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Flower and leaf herbivory might cause relevant and negative impacts on plant fitness. While flower removal or damage by florivores produces direct negative effects on plant fitness, folivores affect plant fitness by reducing resource allocation to reproduction. In this study, we examine the effects of both flower and leaf herbivory by leaf-cutting ants on the reproductive success of the shrub species Miconia nervosa (Smith) Triana (Family Melastomataceae) in a fragment of Atlantic Forest in Northeast Brazil. We conducted a randomized block-designed field experiment with nine replicates (blocks), in which three plants per block were assigned to one of the three following treatments: undamaged plants (ant exclusion), leaf-damaged plants (ant exclusion from reproductive organs, but not from leaves), and flower + leaf-damaged plants (no exclusion of ants). We then measured flower production, fruit set, and fruit production. Our results showed that flower + leaf-damaged plants reduced flower production nearly twofold in relation to undamaged plants, while flower set in leaf-damaged plants remained constant. The number of flowers that turned into fruits (i.e., fruit set), however, increased by 15% in flower + leaf-damaged plants, while it slightly decreased in leaf-damaged compared to undamaged plants. Contrastingly, fruit production was similar between all treatments. Taken together, our results suggest a prominent role of ant floral herbivory across different stages of the reproductive cycle in M. nervosa, with no consequences on final fruit production. The tolerance of M. nervosa to leaf-cutting ant herbivory might explain its high abundance in human-modified landscapes where leaf-cutting ants are hyper-abundant.
Leaf-cutting ants are dominant herbivores in Neotropical rain forests, and their colony densities increase in disturbed habitats such as forest edges. However, while it is well-established that leaf-cutting ants profit from changes to the food-plant community, the phylogenetic dimension of this ant–plant interaction remains poorly understood in fragmented forests. We studied diet composition of Atta cephalotes in the edge and interior of Atlantic forest in north-east Brazil (8°30′S, 35°50′W). We applied phylogenetic signal analysis to investigate the diet across plant lineages and performed phylogenetic generalized linear models to analyse the diet in both habitats. We found a phylogenetic signal in diet and in leaf mechanical resistance, which means that A. cephalotes selects closely related food plants with less resistant leaves. Most preferred species belong to Malpighiales, Rubiaceae and Melastomataceae. We also found that irrespective of phylogeny, ants select food plants with less resistant leaves, both in edge and interior. However, ants choose more abundant plants only in edges. High abundance of optimal diet facilitates foraging in forest edges and explains why colony densities increase in disturbed habitats. Finally, by favouring or disfavouring specific clades, leaf-cutting ants contribute to changes in the phylogenetic structure of tropical rain forests, e.g. phylogenetic impoverishment.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is described as a progressive alteration of kidney function, resulting from multiple factors, including behaviours. We investigated the association of the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII®) with prevalent CKD in adult Americans. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants with measured data on kidney function markers from 2005 to 2012 were included in this study. Prevalent CKD was based on an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <60 ml/min per 1·73 m2 or urinary albumin/creatinine≥30 mg/g. Energy-adjusted DII (E-DIITM) scores were calculated from 24-h dietary recalls. Statistical analyses accounted for the survey design and sample weights. We included 21 649 participants, with 1634 (6·8 %) having prevalent CKD. Participants with high E-DII scores had greater BMI, fasting blood glucose and systolic blood pressure, and were more likely to be diabetic or hypertensive (all P<0·001) compared with those with lower E-DII scores. In regression models adjusted for age, sex, race, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, BMI, hypertension and diabetes status, mean eGFR significantly decreased across increasing quartiles of E-DII, whereas serum uric acid level and log urinary albumin:creatinine ratio significantly increased (all P<0·001). Prevalent CKD increased from 5·3 % in the lowest to 9·3 % in the highest E-DII quartile (P=0·02). In multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models, the odds of prevalent CKD were 29 % higher in the highest compared with the lowest E-DII quartile. Pro-inflammatory diet is associated with declining kidney function and high prevalence of CKD. Dietary changes that reduce inflammation have a potential to prevent CKD.
The objective of this study was to examine the association between dietary inflammatory potential and memory and cognitive functioning among a representative sample of the US older adult population. Cross-sectional data from the 2011–2012 and 2013–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were utilised to identify an aggregate sample of adults 60–85 years of age (n 1723). Dietary inflammatory index (DII®) scores were calculated using 24-h dietary recall interviews. Three memory-related assessments were employed, including the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease (CERAD) Word Learning subset, the Animal Fluency test and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). Inverse associations were observed between DII scores and the different memory parameters. Episodic memory (CERAD) (badjusted=−0·39; 95 % CI −0·79, 0·00), semantic-based memory (Animal Fluency Test) (badjusted=−1·18; 95 % CI −2·17, −0·20) and executive function and working-memory (DSST) (badjusted=−2·80; 95 % CI −5·58, −0·02) performances were lowest among those with the highest mean DII score. Though inverse relationships were observed between DII scores and memory and cognitive functioning, future work is needed to further explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the complex relationship between inflammation-related dietary behaviour and memory and cognition.
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.
The Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII)TM, which was developed to characterize the inflammatory potential of a person’s diet, has been shown to be associated with inflammatory conditions such as cancer. The present study aimed to investigate the association between DII scores and colorectal adenoma (CRA), a pre-cancerous condition.
Responses to baseline dietary questionnaires were used calculate DII scores. In a cross-sectional study design, the association between DII scores and CRA prevalence was determined in men and women separately using logistic regression models.
Ten cancer screening centres across the USA.
Participants were those included in the screening arm of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.
Among the 44 278 individuals included in these analyses, men with diets in the most inflammatory quartile of DII scores had higher odds of all types of CRA (advanced, non-advanced and multiple (>1)) compared with those with diets in the least inflammatory quartile of DII scores. In fully adjusted models, compared with those with DII scores in quartile 1 (least inflammatory), males with DII scores in quartile 3 (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=1·28; 95 % CI 1·12, 1·47) and quartile 4 (aOR=1·41; 95 % CI 1·23, 1·62) were more likely to have prevalent distal CRA. Higher DII scores, representing a more inflammatory diet, also were weakly associated with a higher prevalence of CRA in women.
Implementing an anti-inflammatory diet may be an effective means of primary prevention of CRA, especially in men.
Forest fragmentation and climate change are among the most severe and pervasive forms of human impact. Yet, their combined effects on plant–insect herbivore interaction networks, essential components of forest ecosystems with respect to biodiversity and functioning, are still poorly investigated, particularly in temperate forests. We addressed this issue by analysing plant-insect herbivore networks (PIHNs) from understories of three managed beech forest habitats: small forest fragments (2.2–145 ha), forest edges and forest interior areas within three continuous control forests (1050–5600 ha) in an old hyper-fragmented forest landscape in SW Germany. We assessed the impact of forest fragmentation, particularly edge effects, on PIHNs and the resulting differences in robustness against climate change by habitat-wise comparison of network topology and biologically realistic extinction cascades of networks following scores of vulnerability to climate change for the food plant species involved. Both the topological network metrics (complexity, nestedness, trophic niche redundancy) and robustness to climate change strongly increased in forest edges and fragments as opposed to the managed forest interior. The nature of the changes indicates that human impacts modify network structure mainly via host plant availability to insect herbivores. Improved robustness of PIHNs in forest edges/small fragments to climate-driven extinction cascades was attributable to an overall higher thermotolerance across plant communities, along with positive effects of network structure. The impoverishment of PIHNs in managed forest interiors and the suggested loss of insect diversity from climate-induced co-extinction highlight the need for further research efforts focusing on adequate silvicultural and conservation approaches.
Chronic low-grade inflammation has been recognised as a key underlying mechanism for several chronic diseases, including cancer and CVD. Nutrition represents a host of key modifiable factors that influence chronic inflammation. Dietary inflammatory scores were developed to assess the inflammatory potential of the diet and have been associated with inflammatory biomarkers in cross-sectional and short-term longitudinal studies. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between the dietary inflammatory index (DII), the alternate dietary inflammatory index (ADII) and long-term C-reactive protein (CRP). We also tested age as an effect modifier of this relationship. Participants were selected in the Supplémentation en Vitamines et Minéraux Antioxydants study, which included subjects aged 45–60 years old for men and 35–60 years old for women in 1994. Participants with ≥3 24-h dietary records at baseline and a CRP measurement at the 12-year follow-up evaluation were included in the present study (n 1980). The relationships between the DII and ADII and elevated CRP (>3 mg/l) were investigated using logistic multivariable regression. All analyses were stratified by age (cut-off at median age=50 years old). The overall associations between DII and ADII and long-term CRP were not statistically significant (Ptrend across tertiles=0·16 for DII and 0·10 for ADII). A quantitative interaction was found between ADII score and age (P=0·16 for ADII, 0·36 for DII). In stratified analyses the ADII was significantly prospectively associated with CRP only in younger participants: OR tertile 3 v. tertile 1: 1·79 (95 % CI 1·04, 3·07). Pro-inflammatory diets may have long-term effect on CRP only in younger subjects.
Fundamental to our understanding of the universe is the evolution of structures, from galaxies to clusters of galaxies to large-scale sheets and filaments of galaxies and voids. The investigation of the evolution of large-scale structure not only provides us with the key test of theories of structure formation, but also allows us to measure fundamental cosmological parameters. The CNOC2 (Canadian Network for Observational Cosmology) Field Galaxy Redshift Survey is the first large redshift survey of faint galaxies carried out with the explicit goal of investigating the evolution of large scale structure. This survey also provides the largest redshift and photometric data set currently available for the study of galaxy population and evolution at the moderate redshift range between 0.1 and 0.6. In this paper we describe the scope and technique of the survey, its status, and some preliminary results.
Designing materials for performance in high-radiation fields can be accelerated through a carefully chosen combination of advanced multiscale modeling paired with appropriate experimental validation. The studies reported in this work, the combined efforts of six universities working together as the Consortium on Cladding and Structural Materials, use that approach to focus on improving the scientific basis for the response of ferritic–martensitic steels to irradiation. A combination of modern modeling techniques with controlled experimentation has specifically focused on improving the understanding of radiation-induced segregation, precipitate formation and growth under radiation, the stability of oxide nanoclusters, and the development of dislocation networks under radiation. Experimental studies use both model and commercial alloys, irradiated with both ion beams and neutrons. Transmission electron microscopy and atom probe are combined with both first-principles and rate theory approaches to advance the understanding of ferritic–martensitic steels.
Diet is a strong moderator of systemic inflammation, an established risk factor for colorectal cancer (CRC). The dietary inflammatory index (DII) measures the inflammatory potential of individuals' diets. The association between the DII and incident CRC was examined, using the National Institutes of Health–American Associations of Retired Persons Diet and Health Study individuals (n 489 422) aged 50–74 years at recruitment, starting between 1995–6, and followed for a mean of 9·1 (sd 2·9) years. Baseline data from a FFQ were used to calculate the DII; higher scores are more pro-inflammatory, and lower scores are more anti-inflammatory. First, primary CRC diagnoses were identified through linkage to state cancer registries. Anatomic location and disease severity also were examined. Cox proportional hazards models estimated CRC hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % CI using quartile 1 as the referent. DII quartile 4 compared to quartile 1 was associated with CRC risk among all subjects (HR 1·40, 95 % CI 1·28, 1·53; P for trend < 0·01). Statistically significant associations also were observed for each anatomic site examined, for moderate and poorly differentiated tumours, and at each cancer stage among all subjects. Effects were similar when stratified by sex; however, results were statistically significant only in males. The only result reaching statistical significance in females was risk of moderately differentiated CRC tumours (DII quartile 4 v. quartile 1 HR 1·26, 95 % CI 1·03, 1·56). Overall, the DII was associated with CRC risk among all subjects. The DII may serve as a novel way to evaluate dietary risk for chronic disorders associated with inflammation, such as CRC.
Secondary forests promote an increased abundance of leaf-cutting ants (LCA) but the consequences on forest dynamics have been poorly addressed. Here we examine seedling assemblage attributes, seed germination and seedling survival across foraging zones of Atta cephalotes colonies inhabiting 15 second-growth patches (25–47 y old) of Atlantic forest. Seeds and seedlings were monitored within foraging zones and control sites over 1 y, including spots around ant nests. Overall, 1862 seedlings from 108 plant species were recorded. Seedling density decreased by 53% in foraging-zone plots (3.31 ± 0.23 seedlings m−2) when compared with control plots (7.02 ± 0.44 seedlings m−2) and a similar decrease was observed for species richness. Ant-induced alterations in the seedling assemblage were further indicated by segregation between foraging-zone and control plots (NMDS), habitat effects on species similarity (ANOSIM), and indicator tree species associated with control plots. While seed germination and seedling survivorship were uncorrelated to either nest distance or age of second-growth stands (with the exception of Tapirira guianensis), defoliation by LCAs was a significant cause of seedling mortality. Our results suggest that LCAs interfere with successional trajectories of Atlantic forest as foraging zones filter seedling establishment, supporting less-dense, impoverished and convergent seedling assemblages.
Habitat fragmentation is gradually altering tropical forests all around the globe (Wright 2005), as human populations convert large blocks of pristine forest habitats into permanently fragmented or human-modified landscapes (Tabarelli et al. 2004). Fragmentation processes apparently create opportunities for small sets of species, which proliferate across modified landscapes, while others are driven to extinction or remain as minimal populations (Tabarelli et al. 2010). This ‘winners vs. losers paradigm’ (sensu McKinney & Lockwood 1999) probably describes one of the most conspicuous rearrangements of tropical biotas in response to human disturbances (in addition to biomass collapse), with unanticipated consequences for ecosystem functioning and long-term biodiversity persistence (Lôbo et al. 2011). Despite such appeal, the ecological identity of proliferating organisms and the mechanisms underlying their high abundance levels remains poorly appreciated.
The present work shows results on elemental distribution analyses in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin films for solar cells performed by use of wavelength-dispersive and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX) in a scanning electron microscope, EDX in a transmission electron microscope, X-ray photoelectron, angle-dependent soft X-ray emission, secondary ion-mass (SIMS), time-of-flight SIMS, sputtered neutral mass, glow-discharge optical emission and glow-discharge mass, Auger electron, and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry, by use of scanning Auger electron microscopy, Raman depth profiling, and Raman mapping, as well as by use of elastic recoil detection analysis, grazing-incidence X-ray and electron backscatter diffraction, and grazing-incidence X-ray fluorescence analysis. The Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin films used for the present comparison were produced during the same identical deposition run and exhibit thicknesses of about 2 μm. The analysis techniques were compared with respect to their spatial and depth resolutions, measuring speeds, availabilities, and detection limits.
The study discusses the mineralogical, geochemical and thermometric properties of rock-forming blue quartz from eight worldwide occurrences. Compared to non-blue quartz, blue quartz contains significant amounts of submicron-sized (1 μm—100 nm) and nanometre-sized (<100 nm) inclusions. Mica, ilmenite and rutile constitute the most abundant submicron-sized inclusions, and are formed probably by syngenetic precipitation in the boundary layer between quartz and melt (entrapment model). Nanometre-sized rutile possibly originated by epigenetic exsolution of Ti from the quartz structure (exsolution model). Rayleigh scattering of light by nano-particulate inclusions best explains the origin of the blue colour. Blue quartz is generally Ti-rich (∼100—300 ppm) and formed at high temperatures (∼700°C—900°C). The large number, and high spatial density, of tiny xenocrystic inclusions of Ti-bearing minerals make calculations of crystallization temperatures using the Ti-in-quartz thermometer unreliable. The geological significance of blue quartz remains obscure.
The continued safe operation of nuclear reactors and their potential for lifetime extension depends on ensuring reactor pressure vessel integrity. Reactor pressure vessels and structural materials used in nuclear energy applications are exposed to intense neutron fields that create atomic displacements and ultimately change material properties. The physical processes involved in radiation damage are inherently multiscale, spanning more than 15 orders of magnitude in length and 24 orders of magnitude in time. This paper reports our progress in developing an integrated, multiscale-multiphysics (MSMP) model of radiation damage for the prediction of reactor pressure vessel embrittlement. Key features of the fully integrated MSMP model include: i) combined molecular dynamics (MD) and kinetic lattice Monte Carlo (KMC) simulations of cascade defect production and cascade aging to produce cross-sections for vacancy, self- interstitial and vacancy-solute cluster size classes for times on the order of seconds; ii) an integrated reaction rate theory and thermodynamic code to predict the evolution of nanostructural and nanochemical features for times on the order of decades; iii) a micromechanics model to calculate the resulting mechanical property changes. This paper will focus on the combined use of MD and KMC to simulate the long-term rearrangement (aging) of defects in displacement cascades and thus, produce late-time production cross-sections for vacancy and vacancy cluster features.
Neutron hardening and embrittlement of pressure vessel steels is due to a high density of nanometer scale features, including Cu-rich precipitates which form as a result of radiation enhanced diffusion. High-energy displacement cascades generate large numbers of both isolated point defects and clusters of vacancies and interstitials. The subsequent clustering, diffusion and ultimate annihilation of primary damage is inherently coupled with solute transport and hence, the overall chemical and microstructural evolutions under irradiation. In this work, we present atomistic simulation results, based on many-body interatomic potentials, of the migration of vacancies, solute and self-interstitial atoms (SIA) in pure Fe and binary Fe-0.9 and 1.0 at.% Cu alloys. Cu diffusion occurs by a vacancy mechanism and the calculated Cu diffusivity is in good agreement with experimental data. Strain field interactions between the oversized substitutional Cu solute atoms and SIA and SIA clusters are predominantly repulsive and result in both a decreased activation energy and diffusion pre-factor for SIA and small (N <5) SIA cluster migration, which occurs by three-dimensional motion. The Cu appears to enhance the re- orientation of the SIA clusters to different <111> directions, as well as the transition from <110> to mobile <111> configurations. The migration behavior of larger SIA clusters, which undergo only one-dimensional diffusion during molecular dynamics timescales, is largely unaffected by the Fe-Cu alloy, although SIA clusters are effectively repelled by coherent Cu precipitates.