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The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
In the 2015 review paper ‘Petawatt Class Lasers Worldwide’ a comprehensive overview of the current status of high-power facilities of
was presented. This was largely based on facility specifications, with some description of their uses, for instance in fundamental ultra-high-intensity interactions, secondary source generation, and inertial confinement fusion (ICF). With the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to Professors Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou for the development of the technique of chirped pulse amplification (CPA), which made these lasers possible, we celebrate by providing a comprehensive update of the current status of ultra-high-power lasers and demonstrate how the technology has developed. We are now in the era of multi-petawatt facilities coming online, with 100 PW lasers being proposed and even under construction. In addition to this there is a pull towards development of industrial and multi-disciplinary applications, which demands much higher repetition rates, delivering high-average powers with higher efficiencies and the use of alternative wavelengths: mid-IR facilities. So apart from a comprehensive update of the current global status, we want to look at what technologies are to be deployed to get to these new regimes, and some of the critical issues facing their development.
The Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE) is a 42-item self-report questionnaire that has been developed and validated to measure the dimensions of psychosis in the general population. The CAPE has a three-factor structure with dimensions of positive, negative and depression. Assessing the cross-national equivalence of a questionnaire is an essential prerequisite before pooling data from different countries. In this study, our aim was to investigate the measurement invariance of the CAPE across different countries.
Data were drawn from the European Union Gene-Environment Interaction (EU-GEI) study. Participants (incident cases of psychotic disorder, controls and siblings of cases) were recruited in Brazil, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and UK. To analyse the measurement invariance across these samples, we tested configural invariance (i.e. identical structures of the factors), metric invariance (i.e. equivalence of the factor loadings) and scalar invariance (i.e. equivalence of the thresholds) of the three CAPE dimensions using multigroup categorical confirmatory factor analysis methods.
The configural invariance model fits well, providing evidence for identical factorial structure across countries. In comparison with the configural model invariance, the fit indices were very similar in the metric and scalar invariance models, indicating that factor loadings and thresholds did not differ across the six countries.
We found that, across six countries, the CAPE showed equivalent factorial structure, factor loadings and thresholds. Thus, differences observed in scores between individuals from different countries should be considered as reflecting different levels of psychosis.
Whitehouse adapts insights from evolutionary anthropology to interpret extreme self-sacrifice through the concept of identity fusion. The model neglects the role of normative systems in shaping behaviors, especially in relation to violent extremism. In peaceful groups, increasing fusion will actually decrease extremism. Groups collectively appraise threats and opportunities, actively debate action options, and rarely choose violence toward self or others.
As chemical management options for weeds become increasingly limited due to selection for herbicide resistance, investigation of additional nonchemical tools becomes necessary. Harvest weed seed control (HWSC) is a methodology of weed management that targets and destroys weed seeds that are otherwise dispersed by harvesters following threshing. It is not known whether problem weeds in western Canada retain their seeds in sufficient quantities until harvest at a height suitable for collection. A study was conducted at three sites over 2 yr to determine whether retention and height criteria were met by wild oat, false cleavers, and volunteer canola. Wild oat consistently shed seeds early, but seed retention was variable, averaging 56% at the time of wheat swathing, with continued losses until direct harvest of wheat and fababean. The majority of retained seeds were >45 cm above ground level, suitable for collection. Cleavers seed retention was highly variable by site-year, but generally greater than wild oat. The majority of seed was retained >15 cm above ground level and would be considered collectable. Canola seed typically had >95% retention, with the majority of seed retained >15 cm above ground level. The suitability ranking of the species for management with HWSC was canola>cleavers>wild oat. Efficacy of HWSC systems in western Canada will depend on the target species and site- and year-specific environmental conditions.
The evidence underpinning the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) is overwhelming. As the emphasis shifts more towards interventions and the translational strategies for disease prevention, it is important to capitalize on collaboration and knowledge sharing to maximize opportunities for discovery and replication. DOHaD meetings are facilitating this interaction. However, strategies to perpetuate focussed discussions and collaborations around and between conferences are more likely to facilitate the development of DOHaD research. For this reason, the DOHaD Society of Australia and New Zealand (DOHaD ANZ) has initiated themed Working Groups, which convened at the 2014–2015 conferences. This report introduces the DOHaD ANZ Working Groups and summarizes their plans and activities. One of the first Working Groups to form was the ActEarly birth cohort group, which is moving towards more translational goals. Reflecting growing emphasis on the impact of early life biodiversity – even before birth – we also have a Working Group titled Infection, inflammation and the microbiome. We have several Working Groups exploring other major non-cancerous disease outcomes over the lifespan, including Brain, behaviour and development and Obesity, cardiovascular and metabolic health. The Epigenetics and Animal Models Working Groups cut across all these areas and seeks to ensure interaction between researchers. Finally, we have a group focussed on ‘Translation, policy and communication’ which focusses on how we can best take the evidence we produce into the community to effect change. By coordinating and perpetuating DOHaD discussions in this way we aim to enhance DOHaD research in our region.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and disabling condition with well-established heritability and environmental risk factors. Gene–environment interaction studies in MDD have typically investigated candidate genes, though the disorder is known to be highly polygenic. This study aims to test for interaction between polygenic risk and stressful life events (SLEs) or childhood trauma (CT) in the aetiology of MDD.
The RADIANT UK sample consists of 1605 MDD cases and 1064 controls with SLE data, and a subset of 240 cases and 272 controls with CT data. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were constructed using results from a mega-analysis on MDD by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. PRS and environmental factors were tested for association with case/control status and for interaction between them.
PRS significantly predicted depression, explaining 1.1% of variance in phenotype (p = 1.9 × 10−6). SLEs and CT were also associated with MDD status (p = 2.19 × 10−4 and p = 5.12 × 10−20, respectively). No interactions were found between PRS and SLEs. Significant PRSxCT interactions were found (p = 0.002), but showed an inverse association with MDD status, as cases who experienced more severe CT tended to have a lower PRS than other cases or controls. This relationship between PRS and CT was not observed in independent replication samples.
CT is a strong risk factor for MDD but may have greater effect in individuals with lower genetic liability for the disorder. Including environmental risk along with genetics is important in studying the aetiology of MDD and PRS provide a useful approach to investigating gene–environment interactions in complex traits.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
Ethiopian wolves, Canis simensis, are an endangered carnivore endemic to the Ethiopian highlands. Although previous studies have focused on aspects of Ethiopian wolf biology, including diet, territoriality, reproduction and infectious diseases such as rabies, little is known of their helminth parasites. In the current study, faecal samples were collected from 94 wild Ethiopian wolves in the Bale Mountains of southern Ethiopia, between August 2008 and February 2010, and were screened for the presence of helminth eggs using a semi-quantitative volumetric dilution method with microscopy. We found that 66 of the 94 faecal samples (70.2%) contained eggs from at least one group of helminths, including Capillaria, Toxocara, Trichuris, ancylostomatids, Hymenolepis and taeniids. Eggs of Capillaria sp. were found most commonly, followed by Trichuris sp., ancylostomatid species and Toxocara species. Three samples contained Hymenolepis sp. eggs, which were likely artefacts from ingested prey species. Four samples contained taeniid eggs, one of which was copro-polymerase chain reaction (copro-PCR) and sequence positive for Echinococcus granulosus, suggesting a spillover from a domestic parasite cycle into this wildlife species. Associations between presence/absence of Capillaria, Toxocara and Trichuris eggs were found; and egg burdens of Toxocara and ancylostomatids were found to be associated with geographical location and sampling season.
Developmental–ecological models are useful for integrating risk factors across multiple contexts and conceptualizing mediational pathways for adolescent alcohol use, yet these comprehensive models are rarely tested. This study used a developmental–ecological framework to investigate the influence of neighborhood, family, and peer contexts on alcohol use in early adolescence (N = 387). Results from a multi-informant longitudinal cross-lagged mediation path model suggested that high levels of neighborhood disadvantage were associated with high levels of alcohol use 2 years later via an indirect pathway that included exposure to delinquent peers and adolescent delinquency. Results also indicated that adolescent involvement with delinquent peers and alcohol use led to decrements in parenting, rather than being consequences of poor parenting. Overall, the study supported hypothesized relationships among key microsystems thought to influence adolescent alcohol use, and thus findings underscore the utility of developmental–ecological models of alcohol use.