110 research outputs found

    Pollution-induced community tolerance in freshwater biofilms – from molecular mechanisms to loss of community functions

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    Exposure to herbicides poses a threat to aquatic biofilms by affecting their community structure, physiology and function. These changes render biofilms to become more tolerant, but on the downside community tolerance has ecologic costs. A concept that addresses induced community tolerance to a pollutant (PICT) was introduced by Blanck and WĂ€ngberg (1988). The basic principle of the concept is that microbial communities undergo pollution-induced succession when exposed to a pollutant over a long period of time, which changes communities structurally and functionally and enhancing tolerance to the pollutant exposure. However, the mechanisms of tolerance and the ecologic consequences were hardly studied up to date. This thesis addresses the structural and functional changes in biofilm communities and applies modern molecular methods to unravel molecular tolerance mechanisms. Two different freshwater biofilm communities were cultivated for a period of five weeks, with one of the communities being contaminated with 4 ÎŒg L-1 diuron. Subsequently, the communities were characterized for structural and functional differences, especially focusing on their crucial role of photosynthesis. The community structure of the autotrophs was assessed using HPLC-based pigment analysis and their functional alterations were investigated using Imaging-PAM fluorometry to study photosynthesis and community oxygen profiling to determine net primary production. Then, the molecular fingerprints of the communities were measured with meta-transcriptomics (RNA-Seq) and GC-based community metabolomics approaches and analyzed with respect to changes in their molecular functions. The communities were acute exposed to diuron for one hour in a dose-response design, to reveal a potential PICT and uncover related adaptation to diuron exposure. The combination of apical and molecular methods in a dose-response design enabled the linkage of functional effects of diuron exposure and underlying molecular mechanisms based on a sensitivity analysis. Chronic exposure to diuron impaired freshwater biofilms in their biomass accrual. The contaminated communities particularly lost autotrophic biomass, reflected by the decrease in specific chlorophyll a content. This loss was associated with a change in the molecular fingerprint of the communities, which substantiates structural and physiological changes. The decline in autotrophic biomass could be due to a primary loss of sensitive autotrophic organisms caused by the selection of better adapted species in the course of chronic exposure. Related to this hypothesis, an increase in diuron tolerance has been detected in the contaminated communities and molecular mechanisms facilitating tolerance have been found. It was shown that genes of the photosystem, reductive-pentose phosphate cycle and arginine metabolism were differentially expressed among the communities and that an increased amount of potential antioxidant degradation products was found in the contaminated communities. This led to the hypothesis that contaminated communities may have adapted to oxidative stress, making them less sensitive to diuron exposure. Moreover, the photosynthetic light harvesting complex was altered and the photoprotective xanthophyll cycle was increased in the contaminated communities. Despite these adaptation strategies, the loss of autotrophic biomass has been shown to impair primary production. This impairment persisted even under repeated short-term exposure, so that the tolerance mechanisms cannot safeguard primary production as a key function in aquatic systems.:1. The effect of chemicals on organisms and their functions .............................. 1 1.1 Welcome to the anthropocene .......................................................................... 1 1.2 From cellular stress responses to ecosystem resilience ................................... 3 1.2.1 The individual pursuit for homeostasis ....................................................... 3 1.2.2 Stability from diversity ................................................................................. 5 1.3 Community ecotoxicology - a step forward in monitoring the effects of chemical pollution? ................................................................................................................. 6 1.4 Functional ecotoxicological assessment of microbial communities ................... 9 1.5 Molecular tools – the key to a mechanistic understanding of stressor effects from a functional perspective in microbial communities? ...................................... 12 2. Aims and Hypothesis ......................................................................................... 14 2.1 Research question .......................................................................................... 14 2.2 Hypothesis and outline .................................................................................... 15 2.3 Experimental approach & concept .................................................................. 16 2.3.1 Aquatic freshwater biofilms as model community ..................................... 16 2.3.2 Diuron as model herbicide ........................................................................ 17 2.3.3 Experimental design ................................................................................. 18 3. Structural and physiological changes in microbial communities after chronic exposure - PICT and altered functional capacity ................................................. 21 3.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 21 3.2 Methods .......................................................................................................... 23 3.2.1 Biofilm cultivation ...................................................................................... 23 3.2.2 Dry weight and autotrophic index ............................................................. 23 3.2.4 Pigment analysis of periphyton ................................................................. 23 3.2.4.1 In-vivo pigment analysis for community characterization ....................... 24 3.2.4.2 In-vivo pigment analysis based on Imaging-PAM fluorometry ............... 24 3.2.4.3 In-vivo pigment fluorescence for tolerance detection ............................. 26 3.2.4.4 Ex-vivo pigment analysis by high-pressure liquid-chromatography ....... 27 3.2.5 Community oxygen metabolism measurements ....................................... 28 3.3 Results and discussion ................................................................................... 29 3.3.1 Comparison of the structural community parameters ............................... 29 3.3.2 Photosynthetic activity and primary production of the communities after selection phase ................................................................................................. 33 3.3.3 Acquisition of photosynthetic tolerance .................................................... 34 3.3.4 Primary production at exposure conditions ............................................... 36 3.3.5 Tolerance detection in primary production ................................................ 37 3.4 Summary and Conclusion ........................................................................... 40 4. Community gene expression analysis by meta-transcriptomics ................... 41 4.1 Introduction to meta-transcriptomics ............................................................... 41 4.2. Methods ......................................................................................................... 43 4.2.1 Sampling and RNA extraction................................................................... 43 4.2.2 RNA sequencing analysis ......................................................................... 44 4.2.3 Data assembly and processing................................................................. 45 4.2.4 Prioritization of contigs and annotation ..................................................... 47 4.2.5 Sensitivity analysis of biological processes .............................................. 48 4.3 Results and discussion ................................................................................... 48 4.3.1 Characterization of the meta-transcriptomic fingerprints .......................... 49 4.3.2 Insights into community stress response mechanisms using trend analysis (DRomic’s) ......................................................................................................... 51 4.3.3 Response pattern in the isoform PS genes .............................................. 63 4.5 Summary and conclusion ................................................................................ 65 5. Community metabolome analysis ..................................................................... 66 5.1 Introduction to community metabolomics ........................................................ 66 5.2 Methods .......................................................................................................... 68 5.2.1 Sampling, metabolite extraction and derivatisation................................... 68 5.2.2 GC-TOF-MS analysis ............................................................................... 69 5.2.3 Data processing and statistical analysis ................................................... 69 5.3 Results and discussion ................................................................................... 70 5.3.1 Characterization of the metabolic fingerprints .......................................... 70 5.3.2 Difference in the metabolic fingerprints .................................................... 71 5.3.3 Differential metabolic responses of the communities to short-term exposure of diuron ............................................................................................................ 73 5.4 Summary and conclusion ................................................................................ 78 6. Synthesis ............................................................................................................. 79 6.1 Approaches and challenges for linking molecular data to functional measurements ...................................................................................................... 79 6.2 Methods .......................................................................................................... 83 6.2.1 Summary on the data ............................................................................... 83 6.2.2 Aggregation of molecular data to index values (TELI and MELI) .............. 83 6.2.3 Functional annotation of contigs and metabolites using KEGG ................ 83 6.3 Results and discussion ................................................................................... 85 6.3.1 Results of aggregation techniques ........................................................... 85 6.3.2 Sensitivity analysis of the different molecular approaches and endpoints 86 6.3.3 Mechanistic view of the molecular stress responses based on KEGG functions ............................................................................................................ 89 6.4 Consolidation of the results – holistic interpretation and discussion ............... 93 6.4.1 Adaptation to chronic diuron exposure - from molecular changes to community effects.............................................................................................. 93 6.4.2 Assessment of the ecological costs of Pollution-induced community tolerance based on primary production ............................................................. 94 6.5 Outlook ............................................................................................................ 9

    Punching of Flat Slabs with Large Amounts of Shear Reinforcement

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    Punching shear reinforcement is an efficient method to increase not only the strength but also the deformation capacity of flat slabs supported by columns. Especially, the increase in deformation capacity is desired so that the load can be distributed to other supports preventing a total collapse of the structure in the case of the occurrence of a local failure. Thus, the research presented herein addresses the punching strength as well as the deformation capacity of flat slabs. Thereby, the focus is set on the analysis of the maximum increase in strength and rotation capacity due to punching shear reinforcement. Therefore, the principal aim is the analysis of flat slabs with large amounts of punching shear reinforcement. In addition to an experimental and numerical investigation of flat slabs, another principal objective of the research project was the development of an analytical model that enables accurate predictions of the punching strength and the rotation capacity of flat slabs with large amounts of shear reinforcement. Thus, the research presented herein can basically be divided into three main parts. An experimental investigation of sixteen flat slab specimens with and without shear reinforcement leads to new findings with respect to the punching strength and the load-deformation response of flat slabs. The results of the tests serve for the validation of current design codes and the Critical Shear Crack Theory. In addition to the specimens tested within this research project, tests found in literature are used to investigate the influence of certain parameters on the prediction of the punching strength. A non-linear numerical model on the basis of the Finite Element Method enables the modeling of the test specimens. This approach uses plane stress fields to calculate the moment-curvature response of a discrete slab element. The thereby obtained flexural and torsional stiffness serve as input parameters for a linear-elastic finite element analysis. This analysis enables the modeling of the load-deformation response of the tested slab specimens leading to valuable information regarding the state of deformation at different load levels. The findings of the experimental and the numerical investigation support the development of an analytical model. The theoretical background of this model is the Critical Shear Crack Theory, which describes the punching strength as a function of the slab rotation. Thus, the developed analytical model enables the calculation of the load-rotation response of flat slab specimens. Moreover, the developed failure criteria enable the prediction of the punching strength as well as the maximum rotation capacity. Finally, it is shown that the results obtained from the developed model are in good agreement with results of tests performed within this research project and of tests found in literature

    Beamline design and performance

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    The Energy Materials In-Situ Laboratory Berlin (EMIL) at BESSY-II is currently under construction. Two canted undulators for soft- and hard X-rays will be installed into the BESSY II storage ring in one straight section, complex beamlines with more than twenty optical elements will be set up and a new laboratory building attached to BESSY II will host three endstations and a large UHV-transfer system connecting various HV- and UHV-deposition systems. The undulators, UE48 and U17, provide a broad energy spectrum of 80 - 10000 eV, of which the harder radiation (>700 eV) is provided by a cryogenic in- vacuum device. Three monochromators (two plane grating monochromators (PGM) and one LN2-cooled double crystal monochromator (DCM)) disperse the radiation into separate pathways of 65 m length, while downstream of the monochromators split-mirror chambers distribute the photon beam to one (or simultaneously to two) of five upcoming endstations. Three of these endstations are designed for the full energy range with spatial overlap of the soft and hard foci, whereas one endstation (PEEM) uses only the soft and another one (PINK) only the hard branch, respectively

    Experimental Investigation on Punching Strength and Deformation Capacity of Shear-Reinforced Slabs

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    This paper presents the results of an extensive experimental campaign on 16 flat-slab specimens with and without punching shear reinforcement. The tests aimed to investigate the influence of a set of mechanical and geometrical parameters on the punching shear strength and deformation capacity of flat slabs supported by interior columns. All specimens had the same plan dimensions of 3.0 x 3.0 m (9.84 x 9.84 ft). The investigated parameters were the column size (ranging between 130 and 520 mm [approximately 5 and 20 in.]), the slab thickness (ranging between 250 and 400 mm [approximately 10 and 16 in.]), the shear reinforcement system (studs and stirrups), and the amount of punching shear reinforcement. Systematic measurements (such as the load, the rotations of the slab, the vertical displacements, the change in slab thickness, concrete strains, and strains in the shear reinforcement) allow for an understanding of the behavior of the slab specimens, the activation of the shear reinforcement, and the strains developed in the shear-critical region at failure. Finally, the test results were investigated and compared with reference to design codes (ACI 318-08 and EC2) and the mechanical model of the critical shear crack theory (CSCT), obtaining a number of conclusions on their suitability

    Effects of dendritic core-shell glycoarchitectures on primary mesenchymal stem cells and osteoblasts obtained from different human donors

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    The biological impact of novel nano-scaled drug delivery vehicles in highly topical therapies of bone diseases have to be investigated in vitro before starting in vivo trials. Highly desired features for these materials are a good cellular uptake, large transport capacity for drugs and a good bio-compatibility. Essentially the latter has to be addressed as first point on the agenda. We present a study on the biological interaction of maltose-modified poly(ethyleneimine) (PEI-Mal) on primary human mesenchymal stem cell, harvested from reaming debris (rdMSC) and osteoblasts obtained from four different male donors. PEI-Mal-nanoparticles with two different molecular weights of the PEI core (5000 g/mol for PEI-5k-Mal-B and 25,000 g/mol for PEI-25k-Mal-B) have been administered to both cell lines. As well dose as incubation-time dependent effects and interactions have been researched for concentrations between 1 ÎŒg/ml to 1 mg/ml and periods of 24 h up to 28 days. Studies conducted by different methods of microscopy as light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, transmission-electron-microscopy and quantitative assays (LDH and DC-protein) indicate as well a good cellular uptake of the nanoparticles as a particle- and concentration-dependent impact on the cellular macro- and micro-structure of the rdMSC samples. In all experiments PEI-5k-Mal-B exhibits a superior biocompatibility compared to PEI-25k-Mal-B. At higher concentrations PEI-25k-Mal-B is toxic and induces a directly observable mitochondrial damage. The alkaline phosphatase assay (ALP), has been conducted to check on the possible influence of nanoparticles on the differentiation capabilities of rdMSC to osteoblasts. In addition the production of mineralized matrix has been shown by von-Kossa stained samples. No influence of the nanoparticles on the ALP per cell has been detected. Additionally, for all experiments, results are strongly influenced by a large donor-to-donor variability of the four different rdMSC samples. To summarize, while featuring a good cellular uptake, PEI-5k-Mal-B induces only minimal adverse effects and features clearly superior biocompatibility compared to the larger PEI-25k-Mal-B

    Non-skeletal health effects of vitamin D supplementation: a systematic review on findings from meta-analyses summarizing trial data

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    Background A large number of observational studies have reported harmful effects of low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels on non-skeletal outcomes. We performed a systematic quantitative review on characteristics of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) included in meta-analyses (MAs) on non-skeletal effects of vitamin D supplementation. Methods and findings We identified systematic reviews (SR) reporting summary data in terms of MAs of RCTs on selected non-skeletal outcomes. For each outcome, we summarized the results from available SRs and scrutinized included RCTs for a number of predefined characteristics. We identified 54 SRs including data from 210 RCTs. Most MAs as well as the individual RCTs reported null-findings on risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, weight-loss, and malignant diseases. Beneficial effects of vitamin D supplementation was reported in 1 of 4 MAs on depression, 2 of 9 MAs on blood pressure, 3 of 7 MAs on respiratory tract infections, and 8 of 12 MAs on mortality. Most RCTs have primarily been performed to determine skeletal outcomes, whereas non-skeletal effects have been assessed as secondary outcomes. Only one-third of the RCTs had low level of 25OHD as a criterion for inclusion and a mean baseline 25OHD level below 50 nmol/L was only present in less than half of the analyses. Conclusions Published RCTs have mostly been performed in populations without low 25OHD levels. The fact that most MAs on results from RCTs did not show a beneficial effect does not disprove the hypothesis suggested by observational findings on adverse health outcomes of low 25OHD levels

    Interaction of ARC and Daxx: a novel endogenous target to preserve motor function and cell loss after focal brain ischemia in mice

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    The aim of this study was to explore the signaling and neuroprotective effect of transactivator of transcription (TAT) protein transduction of the apoptosis repressor with CARD (ARC) in in vitro and in vivo models of cerebral ischemia in mice. In mice, transient focal cerebral ischemia reduced endogenousARCprotein in neurons in the ischemic striatum at early reperfusion time points, and in primary neuronal cultures, RNA interference resulted in greater neuronal susceptibility to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD).TAT.ARC protein delivery led to a dose-dependent better survival after OGD. Infarct sizes 72 h after 60 min middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) were on average 30±8% (mean±SD; p=0.005; T2-weighted MRI) smaller in TAT.ARC-treated mice (1ug intraventricularly during MCAo) compared with controls. TAT.ARC-treated mice showed better performance in the pole test compared with TAT.ÎČ-Gal-treated controls. Importantly, post-stroke treatment (3 h after MCAo) was still effective in affording reduced lesion volume by 20±7% (mean±SD; p˃0.05) and better functional outcome compared with controls. Delayed treatment in mice subjected to 30 min MCAo led to sustained neuroprotection and functional behavior benefits for at least 28 d. Functionally, TAT.ARC treatment inhibited DAXX–ASK1–JNK signaling in the ischemic brain. ARC interacts with DAXX in a CARD-dependent manner to block DAXX trafficking and ASK1–JNK activation. Our work identifies for the first time ARC–DAXX binding to block ASK1–JNK activation as an ARC-specific endogenous mechanism that interferes with neuronal cell death and ischemic brain injury. Delayed delivery of TAT.ARC may present a promising target for stroke therapy

    Single blind randomized Phase III trial to investigate the benefit of a focal lesion ablative microboost in prostate cancer (FLAME-trial): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

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    Background: The treatment results of external beam radiotherapy for intermediate and high risk prostate cancer patients are insufficient with five-year biochemical relapse rates of approximately 35%. Several randomized trials have shown that dose escalation to the entire prostate improves biochemical disease free survival. However, further dose escalation to the whole gland is limited due to an unacceptable high risk of acute and late toxicity. Moreover, local recurrences often originate at the location of the macroscopic tumor, so boosting the radiation dose at the macroscopic tumor within the prostate might increase local control. A reduction of distant metastases and improved survival can be expected by reducing local failure. The aim of this study is to investigate the benefit of an ablative microboost to the macroscopic tumor within the prostate in patients treated with external beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer.Methods/Design: The FLAME-trial (Focal Lesion Ablative Microboost in prostatE cancer) is a single blind randomized controlled phase III trial. We aim to include 566 patients (283 per treatment arm) with intermediate or high risk adenocarcinoma of the prostate who are scheduled for external beam radiotherapy using fiducial markers for position verification. With this number of patients, the expected increase in five-year freedom from biochemical failure rate of 10% can be detected with a power of 80%. Patients allocated to the standard arm receive a dose of 77 Gy in 35 fractions to the entire prostate and patients in the experimental arm receive 77 Gy to the entire prostate and an additional integrated microboost to the macroscopic tumor of 95 Gy in 35 fractions. The secondary outcome measures include treatment-related toxicity, quality of life and disease-specific survival. Furthermore, by localizing the recurrent tumors within the prostate during follow-up and correlating this with the delivered dose, we can obtain accurate dose-effect information for both the macroscopic tumor and subclinical disease in prostate cancer. The rationale, study design and the first 50 patients included are described.Biological, physical and clinical aspects of cancer treatment with ionising radiatio
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