mussel Sinanodonta woodiana can attain high densities and biomass and play important roles in aquatic ecosystems through filtration, bioturbation, and excretion. Invasive bivalve species can best be described as R-selected species and appear not to have the same tolerance to abiotic stressors as native species, causing them to be prone to mass mortality events in their invasive range. In contrast to their ecological effects while alive, the frequency and impacts of mass mortality events of invasive freshwater bivalves are not well-understood. Here we review the causes and impacts of mass mortality events, as well as identify important questions for future research. Extreme abiotic conditions, including both drought and flooding, as well as high and low temperatures were the primary drivers of mass mortality events. Short-term impacts of mass mortality events include large pulses of nitrogen and increased oxygen stress due to large amounts of soft tissue decomposition, while shells can impact habitat availability and nutrient cycling for decades. Impacts on biological communities (bacteria, fungi, and macroinvertebrates) are less studied but some examples exist concerning C. fluminea. Better documentation of mass mortality events, particularly their magnitude and frequency, is needed to fully understand the impacts invasive bivalve species have on ecosystems, especially as climate change may make mass mortality events more frequent and/or have a larger magnitude.This work was supported by funding from the School of Science and Engineering at Merrimack College

    Influenza in long-term care facilities

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    Long-term care facility environments and the vulnerability of their residents provide a setting conducive to the rapid spread of influenza virus and other respiratory pathogens. Infections may be introduced by staff, visitors or new or transferred residents, and outbreaks of influenza in such settings can have devastating consequences for individuals, as well as placing extra strain on health services. As the population ages over the coming decades, increased provision of such facilities seems likely. The need for robust infection prevention and control practices will therefore remain of paramount importance if the impact of outbreaks is to be minimised. In this review, we discuss the nature of the problem of influenza in long-term care facilities, and approaches to preventive and control measures, including vaccination of residents and staff, and the use of antiviral drugs for treatment and prophylaxis, based on currently available evidence. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

    Effects of ecosystem protection on scallop populations within a community-led temperate marine reserve

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    This study investigated the effects of a newly established, fully protected marine reserve on benthic habitats and two commercially valuable species of scallop in Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran, United Kingdom. Annual dive surveys from 2010 to 2013 showed the abundance of juvenile scallops to be significantly greater within the marine reserve than outside. Generalised linear models revealed this trend to be significantly related to the greater presence of macroalgae and hydroids growing within the boundaries of the reserve. These results suggest that structurally complex habitats growing within the reserve have substantially increased spat settlement and/or survival. The density of adult king scallops declined threefold with increasing distance from the boundaries of the reserve, indicating possible evidence of spillover or reduced fishing effort directly outside and around the marine reserve. However, there was no difference in the mean density of adult scallops between the reserve and outside. Finally, the mean age, size, and reproductive and exploitable biomass of king scallops were all significantly greater within the reserve. In contrast to king scallops, the population dynamics of queen scallops (Aequipecten opercularis) fluctuated randomly over the survey period and showed little difference between the reserve and outside. Overall, this study is consistent with the hypothesis that marine reserves can encourage the recovery of seafloor habitats, which, in turn, can benefit populations of commercially exploited species, emphasising the importance of marine reserves in the ecosystem-based management of fisheries

    Ubiquitous molecular substrates for associative learning and activity-dependent neuronal facilitation.

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    Recent evidence suggests that many of the molecular cascades and substrates that contribute to learning-related forms of neuronal plasticity may be conserved across ostensibly disparate model systems. Notably, the facilitation of neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission that contribute to associative learning in Aplysia and Hermissenda, as well as associative LTP in hippocampal CA1 cells, all require (or are enhanced by) the convergence of a transient elevation in intracellular Ca2+ with transmitter binding to metabotropic cell-surface receptors. This temporal convergence of Ca2+ and G-protein-stimulated second-messenger cascades synergistically stimulates several classes of serine/threonine protein kinases, which in turn modulate receptor function or cell excitability through the phosphorylation of ion channels. We present a summary of the biophysical and molecular constituents of neuronal and synaptic facilitation in each of these three model systems. Although specific components of the underlying molecular cascades differ across these three systems, fundamental aspects of these cascades are widely conserved, leading to the conclusion that the conceptual semblance of these superficially disparate systems is far greater than is generally acknowledged. We suggest that the elucidation of mechanistic similarities between different systems will ultimately fulfill the goal of the model systems approach, that is, the description of critical and ubiquitous features of neuronal and synaptic events that contribute to memory induction

    Multiple novel prostate cancer susceptibility signals identified by fine-mapping of known risk loci among Europeans

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    Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous common prostate cancer (PrCa) susceptibility loci. We have fine-mapped 64 GWAS regions known at the conclusion of the iCOGS study using large-scale genotyping and imputation in 25 723 PrCa cases and 26 274 controls of European ancestry. We detected evidence for multiple independent signals at 16 regions, 12 of which contained additional newly identified significant associations. A single signal comprising a spectrum of correlated variation was observed at 39 regions; 35 of which are now described by a novel more significantly associated lead SNP, while the originally reported variant remained as the lead SNP only in 4 regions. We also confirmed two association signals in Europeans that had been previously reported only in East-Asian GWAS. Based on statistical evidence and linkage disequilibrium (LD) structure, we have curated and narrowed down the list of the most likely candidate causal variants for each region. Functional annotation using data from ENCODE filtered for PrCa cell lines and eQTL analysis demonstrated significant enrichment for overlap with bio-features within this set. By incorporating the novel risk variants identified here alongside the refined data for existing association signals, we estimate that these loci now explain ∼38.9% of the familial relative risk of PrCa, an 8.9% improvement over the previously reported GWAS tag SNPs. This suggests that a significant fraction of the heritability of PrCa may have been hidden during the discovery phase of GWAS, in particular due to the presence of multiple independent signals within the same regio

    Genome-wide association and transcriptome studies identify target genes and risk loci for breast cancer

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    Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 170 breast cancer susceptibility loci. Here we hypothesize that some risk-associated variants might act in non-breast tissues, specifically adipose tissue and immune cells from blood and spleen. Using expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) reported in these tissues, we identify 26 previously unreported, likely target genes of overall breast cancer risk variants, and 17 for estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer, several with a known immune function. We determine the directional effect of gene expression on disease risk measured based on single and multiple eQTL. In addition, using a gene-based test of association that considers eQTL from multiple tissues, we identify seven (and four) regions with variants associated with overall (and ER-negative) breast cancer risk, which were not reported in previous GWAS. Further investigation of the function of the implicated genes in breast and immune cells may provide insights into the etiology of breast cancer.Peer reviewe

    A case-only study to identify genetic modifiers of breast cancer risk for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers

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    Breast cancer (BC) risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers varies by genetic and familial factors. About 50 common variants have been shown to modify BC risk for mutation carriers. All but three, were identified in general population studies. Other mutation carrier-specific susceptibility variants may exist but studies of mutation carriers have so far been underpowered. We conduct a novel case-only genome-wide association study comparing genotype frequencies between 60,212 general population BC cases and 13,007 cases with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. We identify robust novel associations for 2 variants with BC for BRCA1 and 3 for BRCA2 mutation carriers, P < 10−8, at 5 loci, which are not associated with risk in the general population. They include rs60882887 at 11p11.2 where MADD, SP11 and EIF1, genes previously implicated in BC biology, are predicted as potential targets. These findings will contribute towards customising BC polygenic risk scores for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers
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