56,994 research outputs found

    What is the importance of sperm subpopulations?

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    .The study of sperm subpopulations spans three decades. The origin, meaning, and practical significance, however, are less clear. Current technology for assessing sperm morphology (CASA-Morph) and motility (CASA-Mot) has enabled the accurate evaluation of these features, and there are many options for data classification. Subpopulations could occur as a result of the stage of development of each spermatozoon in the subpopulation. Spermatogenesis might contribute to the production of these subpopulations. Insights from evolutionary biology and recent molecular research are indicative of the diversity among male gametes that could occur from unequal sharing of transcripts and other elements through cytoplasmic bridges between spermatids. Sperm cohorts exiting the gonads would contain different RNA and protein contents, affecting the spermatozoon physiology and associations with the surrounding environmental milieu. Subsequently, these differences could affect how spermatozoa interact with the environmental milieu (maturation, mixing with seminal plasma, and interacting with the environmental milieu, or female genital tract and female gamete). The emergence of sperm subpopulations as an outcome of evolution, related to the reproductive strategies of the species, genital tract structures, and copulatory and fertilization processes. This kind of approach in determining the importance of sperm subpopulations in fertilization capacity should have a practical impact for conducting reproductive technologies, inspiring and enabling new ways for the more efficient use of spermatozoa in the medical, animal breeding, and conservation fields. This manuscript is a contribution to the Special Issue in memory of Dr. Duane GarnerS

    Identification of Hindbrain Neural Substrates for Motor Initiation in the hatchling Xenopus laevis Tadpole

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    Animal survival profoundly depends on the ability to detect stimuli in the environment, process them and respond accordingly. In this respect, motor responses to a sensory stimulation evolved into a variety of coordinated movements, which involve the control of brain centres over spinal locomotor circuits. The hatchling Xenopus tadpole, even in its embryonic stage, is able to detect external sensory information and to swim away if the stimulus is considered noxious. To do so, the tadpole relies on well-known ascending sensory pathway, which carries the sensory information to the brain. When the stimulus is strong enough, descending interneurons are activated, leading to the excitation of spinal CPG neurons, which causes the undulatory movement of swimming. However, the activation of descending interneurons that marks the initiation of motor response appears after a long delay from the sensory stimulation. Furthermore, the long-latency response is variable in time, as observed in the slow-summating excitation measured in descending interneurons. These two features, i.e. long-latency and variability, cannot be explained by the firing time and pattern of the ascending sensory pathway of the Xenopus tadpole. Therefore, a novel neuronal population has been proposed to lie in the hindbrain of the tadpole, and being able to 'hold' the sensory information, thus accounting for the long and variable delay of swim initiation. In this work, the role of the hindbrain in the maintenance of the long and variable response to trunk skin stimulation is investigated in the Xenopustadpole at developmental stage 37/38. A multifaceted approach has been used to unravel the neuronal mechanisms underlying the delayed motor response, including behavioural experiments, electrophysiology analysis of fictive swimming, hindbrain extracellular recordings and imaging experiments. Two novel neuronal populations have been identified in the tadpole's hindbrain, which exhibit activation patterns compatible with the role of delaying the excitation of the spinal locomotor circuit. Future work on cellular properties and synaptic connections of these newly discovered populations might shed light on the mechanism of descending control active at embryonic stage. Identifying supraspinal neuronal populations in an embryonic organism could aid in understanding mechanisms of descending motor control in more complex vertebrates

    The JCMT BISTRO Survey: Multi-wavelength polarimetry of bright regions in NGC 2071 in the far-infrared/submillimetre range, with POL-2 and HAWC+

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    Polarized dust emission is a key tracer in the study of interstellar medium and of star formation. The observed polarization, however, is a product of magnetic field structure, dust grain properties and grain alignment efficiency, as well as their variations in the line of sight, making it difficult to interpret polarization unambiguously. The comparison of polarimetry at multiple wavelengths is a possible way of mitigating this problem. We use data from HAWC+/SOFIA and from SCUBA-2/POL-2 (from the BISTRO survey) to analyse the NGC 2071 molecular cloud at 154, 214 and 850 ÎŒm. The polarization angle changes significantly with wavelength over part of NGC 2071, suggesting a change in magnetic field morphology on the line of sight as each wavelength best traces different dust populations. Other possible explanations are the existence of more than one polarization mechanism in the cloud or scattering from very large grains. The observed change of polarization fraction with wavelength, and the 214-to-154 ÎŒm polarization ratio in particular, are difficult to reproduce with current dust models under the assumption of uniform alignment efficiency. We also show that the standard procedure of using monochromatic intensity as a proxy for column density may produce spurious results at HAWC+ wavelengths. Using both long-wavelength (POL-2, 850 ÎŒm) and short-wavelength (HAWC+, â‰Č200ÎŒm) polarimetry is key in obtaining these results. This study clearly shows the importance of multi-wavelength polarimetry at submillimeter bands to understand the dust properties of molecular clouds and the relationship between magnetic field and star formation

    Rainfall Prediction: A Comparative Analysis of Modern Machine Learning Algorithms for Time-Series Forecasting

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    Rainfall forecasting has gained utmost research relevance in recent times due to its complexities and persistent applications such as flood forecasting and monitoring of pollutant concentration levels, among others. Existing models use complex statistical models that are often too costly, both computationally and budgetary, or are not applied to downstream applications. Therefore, approaches that use Machine Learning algorithms in conjunction with time-series data are being explored as an alternative to overcome these drawbacks. To this end, this study presents a comparative analysis using simplified rainfall estimation models based on conventional Machine Learning algorithms and Deep Learning architectures that are efficient for these downstream applications. Models based on LSTM, Stacked-LSTM, Bidirectional-LSTM Networks, XGBoost, and an ensemble of Gradient Boosting Regressor, Linear Support Vector Regression, and an Extra-trees Regressor were compared in the task of forecasting hourly rainfall volumes using time-series data. Climate data from 2000 to 2020 from five major cities in the United Kingdom were used. The evaluation metrics of Loss, Root Mean Squared Error, Mean Absolute Error, and Root Mean Squared Logarithmic Error were used to evaluate the models' performance. Results show that a Bidirectional-LSTM Network can be used as a rainfall forecast model with comparable performance to Stacked-LSTM Networks. Among all the models tested, the Stacked-LSTM Network with two hidden layers and the Bidirectional-LSTM Network performed best. This suggests that models based on LSTM-Networks with fewer hidden layers perform better for this approach; denoting its ability to be applied as an approach for budget-wise rainfall forecast applications

    Conservation agriculture affects grain and nutrient yields of Maize (Zea Mays L.) and can impact food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa

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    Maize is a major staple and plays an essential role in food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Conservation agriculture (CA), a climate-smart agriculture practise based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and crop diversification, has been widely advocated but without extensive research on the impact it may have on maize nutrient composition, and food and nutrition security. This study assessed the grain yield, macro- and micronutrient mineral content, and nutrient yield of eight maize varieties grown in Malawi, and how these are affected by CA practises over two seasons. The minerals were analysed by inductively coupled plasma (ICP) coupled to optical emission spectroscopy (OES) and to mass spectroscopy (MS). Grain yield and Se content differed among the varieties, while C, N, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, P, and Zn were similar. The local variety Kanjerenjere showed lowest grain and nutrient yields. The open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) concentrated more minerals than the F1 hybrids, but the latter showed higher yields for both grain and nutrients. Typical consumption of the eight maize varieties could fully meet the protein and Mg dietary reference intake (DRIs) of Malawian children (1–3 years), as well as Mg and Mn needs of adult women (19–50 years), but their contribution to dietary requirements was low for Fe (39–41%) and K (13–21%). The trials showed that CA increased grain yield (1.2- to 1.8-fold) and Se content (1.1- to 1.7-fold), but that it had no effect on C, K, Mg, P, and Zn, and that N (1.1- to 1.2-fold), Mn (1.1- to 1.8-fold), and Fe (1.3- to 3.4-fold) were reduced. The high increase in grain yield under CA treatments resulted in increased yields of protein and Se, no effect on the yields of K, Mg, Mn, P, Zn, and reduced Fe yield. Conservation agriculture could contribute in reducing the risk of Se deficiency in Malawian women and children but exacerbates the risk of Fe deficiency. A combination of strategies will be needed to mitigate some of the foreseen effects of climate change on agriculture, and food and nutrition security, and improve nutrient intake

    The applied psychology of addictive orientations : studies in a 12-step treatment context.

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    The clinical data for the studies was collected at The PROMIS Recovery Centre, a Minnesota Model treatmentc entre for addictions,w hich encouragesth e membership and use of the 12 step Anonymous Fellowships, and is abstinence based. The area of addiction is contextualised in a review chapter which focuses on research relating to the phenomenon of cross addiction. A study examining the concept of "addictive orientations" in male and female addicts is described, which develops a study conductedb y StephensonM, aggi, Lefever, & Morojele (1995). This presents study found a four factor solution which appeared to be subdivisions of the previously found Hedonism and Nurturance factors. Self orientated nurturance (both food dimensions, shopping and caffeine), Other orientated nurturance (both compulsive helping dimensions and work), Sensation seeking hedonism (Drugs, prescription drugs, nicotine and marginally alcohol), and Power related hedonism (Both relationship dimensions, sex and gambling. This concept of "addictive orientations" is further explored in a non-clinical population, where again a four factor solution was found, very similar to that in the clinical population. This was thought to indicate that in terms of addictive orientation a pattern already exists in this non-clinical population and that consideration should be given to why this is the case. These orientations are examined in terms of gender differences. It is suggested that the differences between genders reflect power-related role relationships between the sexes. In order to further elaborate the significance and meaning behind these orientations, the next two chapters look at the contribution of personality variables and how addictive orientations relate to psychiatric symptomatology. Personality variables were differentially, and to a considerable extent predictably involved with the four factors for both males and females.Conscientiousness as positively associated with "Other orientated Nurturance" and negatively associated with "Sensation seeking hedonism" (particularly for men). Neuroticism had a particularly strong association with the "Self orientated Nurturance" factor in the female population. More than twice the symptomatology variance was explained by the factor scores for females than it was for males. The most important factorial predictors for psychiatric symptomatology were the "Power related hedonism" factor for males, and "Self oriented nurturance" for females. The results are discussed from theoretical and treatment perspectives

    Strung pieces: on the aesthetics of television fiction series

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    As layered and long works, television fiction series have aesthetic properties that are built over time, bit by bit. This thesis develops a group of concepts that enable the study of these properties, It argues that a series is made of strung pieces, a system of related elements. The text begins by considering this sequential form within the fields of film and television. This opening chapter defines the object and methodology of research, arguing for a non-essentialist distinction between cinema and television and against the adequacy of textual and contextual analyses as approaches to the aesthetics of these shows. It proposes instead that these programmes should be described as televisual works that can be scrutinised through aesthetic analysis. The next chapters propose a sequence of interrelated concepts. The second chapter contends that series are composed of building blocks that can be either units into which series are divided or motifs that unify series and are dispersed across their pans. These blocks are patterned according to four kinds of relations or principles of composition. Repetition and variation are treated in tandem in the third chapter because of their close connection, given that variation emerges from established repetition. Exception and progression are also discussed together in the fourth chapter since they both require a long view of these serial works. The former, in order to be recognised as a deviation from the patterns of repetition and variation. The latter, In order to be understood in Its many dimensions as the series advances. Each of these concepts is further detailed with additional distinctions between types of units, motifs, repetitions, variations, and exceptions, using illustrative examples from numerous shows. In contrast, the section on progression uses a single series as case study, CarnivĂ le (2003-05), because this is the overarching principle that encompasses all the others. The conclusion considers the findings of the research and suggests avenues for their application

    Studies of strategic performance management for classical organizations theory & practice

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    Nowadays, the activities of "Performance Management" have spread very broadly in actually every part of business and management. There are numerous practitioners and researchers from very different disciplines, who are involved in exploring the different contents of performance management. In this thesis, some relevant historic developments in performance management are first reviewed. This includes various theories and frameworks of performance management. Then several management science techniques are developed for assessing performance management, including new methods in Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and Soft System Methodology (SSM). A theoretical framework for performance management and its practical procedures (five phases) are developed for "classic" organizations using soft system thinking, and the relationship with the existing theories are explored. Eventually these results are applied in three case studies to verify our theoretical development. One of the main contributions of this work is to point out, and to systematically explore the basic idea that the effective forms and structures of performance management for an organization are likely to depend greatly on the organizational configuration, in order to coordinate well with other management activities in the organization, which has seemingly been neglected in the existing literature of performance management research in the sense that there exists little known research that associated particular forms of performance management with the explicit assumptions of organizational configuration. By applying SSM, this thesis logically derives some main functional blocks of performance management in 'classic' organizations and clarifies the relationships between performance management and other management activities. Furthermore, it develops some new tools and procedures, which can hierarchically decompose organizational strategies and produce a practical model of specific implementation steps for "classic" organizations. Our approach integrates popular types of performance management models. Last but not least, this thesis presents findings from three major cases, which are quite different organizations in terms of management styles, ownership, and operating environment, to illustrate the fliexbility of the developed theoretical framework

    Metabolic phenotyping of opioid and psychostimulant addiction: A novel approach for biomarker discovery and biochemical understanding of the disorder.

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    Despite the progress in characterising the pharmacological profile of drugs of abuse, their precise biochemical impact remains unclear. The metabolome reflects the multifaceted biochemical processes occurring within a biological system. This includes those encoded in the genome but also those arising from environmental/exogenous exposures and interactions between the two. Using metabolomics, the biochemical derangements associated with substance abuse can be determined as the individual transitions from recreational drug to chronic use (dependence). By understanding the biomolecular perturbations along this time course and how they vary across individuals, metabolomics can elucidate biochemical mechanisms of the addiction cycle (dependence/withdrawal/relapse) and predict prognosis (recovery/relapse). In this review, we summarise human and animal metabolomic studies in the field of opioid and psychostimulant addiction. We highlight the importance of metabolomics as a powerful approach for biomarker discovery and its potential to guide personalised pharmacotherapeutic strategies for addiction targeted towards the individual's metabolome
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