30,040 research outputs found

    Quantification of interfacial polymerization covalent organic framework membrane physicochemical composition and performance

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    Forty percent of the world suffers from water scarcity and a lack of safe drinking water due to record population growth, accelerated development, and climate change, making it essential to start emphasizing sustainable and efficient water treatment technologies. Pressure driven membrane systems are a promising technology that can be used effectively to recycle freshwater, seawater, municipal wastewater effluent or industrial water to potable quality. Commercial membrane products typically consist of an asymmetric thin-film composite (TFC) structure: a polymeric thin active layer supported by an ultrafiltration membrane and a thick fiber backing. While this structure allows reverse osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration (NF) membrane systems to remove a wide range of water contaminants with no chemical additives or thermal input, the relatively limited polymeric surface chemistry currently available restricts the range of water permeability and solute selectivity achieved. An alternative to conventional polymeric membrane materials are two-dimensional covalent organic frameworks (COFs). 2D COFs have a crystalline structure created by strong covalent bonds made through synthetic reactions of organic building units. This structure provides a well-organized layer, reducing surface roughness, with pore size control based on chosen building units, allowing the user more control over membrane performance. Utilizing the up-scalable TFC structure formation of commercial membrane products, an ultrathin COF film can form on an ultrafiltration membrane support by interfacial polymerization (IP), creating a novel NF TFC membrane. This research presents a robust analysis of IP COF NF membranes, utilizing novel materials characterization techniques to quantify film composition and structure. Key material properties of COF films are assessed including modularity, crystallinity, and chemical stability. The impact of COF monomer selection was assessed through a comparative analysis of three imine-linked COF films, ultimately showing that COF building units significantly influence membrane performance. The performance of these three materials illuminated critical questions about the IP COF membrane configuration, motivating an in-depth analysis to quantify the degree of COF formation. Using Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) and heavy counterion probe solutions, COF material properties were obtained and lead to the realization that IP COF films were made up of small platelets rather than large sheets. This experimental method provided pathways to understand other material characteristics of the COF films, including oxidation tolerance, an important parameter for a water treatment application. A key takeaway from each of these studies is although the COF formation and performance is not ideal, the resulting films still exhibit properties that when controlled will result in extraordinary attributes for the next generation of membrane materials.LimitedAuthor requested closed access (OA after 2yrs) in Vireo ETD syste

    Environmental surveillance for Salmonella Typhi as a tool to estimate the incidence of typhoid fever in low-income populations.

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    Background: The World Health Organisation recommends prioritised use of recently prequalified typhoid conjugate vaccines in countries with the highest incidence of typhoid fever. However, representative typhoid surveillance data are lacking in many low-income countries because of the costs and challenges of diagnostic clinical microbiology. Environmental surveillance (ES) of Salmonella Typhi in sewage and wastewater using molecular methods may offer a low-cost alternative, but its performance in comparison with clinical surveillance has not been assessed. Methods: We developed a harmonised protocol for typhoid ES and its implementation in communities in India and Malawi where it will be compared with findings from hospital-based surveillance for typhoid fever. The protocol includes methods for ES site selection based on geospatial analysis, grab and trap sample collection at sewage and wastewater sites, and laboratory methods for sample processing, concentration and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect Salmonella Typhi. The optimal locations for ES sites based on digital elevation models and mapping of sewage and river networks are described for each community and their suitability confirmed through field investigation. We will compare the prevalence and abundance of Salmonella Typhi in ES samples collected each month over a 12-month period to the incidence of blood culture confirmed typhoid cases recorded at referral hospitals serving the study areas. Conclusions: If environmental detection of Salmonella Typhi correlates with the incidence of typhoid fever estimated through clinical surveillance, typhoid ES may be a powerful and low-cost tool to estimate the local burden of typhoid fever and support the introduction of typhoid conjugate vaccines. Typhoid ES could also allow the impact of vaccination to be assessed and rapidly identify circulation of drug resistant strains

    Structural Characterization of Geopolymers with the Addition of Eggshell Ash

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    It is well known that geopolymers are a new group of binder materials of alumosilicate origin. Geopolymers are made by the reaction of precursor aluminosilicate materials with alkaline activator solutions. The current research relates to a low-cost and eco-friendly procedure, suitable of being implemented in two easy steps. The first step is the production of a solid phase based on fly ash (Obrenovac, Serbia) and eggshell ash as waste materials rich in calcium. The second step is alkali activating the solid phase using an alkaline activator (a mixture of NaOH and Na2SiO3) and procedures in proper laboratory conditions. Four samples with different eggshell ash content were synthesized. The concentration of used NaOH was 12 mol dm−3. The structural properties of all investigated samples were analyzed by XRD (X-ray diffraction), DRIFT (diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform), SEM (scanning electron microscopy) and UV/Vis spectroscopy analysis. XRD determined the amorphous halo with the presence of quartz as the crystal phase in all of the investigated samples. These results were confirmed by DRIFT analysis. The morphology of the samples was determined by SEM analysis. UV/Vis showed that the material could be a potential adsorbent

    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 Wängberg (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 μg 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

    SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Captive Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius), Belgium.

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    Two adult female hippos in Zoo Antwerp who were naturally infected with SARS-CoV-2 showed nasal discharge for a few days. Virus was detected by immunocytochemistry and PCR in nasal swab samples and by PCR in faeces and pool water. Serology was also positive. No treatment was necessary

    Sustainable eSiC reinforced composite materials – synthetization and characterization

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    Sustainable and light weight composite materials have received extensive attention in the application of aerospace, automotive, agriculture and marine. Synthetic SiC is expensive and harmful to the human being. Therefore, the aim of this study is to develop eSiC reinforced aluminium matrix sustainable composite material using waste rice husk with the process route of powder metallurgy. Simple and cost-effective pyrolysis process was used for the extraction of low�density eSiC from agricultural waste rice husk which contains a significant amount of silica. This silica was then converted in to environmentally friendly SiC (known as eSiC) material and used as a reinforcing agent to the lightweight composite development. From the results, these materials showed good metallurgical bonding with better mechanical properties. It is also observed that compared to metallic cast iron, this new composite material is better in terms of cost, material usage, eco-friendly (no harm to the environment and people), hence, sustainable. This concept demonstrates that this new sustainable and lightweight material can be used for aerospace, automotive and other structural applications, especially for disk brake, liner, and shaft. This eSiC can also be used as a coating material for composite coating development

    A spatio-temporal framework for modelling wastewater concentration during the COVID-19 pandemic

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    The potential utility of wastewater-based epidemiology as an early warning tool has been explored widely across the globe during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Methods to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater were developed early in the pandemic, and extensive work has been conducted to evaluate the relationship between viral concentration and COVID-19 case numbers at the catchment areas of sewage treatment works (STWs) over time. However, no attempt has been made to develop a model that predicts wastewater concentration at fine spatio-temporal resolutions covering an entire country, a necessary step towards using wastewater monitoring for the early detection of local outbreaks. We consider weekly averages of flow-normalised viral concentration, reported as the number of SARS-CoV-2N1 gene copies per litre (gc/L) of wastewater available at 303 STWs over the period between 1 June 2021 and 30 March 2022. We specify a spatially continuous statistical model that quantifies the relationship between weekly viral concentration and a collection of covariates covering socio-demographics, land cover and virus associated genomic characteristics at STW catchment areas while accounting for spatial and temporal correlation. We evaluate the model’s predictive performance at the catchment level through 10-fold cross-validation. We predict the weekly viral concentration at the population-weighted centroid of the 32,844 lower super output areas (LSOAs) in England, then aggregate these LSOA predictions to the Lower Tier Local Authority level (LTLA), a geography that is more relevant to public health policy-making. We also use the model outputs to quantify the probability of local changes of direction (increases or decreases) in viral concentration over short periods (e.g. two consecutive weeks). The proposed statistical framework can predict SARS-CoV-2 viral concentration in wastewater at high spatio-temporal resolution across England. Additionally, the probabilistic quantification of local changes can be used as an early warning tool for public health surveillance

    Comparative genomic analysis of Colistin resistant Escherichia coli isolated from pigs, a human and wastewater on colistin withdrawn pig farm

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    Abstract In this study, genomic and plasmid characteristics of Escherichia coli were determined with the aim of deducing how mcr genes may have spread on a colistin withdrawn pig farm. Whole genome hybrid sequencing was applied to six mcr-positive E. coli (MCRPE) strains isolated from pigs, a farmworker and wastewater collected between 2017 and 2019. Among these, mcr-1.1 genes were identified on IncI2 plasmids from a pig and wastewater, and on IncX4 from the human isolate, whereas mcr-3 genes were found on plasmids IncFII and IncHI2 in two porcine strains. The MCRPE isolates exhibited genotypic and phenotypic multidrug resistance (MDR) traits as well as heavy metal and antiseptic resistance genes. The mcr-1.1-IncI2 and IncX4 plasmids carried only colistin resistance genes. Whereas, the mcr-3.5-IncHI2 plasmid presented MDR region, with several mobile genetic elements. Despite the MCRPE strains belonged to different E. coli lineages, mcr-carrying plasmids with high similarities were found in isolates from pigs and wastewater recovered in different years. This study highlighted that several factors, including the resistomic profile of the host bacteria, co-selection via adjunct antibiotic resistance genes, antiseptics, and/or disinfectants, and plasmid-host fitness adaptation may encourage the maintenance of plasmids carrying mcr genes in E. coli
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