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The aim of the Avera Twin Register (ATR) is to establish a prospective longitudinal repository of twins, multiples, siblings and family members’ biological samples to study environmental and genetic influences on health and disease. Also, it is our intention to contribute to international genome-wide association study (GWAS) twin consortia when appropriate sample size is achieved within the ATR. The ATR is young compared with existing registers and continues to collect a longitudinal repository of biological specimens, survey data and health information. Data and biological specimens were originally collected via face-to-face appointments or the postal department and consisted of paper-informed consents and questionnaires. Enrollment of the ATR began on May 18, 2016 and is located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a rural and frontier area in the Central United States with a regional population of approximately 880,000. The original target area for the ATR was South Dakota and the four surrounding states: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska. The ATR has found a need to expand that area based on twin and multiple siblings who live in various areas surrounding these states. A description of the state of the ATR today and its transition to online data collection and informed consent will be presented. The ATR collects longitudinal data on lifestyle, including diet and activity levels, aging, plus complex traits and diseases. All twins and multiples participating in the ATR are genotyped on the Illumina Global Screening Array and receive zygosity results.
Objective: The human gut microbiota has been demonstrated to be associated with a number of host phenotypes, including obesity and a number of obesity-associated phenotypes. This study is aimed at further understanding and describing the relationship between the gut microbiota and obesity-associated measurements obtained from human participants. Subjects/Methods: Here, we utilize genetically informative study designs, including a four-corners design (extremes of genetic risk for BMI and of observed BMI; N = 50) and the BMI monozygotic (MZ) discordant twin pair design (N = 30), in order to help delineate the role of host genetics and the gut microbiota in the development of obesity. Results: Our results highlight a negative association between BMI and alpha diversity of the gut microbiota. The low genetic risk/high BMI group of individuals had a lower gut microbiota alpha diversity when compared to the other three groups. Although the difference in alpha diversity between the lean and heavy groups of the BMI-discordant MZ twin design did not achieve significance, this difference was observed to be in the expected direction, with the heavier participants having a lower average alpha diversity. We have also identified nine OTUs observed to be associated with either a leaner or heavier phenotype, with enrichment for OTUs classified to the Ruminococcaceae and Oxalobacteraceae taxonomic families. Conclusion: Our study presents evidence of a relationship between BMI and alpha diversity of the gut microbiota. In addition to these findings, a number of OTUs were found to be significantly associated with host BMI. These findings may highlight separate subtypes of obesity, one driven by genetic factors, the other more heavily influenced by environmental factors.
Two broad aims drive weed science research: improved management and improved
understanding of weed biology and ecology. In recent years, agricultural
weed research addressing these two aims has effectively split into separate
subdisciplines despite repeated calls for greater integration. Although some
excellent work is being done, agricultural weed research has developed a
very high level of repetitiveness, a preponderance of purely descriptive
studies, and has failed to clearly articulate novel hypotheses linked to
established bodies of ecological and evolutionary theory. In contrast,
invasive plant research attracts a diverse cadre of nonweed scientists using
invasions to explore broader and more integrated biological questions
grounded in theory. We propose that although studies focused on weed
management remain vitally important, agricultural weed research would
benefit from deeper theoretical justification, a broader vision, and
increased collaboration across diverse disciplines. To initiate change in
this direction, we call for more emphasis on interdisciplinary training for
weed scientists, and for focused workshops and working groups to develop
specific areas of research and promote interactions among weed scientists
and with the wider scientific community.