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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.
We determined the molecular epidemiology of Bordetella pertussis isolates to evaluate its potential impact on pertussis reemergence in a population of Mexico. Symptomatic and asymptomatic cases were included. Pertussis infection was confirmed by culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Selected B. pertussis isolates were further analysed; i.e. clonality was analysed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and ptxP-ptxA, prn, fim2 and fim3 typing was performed by PCR and sequencing. Out of 11 864 analysed samples, 687 (5.8%) were positive for pertussis, with 244 (36%) confirmed by both culture and PCR whereas 115 (17%) were positive only by culture and 328 (48%) were positive only by PCR. One predominant clone (clone A, n = 62/113; 55%) and three major subtypes (A1, A2 and A3) were identified by PFGE. All 113 selected isolates had the allelic combination ptxP3-ptxA1. The predominant clone A and the three major subtypes (A1, A2 and A3) corresponded to the emerging genotypes ptxP3-ptxA1-prn2-fim2-1-fim3-2 and ptxP3-ptxA1-prn2-fim2-1-fim3-1. In conclusion, the presence of an endemic clone and three predominant subtypes belonging to the genotypes ptxP3-ptxA1-prn2-fim2-1-fim3-2 and ptxP3-ptxA1-prn2-fim2-1-fim3-1 were detected. This finding supports the global spread/expansion reported for these outbreaks associated genotypes.
We aimed to quantify the proportion of people receiving care for HIV-infection that are 50 years or older (older HIV patients) in Latin America and the Caribbean between 2000 and 2015 and to estimate the contribution to the growth of this population of people enrolled before (<50yo) and after 50 years old (yo) (⩾50yo). We used a series of repeated, cross-sectional measurements over time in the Caribbean, Central and South American network (CCASAnet) cohort. We estimated the percentage of patients retained in care each year that were older HIV patients. For every calendar year, we divided patients into two groups: those who enrolled before age 50 and after age 50. We used logistic regression models to estimate the change in the proportion of older HIV patients between 2000 and 2015. The percentage of CCASAnet HIV patients over 50 years had a threefold increase (8% to 24%) between 2000 and 2015. Most of the growth of this population can be explained by the increasing proportion of people that enrolled before 50 years and aged in care. These changes will impact needs of care for people living with HIV, due to multiple comorbidities and high risk of disability associated with aging.
Composites from carbon nanotubes and polymers have been synthesized and studied. The composites were obtained joining carbon nanotubes with polymethyl methacrylate, nylon-6 and polystyrene. The materials were observed through scanning electron microscopy to evaluate the carbon nanotubes dispersion in the polymeric matrices. FTIR and Raman spectroscopies were used to analyze the interactions among functionalized and non-functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes and polymers, demonstrating affinity and peculiar spectra behaviors for each composite with different carbon nanotubes loads.
PA6 and PMMA polymers with different MWCNTs addition (5, 7 and 9 wt %) were synthetized through casting solution, resulting in improvement properties in contrast to pristine polymers. SEM images showed the MWCNTs embedded into polymeric matrices. D, G and G´ bands of MWCNTs were confirmed by Raman spectroscopy and functional groups observed in both nanocomposites by FTIR demonstrated a strong interaction. A significant increasing in electrical conductivity and microhardness was observed in all the nanocomposites. Major microhardness values were obtained in MWCNTs/PA6 (50 HV) however the MWCNTs/PMMA nanocomposites showed the highest electrical conductivity value (6.4×10-4 S/cm).
This work presents the synthesis and characterization of TiO2 nanotubes (NTT) with chitosan (CS). In a first stage, electrochemical anodization of titanium foils was used to generate NTT in a membrane-type arrangement. From these experiments, suitable experimental conditions were selected. In a second stage, the synthesized NTT were detached from the titanium foils by sonication. In the third stage, the detached NTT were dispersed in an acid solution containing CS in various concentrations. Finally, the nanotubes-chitosan (NTT/CS) samples were characterized by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry (FTIR). Our results showed that the NTT presented very regular tube morphology with -OH and Ti-O- functional groups on the surface. The interaction of NTT and chitosan was enhanced by increasing the time of contact during the synthesis of the titanium composites.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus) are reservoir hosts for zoonotic pathogens, several of which cause neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Studies of the prevalence of these NTD-causing zoonotic pathogens, in house mice and black rats from tropical residential areas are scarce. Three hundred and two house mice and 161 black rats were trapped in 2013 from two urban neighbourhoods and a rural village in Yucatan, Mexico, and subsequently tested for Trypanosoma cruzi, Hymenolepis diminuta and Leptospira interrogans. Using the polymerase chain reaction we detected T. cruzi DNA in the hearts of 4·9% (8/165) and 6·2% (7/113) of house mice and black rats, respectively. We applied the sedimentation technique to detect eggs of H. diminuta in 0·5% (1/182) and 14·2% (15/106) of house mice and black rats, respectively. Through the immunofluorescent imprint method, L. interrogans was identified in 0·9% (1/106) of rat kidney impressions. Our results suggest that the black rat could be an important reservoir for T. cruzi and H. diminuta in the studied sites. Further studies examining seasonal and geographical patterns could increase our knowledge on the epidemiology of these pathogens in Mexico and the risk to public health posed by rodents.
A latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) prevalence survey was conducted using tuberculin skin test (TST) and Quantiferon test (QFT) in 1218 healthcare workers (HCWs) in Medellín, Colombia. In order to improve the prevalence estimates, a latent class model was built using a Bayesian approach with informative priors on the sensitivity and specificity of the TST. The proportion of concordant results (TST+,QFT+) was 41% and the discordant results contributed 27%. The marginal estimate of the prevalence P(LTBI+) was 62·1% [95% credible interval (CrI) 53·0–68·2]. The probability of LTBI+ given positive results for both tests was 99·6% (95% CrI 98·1–99·9). Sensitivity was 88·5 for TST and 74·3 for QFT, and specificity was 87·8 for TST and 97·6 for QFT. A high LTBI prevalence was found in HCWs with time-accumulated exposure in hospitals that lack control plans. In a context of intermediate tuberculosis (TB) incidence it is recommended to use only one test (either QFT or TST) in prevalence surveys or as pre-employment tests. Results will be useful to help implement TB infection control plans in hospitals where HCWs may be repeatedly exposed to unnoticed TB patients, and to inform the design of TB control policies.
In the present investigation, nanostructured ceramic HfN coatings were deposited onto silicon (100) wafer by magnetron sputtering DC method, from a metallic Hf target. The deposition process followed by a similar pattern as the multilayer film deposition, using cycles with the nitrogen gas turned on for 90 s and turned off for 15 s; four sets of samples were obtained using 5, 10, 15 and 20 cycles. The X ray diffraction (XRD) identified the presence of two different cubic crystalline phases of HfN, corroborated by Rietveld analysis. The Vickers hardness test showed that the hardness values increases with more cycles, due to a higher compressive stress evaluated by Stoney formula. All samples were investigated with no visible fracture until 10 grf for the 5 cycles sample; however, no fractures were visible at all for the 15 and 20 cycle samples for that given load, instead fractures started to appear at 25grf for the 10 and 15 cycles coating. Eventually it is distinguished that, the thickness and morphology of the coatings were measured by field emission scanning electron microscopy FE-SEM. As well as, the thickness increased from 0.4 µm to almost 1.33 µm as the number of cycles also increased, where we can observe the formation of columnar growth, moreover it is possible to distinguish the formation of two different clusters which might be related to different phases.
Historically, women have been less likely to be supported through higher degree training programmes, and they continue to hold more junior positions in science. This paper reviews the current gender research and gender capacity-building efforts led by the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). Created more than 40 years ago as the only United Nations-based Special Programme dedicated to research and research capacity building on infectious diseases, TDR has a longstanding track record both in supporting research into gender-specific questions and in research capacity strengthening among women scientists. We provide an overview of these approaches, then describe a recent pilot programme on Women in Science, designed to understand and remedy the gender gaps in health research. The programme focused on Africa, but it is hoped that the replication of such schemes in TDR and other international funding agencies will lead to more attention being given to women in infectious diseases research in other continents.
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The aim of this research is to ameliorate the dispersion of pristine and functionalized Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) into polystyrene with hydroxyl end groups (PSOH) matrices using low magnetic fields. The Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNTs) were synthesized by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) using benzene as carbon source; to produce CNTs with and without functional groups two catalysts were used (stainless steel and ferrocene). The obtained nanotubes contained iron nanoparticles inside. PSOH were synthesized using styrene as monomer, azobisisobutyronitrile as initiator and 2-MeOH as chain transfer agent. The MWCNTs-PSOH matrices were formed using 1.6 wt % of carbon nanotubes into PSOH and ultrasonic mixing for 30 min. The mixing materials were poured into containers and dry at room temperature. While the material was drying, constant magnetic fields of 0.24 T were being applied for 50 min. The MWCNTs-PSOH composites were analysed by SEM, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy. SEM micrographs showed that MWCNTs without functional groups were incorporated in the middle of PSOH. The MWCNTs functionalized perform differently; a better dispersion through the entire polymer matrix was achieved, because the polymer embedded the CNTs. FTIR and Raman spectroscopy showed chemical interaction between PSOH and MWCNTs functionalized. The CNTs dispersion into PSOH was ameliorated through the use of low magnetic fields and functionalization.
The main goal of this work consisted in cloning, purifying and characterizing a protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C) from promastigotes of Leishmania major. The gene was cloned and amplified by PCR using specific oligonucleotides and the recombinant protein was purified by affinity chromatography. The peak with maximal protein concentration was analysed by sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and revealed a protein of 44·9 kDa with PP2C activity. This activity was dependent on divalent cations (Mg+2 and Mn+2) and was optimal at pH of 8·5, using phosphothreonine as the substrate. Sanguinarine inhibited the activity of the recombinant LmPP2C, while protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitors had no effect. The recombinant LmPP2C was used to generate polyclonal antibodies. These antibodies recognized a protein of 44·9 kDa in different Leishmania species; the LmPP2C was localized in the flagellar pocket and the flagellum of promastigotes.
We present a number of notable results from the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS), an ESO Large Program during which we obtained multi-epoch medium-resolution optical spectroscopy of a very large sample of over 800 massive stars in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This unprecedented data-set has enabled us to address some key questions regarding atmospheres and winds, as well as the evolution of (very) massive stars. Here we focus on O-type runaways, the width of the main sequence, and the mass-loss rates for (very) massive stars. We also provide indications for the presence of a top-heavy initial mass function (IMF) in 30 Dor.
The role of massive stars in the Galactic evolution is crucial. During their lifetime these stars change the kinematics around them through stellar winds, affect the formation of new stars, ionise and chemically enrich the media with the final supernova explosion. But the census of both massive stars and their host clusters is still poor. We expect that still ~100 of galactic massive stellar clusters remains unknown (Hanson & Popescu, 2008).
The AMIGA project carries out a multiwavelength study of the largest catalogue of isolated galaxies from the Local Universe (CIG, Karachentseva 1973). Compared to any other sample —field galaxies included— and using highly strict isolation criteria (unperturbed for at least ~3 Gyr, Verdes-Montenegro et al. 2005), all the results show that these galaxies have the lowest values of the physical magnitudes expected to be enhanced by interactions. This strongly supports isolated galaxies as ideal laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. Despite CIG galaxies show the lowest HI integrated profile asymmetry level when compared to any other sample, some cases present up to 50% HI asymmetry (Espada et al. 2011b). We aim to shed light over the causes and sources of such asymmetries with our deep radiointerferometric and optical observations of CIG targets. Since major mergers are ruled out by the isolation criteria, in this work we are addressing whether minor mergers, internal processes or primordial gas accretion are responsible for such asymmetries.
Aluminum titanium oxynitride (TiAlNO) coatings were deposited on 316 steel substrates by the sputtering technique, varying the nitrogen flow from 2.5, 5, 7.5 to 10 sccm, and maintaining constant at 12 sccm the flow argon gas. We used targets of titanium and alumina with 99.995% purity. The hardness and tribological analyses were determined by Vickers microhardness and tribology (tribometer pin-disc), respectively. The results show that the coating with a nitrogen flow of 10 sccm had the lowest volumetric wear (2.047738693 mm3) and the maximum value of hardness (11.2 GPa). Analysis of X-ray diffraction evidenced the presence of three crystalline phases: Ti2N, Al2O3 and TiO2. It can be observed that by increasing the nitrogen flow, the portion of semi-Ti2N phase increases, Al2O3 decreases and TiO2 remains almost constant, and also producing a change in crystallographic orientation with reference to the Ti2N phase. Crystal grain sizes were estimated by X-ray diffraction Fourier line profile analysis using Warren–Averbach method. This analysis showed a grain size between 5 and 15 nm. Raman spectroscopy results show the presence of the TiO2 phase which corroborated the X-ray diffraction results.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were synthesized by Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) from diethyl ether, butanol, hexane and ethyl acetate. A quartz tube with a stainless steel tube catalyst core with 0.019 m diameter and 0.6 m large formed the reactor. To avoid combustion, argon was used as the carrier gas. Time process ranged 30 to 60 min. The range of CNTs synthesis temperature was 680-850 °C for different precursors. Scanning Electron Microscopy micrographs have demonstrated tangled CNTs growth in all samples, thus presenting difficult length measurement. The CNTs diameters from diethyl ether are 45-200 nm, butanol diameter range from 55-230 nm, hexane diameter range is 50-130 nm and ethyl acetate range from 100 to 300 nm. Carbon content for all samples was higher than 93 %, CNTs from butanol showed carbon concentration up to 99%. FTIR, Raman and X-Ray Spectroscopies spectra for all samples demonstrated the characteristics signals present in carbon nanotubes. This research proposes a simple, effective and innovative method to synthesize CNTs by CVD on iron stainless steel catalyst in combination with diethyl ether, ethyl acetate, butanol and hexane as precursors by applying the principles of green chemistry, sustainability and its ease to be scaled.