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Long-term forest dynamics plots in the tropics tend to be situated on stable terrain. This study investigated forest dynamics on the north coast of New Guinea where active subduction zones are uplifting lowland basins and exposing relatively young sediments to rapid weathering. We examined forest dynamics in relation to disturbance history, topography and soil nutrients based on partial re-census of the 50-ha Wanang Forest Dynamics Plot in Papua New Guinea. The plot is relatively high in cations and phosphorus but low in nitrogen. Soil nutrients and topography accounted for 29% of variation in species composition but only 4% of variation in basal area. There were few areas of high biomass and most of the forest was comprised of small-diameter stems. Approximately 18% of the forest was less than 30 y old and the annual tree mortality rate of nearly 4% was higher than in other tropical forests in South-East Asia and the neotropics. These results support the reputation of New Guinea's forests as highly dynamic, with frequent natural disturbance. Empirical documentation of this hypothesis expands our understanding of tropical forest dynamics and suggests that geomorphology might be incorporated in models of global carbon storage especially in regions of unstable terrain.
An estimated 293,300 healthcare-associated cases of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) occur annually in the United States. To date, research has focused on developing risk prediction models for CDI that work well across institutions. However, this one-size-fits-all approach ignores important hospital-specific factors. We focus on a generalizable method for building facility-specific models. We demonstrate the applicability of the approach using electronic health records (EHR) from the University of Michigan Hospitals (UM) and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
We utilized EHR data from 191,014 adult admissions to UM and 65,718 adult admissions to MGH. We extracted patient demographics, admission details, patient history, and daily hospitalization details, resulting in 4,836 features from patients at UM and 1,837 from patients at MGH. We used L2 regularized logistic regression to learn the models, and we measured the discriminative performance of the models on held-out data from each hospital.
Using the UM and MGH test data, the models achieved area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) values of 0.82 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80–0.84) and 0.75 ( 95% CI, 0.73–0.78), respectively. Some predictive factors were shared between the 2 models, but many of the top predictive factors differed between facilities.
A data-driven approach to building models for estimating daily patient risk for CDI was used to build institution-specific models at 2 large hospitals with different patient populations and EHR systems. In contrast to traditional approaches that focus on developing models that apply across hospitals, our generalizable approach yields risk-stratification models tailored to an institution. These hospital-specific models allow for earlier and more accurate identification of high-risk patients and better targeting of infection prevention strategies.
Predicting recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (rCDI) remains difficult. METHODS. We employed a retrospective cohort design. Granular electronic medical record (EMR) data had been collected from patients hospitalized at 21 Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals. The derivation dataset (2007–2013) included data from 9,386 patients who experienced incident CDI (iCDI) and 1,311 who experienced their first CDI recurrences (rCDI). The validation dataset (2014) included data from 1,865 patients who experienced incident CDI and 144 who experienced rCDI. Using multiple techniques, including machine learning, we evaluated more than 150 potential predictors. Our final analyses evaluated 3 models with varying degrees of complexity and 1 previously published model.
Despite having a large multicenter cohort and access to granular EMR data (eg, vital signs, and laboratory test results), none of the models discriminated well (c statistics, 0.591–0.605), had good calibration, or had good explanatory power.
Our ability to predict rCDI remains limited. Given currently available EMR technology, improvements in prediction will require incorporating new variables because currently available data elements lack adequate explanatory power.
Autosomal recessive intellectual disability (ID) is genetically heterogeneous and most of the genes causing it remain undiscovered.
We have ascertained 11 consanguineous families multiplex for IDs in order to identify new loci for autosomal recessive genes for non-syndromic ID, or to aid pinpointing mutations in known causative gene/loci.
Microarray genotyping (Affymatrix 250K) was performed to identify homozygosity-by-descent (HBD) in all affected families.
Analysis of genotypes revealed 45 potential HBD regions across the families, although these may be rationalised down to 39. Two families share an overlapping HBD region on 7q11.21. In one family, X-linkage also looks plausible, and a new ID gene near the centromere may be a likely cause. In one family, no HBD region was found, and thus we exclude autosomal recessive mutation as the likely cause in this family. Copy-number variation (CNV) was also performed and revealed no CNVs, homozygous or heterozygous, segregating with the phenotype.
The homozygous loci identified in this study might harbour candidate genes for ID in these studied families. Therefore, we are proceeding with next-generation sequencing analysis of the families, using whole-exome approaches, and anticipate that this will identify the causative gene/mutation within the identified HBD regions for many of the families studied here.
Epidemiological studies report a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the island nation of Mauritius. The Mauritius Family Study was initiated to examine heritable factors that contribute to these high rates of prevalence and consists of 400 individuals in 24 large extended multigenerational pedigrees. Anthropometric and biochemical measurements relating to the metabolic syndrome were undertaken in addition to family and lifestyle based information for each individual. Variance components methods were used to determine the heritability of the type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome related quantitative traits. The cohort was made up of 218 females (55%) and 182 males with 22% diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and a further 30% having impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. Notably BMI was not significantly increased in those with type 2 diabetes (P = .12), however a significant increase in waist circumference was observed in these groups (P = .02). The heritable proportion of trait variance was substantial and greater than values previously published for hip circumference, LDL and total cholesterol, diastolic and systolic blood pressure and serum creatinine. Height, weight and BMI heritabilities were all in the upper range of those previously reported. The phenotypic characteristics of the Mauritius family cohort are similar to those previously reported in the Mauritian population with a high observed prevalence rate of type 2 diabetes. A high heritability for key type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome related phenotypes (range 0.23 to 0.68), suggest the cohort will have utility in identifying genes that influence these quantitative traits.
Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder of girls, caused by mutations in the X-linked MECP2 gene. Worldwide recognition of the RTT clinical phenotype in the early 1980's allowed many cases to be diagnosed, and established RTT as one of the most common mental retardation syndromes in females. The years since then led to a refinement of the phenotype and the recent elaboration of Revised Diagnostic Criteria (RDC). Here, we study the impact of the presence versus the absence of the use of diagnostic criteria from the RDC to make a diagnosis of RTT on MECP2 mutation detection in Canadian patients diagnosed and suspected of having RTT.
Using dHPLC followed by sequencing in all exons of the MECP2 gene, we compared mutation detection in a historic cohort of 35 patients diagnosed with RTT without the use of specific diagnostic criteria to a separate more recent group of 101 patients included on the basis of strict fulfillment of the RDC.
The MECP2 mutation detection rate was much higher in subjects diagnosed using a strict adherence to the RDC (20% vs. 72%).
These results suggest that clinical diagnostic procedures significantly influence the rate of mutation detection in RTT, and more generally emphasize the importance of diagnostic tools in the assessment of neurobehavioral syndromes.
The nutritional biochemistry of trivalent Cr has been a poorly understood field of study; investigations of the biochemistry of the other essential transition metals have not proven as problematic. Despite over four decades of endeavour, only recently has a picture of the role of Cr potentially started to be defined. The biologically-relevant form is the trivalent ion. Cr3+ appears to be required for proper carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in mammals, although fortunately Cr deficiency is difficult to achieve. Conditions that increase circulating glucose and insulin concentrations increase urinary Cr output. Cr is probably excreted in the form of the oligopeptide chromodulin. Chromodulin may be the key to understanding the role of Cr at a molecular level, as the molecule has been found to bind to activated insulin receptor, stimulating its kinase activity. A mechanism for the action of chromodulin has recently been proposed; this mechanism can serve as a potential framework for further studies to test the role of Cr in metabolism. An examination of the nutritional supplement chromium picolinate illustrates some of the difficulties associated with these biochemical studies.
We report here on the catalyst features found critical in order to induce the growth of matchstick nanotubes by a sequential catalytic growth mechanism. The presence of phosphorus is required to form metal phosphide particles active for the formation of carbon nanotubes with a matchstick morphology. The metal composition does not influence the nanofilament type but strongly affect the nanotube yield. Original properties of these new periodic nanostructures are also highlighted, such as the preferential breaking at the thin nanomatch interjunctions, giving rise to individual nanomatches in suspension after ultrasonic treatment. The possibility to use this mechanism to insert carbon nanotubes with ferromagnetic nanoparticles is also reported.
Structural, electrical and thermal methods are applied to characterize single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) fibers with post-extrusion stretching as the independent variable. HiPco SWNTs are dispersed in water using sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and then co-extruded with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)/water through a long syringe into a rotating water/PVA coagulation bath. Partial axial alignment is thereby achieved, and further enhanced by applying tension to the flexible green fibers in the coagulation bath. Our findings include: (1) X-ray diffraction shows that the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the Bragg peaks decreases from 55 (as-extruded) to less than 30 degrees by 80% elongation. That is, SWNT alignment increases linearly with stretch (up to 80%). (2) In resistivity at room temperature vs. stretch ratio, result shows an initial rapid decrease followed by saturation; essentially all the improvement in electronic transport is obtained once alignment reached 40° FWHM. (3) Annealing in hydrogen at 1000°C is performed to drive out PVA, to improve inter-tube and inter-bundle contacts, and to heal damage on the tube walls. Such annealing is found to increase conductivity by at least 4 orders of magnitude. (4) Below 25 K, resistivity vs. temperature of the annealed fiber is well-represented by Coulomb gap variable range hopping (CG-VRH). It is rationalized that the Coulomb interactions in disordered systems open a gap at the Fermi energy. Above 25 K, the thermal energy is greater than the Coulomb gap, so thermal activation is more probable than correlated electron hops. (5) Finally, a measurable thermal conductivity is observed as stretch alignment increases.
Until 1972, Uganda's national parks boasted of large numbers of large mammal species. Following the breakdown of law and order between 1972 and 1985, large-scale poaching led to an unprecedented decline in numbers of most large mammals in Uganda's national parks. However, the extent of decline varied in the different parks across different animal species. We have investigated the genetic effects of these reductions in four mammalian species (the common warthog, African savannah elephant, savannah buffalo and common river hippopotamus) from the three major parks of Uganda using both microsatellite loci (for elephant and warthog populations) and mitochondrial control sequence variation in the warthogs, elephants, buffaloes and hippopotamuses. Queen Elizabeth National Park showed extreme reduction in nucleotide diversity for two species, the common warthog (π = 0.0%) and African elephant (π = 0.4%); no such decrease was found for the two other species, the buffalo (π = 3.7-5.4%) and hippopotamus (π = 1.7-1.9%), in the three parks. Nuclear microsatellite markers on the other hand showed high gene diversity in all populations in the common warthog (mean He 0.66-0.78) and the African savannah elephant (mean He 0.68-0.72). We interpret these results in terms of varying poaching pressure in the different parks, susceptibility of different species to poaching and differences in effective population sizes at the mitochondrial and nuclear loci.
Obstruction of the reconstructed aortic arch, or the neoaortic arch, is now known to be an important factor increasing mortality after the Norwood operation for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Transcatheter balloon angioplasty has been shown to provide effective relief of both native aortic coarctation and obstructions of the aortic arch occurring subsequent to therapeutic intervention. We sought to determine the outcomes of balloon angioplasty used as an initial treatment for obstruction of the neoaortic arch occurring after the Norwood operation. We gathered the characteristics of 58 patients with such obstruction from 8 institutions, noting procedural factors and outcomes of initial balloon dilation. Obstruction occurred at a median interval of 4 months, with a range from 1.5 months to 6.3 years, after a Norwood operation. Ventricular dysfunction was present before dilation in 13 patients. Mean peak to peak systolic pressure gradients were acutely reduced from 31±20 mm Hg to 6±9 mmHg (p<0.001), with outcome subjectively judged to be successful in 89%- Three patients with pre-existing ventricular dysfunction died within 48 hours of dilation. There were 10 additional deaths during the period of followup, with Kaplan Meier estimates of survival after intervention of 87% at 1 month, 77% at 12 months, and 72% after 15 months. In addition, 9 patients required re-intervention during the period of follow-up, with Kaplan Meier estimates of freedom from re-intervention after dilation of 87% at 6 months, 78% at 12 months and 74% after 18 months. Although transcatheter dilation of neoaortic arch obstructions after Norwood operation is successful, there is a high risk of re-intervention and ongoing mortality in this subgroup of patients. Close follow-up is recommended.
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