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Before replication becomes mainstream, the potential for generating theoretical knowledge better be clear. Replicating statistically significant nonrandom data shows that an original study made a discovery; replicating a specified theoretical effect shows that an original study corroborated a theory. Yet only in the latter case is replication a necessary, sound, and worthwhile strategy.
Parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) are a diverse group of pathogens that infect birds nearly worldwide. Despite their ubiquity, the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape the diversity and distribution of these protozoan parasites among avian communities and geographic regions are poorly understood. Based on a survey throughout the Neotropics of the haemosporidian parasites infecting manakins (Pipridae), a family of Passerine birds endemic to this region, we asked whether host relatedness, ecological similarity and geographic proximity structure parasite turnover between manakin species and local manakin assemblages. We used molecular methods to screen 1343 individuals of 30 manakin species for the presence of parasites. We found no significant correlations between manakin parasite lineage turnover and both manakin species turnover and geographic distance. Climate differences, species turnover in the larger bird community and parasite lineage turnover in non-manakin hosts did not correlate with manakin parasite lineage turnover. We also found no evidence that manakin parasite lineage turnover among host species correlates with range overlap and genetic divergence among hosts. Our analyses indicate that host switching (turnover among host species) and dispersal (turnover among locations) of haemosporidian parasites in manakins are not constrained at this scale.
Measuring cortisol in hair is a promising method to assess long-term alterations of the biological stress response system, and hair cortisol concentrations (HCC) may be altered in psychiatric disorders and in subjects suffering from chronic stress. However, the pattern of associations between HCC, chronic stress and mental health require clarification. Our exploratory study: (1) assessed the association between HCC and perceived stress, symptoms of depression and neuroticism, and the trait extraversion (as a control variable); and (2) made use of the twin design to estimate the genetic and environmental covariance between the variables of interest. Hair samples from 109 (74 female) subjects (age range 12–21 years, mean 15.1) including 8 monozygotic (MZ) and 21 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs were analyzed. Perceived stress was measured with the Perceived Stress Scale and/or the Daily Life and Stressors Scale, neuroticism, and extraversion with the NEO-Five Factor Inventory or the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, and depressive symptoms with the Somatic and Psychological Health Report. We found a modest positive association between HCC and the three risk factors — perceived stress, symptoms of depression, and neuroticism (r = 0.22–0.33) — but no correlation with extraversion (-0.06). A median split revealed that the associations between HCC and risk factors were stronger (0.47–0.60) in those subjects with HCC >11.36 pg/mg. Furthermore, our results suggest that the genetic effects underlying HCC are largely shared with those that influence perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and neuroticism. These results of our proof of principle study warrant replication in a bigger sample but raise the interesting question of the direction of causation between these variables.
Ectothermic species are fundamentally affected by environmental temperatures, which largely dictate their metabolic rate. In marine turtles, foraging behavior, migratory patterns, and ultimately breeding success may be modulated by the environment and influenced by climate change. This has the potential to have both positive and negative effects. The seven species of marine turtles broadly occupy three foraging niches (planktivory, herbivory, and omnivory) and occur in almost every non-polar ocean basin in the world, from shallow coastal seas to open ocean habitats. The effects of climate change to marine turtles likely will be wide ranging and of direct relevance to other marine animals in these varied habitats. Marine turtles are a fascinating “canary in the coal mine” with which to study the effects of climate change in marine habitats, and there has been an exponential increase in interest in the effects of climate change on them in the last decade (Poloczanska et al., 2009; Hamann et al., 2010; Hawkes et al., 2010). Marine turtles are also generally considered charismatic, making them ideal subjects with which to raise awareness of climate change effects to biodiversity and to increase support for effective management and conservation of marine environments.
A dead dolphin found on Bonaire in August 2011 is identified as adult Fraser's dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei, a new species for the Dutch Caribbean. A first closer examination showed a collapsed lung, stomach parasite infection and abundant mouth ulceration as indications of its health status. The animal was relatively fresh and did not die very long before it was found. Like more often with stranded deep diving cetacean species within the area, remnants of crustacean were found in its beak indicating recent foraging.
Since ancient times, the evergreen carob tree Ceratonia siliqua L. (Fabaceae: Caesalpinoideae) has been grown in most countries of the Mediterranean basin for its edible seed pots, which are an important crop (von Hasselberg 2000). It has been used historically as feed for domesticated animals (sometimes referred to as “locust beans”), and the current cultivars of the carob tree were probably selected by the Arabs (Ramón-Laca and Mabberley 2004). Carob seed pots were also used to supplement the human diet (e.g. known as “St. John’s bread”) and its products are used even nowadays in many ways (e.g. as thickening agents). Carob trees were traditionally interplanted with olives, grapes, almonds, and barley in low-intensity farming systems in most carob-producing countries (Battle and Tous 1997). The carob tree is a large, sclerophyllous tree of the Mediterranean evergreen maquis (von Hasselberg 2000; Zohary and Orshan 1959). The tree is usually dioecious (hermaphrodites occur rarely: Zohary 1972: 32; Tucker 1992) and produces many-flowered catkin-like inflorescences (von Hasselberg 2000; Battle and Tous 1997; Feinbrun-Dothan and Danin 1998: 294) with strongly reduced flowers. The pentamerous flowers of both sexes are 6–12 mm long, yellowish–green, apetalous and consist merely of sexual organs (von Haselberg et al. 2004). Male flowers have five stamens and an abortive pistil, whereas female flowers have abortive staminodia and a fully developed pistil formed of a single carpel (Tucker 1992). The oval, two-lobed stigma is about 2.5 × 2.3 mm in size (von Hasselberg 2000), peltate, wet, and covered by verrucate papillae (Tucker 1992). The floral nectar produced is exposed (Battle and Tous 1997) on the broad hypogynous disk (Polhill et al. 1981) and therefore easily accessible for flower-visiting insects. The strongly scented inflorescences (Custodio et al. 2004, 2006), usually bearing 20–50 single flowers, arise as short lateral racemes mainly on branches (cauliflorous flowering) and on the trunk (ramiflorous flowering) (von Haselberg et al. 2004). The prolonged flowering season is mainly from September to December, which is regarded as a harsh pollination environment due to climatic conditions, a low diversity of potential pollinators, and a low number of individuals (Dafni 1986).
We document patterns of distribution and relative abundance of marine megavertebrate fauna around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from a combination of aerial and boat-based surveying. Between January 2006 and November 2007, 20 aerial surveys were undertaken, comprising over 40 hours of on-effort flying time. In April to October of these years, 27 effort-corrected ferry surveys were also conducted from a passenger ferry travelling between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Opportunistic sightings were also logged by the crew members of the ferry and another vessel travelling regularly along the same route on 155 days. Ten megavertebrate species were sighted: basking sharks Cetorhinus maximus, sunfish Mola mola, common dolphins Delphinus delphis, harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, grey seals Halichoerus grypus, Risso's dolphins Grampus griseus, bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus, minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata, long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas and killer whale Orcinus orca. During aerial surveys, 206 sighting events of seven species were made, compared with 145 sighting events of eight species during ferry surveys and 293 sighting events of 10 species from opportunistic ship-board data collection efforts. Seasonal and spatial patterns in species occurrence were evident. Basking sharks were the most commonly-sighted species in the region and were relatively abundant throughout the estimated 5 km-wide strip of coastal waters covered by the aerial surveys, during spring and summer. Ferry surveys and opportunistic vessel-based sightings data confirmed that the distribution of surface-feeding aggregations of this species was largely around the coasts. Despite the limited scope of this study, it has provided valuable baseline data, and possible insights into the marine biodiversity of the region.
Recent genetic studies found the A allele of the variant rs1006737 in the alpha 1C subunit of the L-type voltage-gated calcium channel (CACNA1C) gene to be over-represented in patients with psychosis, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. In these disorders, attention deficits are among the main cognitive symptoms and have been related to altered neural activity in cerebral attention networks. The particular effect of CACNA1C on neural function, such as attention networks, remains to be elucidated.
The current event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated the effect of the CACNA1C gene on brain activity in 80 subjects while performing a scanner-adapted version of the Attention Network Test (ANT). Three domains of attention were probed simultaneously: alerting, orienting and executive control of attention.
Risk allele carriers showed impaired performance in alerting and orienting in addition to reduced neural activity in the right inferior parietal lobule [Brodmann area (BA) 40] during orienting and in the medial frontal gyrus (BA 8) during executive control of attention. These areas belong to networks that have been related to impaired orienting and executive control mechanisms in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Our results suggest that CACNA1C plays a role in the development of specific attention deficits in psychiatric disorders by modulation of neural attention networks.
It is unclear whether altered hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis regulation, which frequently accompanies depression and anxiety disorders, represents a trait rather than a state factor.
To examine whether HPA axis dysregulation represents a biological vulnerability for these disorders, we compared cortisol levels in unaffected people with and without a parental history of depressive or anxiety disorders. We additionally examined whether possible HPA axis dysregulations resemble those observed in participants with depression or anxiety disorders.
Data were from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. Within the participants without a lifetime diagnoses of depression or anxiety disorders, three groups were distinguished: 180 people without parental history, 114 with self-reported parental history and 74 with CIDI-diagnosed parental history. These groups were additionally compared with people with major depressive disorder or panic disorder with agoraphobia (n = 1262). Salivary cortisol samples were obtained upon awakening, and 30, 45 and 60 min later.
As compared with unaffected participants without parental history, unaffected individuals with diagnosed parental history of depression or anxiety showed a significantly higher cortisol awakening curve (effect size (d) = 0.50), which was similar to that observed in the participants with depression or anxiety disorders. Unaffected people with self-reported parental history did not differ in awakening cortisol levels from unaffected people without parental history.
Unaffected individuals with parental history of depression or anxiety showed a higher cortisol awakening curve, similar to that of the participants with depression or anxiety disorders. This suggests that a higher cortisol awakening curve reflects a trait marker, indicating an underlying biological vulnerability for the development of depressive and anxiety disorders.
Background: This study compared the 16-item Clinician and Self-Report versions of the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (QIDS-C16 and QIDS-SR16) and the 10-item Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) in adult outpatients. The comparison was based on psychometric features and their performance in identifying those in a major depressive episode as defined by the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.
Methods: Of 278 consecutive outpatients, 181 were depressed. Classical test theory, factor analysis, and item response theory were used to evaluate the psychometric features and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses.
Results: All three measures were unidimensional. All had acceptable reliability (coefficient α=.87 for MADRS10, .82 for QIDS-C16, and .80 for QIDS-SR16). Test information function was higher for the MADRS (ie, it was most sensitive to individual differences in levels of depression). The MADRS and QIDS-C16 slightly but consistently outperformed the QIDS-SR16 in differentiating between depressed versus non-depressed patients.
Conclusion: All three measures have satisfactory psychometric properties and are valid screening tools for a major depressive episode.
This study investigated the phenology, patterns of haul-out habitat use and distribution of the grey seal around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. A full census of the coast was carried out by boat over 4 days, in order to make a full count of seals hauled out and close to the coast, and to document all haul-out sites. Regular land-based surveys were made of three haul-out sites in Cornwall, to investigate the effects of spatial, temporal and environmental factors on seal haul-out behaviour. Data from 2004 to 2007 were analysed to describe long-term temporal variation in seal abundance at two haul-out sites. A total of 592 sightings were made along the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly over the four-day census period; 476 of these sightings (80.4%) were recorded at six main haul-out sites. The highest proportion of seals was observed at three haul-out areas on the Isles of Scilly. In Cornwall, seals were observed in higher numbers on the north coast, where the three largest mainland haul-out sites were documented, than on the south coast. At one key haul-out site in Cornwall, a distinct seasonal pattern was evident in data collected between 2004 and 2007, with higher numbers of seals present during the moulting and breeding seasons than over the summer months. There was considerable inter-annual variability in peak seal abundance, during the moulting season, at this site. There was no significant variation in haul-out behaviour with tidal state at this site, although haul-out counts were generally highest at mid-ebb tides. Data on seal abundance, distribution and haul-out behaviour may aid the designation of Special Areas of Conservation for the protection of grey seals in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The primary aim of the trial was to investigate the influence of menopause on the incorporation of marine n-3 PUFA into platelets and adipose tissue. A secondary aim was to evaluate whether marine n-3 PUFA may change levels of circulating oestrogens in women. Ninety-two pre- and postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to consume 2·2 g of marine n-3 PUFA or control oil daily for 12 weeks. Adipose tissue biopsies and blood samples were collected at baseline and after intervention. Eighty-nine women completed the study. Baseline contents of total marine n-3 PUFA and each of the major long-chained n-3 PUFA, EPA, docosapentaenoic acid and DHA were all significantly lower (P < 0·05) in the premenopausal group both in platelets and adipose tissue, except for EPA in platelets (P = 0·05). After supplementation with fish oil, the content of all marine n-3 PUFA increased significantly in platelets and adipose tissue in both pre- and postmenopausal women. The increase in platelets and adipose tissue was, however, the same in both groups. There was no effect of fish oil on oestrogen levels in postmenopausal women. We found a significant difference in premenopausal women, in whom oestradiol (P < 0·04) and oestrone (P < 0·02) serum concentrations increased after the fish oil supplement. This trial did not reveal any difference in the ability of pre- and postmenopausal women to incorporate marine n-3 PUFA into platelets or adipose tissue. However, supplementation with fish oil increased oestrogen levels in premenopausal women.
Meynen G, Van Stralen H, Smit JH, Kamphorst W, Swaab DF, Hoogendijk WJG. Relation between neuritic plaques and depressive state in Alzheimer's disease.
To investigate for the first time in a prospective study the relationship between depressive state and the neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, using a scale for depressive symptoms in dementia, while controlling for clinical severity of dementia.
Within the framework of a prospective longitudinal study of depression in Alzheimer's disease, patients with dementia underwent a clinical evaluation every six months during the last years of their lives, using the Cornell scale for depression in dementia to assess depressive symptoms and using the Functional Assessment Staging scale to control for clinical severity of dementia. The brains of 43 Alzheimer patients were obtained. The last clinical evaluations prior to death together with post-mortem neuropathology measures were analysed.
We found a correlation between the Cornell scores and the sum score for the density of neuritic plaques in the entire cortex (p = 0.027), and even stronger in the temporal cortex (p = 0.012). The observed correlations were independent of sex, age of death, clinical dementia severity and duration of Alzheimer's disease.
This study shows a positive relationship between depressive state at time of death and the presence of neuritic plaques in Alzheimer's disease, which is independent of the clinical severity of dementia.
Angora goats are known to be vulnerable to cold stress, especially after shearing, but their thermoregulatory responses to shearing have not been measured. We recorded activity, and abdominal and subcutaneous temperatures, for 10 days pre-shearing and post-shearing, in 10 Angora goats inhabiting the succulent thicket of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, in both March (late summer) and September (late winter). Within each season, environmental conditions were similar pre-shearing and post-shearing, but September was an average 5°C colder than March. Shearing resulted in a decreased mean (P < 0.0001), minimum (P < 0.0001) and maximum daily abdominal temperature (P < 0.0001). Paradoxically, the decrease in daily mean (P = 0.03) and maximum (P = 0.01) abdominal temperatures, from pre-shearing to post-shearing, was greater in March than in September. Daily amplitude of body temperature rhythm (P < 0.0001) and the maximum rate of abdominal temperature rise (P < 0.0001) increased from pre-shearing to post-shearing, resulting in an earlier diurnal peak in abdominal temperature (P = 0.001) post-shearing. These changes in amplitude, rate of abdominal temperature rise and time of diurnal peak in abdominal temperature suggest that the goats’ thermoregulatory system was more labile after shearing. Mean daily subcutaneous temperatures also decreased post-shearing (P < 0.0001), despite our index goat selecting more stable microclimates after shearing in March (P = 0.03). Following shearing, there was an increased difference between abdominal and subcutaneous temperatures (P < 0.0001) at night, suggesting that the goats used peripheral vasoconstriction to limit heat loss. In addition to these temperature changes, mean daily activity increased nearly two-fold after March shearing, but not September shearing. This increased activity after March shearing was likely the result of an increased foraging time, food intake and metabolic rate, as suggested by the increased water influx (P = 0.0008). Thus, Angora goats entered a heat conservation mode after shearing in both March and September. That the transition from the fleeced to the shorn state had greater thermoregulatory consequences in March than in September may provide a mechanistic explanation for Angora goats’ vulnerability to cold in summer.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates from an outbreak of 17 cases of wound infection in a municipal hospital were typed by conventional methods, phage typing by three sets of phages, reverse phage typing and plasmid profiles, as well as by genomic DNA fragment patterns obtained after Sma-I digestion and pulsed-field electrophoresis. These isolates were non-typable by phages, only some were typable by reverse phage typing and were not uniform in plasmid profile. Only the genomic DNA fragment patterns resulted in a clear discrimination of 2 strains (12 isolates for the first and 7 isolates for the second). Both strains were disseminated in different wards of the same hospital and one strain had obviously spread to another clinic in the same city.
Among 63 Staphylococcus aureus isolates (one isolate per one patient) counted from infections (from August to November 1991) in hospital T., eight exhibited resistance to fluoroquinolones. Seven of these quinolone-resistant isolates were multiply- and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (QR-MRSA). The results of phage-, plasmid- and genotyping (pulsed field electrophoresis) revealed that six different strain-clones of these MRSA were spread in the hospital. In vitro spontaneous mutants resistant to fluoroquinolones are 1–-100-fold more frequent in MRSA than in other S. aureus when selected on isosensitest-agar containing 1 μg/ml of ciprofloxacin. However, the same mutant frequencies were found in strain 8325–4 with and without the mecA-determinant. The resistance phenotype was stable over 30 generations of subculture in nutrient broth as well in natural quinolone resistant MRSA as in mutants of other types of S.aureus selected in vitro. The phenotypic association of quinolone resistance and MRSA is rather likely due to a higher frequency of spontaneous resistant mutants which are present in natural populations of MRSA. Data of chemotherapy prior to the isolation of 8. aureus show that three of seven patients from whom QR-MRSA were isolated were treated with a quinolone. In eight cases of infections with non-MRSA and quinolone treatment the isolated S. aureus strains were in vitro sensitive to quinolones.
Laser-fabricated joints of sub-millimeter widths between biocompatible, dissimilar materials have the potential for applications as encapsulation of miniature implant biomedical devices. In this work, we briefly describe the laser joining method of a very promising system, polyimide/titanium-coated borosilicate glass, and present and discuss results from characterization of such laser joints by means of mechanical failure (tensile) tests, optical microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Raman spectroscopy. Our results suggest the formation of strong chemical bonds between Ti-containing species and certain polymeric functional groups. Mechanical tensile strength failure test showed that such joint experience only limited, disappearing with time degradation as a result of soaking in physiological solutions.