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The University of São Paulo Twin Panel (Painel USP de Gêmeos), based at the Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo, started formally in 2017. Our registry is new, but in only two years of formal existence, it comprises a volunteer sample of 4826 registered individuals (98% twins and 2% higher-order multiples), recruited at the University of São Paulo and by social media campaigns. Our main aim is to conduct and promote research with twins on psychological processes and behavior. The University of São Paulo is the largest higher education and research institution in South America, and the Painel USP de Gêmeos has great potential for fostering research on twin-related issues from a psychological perspective in Brazil and South America.
Studies have shown that daily exposure to different products, whether chemical or natural, can cause irreversible damage to women’s reproductive health. Therefore it is necessary to use tests that evaluate the safety and efficacy of these products. Most reproductive toxicology tests are performed in vivo. However, in recent years, various cell culture methods, including embryonic stem cells and tissues have been developed with the aim of reducing the use of animals in toxicological tests. This is a major advance in the area of toxicology, as these systems have the potential to become a widely used tool compared with in vivo tests routinely used in reproductive biology and toxicology. The present review describes and highlights data on in vitro culture processes used to evaluate reproductive toxicity as an alternative to traditional methods using in vivo tests.
The objectives were to develop an effective protocol for transfection of ovine secondary follicles and to assess the effect of attenuating aquaporin 3 (AQP3) using a small interfering RNA (siRNA-AQP3) on antrum formation and follicular growth in vitro. Various combinations of Lipofectamine® volumes (0.5, 0.75 or 1.0 µl), fluorescent oligonucleotide (BLOCK-iT ™) concentrations (3.18, 27.12 or 36.16 nM) and exposure times (12, 14, 16, 18 or 20 h) were tested. The BLOCK-iT™ was replaced by siRNA-AQP3 in the transfection complex. Ovine secondary follicles were isolated and cultured in vitro for 6 days using standard protocols. Follicles were transfected on day 0 or 3 or on both days (0 and 3) and then cultured for an additional 3 or 6 days. As revealed by the fluorescence signal, the Lipofectamine®/BLOCK-iT™ complex (0.75 µl + 27.12 nM by 12 h of incubation) crossed the basement membrane and granulosa cell and reached the oocytes. In general, the rate of intact follicles was higher and the rate of antrum formation was lower in transfected follicles compared with control follicles. In conclusion, ovine secondary follicles can be successfully transfected during in vitro culture, and siRNA-mediated attenuation of AQP3 gene reduced antrum formation of secondary follicles.
Phenological models for predicting the grapevine flowering were tested using phenological data of 15 grape varieties collected between 1990 and 2014 in Vinhos Verdes and Lisbon Portuguese wine regions. Three models were tested: Spring Warming (Growing Degree Days – GDD model), Spring Warming modified using a triangular function – GDD triangular and UniFORC model, which considers an exponential response curve to temperature. Model estimation was performed using data on two grape varieties (Loureiro and Fernão Pires), present in both regions. Three dates were tested for the beginning of heat unit accumulation (t0 date): budburst, 1 January and 1 September. The best overall date was budburst. Furthermore, for each model parameter, an intermediate range of values common for the studied regions was estimated and further optimized to obtain one model that could be used for a diverse range of grape varieties in both wine regions. External validation was performed using an independent data set from 13 grape varieties (seven red and six white), different from the two used in the estimation step. The results showed a high coefficient of determination (R2: 0.59–0.89), low Root Mean Square Error (RMSE: 3–7 days) and Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD: 2–6 days) between predicted and observed values. The UniFORC model overall performed slightly better than the two GDD models, presenting higher R2 (0.75) and lower RMSE (4.55) and MAD (3.60). The developed phenological models presented good accuracy when applied to several varieties in different regions and can be used as a predictor tool of flowering date in Portugal.
Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient for humans, yet its dietary intake is low, mostly due to the low bioavailability in soils and therefore in edible plant tissues. To overcome Se deficiency, the breeding approach (i.e., genetic biofortification), namely in rice, is largely dependent on available Se pools. To ensure the success of genetic biofortification with Se, agronomic biofortification can be accomplished through foliar Se application. Considering this background, the main hypothesis of this work was centered in the foliar application of Se to attain agronomic biofortification of rice crops. This study also aimed to assess the full potential for increasing grain Se concentrations during rice filling, as well as the types of nutrients deposition. An experimental design applying two foliar fertilizers (sodium selenite and sodium selenate) was developed. As test systems, four rice genotypes (Ariete, Albatros, OP1105 and OP1109) were used and the kinetics of micro- and macro-nutrients accumulation and deposition were assessed. Biofortification was performed in field trials for two years with foliar fertilization ranging between 0 and 300 g Se ha−1. At the end of the plant cycle, selenite applications triggered 427- to 884-fold increases in grain Se concentrations among rice genotypes (Albatros > OP1105 > OP1109 > Ariete). The application of selenate also prompted 128- to 347-fold increases in grain Se concentrations in rice crops (Albatros > OP1105 > Ariete > OP1109). Regardless of the foliar fertilizer applied, Se deposition among genotypes occurred throughout the grain without relevant inhibitory effects on yields. In each genotype, micro and macronutrients varied among crop tissues.
The aim of this study was to describe the effect of temperature on the fertilization, early developmental stages, and survival rate of two Neotropical catfishes Pimelodus maculatus and Pseudopimelodus mangurus. After fertilization, the eggs were incubated at 22°C, 26°C, and 30°C, which resulted in fertilization rates of 96.95 ± 1.79%, 98.74 ± 0.76%, and 98.44 ± 0.19% for P. maculatus and 96.10 ± 1.58%, 98.00 ± 0.63%, and 94.60 ± 2.09% for P. mangurus, respectively. For P. maculatus, hatching occurred after 22 h 30 min post-fertilization at 22°C, 16 h 30 min at 26°C, and 11 h 20 min at 30°C, and the hatching rates were 43.87 ± 7,46%, 57.57 ± 17.49%, and 53.63 ± 16.27%, respectively. For P. mangurus, hatching occurred after 28 h 30 min post-fertilization at 22°C and 17 h 30 min at 26°C with respective hatching rates of 45.4 ± 21.02% and 68.1 ± 12.67%. For this species, all embryos incubated at 30°C died before hatching. Additionally, for P. maculatus, the larvae from the lower (22°C) and higher temperatures (30°C) presented increased abnormality rates, as observed in the head, tail and yolk regions. The lowest abnormality rate was detected at 26°C, which was considered the optimal incubation temperature for both species. The developed protocol enables the manipulation of embryonic development, which is important for the application of reproductive biotechniques, including chimerism and chromosome-set manipulation. The data obtained here are also important for the surrogate propagation of this species as P. mangurus was recently categorized as an endangered fish species.
Several methods can be used to obtain, from powder diffraction patterns, crystallite size and lattice strain of polycrystalline samples. Some examples are the Scherrer equation, Williamson–Hall plots, Warren/Averbach Fourier decomposition, Whole Powder Pattern Modeling, and Debye function analysis. To apply some of these methods, it is necessary to remove the contribution of the instrument to the widths of the diffraction peaks. Nowadays, one of the main samples used for this purpose is the LaB6 SRM660b commercialized by the National Institute of Standard Technology; the width of the diffraction peak of this sample is caused only by the instrumental apparatus. However, this sample can be expensive for researchers in developing countries. In this work, the authors present a simple route to obtain micron-sized polycrystalline CeO2 that have a full width at half maximum comparable with the SRM660b and therefore it can be used to remove instrumental broadening.
With obesity being a major public health epidemic, dietitians are charged with the difficult task to assist clients in modifying their behaviours. Since there are inconsistent data about dietitians’ beliefs, attitudes and practices concerning obesity and little is known concerning differences in public and private practice, we conducted the present study to address those gaps.
Semi-structured interviews analysed according to thematic analysis procedures.
Public primary-care and private settings.
Seventeen Portuguese registered dietitians working in public primary-care (n 10) and private settings (n 7).
Regardless of work context, ‘persistence of efforts’ emerged as the main characteristic of dietitians’ action. Besides holding negative attitudes towards obese patients, their practices are not negatively influenced. They perceive themselves as active agents in promoting lifestyle changes, offering as many management strategies as possible to empower patients, feeling positive about the accomplishment of a successful weight loss, believing in their own efficacy and competency in helping patients. However, differences in reimbursement, work environment, perceived barriers, patient characteristics and availability of resources seem to contribute to differences in persistence according to the setting in which dietitians are working, evidenced by an increase of efforts and engagement in private practice and a decrease in public primary-care practice.
Portuguese dietitians present a positive mindset and actions about obesity treatment outcomes; however, education in behaviour change strategies should be improved. The public health system requires reorganization to enhance effective obesity management delivery. Motivation driving dietitians’ work in private settings should be addressed.
Anthropogenic disturbance often results in the proliferation of native species of particular groups that leads to biotic homogenization. Leaf-cutting ants are an example of such winner organisms in tropical rain forests, but their response to disturbance in dry forests is poorly known. We investigated Atta colony density in areas of tropical dry forest in Brazil with different distance to roads and vegetation cover. Atta colonies were surveyed in 59 belt transects of 300 × 20 m, covering a total area of 35.4 ha. We found 224 Atta colonies, 131 of which were active and belonged to Atta opaciceps (87 colonies, 2.45 ha−1), A. sexdens (35 colonies, 0.98 ha−1) and A. laevigata (9 colonies, 0.25 ha−1). The density of active colonies sharply decreased from 15 ± 2.92 ha−1 in the 50-m zone along roads to only 2.55 ± 1.65 ha−1 at distances up to 300 m. The reverse pattern was observed for inactive colonies. Active Atta colonies preferentially occur in areas with low vegetation cover, while inactive colonies prefer areas with high vegetation cover. We demonstrate for the first time that anthropogenic disturbances promote the proliferation of leaf-cutting ants in dry forest in Brazil, which may affect plant regeneration via herbivory and ecosystem engineering as demonstrated for rain forests.
This study aims to investigate the effect 5-azacytidine (5-Aza) during induction of pluripotency in bovine fibroblasts and to evaluate the effects of BMP2, BMP4 or follicular fluid in the differentiation of reprogrammed fibroblasts in primordial germ cells and oocytes. It also analysis the mRNA levels for OCT4, NANOG, REX, SOX2, VASA, DAZL, cKIT, SCP3, ZPA and GDF9 after culturing 5-Aza treated fibroblasts in the different tested medium. Dermal fibroblasts were cultured and exposed to 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 μM of 5-Aza for 18 h, 36 h or 72 h. Then, the cells were cultured in DMEM/F12 supplemented with 10 ng/ml BMP2, 10 ng/ml BMP4 or 5% follicular fluid. After culture, morphological characteristics, viability and gene expression were evaluated by qPCR. Treatment of skin fibroblasts with 2.0 μM 5-Aza for 72 h significantly increased expression of mRNAs for SOX2, OCT4, NANOG and REX. The culture in medium supplemented with BMP2, BMP4 or follicular fluid for 7 or 14 days induced formation of oocyte-like cells, as well as the expression of markers for germ cells and oocyte. In conclusion, treatment of bovine skin-derived fibroblasts with 2.0 μM 5-Aza for 72 h induces the expression of pluripotency factors. Culturing these cells in differentiation medium supplemented with BMP2, BMP4 or follicular fluid induces morphological changes and promotes expression of markers for germ cells, meiosis and oocyte.
In the frame of the COST ACTION ‘EMBOS’ (Development and implementation of a pan-European Marine Biodiversity Observatory System), coverage of intertidal macroalgae was estimated at a range of marine stations along the European coastline (Subarctic, Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean). Based on these data, we tested whether patterns in macroalgal diversity and distribution along European intertidal rocky shores could be explained by a set of meteo-oceanographic variables. The variables considered were salinity, sea surface temperature, photosynthetically active radiation, significant wave height and tidal range and were compiled from three different sources: remote sensing, reanalysis technique and in situ measurement. These variables were parameterized to represent average conditions (mean values), variability (standard deviation) and extreme events (minimum and maximum values). The results obtained in this study contribute to reinforce the EMBOS network approach and highlight the necessity of considering meteo-oceanographic variables in long-term assessments. The broad spatial distribution of pilot sites has allowed identification of latitudinal and longitudinal gradients manifested through species composition, diversity and dominance structure of intertidal macroalgae. These patterns follow a latitudinal gradient mainly explained by sea surface temperature, but also by photosynthetically active radiation, salinity and tidal range. Additionally, a longitudinal gradient was also detected and could be linked to wave height.
Examining how variability in population abundance and distribution is allotted among different spatial scales can inform of processes that are likely to generate that variability. Results of studies dealing with scale issues in marine benthic communities suggest that variability is concentrated at small spatial scales (from tens of centimetres to few metres) and that spatial patterns of variation are consistent across ecosystems characterized by contrasting physical and biotic conditions, but this has not been formally tested. Here we quantified the variability in the distribution of intertidal rocky shore communities at a range of spatial scales, from tens of centimetres to thousands of kilometres, both in the NE Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and tested whether the observed patterns differed between the two basins. We focused on canopy-forming macroalgae and associated understorey assemblages in the low intertidal, and on the distribution of Patella limpets at mid intertidal levels. Our results highlight that patterns of spatial variation, at each scale investigated, were consistent between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, suggesting that similar ecological processes operate in these regions. In contrast with former studies, variability in canopy cover, species richness and limpet abundance was equally distributed among spatial scales, possibly reflecting the fingerprint of multiple processes. Variability in community structure of low intertidal assemblages, instead, peaked at the largest scale, suggesting that oceanographic processes and climatic gradients may be important. We conclude that formal comparisons of variability across scales nested in contrasting systems are needed, before any generalization on patterns and processes can be made.
Coastal ecosystems are highly complex and driven by multiple environmental factors. To date we lack scientific evidence for the relative contribution of natural and anthropogenic drivers for the majority of marine habitats in order to adequately assess the role of different stressors across the European seas. Such relationship can be investigated by analysing the correlation between environmental variables and biotic patterns in multivariate space and taking into account non-linearities. Within the framework of the EMBOS (European Marine Biodiversity Observatory System) programme, hard bottom intertidal communities were sampled in a standardized way across European seas. Links between key natural and anthropogenic drivers and hard bottom communities were analysed using Boosted Regression Trees modelling. The study identified strong interregional variability and showed that patterns of hard bottom macroalgal and invertebrate communities were primarily a function of tidal regime, nutrient loading and water temperature (anomalies). The strength and shape of functional form relationships varied widely however among types of organisms (understorey algae composing mostly filamentous species, canopy-forming algae or sessile invertebrates) and aggregated community variables (cover or richness). Tidal regime significantly modulated the effect of nutrient load on the cover and richness of understorey algae and sessile invertebrates. In contrast, hydroclimate was more important for canopy algae and temperature anomalies and hydroclimate separately or interactively contributed to the observed patterns. The analyses also suggested that climate-induced shifts in weather patterns may result in the loss of algal richness and thereby in the loss of functional diversity in European hard bottom intertidal areas.
Within the COST action EMBOS (European Marine Biodiversity Observatory System) the degree and variation of the diversity and densities of soft-bottom communities from the lower intertidal or the shallow subtidal was measured at 28 marine sites along the European coastline (Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean) using jointly agreed and harmonized protocols, tools and indicators. The hypothesis tested was that the diversity for all taxonomic groups would decrease with increasing latitude. The EMBOS system delivered accurate and comparable data on the diversity and densities of the soft sediment macrozoobenthic community over a large-scale gradient along the European coastline. In contrast to general biogeographic theory, species diversity showed no linear relationship with latitude, yet a bell-shaped relation was found. The diversity and densities of benthos were mostly positively correlated with environmental factors such as temperature, salinity, mud and organic matter content in sediment, or wave height, and related with location characteristics such as system type (lagoons, estuaries, open coast) or stratum (intertidal, subtidal). For some relationships, a maximum (e.g. temperature from 15–20°C; mud content of sediment around 40%) or bimodal curve (e.g. salinity) was found. In lagoons the densities were twice higher than in other locations, and at open coasts the diversity was much lower than in other locations. We conclude that latitudinal trends and regional differences in diversity and densities are strongly influenced by, i.e. merely the result of, particular sets and ranges of environmental factors and location characteristics specific to certain areas, such as the Baltic, with typical salinity clines (favouring insects) and the Mediterranean, with higher temperatures (favouring crustaceans). Therefore, eventual trends with latitude are primarily indirect and so can be overcome by local variation of environmental factors.
Rhodnius prolixus is a blood-feeding insect that transmits Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma rangeli to vertebrate hosts. Rhodnius prolixus is also a classical model in insect physiology, and the recent availability of R. prolixus genome has opened new avenues on triatomine research. Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) is classically described as a key enzyme involved in glycogen metabolism, also acting as a downstream component of the Wnt pathway during embryogenesis. GSK-3 has been shown to be highly conserved among several organisms, mainly in the catalytic domain region. Meanwhile, the role of GSK-3 during R. prolixus embryogenesis or glycogen metabolism has not been investigated. Here we show that chemical inhibition of GSK-3 by alsterpaullone, an ATP-competitive inhibitor of GSK3, does not affect adult survival rate, though it alters oviposition and egg hatching. Specific GSK-3 gene silencing by dsRNA injection in adult females showed a similar phenotype. Furthermore, bright field and 4’−6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining analysis revealed that ovaries and eggs from dsGSK-3 injected females exhibited specific morphological defects. We also demonstrate that glycogen content was inversely related to activity and transcription levels of GSK-3 during embryogenesis. Lastly, after GSK-3 knockdown, we observed changes in the expression of the Wingless (Wnt) downstream target β-catenin as well as in members of other pathways such as the receptor Notch. Taken together, our results show that GSK-3 regulation is essential for R. prolixus oogenesis and embryogenesis.
Habitat loss is widely recognized as the major cause of global biodiversity decline, but remaining habitat is increasingly threatened by chronic human disturbances. Using a multi-model averaging approach we examined the association between five chronic disturbance surrogates and the richness and taxonomic and functional composition of ants in Brazilian Caatinga. Using pitfall traps in 47 plots near Parnamirim city (Pernambuco) across two soil types (sand and clay), we recorded 53 species from 27 genera. Ant species richness on sand was slightly higher than on clay, and was negatively related to most surrogates of anthropogenic disturbance. Soil type and human population size were the main predictors of ant species richness. Soil type was the most important predictor of functional group abundance. Taxonomic and functional composition were influenced by soil type and disturbance, but this relationship varied between clay and sandy soils. Ant functional composition showed a weak relationship with disturbance on sandy soils, but on clay soils it showed predictable winner–loser replacement. We attribute the greater effect of disturbance on clay soils to higher intensity of land use, and our study highlights the importance of considering context dependence when evaluating biodiversity responses to disturbance.
Development of polymers with antimicrobial characteristics can avoid deterioration and assist in containing spread of pathogens harmful to human health. This study aimed to compare the antimicrobial and mechanical properties of polymeric matrices containing organic antimicrobial additives. Silver organomodified bentonite (Ag_bentonite) and organochlorine molecule in a masterbatch based polyethylene (Cl_PE) were tested in proportion of 2% in a thermoplastic elastomeric formulation. The polymeric matrices were prepared by melt mixing and evaluated in tensile and antimicrobial properties against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains. The additives were characterized by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The nanoscale of Ag_bentonite was verified by SEM. TGA assay showed that Cl_PE is more sensitive to heat than Ag_bentonite. As a result of this lower thermal stability, the addition of Cl_PE reduced the tensile properties of the compound. The sample with Cl_PE was effective against both bacterial strains, reducing the populations of S. aureus and E. coli in 99 and 96%, respectively. The addition of Ag_bentonite did not affect the tensile strength and decreased in 97 and 40% S. aureus and E. coli populations, respectively. The results indicate that the use of organic additives is promissory, but further modifications in processing must be necessary.
A sediment core was studied to characterize the influences of Holocene sea-level variations in the Barra Seca River valley, in the Atlantic rainforest, Linhares, Espírito Santo, southeastern Brazil. Biological proxies (pollen, spores, and sponge spicules), 14C dating, granulometry, δ13C, δ15N, C/N and major chemical elements revealed the establishment and the evolution of a paleo-estuary during the interval from ∼7700–585 cal BP. During the interval ∼7700–7000 cal BP, the study site was occupied by a bay-head delta, the inner portion of the paleo-estuary, presenting the most dense mangrove coverage of the entire record. In the interval ∼7000–3200 cal BP, the site was occupied by the central basin, possibly a consequence of the landward migration of the paleo-estuary. This interval presents reduced mangrove coverage, probably due to the permanent flooding of the valley. From ∼3200 cal BP, the marine influence at the site decreased probably as result of the seaward migration of the coast line. From ∼600 cal BP, the modern floodplain and freshwater lake were established. This interpretation is in agreement with the sea-level curves for the southeastern Brazilian coast, except for the fact that evidence of sea levels lower than the present at ∼4000 and ∼2500 cal BP as suggested by some authors were not found.
Analysis of biological proxies in lake sediment and geochemical analysis of soil profiles reveal natural vegetation dynamics, with climate inferences, since the late Pleistocene in a fragment of the pristine lowland Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. Carbon isotopes from soil organic matter and 14C ages from the humin fraction indicate the dominance of C3 plants since ∼17,000 cal BP. Palynological analysis of a sediment core indicates the presence of Atlantic Forest vegetation since 7700 cal BP. Changes in the relative abundance of tree ferns and palms suggest the predominance of a humid period from ∼7000–4000 cal BP and establishment of the modern seasonal climate at ∼4000 cal BP. Data indicate maintenance of the regional forest coverage since the late Pleistocene, corroborating previous suggestions that this region was a forest refuge during less humid periods of the late Pleistocene and Holocene. Some plant taxa with currently divided distributions between Amazonia and the Atlantic Forest colonized the region since at least 7500 cal BP, indicating an earlier connection between Amazonia and Atlantic Forest.