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Molecular biological techniques have revolutionized the field of geomicrobiology by providing researchers with robust techniques for identifying microorganisms and characterizing microbial communities in a wide variety of environments. These techniques have freed researchers from the constraints of classical culture-based microbiology and allowed the discovery of previously unknown phylogenetic diversity of microorganisms. In this chapter, we discuss the theory, methods, and workflow for applying molecular techniques to identify and characterize microbial populations. Our chapter focuses on SSU rRNA gene-based approaches, guiding the reader from sample collection and gene amplification through bioinformatics and statistical analysis. The workflow presented has been successfully used to identify microbial populations and community dynamics in a wide variety of habitats to understand the interactions between microbes and their environment.
All organisms encounter pathogens, and birds are especially susceptible to infection by malaria parasites and other haemosporidians. It is important to understand how immune genes, primarily innate immune genes which are the first line of host defense, have evolved across birds, a highly diverse group of tetrapods. Here, we find that innate immune genes are highly conserved across the avian tree of life and that although most show evidence of positive or diversifying selection within specific lineages or clades, the number of sites is often proportionally low in this broader context of putative constraint. Rather, evidence shows a much higher level of negative or purifying selection in these innate immune genes – rather than adaptive immune genes – which is consistent with birds' long coevolutionary history with pathogens and the need to maintain a rapid response to infection. We further explored avian responses to haemosporidians by comparing differential gene expression in wild birds (1) uninfected with haemosporidians, (2) infected with Plasmodium and (3) infected with Haemoproteus (Parahaemoproteus). We found patterns of significant differential expression with some genes unique to infection with each genus and a few shared between ‘treatment’ groups, but none that overlapped with the genes included in the phylogenetic study.
The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) has made major advances in the molecular etiology of MDD, confirming that MDD is highly polygenic. Pathway enrichment results from PGC meta-analyses can also be used to help inform molecular drug targets. Prior to any knowledge of molecular biomarkers for MDD, drugs targeting molecular pathways (MPs) proved successful in treating MDD. It is possible that examining polygenicity within specific MPs implicated in MDD can further refine molecular drug targets.
Using a large case–control GWAS based on low-coverage whole genome sequencing (N = 10 640) in Han Chinese women, we derived polygenic risk scores (PRS) for MDD and for MDD specific to each of over 300 MPs previously shown to be relevant to psychiatric diagnoses. We then identified sets of PRSs, accounting for critical covariates, significantly predictive of case status.
Over and above global MDD polygenic risk, polygenic risk within the GO: 0017144 drug metabolism pathway significantly predicted recurrent depression after multiple testing correction. Secondary transcriptomic analysis suggests that among genes in this pathway, CYP2C19 (family of Cytochrome P450) and CBR1 (Carbonyl Reductase 1) might be most relevant to MDD. Within the cases, pathway-based risk was additionally associated with age at onset of MDD.
Results indicate that pathway-based risk might inform etiology of recurrent major depression. Future research should examine whether polygenicity of the drug metabolism gene pathway has any association with clinical presentation or treatment response. We discuss limitations to the generalizability of these preliminary findings, and urge replication in future research.
Despite established clinical associations among major depression (MD), alcohol dependence (AD), and alcohol consumption (AC), the nature of the causal relationship between them is not completely understood. We leveraged genome-wide data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) and UK Biobank to test for the presence of shared genetic mechanisms and causal relationships among MD, AD, and AC.
Linkage disequilibrium score regression and Mendelian randomization (MR) were performed using genome-wide data from the PGC (MD: 135 458 cases and 344 901 controls; AD: 10 206 cases and 28 480 controls) and UK Biobank (AC-frequency: 438 308 individuals; AC-quantity: 307 098 individuals).
Positive genetic correlation was observed between MD and AD (rgMD−AD = + 0.47, P = 6.6 × 10−10). AC-quantity showed positive genetic correlation with both AD (rgAD−AC quantity = + 0.75, P = 1.8 × 10−14) and MD (rgMD−AC quantity = + 0.14, P = 2.9 × 10−7), while there was negative correlation of AC-frequency with MD (rgMD−AC frequency = −0.17, P = 1.5 × 10−10) and a non-significant result with AD. MR analyses confirmed the presence of pleiotropy among these four traits. However, the MD-AD results reflect a mediated-pleiotropy mechanism (i.e. causal relationship) with an effect of MD on AD (beta = 0.28, P = 1.29 × 10−6). There was no evidence for reverse causation.
This study supports a causal role for genetic liability of MD on AD based on genetic datasets including thousands of individuals. Understanding mechanisms underlying MD-AD comorbidity addresses important public health concerns and has the potential to facilitate prevention and intervention efforts.
The North American Philips G-M Counting Attachment for use with a Weissenberg camera was modified to achieve greater accuracy and speed in measuring integrated diffraction intensities. The shape, size and divergence of the primary beam was changed to obtain a larger and more reproducible number of counts. The oscillating mechanism was simplified and made more convenient. The receiving slit was enlarged so as to yield integrated intensities which were not affected by the diffraction peak shape. The accuracy and precision of the apparatus was determined by measuring the intensities of equivalent reflections from an ideally shaped crystal of nickel dimethyl glyoxime and by measuring the diffraction intensities from a parameterless structure such as sodium chloride. Very few calculation's are necessary in order to make the proper instrument settings as the necessary angles are read directly from a Weissenberg diffraction pattern.
Animal and cross-sectional epidemiological studies suggest that prenatal lead exposure is related to delayed menarche, but this has not been confirmed in longitudinal studies. We analyzed this association among 200 girls from Mexico City who were followed since the first trimester of gestation. Maternal blood lead levels were analyzed once during each trimester of pregnancy, and daughters were asked about their first menstrual cycle at a visit between the ages of 9.8 and 18.1 years. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for probability of menarche over the follow-up period using interval-censored Cox models, comparing those with prenatal blood lead level ⩾5 µg/dl to those with prenatal blood lead <5 µg/dl. We also estimated HRs and 95% CI with conventional Cox regression models, which utilized the self-reported age at menarche. In adjusted analyses, we accounted for maternal age, maternal parity, maternal education, and prenatal calcium treatment status. Across trimesters, 36−47% of mothers had blood lead levels ⩾5 µg/dl. Using interval-censored models, we found that during the second trimester only, girls with ⩾5 µg/dl prenatal blood lead had a later age at menarche compared with girls with prenatal blood lead levels <5 µg/dl (confounder-adjusted HR=0.59, 95% CI 0.28–0.90; P=0.05). Associations were in a similar direction, although not statistically significant, in the conventional Cox regression models, potentially indicating measurement error in the self-recalled age at menarche. In summary, higher prenatal lead exposure during the second trimester could be related to later onset of sexual maturation.
The re-emergence of debates on the decolonisation of knowledge has revived interest in the National Question, which began over a century ago and remains unresolved. Tensions that were suppressed and hidden in the past are now being openly debated. Despite this, the goal of one united nation living prosperously under a constitutional democracy remains elusive. This edited volume examines the way in which various strands of left thought have addressed the National Question, especially during the apartheid years, and goes on to discuss its relevance for South Africa today and in the future. Instead of imposing a particular understanding of the National Question, the editors identified a number of political traditions and allowed contributors the freedom to define the question as they believed appropriate – in other words, to explain what they thought was the Unresolved National Question. This has resulted in a rich tapestry of interweaving perceptions. The volume is structured in two parts. The first examines four foundational traditions: Marxism-Leninism (the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis); the Congress tradition; the Trotskyist tradition; and Africanism. The second part explores the various shifts in the debate from the 1960s onwards, and includes chapters on Afrikaner nationalism, ethnic issues, black consciousness, feminism, workerism and constitutionalism. The editors hope that by revisiting the debates not popularly known among the scholarly mainstream, this volume will become a catalyst for an enriched debate on our identity and our future.
Objectives: To evaluate prospective and retrospective memory abilities in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) Veterans with and without a self-reported history of blast-related mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Methods: Sixty-one OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, including Veterans with a self-reported history of blast-related mTBI (mTBI group; n=42) and Veterans without a self-reported history of TBI (control group; n=19) completed the Memory for Intentions Test, a measure of prospective memory (PM), and two measures of retrospective memory (RM), the California Verbal Learning Test-II and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised. Results: Veterans in the mTBI group exhibited significantly lower PM performance than the control group, but the groups did not differ in their performance on RM measures. Further analysis revealed that Veterans in the mTBI group with current PTSD (mTBI/PTSD+) demonstrated significantly lower performance on the PM measure than Veterans in the control group. PM performance by Veterans in the mTBI group without current PTSD (mTBI/PTSD-) was intermediate between the mTBI/PTSD+ and control groups, and results for the mTBI/PTSD- group were not significantly different from either of the other two groups. Conclusions: Results suggest that PM performance may be a sensitive marker of cognitive dysfunction among OEF/OIF/OND Veterans with a history of self-reported blast-related mTBI and comorbid PTSD. Reduced PM may account, in part, for complaints of cognitive difficulties in this Veteran cohort, even years post-injury. (JINS, 2018, 24, 324–334)
This article examines how disease salience influences attitudes toward two types of humanitarian aid: sending foreign aid and housing refugees. Some have argued that disease salience increases levels of out-group prejudice through what is referred to as the behavioral immune system (BIS), and this increase in out-group prejudice works to shape policy attitudes. However, an alternative mechanism that may explain the effects of disease salience is contamination fear, which would suggest there is no group bias in the effects of disease threat. Existing work largely interprets opposition to policies that assist out-groups as evidence of out-group prejudice. We suggest it is necessary to separate measures of out-group animosity from opinions toward specific policies to determine whether increased out-group prejudice rather than fear of contamination is the mechanism by which disease salience impacts policy attitudes. Across two experiments, disease salience is shown to significantly decrease support for humanitarian aid, but only in the form of refugee support. Furthermore, there is converging evidence to suggest that any influence of disease salience on aid attitudes is not caused by a corresponding increase in xenophobia. We suggest that the mechanism by which disease threat influences policy attitudes is a general fear of contamination rather than xenophobia. These findings go against an important hypothesized mechanism of the BIS and have critical implications for the relationship between disease salience and attitudes toward transnational policies involving humanitarian aid.
Identifying genetic relationships between complex traits in emerging adulthood can provide useful etiological insights into risk for psychopathology. College-age individuals are under-represented in genomic analyses thus far, and the majority of work has focused on the clinical disorder or cognitive abilities rather than normal-range behavioral outcomes.
This study examined a sample of emerging adults 18–22 years of age (N = 5947) to construct an atlas of polygenic risk for 33 traits predicting relevant phenotypic outcomes. Twenty-eight hypotheses were tested based on the previous literature on samples of European ancestry, and the availability of rich assessment data allowed for polygenic predictions across 55 psychological and medical phenotypes.
Polygenic risk for schizophrenia (SZ) in emerging adults predicted anxiety, depression, nicotine use, trauma, and family history of psychological disorders. Polygenic risk for neuroticism predicted anxiety, depression, phobia, panic, neuroticism, and was correlated with polygenic risk for cardiovascular disease.
These results demonstrate the extensive impact of genetic risk for SZ, neuroticism, and major depression on a range of health outcomes in early adulthood. Minimal cross-ancestry replication of these phenomic patterns of polygenic influence underscores the need for more genome-wide association studies of non-European populations.
Social facilitation occurs when one animal increases performance of a behaviour due to the presence of another animal engaged in that same behaviour. Gonyou et al. (1992) reported that pigs in adjoining pens ate simultaneously more often if the feeders were adjacent to the common wall. Feeders which allow pigs to see pigs in the adjacent pen increase feed consumption in short trials (Hutson, 1995). Although these studies reported some form of social facilitation, the studies were either too short to detect an improvement in productivity, or none resulted. The objectives of this study were to determine if social facilitation of eating between pens of pigs can best be achieved by allowing visual contact through the wall or the feeder, and if feed consumption can be increased over an extended period of time.
Previous studies have demonstrated that several major psychiatric disorders are influenced by shared genetic factors. This shared liability may influence clinical features of a given disorder (e.g. severity, age at onset). However, findings have largely been limited to European samples; little is known about the consistency of shared genetic liability across ethnicities.
The relationship between polygenic risk for several major psychiatric diagnoses and major depressive disorder (MDD) was examined in a sample of unrelated Han Chinese women. Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) were generated using European discovery samples and tested in the China, Oxford, and VCU Experimental Research on Genetic Epidemiology [CONVERGE (maximum N = 10 502)], a sample ascertained for recurrent MDD. Genetic correlations between discovery phenotypes and MDD were also assessed. In addition, within-case characteristics were examined.
European-based polygenic risk for several major psychiatric disorder phenotypes was significantly associated with the MDD case status in CONVERGE. Risk for clinically significant indicators (neuroticism and subjective well-being) was also associated with case–control status. The variance accounted for by PRS for both psychopathology and for well-being was similar to estimates reported for within-ethnicity comparisons in European samples. However, European-based PRS were largely unassociated with CONVERGE family history, clinical characteristics, or comorbidity.
The shared genetic liability across severe forms of psychopathology is largely consistent across European and Han Chinese ethnicities, with little attenuation of genetic signal relative to within-ethnicity analyses. The overall absence of associations between PRS for other disorders and within-MDD variation suggests that clinical characteristics of MDD may arise due to contributions from ethnicity-specific factors and/or pathoplasticity.