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Feed efficiency (FE) is one of the most important traits in pig production. However, it is difficult and costly to measure it, limiting the collection of large amount of data for an accurate selection for better FE. Therefore, the identification of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with FE-related traits to be used in the genetic evaluation is of great interest of pig breeding programs for increasing the prediction accuracy and the genetic progress of these traits. The objective of this study was to identify SNPs significantly associated with FE-related traits: average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI) and feed conversion ratio (FCR). We also aimed to identify potential candidate genes for these traits. Phenotypic information recorded on a population of 2386 three-way crossbreed pigs that were genotyped for 51 468 SNPs was used. We identified three loci of quantitative trait (QTL) regions associated with ADG and three QTL regions associated with ADFI; however, no significant association was found for FCR. A false discovery rate (FDR) ≤ 0.005 was used as the threshold for declaring an association as significant. The QTL regions associated with ADG on Sus scrofa chromosome (SSC) 1 were located between 177.01 and 185.47 Mb, which overlaps with the QTL regions for ADFI on SSC1 (173.26 and 185.47 Mb). The other QTL region for ADG was located on SSC12 (2.87 and 3.22 Mb). The most significant SNPs in these QTL regions explained up to 3.26% of the phenotypic variance of these traits. The non-identification of genomic regions associated with FCR can be explained by the complexity of this trait, which is a ratio between ADG and ADFI. Finally, the genes CDH19, CDH7, RNF152, MC4R, PMAIP1, FEM1B and GAA were the candidate genes found in the 1 Mb window around the QTL regions identified in this study. Among them, the MC4R gene (SSC1) has a well-known function related to ADG and ADFI. In this study, we identified three QTL regions for ADG (SSC1 and SSC12) and three for ADFI (SSC1). These regions were previously described in purebred pig populations; however, to our knowledge, this is the first study to confirm the relevance of these QTL regions in a crossbred pig population. The potential use of the SNPs and genes identified in this study in prediction models that combine genomic selection and marker-assisted selection should be evaluated for increasing the prediction accuracy of these traits in this population.
Animal evidence has suggested that maternal emotional and nutritional stress during pregnancy is associated with behavioral outcomes in offspring. The nature of the stresses applied may differ, but it is often assumed that the mother’s hippocampus–hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HHPA) axis response releases higher levels of glucocorticoid hormones. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is in a pivotal position to regulate the HHPA axis and the stress response, and it has been implicated in anxiety behavior. In the current study, to search whether BNST structural changes and neurochemical alterations are associated with anxiety-related behavior in adult gestational protein-restricted offspring relative to an age-matched normal protein diet (NP) rats, we conduct behavioral tests and, BNST dendritic tree analysis by Sholl analysis, associated to immunoblotting–protein quantification [11β-HSD2, GR, MR, AT1R, 5HT1A and 5HT2A, corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRH) and CRH1]. Dams were maintained either on isocaloric standard rodent chow [with NP content, 17% casein or low protein content (LP), 6% casein] chow throughout their entire pregnancy. Here, in rats subjected to gestational protein restriction, we found: (a) a significant reduction in dendritic length and impoverished dendritic arborization in BNST neurons; (b) an elevated plasmatic corticosterone levels; and (c) associated with enhanced anxiety-like behavior when compared with age-matched NP offspring. Moreover, altered protein (11β-HSD2, GR, MR and type 1 CRH receptors) expressions may underlie the increase in anxiety-like behavior in LP offspring. This work represents the first demonstration that BNST developmental plasticity by maternal protein restriction, resulting in fine structural changes and neurochemical alterations that are associated with modified behavioral states.
Although a national programme for control of visceral leishmaniosis (VL) is being run in Brazil, the disease continues to spread. This programme is essentially based on culling infected dogs from endemic regions. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop other control measures against VL to deter its advance. Here, a subunit vaccine, a recombinant vaccine, an insecticide-impregnated collar and the associations between these measures were evaluated for reducing the incidence of Leishmania infection in dogs. This was through a cohort study conducted in an endemic region of Brazil, considering the incidence and time of total exposure over a period of 1 year. The incidence of VL was estimated by means of serological and molecular diagnostic tests, 180 and 360 days after the application of the control measures. The estimates of the effectiveness (EF) were not significant in any cohort. The EF of the subunit vaccine, the recombinant vaccine and the collar were 26.4%, 32.8% and 57.7% and the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for EF were 63.7%, 67.9% and 82.5%, respectively. In conclusion, under the conditions of this study, none of the immunogens for VL control was sufficiently effective to protect dogs against infection. On the other hand, use of collars impregnated with insecticide seems to constitute a method with better prognosis, corroborating other studies in this field.
Phosphorus and calcium deficiency in horses represents an important factor responsible for the low equine production in Brazil. The basic mechanisms of P and Ca metabolism differ substantially among species. Regulation of P and Ca metabolism is less well understood in horses than in others species. With the use of the isotopic dilution technique is possible to evaluate the metabolism for this mineral. The aim of the present experiment was to study the effect of different Ca levels in the diet on P and Ca metabolism in horses.
This study assessed the incidence and risk factors for dengue virus (DENV) infection among children in a prospective birth cohort conducted in the city of Recife, a hyperendemic dengue area in Northeast Brazil. Healthy pregnant women (n = 415) residing in Recife who agreed to have their children followed were enrolled. Children were followed during their first 24 months of age (May/2011–June/2014), before the 2015 Zika virus outbreak. DENV infection was detected by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and/or serology (anti-DENV IgM/IgG). The incidence rates per 1000 person-years (py) and its association with risk factors by age bands (0–12, >12–30 months) were estimated through Poisson regression models. Forty-nine dengue infections were detected; none progressed to severe forms. The incidence rates were 107·6/1000py (95% CI 76·8–150·6) and 93·3/1000py (95% CI 56·1–154·4) in the first and second years of age, respectively. Male children (risk ratios (RR) = 2·33; 95% CI 1·09–4·98) and those born to DENV-naïve mothers (RR = 2·42; 95% CI 1·01–5·80) were at greater risk of infection in the first year of age. In the second year, children born to Caucasian/Asian descent skin colour mothers had a threefold higher risk of infection (RR = 3·34; 95% CI: 1·08–10·33). These data show the high exposure of children to DENV infection in our setting and highlight the role of biological factors in this population's susceptibility to infection.
Euthanasia of infected dogs is one of the measures adopted in Brazil to control visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in endemic areas. To detect infected dogs, animals are screened with the rapid test DPP® Visceral Canine Leishmaniasis for detection of antibodies against K26/K39 fusion antigens of amastigotes (DPP). DPP-positives are confirmed with an immunoenzymatic assay probing soluble antigens of promastigotes (ELISA), while DPP-negatives are considered free of infection. Here, 975 dogs from an endemic region were surveyed by using DPP, ELISA and real-time PCR (qPCR) for the diagnosis of VL. When DPP-negative dogs were tested by qPCR applied in blood and lymph node aspirates, 174/887 (19·6%) were positive in at least one sample. In a second sampling using 115 cases, the DPP-negative dogs were tested by qPCR in blood, lymph node and conjunctival swab samples, and 36/79 (45·6%) were positive in at least one sample. Low-to-moderate pairwise agreement was observed between all possible pair of tests. In conclusion, the official diagnosis of VL in dogs in Brazilian endemic areas failed to accuse an expressive number of infected animals and the impact of the low accuracy of serological tests in the success of euthanasia-based measure for VL control need to be assessed.
Despite single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) availability and frequent cost reduction has allowed genome-wide association studies even in complex traits as tick resistance, the use of this information source in SNP by environment interaction context is unknown for many economically important traits in cattle. We aimed at identifying putative genomic regions explaining differences in tick resistance in Hereford and Braford cattle under SNP by environment point of view as well as to identify candidate genes derived from outliers/significant markers. The environment was defined as contemporary group means of tick counts, since they seemed to be the most appropriate entities to describe the environmental gradient in beef cattle. A total of 4363 animals having tick counts (n=10 673) originated from 197 sires and 3966 dams were used. Genotypes were acquired on 3591 of these cattle. From top 1% SNPs (410) having the greatest effects in each environment, 75 were consistently relevant in all environments, which indicated SNP by environment interaction. The outliers/significant SNPs were mapped on chromosomes 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 21, 23, 24, 26 and 28, and potential candidate genes were detected across environments. The presence of SNP by environment interaction for tick resistance indicates that genetic expression of resistance depends upon tick burden. Markers with major portion of genetic variance explained across environments appeared to be close to genes with different direct or indirect functions related to immune system, inflammatory process and mechanisms of tissue destruction/repair, such as energy metabolism and cell differentiation.
We describe morphological and morphometrical characteristics of preantral ovarian follicles from three recently recognized Saimiri species: S. macrodon, S. cassiquiarensis and S. vanzolinii; the last one a threatened species. Ovaries from four adult monkeys were evaluated: one pair from a pregnant S. macrodon, two ovarian pairs from S. cassiquiarensis females (one of them pregnant), and one left ovary from a senile S. vanzolinii, applying classical histology. Follicular preantral population was quantified and morphology and morphometry of primordial, primary and secondary follicles were evaluated. Follicular preantral population varied among species, being 347,153 in the ovaries of the S. macrodon, 270,342 and 278,376 in the ovaries of both adult non-pregnant and pregnant S. cassiquiarensis females, and 28,149 in the ovary from a senile S. vanzolinii. Most follicles were at primordial or transition stages, except for the senile S. vanzolinii female, which presented the lowest percentages of primordial and transition follicles when compared with primary and secondary ones. Most preantral follicles (>70%) were morphologically normal in the ovaries from all studied S. macrodon and S. cassiquiarensis females, but the ovary of the senile S. vanzolinii female presented a significant decrease in the percentage of normal follicles (primordial: 61%, transition: 52%, primary: 54%, and secondary: 48%). In general, follicular diameter increased significantly from primordial to transition, and subsequently from primary to secondary follicles.
The present study aims to assess the effects of pig’s genotype (lean v. fatty) and dietary protein level (control v. reduced) on intramuscular fat (IMF) content, fatty acid composition and fibre profile of psoas major, a representative red muscle in pig’s carcass scarcely studied relative to white longissimus lumborum. The experiment was conducted on 40 intact male pigs (20 Alentejana purebred and 20 Large White×Landrace×Pietrain crossbred) from 60 to 93 kg of live weight. Pigs were divided and allocated to four dietary groups: control protein diet equilibrated for lysine (17.5% of CP and 0.7% of lysine) and reduced protein diet (RPD) not equilibrated for lysine (13.1% of crude protein and 0.4% of lysine) within a 2×2 factorial arrangement (two genotypes and two diets). Alentejana purebred had higher IMF content (15.7%) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) (8.9%), whereas crossbred pigs had higher PM weight (46.3%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (20.1%). The genotype also affected colour with higher lightness (15.1%) and yellowness (33.8%) and lower redness (9.9%) scores in crossbred pigs. In line with this, fatty pigs displayed more oxidative fibres (29.5%), whilst lean pigs had more glycolytic (54.4%). Relative to fatty acids, RPD increased MUFA (5.2%) and SFA (3.2%) but decreased PUFA (14.8%). Ultimately, RPD increased IMF content (15.7%) in the red muscle under study, with no impact on glycolytic to oxidative fibre type transformation.
The Laboratory for Intense Lasers (L2I) is a research centre in optics and lasers dedicated to experimental research in high intensity laser science and technology and laser plasma interaction. Currently the laboratory is undergoing an upgrade with the goal of increasing the versatility of the laser systems available to the users, as well as increasing the pulse repetition rate. In this paper we review the current status of the laser research and development programme of this facility, namely the upgraded capability and the recent progress towards the installation of an ultrashort, diode-pumped OPCPA laser system.
Cognitive assessment with virtual reality (VR) may have superior ecological validity for older adults compared to traditional pencil-and-paper cognitive assessment. However, few studies have reported the development of VR tasks. The aim of this study was to present the development, feasibility, content validity, and preliminary evidence of construct validity of an ecological task of cognitive assessment for older adults in VR (ECO-VR). The tasks were prepared based on theoretical and clinical backgrounds. We had 29 non-expert judges identify virtual visual stimuli and three-dimensional scenarios, and five expert judges assisted with content analysis and developing instructions. Finally, six older persons participated in three pilot studies and thirty older persons participated in the preliminary study to identify construct validity evidence. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics and partial correlation. Target stimuli and three-dimensional scenarios were judged adequate and the content analysis demonstrated that ECO-VR evaluates temporo-spatial orientation, memory, language and executive functioning. We made significant changes to the instructions after the pilot studies to increase comprehensibility and reduce the completion time. The total score of ECO-VR was positively correlated mainly with performance in executive function (r = .172, p < .05) and memory tests (r = .488, p ≤ .01). The ECO-VR demonstrated feasibility for cognitive assessment in older adults, as well as content and construct validity evidences.
The production of pork with moderate amounts of intramuscular fat (IMF) without an increase in subcutaneous fat is highly desirable for the meat industry. Several studies indicate that dietary protein reduction during the growing–finishing period of pigs enhances IMF content, but its consequence on carcass fat deposition is still contradictory. In this study, we hypothesized that the effects of reduced protein diets (RPD), corrected or not with the limiting amino acid lysine, on subcutaneous fat deposition from pigs with distinct genotypes are mediated by adipose membranes biophysical properties. In total, 36 crossbred (Large White×Landrace×Pietrain – a lean genotype) and purebred (Alentejana breed – a fatty genotype) male pigs were randomly assigned to the control group, the RPD group or the reduced protein diet equilibrated for lysine (RPDL) group, allowing a 2×3 factorial arrangement (n=6). Backfat thickness and total fatty acid content were higher in Alentejana relative to crossbred pigs. Although dietary treatments did not change backfat thickness, RPD and RPDL increased total fatty acids content of subcutaneous fat. In order to understand this effect, adipose tissue membranes isolated from pig’s subcutaneous fat were assayed for glycerol permeability and fluidity, using 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) and 1-(4-(trimethylamino)-phenyl)-6-phenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (TMA-DPH) probes. The glycerol transport across adipose membranes was not mediated by aquaglyceroporins and remained unchanged across dietary groups. Regardless of lysine correction, RPD increased membrane fluidity at the hydrocarbon region (lower DPH fluorescence anisotropy) in both genotypes of pigs. This result was associated with a lower ratio between oleic acid and linoleic acid on membrane’s fatty acid composition. Adipose membrane’s cholesterol content was independent from genotype and diet. Taken together, the present study shows that dietary protein reduction is successful in maintaining backfat thickness, although a negative side effect was observed on total fatty acids in subcutaneous fat, which may be due to changes in the fluidity of adipose membranes.
The Io Plasma Torus (IPT) is a doughnut-shaped structure of charged particles, composed mainly of sulfur and oxygen ions. The main source of the IPT is the moon Io, the most volcanically active object in the Solar System. Io is the innermost of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the main source of the magnetospheric plasma and responsible for injecting nearly 1 ton/s of ions into Jupiter's magnetosphere. In this work ground-based observations of the [SII] 6731 Å emission lines are observed, obtained at the MacMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. The results shown here were obtained in late 1997 and occurred shortly after a period of important eruptions observed by the Galileo mission (1996-2003). Several outbursts were observed and periods of intense volcanic activity are important to correlate with periods of brightness enhancements observed at the IPT. The time of response between an eruption and enhancement at IPT is still not well understood.
The Radiocarbon Laboratory of the Universidade Federal Fluminense, in Brazil, has been successfully applying the zinc reduction method for graphitization of carbon samples since the development of its early protocols in 2009. Successive methodological research aiming to improve and, ultimately, optimize the precision and accuracy of our results indicates that graphitization temperatures as low as 460°C promote erratic 13C isotopic fractionation, but an approximately constant fractionation of about –5‰ is achieved at 520°C. In this work, we present isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) δ13C results for 14C reference materials graphitized at 550°C with variable amounts of zinc. Based on the results obtained from the addition of 20, 35, and 50 mg of zinc, we conclude that a slightly lower variation in 13C isotope fractionation during graphitization is obtained with less zinc. Moreover, the average isotopic fractionation is not altered by increasing the graphitization temperature from 520°C to 550°C.
The traditional beef production in the South of Portugal is based on a discontinuous growth (DG) system that requires lower external inputs and could enhance meat quality and financial returns to cattle producers. This system allows farmers to take advantage of the bull’s compensatory growth when the pasture is abundant and finishes the cattle on concentrates for 2 to 3 months before slaughter. The fast gain rate before slaughter could be a valuable strategy to improve tenderness and to reduce its inconsistency in beef production. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of production system (continuous growth (CG) v. DG) on longissimus thoracis muscle properties from Alentejana bulls. In total, 40 Alentejana male calves were allocated to two distinct feeding regimes: in the CG system, animals were fed concentrate plus hay and slaughtered at 18 months of age, whereas in the DG system, animals were fed on hay until 15 months of age and then fed the same diet provided to the CG group until 24 months of age. The DG system had a positive impact on meat tenderness (P<0.001) and global acceptability (P<0.001). DG bulls had greater fibre cross-sectional area (CSA) of glycolytic fibres (P<0.05) and relative area of the muscle (RA) occupied by type IIX fibres (P<0.01) and greater levels of α-actinin (P<0.05) and myosin light chain 2 (P<0.01) proteins, and pH24h (P<0.01) than CG bulls. The latter had greater CSA of type I (P<0.05) and type IIA (P<0.01) and greater RA of type IIA (P<0.05) and oxidative (P<0.05) than CG bulls. The compensatory growth production system had a positive impact on meat tenderness and global acceptability, overcoming the negative effects of slaughter of the bulls at a later age. The DG beef system could be a worthwhile strategy of beef production in Mediterranean areas due to the low-quality pasture in summer.
The Mississippian volcano-sedimentary complex in the Toca da Moura – Cabrela areas represents remnants of intra-volcanic marine sedimentary basins, formed during the collision between the Ossa Morena Zone with the South Portuguese Zone. These rock units are unconformably overlain by the Pennsylvanian intramontane coal-bearing Santa Susana Basin. Vitrinite reflectance determinations from rocks of these two basins indicate two episodes of thermal maturation. During the first episode, the Toca da Moura – Cabrela volcano-sedimentary complexes attained high maturation levels, equivalent to anthracite coal rank (3.0–3.5% Roran), which pre-dates the middle Moscovian Santa Susana Basin. The Santa Susana Basin attained moderate maturation levels equivalent to bituminous coal rank (1.35–1.5% Roran) recording a second episode of thermal maturation. Here, peak thermal conditions did not overprint the first maturation episode. The observed effects of magmatic intrusion on the thermal maturity and the lack of any increase in vitrinite reflectance with depth through c. 400 m of section in borehole SDJ-1 indicate high geothermal gradients during the first maturation episode. A contemporaneous magmatic event associated with the c. 335–320 Ma Cuba-Alvito Gabbros/Diorites of the Beja Massif was the possible cause for the high geothermal gradients postulated for the first maturation episode. Burial under a post-upper Moscovian sedimentary cover was the most likely process to account for the maturation levels determined for the Santa Susana Basin and for the second episode of thermal maturation.
Illegal killing/taking of birds is a growing concern across the Mediterranean. However, there are few quantitative data on the species and countries involved. We assessed numbers of individual birds of each species killed/taken illegally in each Mediterranean country per year, using a diverse range of data sources and incorporating expert knowledge. We estimated that 11–36 million individuals per year may be killed/taken illegally in the region, many of them on migration. In each of Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon and Syria, more than two million birds may be killed/taken on average each year. For species such as Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, Common Quail Coturnix coturnix, Eurasian Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, House Sparrow Passer domesticus and Song Thrush Turdus philomelos, more than one million individuals of each species are estimated to be killed/taken illegally on average every year. Several species of global conservation concern are also reported to be killed/taken illegally in substantial numbers: Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca. Birds in the Mediterranean are illegally killed/taken primarily for food, sport and for use as cage-birds or decoys. At the 20 worst locations with the highest reported numbers, 7.9 million individuals may be illegally killed/taken per year, representing 34% of the mean estimated annual regional total number of birds illegally killed/taken for all species combined. Our study highlighted the paucity of data on illegal killing/taking of birds. Monitoring schemes which use systematic sampling protocols are needed to generate increasingly robust data on trends in illegal killing/taking over time and help stakeholders prioritise conservation actions to address this international conservation problem. Large numbers of birds are also hunted legally in the region, but specific totals are generally unavailable. Such data, in combination with improved estimates for illegal killing/taking, are needed for robustly assessing the sustainability of exploitation of birds.
The aim of this study was to determine the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in free-range chickens from Uberlândia, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, and characterize the genotypic and phenotypic features of two isolates of this parasite, considering the importance of these hosts in the epidemiology of toxoplasmosis. Serum samples from 108 free-range chickens were obtained from ten different districts, and submitted to the modified agglutination test (MAT) for the presence of anti-T. gondii antibodies, and brain and heart tissue samples from infected chickens were processed for mouse bioassay. An overall seroprevalence of 71·3% was found and antibody titres ranged from 16 to 4096. After confirmation of seropositivity by mouse bioassay, the determination of the T. gondii genotypes of two isolates was performed by PCR–RFLP, using primers for the following markers: SAG1, SAG2, SAG3, BTUB, GRA6, c22–8, c29–2, L358, PK1, new SAG2, Apico and CS3. These T. gondii isolates, designated TgChBrUD1and TgChBrUD2, were obtained from heart samples of free-range chickens. The TgChBrUD1 isolate belonged to ToxoDB PCR–RFLP genotype 11 and the TgChBrUD2 isolate belonged to ToxoDB PCR–RFLP genotype 6. Both isolates demonstrated high virulence in a rodent model, with the TgChBrUD1 isolate able to induce brain cysts, in accord with its pattern of multiplication rates in human fibroblast culture. Taken together, these results reveal high prevalence of T. gondii infection in free-range chickens throughout Uberlândia, indicating an important degree of oocyst environmental contamination and the existence of considerable risk for T. gondii transmission to humans by consumption of free-range chicken as a food source.