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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Laser interaction with an ultra-thin pre-structured target is investigated with the help of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. With the existence of a periodic structure on the target surface, the laser seems to penetrate through the target at its fundamental frequency even if the plasma density of the target is much higher than the laser’s relativistically critical density. The particle-in-cell simulations show that the transmitted laser energy behind the pre-structured target is increased by about two orders of magnitude compared to that behind the flat target. Theoretical analyses show that the transmitted energy behind the pre-structured target is actually re-emitted by electron ‘islands’ formed by the surface plasma waves on the target surfaces. In other words, the radiation with the fundamental frequency is actually ‘surface emission’ on the target rear surface. Besides the intensity of the component with the fundamental frequency, the intensity of the high-order harmonics behind the pre-structured target is also much enhanced compared to that behind the flat target. The enhancement of the high-order harmonics is also related to the surface plasma waves generated on the target surfaces.
Global inequity in access to and availability of essential mental health services is well recognized. The mental health treatment gap is approximately 50% in all countries, with up to 90% of people in the lowest-income countries lacking access to required mental health services. Increased investment in global mental health (GMH) has increased innovation in mental health service delivery in LMICs. Situational analyses in areas where mental health services and systems are poorly developed and resourced are essential when planning for research and implementation, however, little guidance is available to inform methodological approaches to conducting these types of studies. This scoping review provides an analysis of methodological approaches to situational analysis in GMH, including an assessment of the extent to which situational analyses include equity in study designs. It is intended as a resource that identifies current gaps and areas for future development in GMH. Formative research, including situational analysis, is an essential first step in conducting robust implementation research, an essential area of study in GMH that will help to promote improved availability of, access to and reach of mental health services for people living with mental illness in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While strong leadership in this field exists, there remain significant opportunities for enhanced research representing different LMICs and regions.
Imprinted genes uniquely drive and support fetoplacental growth by controlling the allocation of maternal resources to the fetus and affecting the newborn’s growth. We previously showed that alterations of the placental imprinted gene expression are associated with suboptimal perinatal growth and respond to environmental stimuli including socio-economic determinants. At the same time, maternal psychosocial stress during pregnancy (MPSP) has been shown to affect fetal growth. Here, we set out to test the hypothesis that placental imprinted gene expression mediates the effects of MPSP on fetal growth in a well-characterized birth cohort, the Stress in Pregnancy (SIP) Study. We observed that mothers experiencing high MPSP deliver infants with lower birthweight (P=0.047). Among the 109 imprinted genes tested, we detected panels of placental imprinted gene expression of 23 imprinted genes associated with MPSP and 26 with birthweight. Among these genes, five imprinted genes (CPXM2, glucosidase alpha acid (GAA), GPR1, SH3 and multiple ankyrin repeat domains 2 (SHANK2) and THSD7A) were common to the two panels. In multivariate analyses, controlling for maternal age and education and gestational age at birth and infant gender, two genes, GAA and SHANK2, each showed a 22% mediation of MPSP on fetal growth. These data provide new insights into the role that imprinted genes play in translating the maternal stress message into a fetoplacental growth pattern.
The seasonality of individual influenza subtypes/lineages and the association of influenza epidemics with meteorological factors in the tropics/subtropics have not been well understood. The impact of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on the prevalence of seasonal influenza virus remains to be explored. Using wavelet analysis, the periodicities of A/H3N2, seasonal A/H1N1, A/H1N1pdm09, Victoria and Yamagata were identified, respectively, in Panzhihua during 2006–2015. As a subtropical city in southwestern China, Panzhihua is the first industrial city in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The relationship between influenza epidemics and local climatic variables was examined based on regression models. The temporal distribution of influenza subtypes/lineages during the pre-pandemic (2006–2009), pandemic (2009) and post-pandemic (2010–2015) years was described and compared. A total of 6892 respiratory specimens were collected and 737 influenza viruses were isolated. A/H3N2 showed an annual cycle with a peak in summer–autumn, while A/H1N1pdm09, Victoria and Yamagata exhibited an annual cycle with a peak in winter–spring. Regression analyses demonstrated that relative humidity was positively associated with A/H3N2 activity while negatively associated with Victoria activity. Higher prevalence of A/H1N1pdm09 and Yamagata was driven by lower absolute humidity. The role of weather conditions in regulating influenza epidemics could be complicated since the diverse viral transmission modes and mechanism. Differences in seasonality and different associations with meteorological factors by influenza subtypes/lineages should be considered in epidemiological studies in the tropics/subtropics. The development of subtype- and lineage-specific prevention and control measures is of significant importance.
Latrophilin (LPH) is known as an adhesion G-protein-coupled receptor which involved in multiple physiological processes in organisms. Previous studies showed that lph not only involved the susceptibility to anticholinesterase insecticides but also affected fecundity in Tribolium castaneum. However, its regulatory mechanisms in these biological processes are still not clear. Here, we identified two potential downstream carboxylesterase (cce) genes of Tclph, esterase4 and esterase6, and further characterized their interactions with Tclph. After treatment of T. castaneum larvae with carbofuran or dichlorvos insecticides, the transcript levels of Tcest4 and Tcest6 were significantly induced from 12 to 72 h. RNAi against Tcest4 or Tcest6 led to the higher mortality compared with the controls after the insecticides treatment, suggesting that these two genes play a vital role in detoxification of insecticides in T. castaneum. Furthermore, with insecticides exposure to Tclph knockdown beetles, the expression of Tcest4 was upregulated but Tcest6 was downregulated, indicating that beetles existed a compensatory response against the insecticides. Additionally, RNAi of Tcest6 resulted in 43% reductions in female egg laying and completely inhibited egg hatching, which showed the similar phenotype as that of Tclph knockdown. These results indicated that Tclph affected fecundity by positively regulating Tcest6 expression. Our findings will provide a new insight into the molecular mechanisms of Tclph involved in physiological functions in T. castaneum.
Dietary delivery of bacterially expressed double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) has a great potential for management of Leptinotarsa decemlineata. An important first step is to discover possible RNA-interference (RNAi)-target genes effective against larvae, especially the old larvae. In the present paper, five putative Broad-Complex (BrC) cDNAs (Z1-Z4, and Z6) were identified in L. decemlineata. The expression of the five LdBrC isoforms was suppressed by juvenile hormone signaling, whereas the transcription was upregulated by 20-hydroxyecdysone signaling at the fourth (final) instar larval stage. Feeding of bacterially expressed dsBrC (derived from a common fragment of the five LdBrC variants) in the third- and fourth-instar larvae successfully knocked down the target mRNAs. For the fourth-instar LdBrC RNAi hypomorphs, they had a higher larval mortality compared with the controls. Moreover, most dsBrC-fed beetles did not pupate normally. After removal of the apolysed larval cuticle, a miniature adult was found. The adult head, compound eyes, prothorax, mesothorax, metathorax were found on the dorsal view. Distinct adult cuticle pigmentation was seen on the prothorax. The mouthparts, forelegs, midlegs, and hindlegs could be observed on the ventral view of the miniature adults. For the third-instar LdBrC RNAi specimens, around 20% moribund beetles remained as prepupae and finally died. Therefore, LdBrC is among the most attractive candidate genes for RNAi to control the fourth-instar larvae in L. decemlineata.
Hepatitis E is an important zoonosis that is prevalent in China. Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a pathogen that affects humans and animals and endangers public health in China. In this study, the detection of HEV epidemics in swine in Sichuan Province, China, was carried out by nested real-time PCR. A total of 174 stool samples and 160 bile samples from swine in Sichuan Province were examined. In addition, software was used to analyse the biological evolution of HEV. The results showed that within 2 years of swine HEV (SHEV) infection in China, SHEV was first detected in Sichuan Province. HEV was endemic in Sichuan; the positive rate for pig farms was 11.1%, and the total positive sample rate was 10.5%. The age of swine with the highest positive rate (17.9%) was 5–9 weeks. The examined swine species in order of highest to lowest HEV infection rates were Chenghua pig, Large White, Duroc, Pietrain, Landrace and Hampshire. Nucleotide and amino acid sequence analysis showed that the HEV epidemic in swine in Sichuan Province was related to genotype IV, which had the highest homology to HEV in Beijing. Sichuan strains have greater variation than Chinese representative strains, which may indicate the presence of new HEV strains.
Dipetalonema gracile is a common parasite in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus), which can cause malnutrition and progressive wasting of the host, and lead to death in the case of massive infection. This study aimed to identify a suspected D. gracile worm from a dead squirrel monkey by means of molecular biology, and to amplify its complete mitochondrial genome by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequence analysis. The results identified the worm as D. gracile, and the full length of its complete mitochondrial genome was 13,584 bp, which contained 22 tRNA genes, 12 protein-coding genes, two rRNA genes, one AT-rich region and one small non-coding region. The nucleotide composition included A (16.89%), G (20.19%), T (56.22%) and C (6.70%), among which A + T = 73.11%. The 12 protein-coding genes used TTG and ATT as start codons, and TAG and TAA as stop codons. Among the 22 tRNA genes, only trnS1AGN and trnS2UCN exhibited the TΨC-loop structure, while the other 20 tRNAs showed the TV-loop structure. The rrnL (986 bp) and rrnS (685 bp) genes were single-stranded and conserved in secondary structure. This study has enriched the mitochondrial gene database of Dipetalonema and laid a scientific basis for further study on classification, and genetic and evolutionary relationships of Dipetalonema nematodes.
Light colors may affect poultry behaviors, well-being and performance. However, preferences of layer pullets for light colors are not fully understood. This study was conducted to investigate the pullet preferences for four light-emitting diode colors, including white, red, green and blue, in a lighting preference test system. The system contained four identical compartments each provided with a respective light color. The pullets were able to move freely between the adjacent compartments. A total of three groups of 20 Chinese domestic Jingfen layer pullets (54 to 82 days of age) were used for the test. Pullet behaviors were continuously recorded and summarized for each light color/compartment into daily time spent (DTS), daily percentage of time spent (DPTS), daily times of visit (DTV), duration per visit, daily feed intake (DFI), daily feeding time (DFT), feeding rate (FR), distribution of pullet occupancy and hourly time spent. The results showed that the DTS (h/pullet·per day) were 3.9±0.4 under white, 1.4±0.3 under red, 2.2±0.3 under green and 4.5±0.4 under blue light, respectively. The DTS corresponded to 11.7% to 37.6% DPTS in 12-h lighting periods. The DTV (times/pullet·per day) were 84±5 under white, 48±10 under red, 88±10 under green and 94±8 under blue light. Each visit lasted 1.5 to 3.2 min. The DFI (g/pullet·per day) were 27.6±1.7 under white, 7.1±1.6 under red, 15.1±1.1 under green and 23.1±2.0 under blue light. The DFT was 0.18 to 0.65 h/pullet·per day and the FR was 0.57 to 0.75 g/min. For most of the time during the lighting periods, six to 10 birds stayed under white, and one to five birds stayed under red, green and blue light. Pullets preferred to stay under blue light when the light was on and under white light 4 h before the light off. Overall, pullets preferred blue light the most and red light the least. These findings substantiate the preferences of layer pullets for light colors, providing insights for use in the management of light-emitting diode colors to meet pullet needs.
Plant nitrogen (N) links with many physiological progresses of crop growth and yield formation. Accurate simulation is key to predict crop growth and yield correctly. The aim of the current study was to improve the estimation of N uptake and translocation processes in the whole rice plant as well as within plant organs in the RiceGrow model by using plant and organ maximum, critical and minimum N dilution curves. The maximum and critical N (Nc) demand (obtained from the maximum and critical curves) of shoot and root and Nc demand of organs (leaf, stem and panicle) are calculated by N concentration and biomass. Nitrogen distribution among organs is computed differently pre- and post-anthesis. Pre-anthesis distribution is determined by maximum N demand with no priority among organs. In post-anthesis distribution, panicle demands are met first and then the remaining N is allocated to other organs without priority. The amount of plant N uptake depends on plant N demand and N supplied by the soil. Calibration and validation of the established model were performed on field experiments conducted in China and the Philippines with varied N rates and N split applications; results showed that this improved model can simulate the processes of N uptake and translocation well.
Keratin-associated proteins (KAPs) are constituents of wool and hair fibres and are believed to play an important role in determining the characteristics of the fibres. In the current study, a polymerase chain reaction-single stranded conformational polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) approach was used to screen for variation in the ovine KAP15-1 gene (KRTAP15-1). Four PCR-SSCP banding patterns, representing four different variants (named A to D), were detected. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms were found within the coding region and three of these were non-synonymous. The effect of this genetic variation on wool traits was investigated in 396 Merino × Southdown-cross sheep. Of the three variants found in these sheep (A, B and C), the presence of B was found to be associated with decreased wool yield, while C was associated with increased wool yield and decreased fibre diameter standard deviation. Sheep of genotype AC had a higher wool yield than those of genotype AA or AB.
The response of soil microbial communities to soil quality changes is a sensitive indicator of soil ecosystem health. The current work investigated soil microbial communities under different fertilization treatments in a 31-year experiment using the phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profile method. The experiment consisted of five fertilization treatments: without fertilizer input (CK), chemical fertilizer alone (MF), rice (Oryza sativa L.) straw residue and chemical fertilizer (RF), low manure rate and chemical fertilizer (LOM), and high manure rate and chemical fertilizer (HOM). Soil samples were collected from the plough layer and results indicated that the content of PLFAs were increased in all fertilization treatments compared with the control. The iC15:0 fatty acids increased significantly in MF treatment but decreased in RF, LOM and HOM, while aC15:0 fatty acids increased in these three treatments. Principal component (PC) analysis was conducted to determine factors defining soil microbial community structure using the 21 PLFAs detected in all treatments: the first and second PCs explained 89.8% of the total variance. All unsaturated and cyclopropyl PLFAs except C12:0 and C15:0 were highly weighted on the first PC. The first and second PC also explained 87.1% of the total variance among all fertilization treatments. There was no difference in the first and second PC between RF and HOM treatments. The results indicated that long-term combined application of straw residue or organic manure with chemical fertilizer practices improved soil microbial community structure more than the mineral fertilizer treatment in double-cropped paddy fields in Southern China.
Previous studies have demonstrated that type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) could be triggered by an early childhood infection. Whether maternal infection during pregnancy is associated with T1DM in offspring is unknown. Therefore, we aimed to study the association using a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eighteen studies including 4304 cases and 25 846 participants were enrolled in this meta-analysis. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were synthesised using random-effects models. Subgroup analyses and sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess the robustness of associations. Overall, the pooled analysis yielded a statistically significant association between maternal infection during pregnancy and childhood T1DM (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.07–1.62). Furthermore, six studies that tested maternal enterovirus infection showed a pooled OR of 1.54 (95% CI 1.05–2.27). Heterogeneity from different studies was evident (I2 = 70.1%, P < 0.001) and was mainly attributable to the different study designs, ascertaining methods and sample size among different studies. This study provides evidence for an association between maternal infection during pregnancy and childhood T1DM.
Over the recent years, potential associations between Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infection and cancer risk have attracted a lot of attention. Nevertheless, the association between T. gondii infection and oral cancer remains relatively unexplored. We performed a case–control study of 861 oral cancer patients and 861 control subjects from eastern China with the aim to detect antibodies to T. gondii by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in these patients. The results showed that oral cancer patients (21.72%, 187/861) had a significantly higher seroprevalence than control subjects (8.25%, 71/861) (P < 0.001). Among them, 144 (16.72%) oral cancer patients and 71 (8.25%) control subjects were positive for IgG antibodies to T. gondii, while 54 (6.27%) oral cancer patients and 9 (1.05%) controls were positive for IgM antibodies to T. gondii. In addition, multiple logistic analysis showed that T. gondii infection in oral cancer patients was associated with blood transfusion history, keeping cats at home, and oyster consumption. To our knowledge, this is the first study that provided a serological evidence of an association between T. gondii infection and oral cancer patients. However, further studies are necessary to elucidate the role of T. gondii in oral cancer patients.
Knowledge about the infection transmission routes is significant for developing effective intervention strategies. We searched the PubMed databases and identified 10 studies with 14 possible inflight influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 outbreaks. Considering the different mechanisms of the large-droplet and airborne routes, a meta-analysis of the outbreak data was carried out to study the difference in attack rates for passengers within and beyond two rows of the index case(s). We also explored the relationship between the attack rates and the flight duration and/or total infectivity of the index case(s). The risk ratios for passengers seated within and beyond the two rows of the index cases were 1.7 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98–2.84) for syndromic secondary cases and 4.3 (95% CI 1.25–14.54) for laboratory-confirmed secondary cases. Furthermore, with an increase of the product of the flight duration and the total infectivity of the index cases, the overall attack rate increased linearly. The study indicates that influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 may mainly be transmitted via the airborne route during air travel. A standardised approach for the reporting of such inflight outbreak investigations would help to provide more convincing evidence for such inflight transmission events.
Pheromones play an important role in mediating interspecific interactions in insects. In an insect community, pheromones can reveal information about the senders, which could be used by other members of the food web (competitor, natural enemies, etc.) to their own advantage. The aggregation pheromones of two closely related thrips species, Frankliniella occidentalis and Frankliniella intonsa, have been identified with the same major compounds, (R)-lavandulyl acetate and neryl (S)-2-methylbutanoate, but in different ratios. However, the roles of the aggregation pheromones in the interspecific interactions between these two closely related species are unknown. Here, we investigated the roles of major aggregation pheromone compounds in interspecific interactions between F. occidentalis and F. intonsa for both long and short ranges. The results showed that, at tested doses, neither aggregation pheromone-induced long range cross-attraction nor short range cross-mating was detected between F. occidentalis and F. intonsa. Field-trapping trials showed that the species-specificity in aggregation pheromones was regulated by the ratio of two major compounds. However, species-specific blends of the two major compounds had no effect on short-range interactions between these two species. Our data from the thrips species provide support for the ‘aggregation model of coexistence’, explaining the species-specific pheromone-mediated coexistence of closely related species. Thus, species-specific pheromones could be one of the factors affecting population dynamics and community structure in closely related insects with similar niches.