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Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88) presented a critique of our recently published paper in Cell Reports entitled ‘Large-Scale Cognitive GWAS Meta-Analysis Reveals Tissue-Specific Neural Expression and Potential Nootropic Drug Targets’ (Lam et al., Cell Reports, Vol. 21, 2017, 2597–2613). Specifically, Hill offered several interrelated comments suggesting potential problems with our use of a new analytic method called Multi-Trait Analysis of GWAS (MTAG) (Turley et al., Nature Genetics, Vol. 50, 2018, 229–237). In this brief article, we respond to each of these concerns. Using empirical data, we conclude that our MTAG results do not suffer from ‘inflation in the FDR [false discovery rate]’, as suggested by Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88), and are not ‘more relevant to the genetic contributions to education than they are to the genetic contributions to intelligence’.
This paper examines interactions between co-occupants of riverine niches in north-west Europe during the Late Upper Palaeolithic using both ecological and archaeological data. It is argued that consideration of both the Lateglacial record and autecology of eel, beaver and horse supports a reinterpretation of some famous but enigmatic panels of Magdalenian mobiliary art as representations of eel fishing, along with horse and beaver exploitation in disturbed riverine habitats. It is further suggested that this constitutes a humanly co-constructed niche in ecological, nutritional, and symbolic terms, which was also particularly advantageous for human well-being and social development in this time and place.
Probiotic yogurt and milk supplemented with probiotics have been investigated for their role in ‘low-grade’ inflammation but evidence for their efficacy is inconclusive. This study explores the impact of probiotic yogurt on metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers, with a parallel study of gut microbiota dynamics. The randomised cross-over study was conducted in fourteen healthy, young men to test probiotic yogurt compared with milk acidified with 2 % d-(+)-glucono-δ-lactone during a 2-week intervention (400 g/d). Fasting assessments, a high-fat meal test (HFM) and microbiota analyses were used to assess the intervention effects. Baseline assessments for the HFM were carried out after a run-in during which normal milk was provided. No significant differences in the inflammatory response to the HFM were observed after probiotic yogurt compared with acidified milk intake; however, both products were associated with significant reductions in the inflammatory response to the HFM compared with the baseline tests (assessed by IL6, TNFα and chemokine ligand 5) (P<0·001). These observations were accompanied by significant changes in microbiota taxa, including decreased abundance of Bilophila wadsworthia after acidified milk (log 2-fold-change (FC)=–1·5, Padj=0·05) and probiotic yogurt intake (FC=–1·3, Padj=0·03), increased abundance of Bifidobacterium species after acidified milk intake (FC=1·4, Padj=0·04) and detection of Lactobacillus delbrueckii spp. bulgaricus (FC=7·0, Padj<0·01) and Streptococcus salivarius spp. thermophilus (FC=6·0, Padj<0·01) after probiotic yogurt intake. Probiotic yogurt and acidified milk similarly reduce postprandial inflammation that is associated with a HFM while inducing distinct changes in the gut microbiota of healthy men. These observations could be relevant for dietary treatments that target ‘low-grade’ inflammation.
A technique is described for measuring melt-water outflow from snowbanks that develop a basal ice layer. The method involves excavation of channels across ice exposed at the lower edge of a snowbank in order to divert run-off into a portable flume. Since discharges are measured before the water comes into contact with the soil, sub-surface flow and soil-moisture changes do not have to be assessed. Outflow discharges recorded at a perennial snowbank site on Melville Island, N.W.T., Canada, compare favourably with energy-balance calculations and measurements of ablation.
Energy fluxes and resultant short-term ablation rates were measured at a ground-ice slump on south-west Banks Island. Net radiation, as a proportion of the ablation flux, is greatest on days with high incident solar radiation, whereas on overcast days, sensible- and latent-heat inputs may supply more than half the necessary energy. A multiple regression equation using net radiation and a turbulent-energy term as independent variables explains 79% of the variation in the measured ablation fluxes. Overall, at least 60% of the energy used for ablation at the slump is derived from net radiation.
The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) hosts a large number of high-mass X-ray binaries, and in particular of Be/X-ray Binaries (BeXRBs; neutron stars orbiting OBe-type stars), offering a unique laboratory to address the effect of metalicity. One key property of their optical companion is Hα in emission, which makes them bright sources when observed through a narrow-band Hα filter. We performed a survey of the SMC Bar and Wing regions using wide-field cameras (WFI@MPG/ESO and MOSAIC@CTIO/Blanco) in order to identify the counterparts of the sources detected in our XMM-Newton survey of the same area. We obtained broad-band R and narrow-band Hα photometry, and identified ~10000 Hα emission sources down to a sensitivity limit of 18.7 mag (equivalent to ~B8 type Main Sequence stars). We find the fraction of OBe/OB stars to be 13% down to this limit, and by investigating this fraction as a function of the brightness of the stars we deduce that Hα excess peaks at the O9-B2 spectral range. Using the most up-to-date numbers of SMC BeXRBs we find their fraction over their parent population to be ~0.002 − 0.025 BeXRBs/OBe, a direct measurement of their formation rate.
Burnt mounds, or fulachtaí fiadh as they are known in Ireland, are probably the most common prehistoric site type in Ireland and Britain. Typically Middle–Late Bronze Age in age (although both earlier and later examples are known), they are artefact-poor and rarely associated with settlements. The function of these sites has been much debated with the most commonly cited uses being for cooking, as steam baths or saunas, for brewing, tanning, or textile processing. A number of major infrastructural development schemes in Ireland in the years 2002–2007 revealed remarkable numbers of these mounds often associated with wood-lined troughs, many of which were extremely well-preserved. This afforded an opportunity to investigate them as landscape features using environmental techniques – specifically plant macrofossils and charcoal, pollen, beetles, and multi-element analyses. This paper summarises the results from eight sites from Ireland and compares them with burnt mound sites in Great Britain. The fulachtaí fiadh which are generally in clusters, are all groundwater-fed by springs, along floodplains and at the bases of slopes. The sites are associated with the clearance of wet woodland for fuel; most had evidence of nearby agriculture and all revealed low levels of grazing. Multi-element analysis at two sites revealed elevated heavy metal concentrations suggesting that off-site soil, ash or urine had been used in the trough. Overall the evidence suggests that the most likely function for these sites is textile production involving both cleaning and/or dyeing of wool and/or natural plant fibres and as a functionally related activity to hide cleaning and tanning. Whilst further research is clearly needed to confirm if fulachtaí fiadh are part of the ‘textile revolution’ we should also recognise their important role in the rapid deforestation of the wetter parts of primary woodland and the expansion of agriculture into marginal areas during the Irish and British Bronze Ages.
Radiocarbon-based accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) facilities at Uppsala University include a measurement center for archaeological applications and a separate entity dedicated to life science research. This paper addresses the latter, with the intention of giving a brief description of the biomedical activities at our laboratory, as well as presenting new data. The ultra-small sample preparation method, which can be used down to a few μg C samples, is outlined and complemented with new results. Furthermore, it is shown that the average secondary ion current performance for small samples can be improved by increasing the distance between the cathode surface and the pressed graphite surface. Finally, data is presented for a new application: Amyloidoses are a group of diseases where the conformational changes in specific proteins' structure lead to the formation of extracellular deposits that spread and increase in mass and eventually may lead to total organ failure and death. The formation timeframe is unknown and yet it is an important clue for the elucidation of the mechanism. We present results on bomb-peak dating of 4 different types of purified amyloid proteins from human postmortem heart and spleen samples. The data indicates that the average measured age of the carbon originating from the systemic amyloid types studied here correspond to a few years before the death of the subject. This suggests that a major part of the fibril formation takes place during the last few years before death, rather than as an accumulation of amyloid deposits over decades.
The distribution of phlebotomine sand flies is widely reported to be changing in Europe. This can be attributed to either the discovery of sand flies in areas where they were previously overlooked (generally following an outbreak of leishmaniasis or other sand fly-related disease) or to true expansion of their range as a result of climatic or environmental changes. Routine surveillance for phlebotomines in Europe is localized, and often one of the challenges for entomologists working in non-leishmaniasis endemic countries is the lack of knowledge on how to conduct, plan and execute sampling for phlebotomines, or how to adapt on-going sampling strategies for other haematophagous diptera. This review brings together published and unpublished expert knowledge on sampling strategies for European phlebotomines of public health concern in order to provide practical advice on: how to conduct surveys; the collection and interpretation of field data; suitable techniques for the preservation of specimens obtained by different sampling methods; molecular techniques used for species identification; and the pathogens associated with sand flies and their detection methods.
The present study was carried out to evaluate the anti-atherogenic effect of Njavara rice bran oil (NjRBO) on atherosclerosis by modulating enzymes and genes involved in lipid metabolism in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD). Adult male rats (Sprague–Dawley strain, weighing 100–120 g) were divided into three groups of nine animals each. Group I served as the control, group II were fed a HCD and group III were fed a HCD and NjRBO (100 mg/kg body weight). The study duration was 60 d. Serum and tissue lipid profile, atherogenic index, enzymes of lipid metabolism, plasma C-reactive protein levels, serum paraoxonase and arylesterase activities, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances, gene and protein expression of paraoxonase 1 (PON1), PPARα, ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), apoB and apoA1 in the liver were quantified. Total cholesterol, TAG, phospholipid, NEFA, LDL-cholesterol concentrations in the serum and liver, lipogenic enzyme activities, hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase activity and atherogenic index were significantly increased in HCD-fed rats, but they decreased after treatment with NjRBO. HDL-cholesterol level and lecithin cholesterol acyl transferase activity were increased in the NjRBO-treated group, but decreased in the HCD-fed group. The expression levels of ABCA1, apoA1, PON1 and PPARα were found to be significantly increased in NjRBO-treated group compared with the HCD-fed group; however, the expression level of apoB was found to be higher in HCD-fed group and lower in the NjRBO-treated group. These data suggest that NjRBO possesses an anti-atherogenic property by modulating lipid metabolism and up-regulating genes involved in reverse cholesterol transport and antioxidative defence mechanism through the induction of the gene expression PON1.
An enormous effort is underway worldwide to attempt to detect gravitational waves. If successful, this will open a new frontier in astronomy. An essential portion of this effort is being carried out in Australia by the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy (ACIGA), with research teams working at the Australia National University, University of Western Australia, and University of Adelaide involving scientists and students representing many more institutions and nations. ACIGA is developing ultrastable high-power continuous-wave lasers for the next generation interferometric gravity wave detectors; researching the problems associated with high optical power in resonant cavities; opening frontiers in advanced interferometry configurations, quantum optics, and signal extraction; and is the world's leader in high-performance vibration isolation and suspension design. ACIGA has also been active in theoretical research and modelling of potential astronomical gravitational wave sources, and in developing data analysis detection algorithms. ACIGA has opened a research facility north of Perth, Western Australia, which will be the culmination of these efforts. This paper briefly reviews ACIGA's research activities and the prospects for gravitational wave astronomy in the southern hemisphere.
Kefir is a fermented-milk beverage originating and widely consumed in the Caucasus as well as in Eastern Europe and is a source of bacteria with potential probiotic properties. Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli producing Shiga toxin is commonly associated with food-transmitted diseases; the most prevalent serotype causing epidemics is Esch. coli O157:H7. The aim of this study was to evaluate the antagonism of Lactobacillus plantarum isolated from kefir against the action on Vero cells of supernatants of the Esch. coli O157:H7 strain 69160 expressing the type-II Shiga toxin (Stx2) and to study the role of the Lactobacillus cell wall in that inhibition. Spent culture supernatants of Esch. coli O157:H7 strain 69160 led to cytotoxic effects on cultured eukaryotic cells as evidenced by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium-bromide–cleavage assay or by lactate-dehyrogenase release. Lb. plantarum CIDCA 83114 reduced the cytotoxic activity of Stx present in strain-69160 supernatants, and this protection was markedly higher than those of Lactobacillus kefir CIDCA 83113 and 8348 and Lb. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus CIDCA 333. This antagonism of cytotoxicity was mimicked by Lb. plantarum cell walls but was reduced after heating or protease treatments, thus indicating a protein or peptide as being involved in the protection mechanism. The cell surface of the lactobacilli bound the subunit B of Stx thereby decreasing the cytotoxicity. These interactions could constitute the first step in preventing the damage induced by Esch. coli O157:H7 supernatants, thus representing a valuable means of potentially mitigating the noxious effects of this food pathogen.
We report here a comparative analysis of the growth, acidification capacity, and chemical and microbiologic composition between kefir grains after 20 subcultures in whey at 20, 30, and 37°C and the original kefir grains coming from milk along with a determination of the microbiological composition of the fermented whey as compared with that of traditional fermented milk.
When fermentation was carried out repeatedly at 30 or 37°C, kefir grains changed their kefir-like appearance, exhibited reduced growth rates, had a lower diversity of yeasts and water content, and a higher protein-to-polysaccharide ratio compared with the original kefir grains. In contrast, at 20°C kefir grains could remain in whey for prolonged periods without altering their acidification capacity, growth rate, macroscopic appearance or chemical and microbiologic composition—with the only difference being a reduction in certain yeast populations after 20 subcultures in whey. At this incubation temperature, the presence of Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lb. kefir, Lb. parakefir, Lactococcus lactis, Kluyveromyces marxianus, Saccharomyces unisporus, and Sac. cerevisiae was detected in kefir grains and in fermented whey by denaturing-gradient-gel electrophoresis (DGGE). In whey fermented at 20°C the number of lactic-acid bacteria (LAB) was significantly lower (P<0·05) and the number of yeast significantly higher (P<0·05) than in fermented milk. Since the DGGE profiles were similar for both products, at this temperature the microbiologic composition of fermented whey is similar to that of fermented milk. We therefore suggest a temperature of 20°C to preserve kefir grains as whey-fermentation starters.
A two-strain starter culture containing Lactobacillus plantarum CIDCA 83114, a potential probiotic strain isolated from kefir grains, and Streptococcus thermophilus CIDCA 321 was tested for the preparation of a fermented milk product. Kluyveromyces marxianus CIDCA 8154, a yeast with immunomodulatory properties was included to formulate a three-strain starter culture. Supernatants of enterohaemorragic Escherichia coli, shiga-toxin–producing strain, along with a two-strain or a three-strain starter culture were included in the medium of Vero-cell surface cultures. The results demonstrated that these combinations of microorganisms antagonize the cytopathic action of shiga toxins. The cell concentration of Lb. plantarum did not decrease during fermentation, indicating that the viability of this strain was not affected by low pH, nor did the number of viable bacteria change during 21 days of storage in either fermented products. The number of viable yeasts increases during fermentation and storage. Trained assessors analyzed the general acceptability of fresh fermented milks and considered both acceptable. The milk fermented with the two-strain starter culture was considered acceptable after two week of storage, while the product fermented with the three-strain starter culture remained acceptable for less than one week. The main changes in sensory attributes detected by the trained panel were in sour taste, milky taste and also in fermented attributes. The correlation between different sensory attributes and acceptability indicated that the panel was positively influenced by milky attributes (taste, odour, and flavour) as well as the intensity of flavour. In conclusion, the two-strain starter culture would be the more promising alternative for inclusion of that potential probiotic lactobacillus in a fermented milk product.
Slope hummocks, a type of nonsorted patterned ground, are composed of stratified, organic, silty sand, and develop through the interaction of niveo-eolian deposition, solifluction, slopewash, and vegetation growth. Fields of hummocks show consistent patterns: forms on convex slopes increase in height downslope until the channel is reached, whereas those on convexo-concave slopes increase on the upper convexity but are buried by niveo-eolian deposition downslope of the snowbank remnant. These trends can be reproduced using a simple numerical model based on measured slope and snow depth profiles, sediment concentrations in the snow and solifluction rates. The model indicates that hummocks transit slopes of 20–40 m in about 2–4 ka, a time-frame that is plausible given site emergence, measured rates of solifluction, and published dates for organic horizons within hummocks on northern Ellesmere Island. Sensitivity analyses show that long-term effect of climate warming on hummock heights may differ depending on whether it is accompanied by precipitation increase or decrease. The required combination of two-sided freezing to promote plug-like movement, incomplete vegetation cover and thin snow that enable eolian erosion during winter and spring, and vegetation growth in snow-bed sites to stabilize niveo-eolian deposits may explain why these forms are important regionally but apparently are not present throughout the Arctic.