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Our current global food system – from food production to consumption, including manufacture, packaging, transport, retail and associated businesses – is responsible for extensive negative social and environmental impacts which threaten the long-term well-being of society. This has led to increasing calls from science–policy organizations for major reform and transformation of the global food system. However, our knowledge regarding food system transformations is fragmented and this is hindering the development of co-ordinated solutions. Here, we collate recent research across several academic disciplines and sectors in order to better understand the mechanisms that ‘lock-in’ food systems in unsustainable states.
The microsporidian parasite Thelohania contejeani causes porcelain disease and has been implicated in mass mortalities in populations of the endangered European crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes. However, the route of parasite transmission is not known. This paper investigates the horizontal transmission of T. contejeani between A. pallipes hosts as well as its transmissibility to the invasive signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus). Field collected juvenile A. pallipes and P. leniusculus were assigned to 1 of 3 experimental treatments; fed heavily infected A. pallipes tissue, exposed to water from tanks housing heavily parasitized A. pallipes, and a control group to provide an estimate of the baseline infection levels in the field. After 26 weeks, abdominal muscle samples were screened by PCR for T. contejeani. Infection was significantly higher in the treatment groups (83% in the cannibalism treatment, 42% in the water exposure treatment) than in the control group (4%), providing evidence for horizontal transmission of the parasite between A. pallipes hosts. Cannibalism and scavenging are common amongst crayfish, providing transmission opportunities in the field. The study also provides the first direct evidence for transmission of the parasite from an indigenous European crayfish species to the invasive signal crayfish, with 50% of P. leniusculus in each treatment, and 8% of control animals infected. We discuss the possibility that high density populations of the invasive signal crayfish may serve either as reservoirs or sinks for the parasite.
Branchiobdellidans or crayfish worms are clitellate annelids and ectosymbionts of freshwater crayfish. An investigation of branchiobdellidan infestation was undertaken in a population of endangered white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) in the river Aire, UK. Thirty two percent of animals were infested either by the adult parasite or their cocoons (n=107). Parasite burden increased with host size, but did not differ with sex. Observations of crayfish gill tissue revealed a strong positive relationship between melanization of filaments and parasite prevalence and burden. Taxonomic identification revealed that 1 species of branchiobdellidan was present, Branchiobdella astaci. The first sequences were generated for this species and phylogenetically analysed alongside published sequences for 5 other branchiobdellidan species in Europe. The position of B. astaci within the genus Branchiobdella was confirmed, and it was found to cluster as a sister group to B. parasita.
This practical, extensively illustrated handbook covers the procedures that are undertaken in andrology and ART laboratories to analyse and assess male-factor infertility, and to prepare spermatozoa for use in assisted conception therapy. The content is presented as brief, authoritative overviews of the relevant biological background for each area, plus detailed, step-by-step descriptions of the relevant analytical procedures. Each technical section includes pertinent quality control considerations, as well as the optimum presentation of results. In addition to the comprehensive 'basic' semen analysis, incorporating careful analysis of sperm morphology, the handbook provides established techniques for the use of computer-aided sperm analysis and sperm functional assessment. Throughout the handbook the interpretation of laboratory results in the clinical context is highlighted, and safe laboratory practice is emphasized. It is an invaluable resource to all scientists and technicians who perform diagnostic testing for male-factor infertility.