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To understand the production factors that affect conclusive parameters of sow herd performance can improve the use of the resources and profitability of farm. The objective of this study was to identify associations and quantify the effects of a set of factors related to piglet weight at weaning (PWW), kilograms of piglets weaned per sow per year (kgPWSY) and sow feed conversion (SFC). Data from 150 farms were collected, for a total study population of 135 168 sows, including gilt replacement, breeding (mating), gestation and farrowing/lactation phases. A questionnaire focusing on reproductive performance, management, facilities, feeding, health and biosafety was administered. Multiple linear regression models were used to assess associations among factors with each of the three dependent variables. Increased duration of lactation was positively associated with PWW, kgPWSY and SFC. The increase in the number of live born pigs per litter was positively associated with kgPWSY and with SFC. Farms with higher PWW had farrowing room humidifiers, did not surgically castrate male piglets and used quaternary ammonia compounds for farrowing room disinfection. Farms with higher kgPWSY used lined ceilings in farrowing rooms and winter feeds with higher CP percentages in gestation; they also had more farrowings per sow per year. Sow feed conversion was worse in farms with partly slatted floors during gestation, in farms feeding lactating sows six times a day or ad libitum and farms with a higher sow-handler ratio. This study indicates that farms can increase PWW and kgPWSY and improve the SFC by changing one or more management, biosafety and feeding practices or facilities as well as by focusing on improving several performance parameters, particularly increasing the duration of lactation and the number of live born pigs per litter.
Despite the well-known relevance of twin studies in the medical and social sciences and the growing number of twin registries throughout the world, Latin America has not fully incorporated into the twin research community. We describe the first steps taken toward developing a twin registry in Mexico: its aim, organization, recruiting potential and main short-term objectives.
Besnoitia besnoiti is an obligate intracellular apicomplexan protozoan parasite, which causes bovine besnoitiosis. Recently increased emergence within Europe was responsible for significant economic losses in the cattle industry due to the significant reduction of productivity. However, still limited knowledge exists on interactions between B. besnoiti and host innate immune system. Here, B. besnoiti bradyzoites were successfully isolated from tissue cysts located in skin biopsies of a naturally infected animal, and we aimed to investigate for the first time reactions of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) exposed to these vital bradyzoites. Freshly isolated bovine PMN were confronted to B. besnoiti bradyzoites. Scanning electron microscopy (s.e.m.)- and immunofluorescence microscopy-analyses demonstrated fine extracellular networks released by exposed bovine PMN resembling suicidal NETosis. Classical NETosis components were confirmed via co-localization of extracellular DNA decorated with histone 3 (H3) and neutrophil elastase (NE). Live cell imaging by 3D holotomographic microscopy (Nanolive®) unveiled rapid vital NETosis against this parasite. A significant increase of autophagosomes visualized by specific-LC3B antibodies and confocal microscopy was observed in B. besnoiti-stimulated bovine PMN when compared to non-stimulated group. As such, a significant positive correlation (r = 0.37; P = 0.042) was found between B. besnoiti-triggered suicidal NETosis and autophagy. These findings suggest that vital- as well as suicidal-NETosis might play a role in early innate host defence mechanisms against released B. besnoiti bradyzoites from tissue cysts, and possibly hampering further parasitic replication. Our data generate first hints on autophagy being associated with B. besnoiti bradyzoite-induced suicidal NETosis and highlighting for first time occurrence of parasite-mediated vital NETosis.
Cipo Canastero Asthenes luizae is a relict ovenbird restricted to rocky outcrops at high elevations within the campo rupestre vegetation of the Espinhaço Range in the state of Minas Gerais, south-eastern Brazil. This poorly known species is considered ‘Near Threatened’, but recent studies have suggested that it should be listed under a higher category of threat. To contribute to the knowledge of this species and its conservation assessment and related planning, we compiled all literature records of the species distribution (n = 16 locations), collected new data on its occurrence (n = 72 locations), and calculated its geographic range using four different approaches. First, we defined the sky islands where the species occurs (nine units) using the lowest elevation value recorded (1,100 m asl) as a cut-off. Second, we performed species distribution modelling (SDM) across the sky islands and identified an area of 2,225.21 km2. Third, we measured the species’ extent of occurrence (EOO = 24,555.85 km2) and used SDM to estimate its upper limit (EOOup = 30,697.58 km2). Fourth, we measured the area of occupancy (AOO = 228 km2) and used SDM to estimate its upper limit (AOOup = 1,827.39 km2). We analysed the Cipo Canastero sky islands in terms of landscape metrics including size, isolation, protected area coverage, shape index, core area index, and proportion covered by SDM. We observed a very fragmented distribution, especially in the North sector of the species distribution, composed of small and isolated populations (separated by up to 112 km); the South sector is the core of its distribution and is composed of larger, more connected patches with differences in shape complexity that are not strongly influenced by an edge effect. The range sizes calculated, along with other reported information regarding population and habitat trends, justifies the inclusion of the species in at least the ‘Vulnerable’ category.
The BW has been largely used as a selection criterion in genetic selection programmes; however, increases in BW can affect animal metabolism and metabolites. The knowledge of how genetic potential for growth affects the metabolites can give a footprint of growth metabolism. This research aimed to evaluate the effect of genetic potential for post-weaning growth (GG) on performance, carcass traits and serum metabolome of non-castrated Nellore males during the finishing phase. Forty-eight Nellore non-castrated males, with divergent potential for post-weaning growth, were selected and divided into two groups: high potential for post-weaning growth (HG; n = 24) and low potential for post-weaning growth (LG; n = 24). Animals were kept and fed for 90 days where performance and ultrasound carcass traits were evaluated. Blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of feeding period to analyse serum metabolites concentration. The hot carcass weight and dressing percentage were recorded at slaughter. The feedlot performance and carcass traits were not affected by genetic potential. The HG animals had a lower glucose (P = 0.039), glutamate (P = 0.038), glutamine (P = 0.004), greater betaine (P = 0.039) and pyruvate (P = 0.039) compared to the LG group at the beginning of feedlot. In addition, higher creatine phosphate concentrations were observed at the beginning of feeding period, compared to final, for both groups (P = 0.039). In conclusion, the genetic potential for post-weaning growth does not affect performance and carcass traits during the finishing period. Differences in metabolite concentrations can be better found at the beginning of feedlot, providing a footprint of growth metabolism, but similar metabolite concentration at the end of finishing period.
Semiconducting nanostructures such as nanowires (NWs) have been used as building blocks for various types of sensors, energy storage and generation devices, electronic devices and for new manufacturing methods involving printed NWs. The response of these sensing/energy/electronic components and the new fabrication methods depends very much on the quality of NWs and for this reason it is important to understand the growth mechanism of 1D semiconducting nanostructures. This is also important to understand the compatibility of NW growth steps and tools used in the process with these unconventional substrates such as plastic that are used in flexible and large area electronics. Therefore, this Element presents at length discussion about the growth mechanisms, growth conditions and the tools used for the synthesis of NWs. Although NWs from Si, ZnO and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are included, the discussion is generic and relevant to several other types of NWs as well as heterostructures.
Dietary protein adjustments can reduce environmental impact and economic losses in production systems. However, we lack information regarding nitrogen (N) metabolism and protein requirements for maintenance of crossbred animals such as Red Norte breed, precluding a precise dietary management. The objective was to evaluate the effect of increasing dietary CP levels (9%, 11%, 13%, 15% and 17%) on intake, digestibility and N balance, as well as to estimate the metabolizable protein requirements for maintenance (MPm) of growing Red Norte bulls. Thirty five animals averaging 280 ± 4.0 kg BW were fed during 45 days in a 60 : 40 forage : concentrate ratio diet in which the last 5 days were used for the digestibility trial. Intakes of CP and non-fibrous carbohydrates (NFCs) and feed efficiency linearly increased (P < 0.05) as CP levels increased, while DM, NDF, nitrogen efficiency use and ether extract were not influenced by CP levels (P > 0.05). Digestibilities of DM, organic matter, ether extract, NFC and CP as well as metabolizable energy intake linearly increased (P < 0.05), and true digestibility of CP was not affected (P > 0.05) by treatments. Urinary N and retained N linearly increased (P < 0.05) with the increase in dietary N. The MPm were estimated as 4.46 g/BW0.75 and the efficiency of use of MPm was 0.673. In conclusion, obtained MPm requirements of growing Red Norte bulls are greater than the values reported in literature for Zebu cattle and dietary CP levels of 15% and 17% exhibited great responses for growing Red Norte cattle. However, a cost-benefit evaluation should be done before its use.
Human neurocysticercosis (NCC) is a worldwide neglected disease caused by Taenia solium metacestode and responsible for various complications and neurological disorders. This study aimed to evaluate the use of specific immunoglobulin Y (IgY) produced by laying hens immunized with a hydrophobic fraction of Taenia crassiceps metacestodes (hFTc) in NCC diagnosis. Egg yolk IgY antibodies were fractionated, purified and characterized. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was carried out to evaluate the production kinetics and avidity maturation of anti-hFTc IgY antibodies throughout the IgY obtention process. Antigen recognition tests were carried out by Western blotting and immunofluorescence antibody test using purified and specific anti-hFTc IgY antibodies for detection of parasitic antigens of T. crassiceps and T. solium metacestodes. Sandwich ELISA was performed to detect circulating immune complexes formed by IgG and parasitic antigens in human sera. The results showed high diagnostic values (93.2% sensitivity and 94.3% specificity) for immune complexes detection in human sera with confirmed NCC. In conclusion, specific IgY antibodies produced from immunized hens with hFTc antigens were efficient to detect T. solium immune complexes in human sera, being an innovative and potential tool for NCC immunodiagnosis.
Although extrafloral nectar (EFN) is a key food resource for arboreal ants, its role in structuring ground-nesting ant communities has received little attention, despite these ants also being frequent EFN-attendants. We investigated the role of EFN as a driver of the spatial structure of ground-nesting ant communities occurring in dry forest in north-eastern Brazil. We examined the effects on this relationship of two global drivers of biodiversity decline, chronic anthropogenic disturbance and climate change (through decreasing rainfall). We mapped EFN-producing plants and ant nests in 20 plots distributed along independent gradients of disturbance and rainfall. We categorized ant species into three types according to their dependence on EFN: heavy users, occasional users and non-users. We found a strong relationship between ant dependence on EFN and nest proximity to EFN-producing plants: heavy-users (mean distance 1.1 m) nested closer to EFN-producing plants than did occasional users (1.7 m), which in turn nested closer to EFN-producing plants than did non-users (2.3 m). Neither disturbance nor rainfall affected the proximity of heavy-user nests to EFN-producing plants. Our study shows for the first time that EFN is a key driver of the spatial structure of entire communities of ground-nesting ants.
Asthma-obesity is a multifactorial disease with specific asthma phenotypes that aggravate due to overweight and an unbalanced diet. Furthermore, obese asthmatic patients are corticotherapy-resistant. Therefore, the aims of the present study were to evaluate the effects of an interdisciplinary intervention on food consumption, body composition, lung function and adipokines in asthmatic and non-asthmatic obese adolescents and to investigate the influence of nutrients on lung function. Obese non-asthmatic (n 42) and obese asthmatic (n 21) adolescents of both sexes were enrolled in the present study. Food intake, adipokine levels, body composition, asthma symptoms and lung function were assessed across the study. After the intervention of 1 year, there was a reduction (P ≤ 0·01) in BMI, body fat percentage, visceral and subcutaneous fat and an increase (P ≤ 0·01) in lean mass and all lung function variables in both groups, except the relation between forced expiratory volume in 1 s and forced vital capacity (FEV1:FVC) in non-asthmatic patients. Moreover, both groups decreased lipid and cholesterol consumption (P ≤ 0·01). The highest energy consumption (β = −0·021) was associated with lower values of FVC. Similarly, carbohydrate consumption (β = −0·06) and cholesterol were negative predictors (β = −0·05) in FEV1:FVC. However, the consumption of Ca (β = 0·01), fibres (β = 1·34) and vitamin A (β = 0·01) were positive predictors of FEV1:FVC. Asthma-obesity interdisciplinary treatment promoted an improvement on food consumption and lung function in adolescents and demonstrated that the consumption of nutrients influenced an increase in lung function.
The rocky shores of the north-east Atlantic have been long studied. Our focus is from Gibraltar to Norway plus the Azores and Iceland. Phylogeographic processes shape biogeographic patterns of biodiversity. Long-term and broadscale studies have shown the responses of biota to past climate fluctuations and more recent anthropogenic climate change. Inter- and intra-specific species interactions along sharp local environmental gradients shape distributions and community structure and hence ecosystem functioning. Shifts in domination by fucoids in shelter to barnacles/mussels in exposure are mediated by grazing by patellid limpets. Further south fucoids become increasingly rare, with species disappearing or restricted to estuarine refuges, caused by greater desiccation and grazing pressure. Mesoscale processes influence bottom-up nutrient forcing and larval supply, hence affecting species abundance and distribution, and can be proximate factors setting range edges (e.g., the English Channel, the Iberian Peninsula). Impacts of invasive non-native species are reviewed. Knowledge gaps such as the work on rockpools and host–parasite dynamics are also outlined.
Considering a potential exercise-drug interaction, we investigated whether exercise training could improve the efficacy of specific antiparasitic chemotherapy in a rodent model of Chagas disease. Wistar rats were randomized into five groups: sedentary and uninfected (CT); sedentary and infected (SI); sedentary, infected and treated (SIT); trained and infected (TI); trained, infected and treated (TIT). After 9-weeks running training, the animals were infected with T. cruzi and followed up for 4 weeks, receiving 100 mg kg−1 day−1 benznidazole. No evidence of myocarditis was observed in CT animals. TI animals exhibited reduced parasitemia, myocarditis, and reactive tissue damage compared to SI animals, in addition to increased IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, heart non-protein antioxidant (NPA) levels and glutathione-s transferase activity (P < 0.05). The CT, SIT and TIT groups presented similar reductions in parasitemia, cytokines (IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-4, IL-10, IL-17 and MCP-1), inflammatory infiltrate, oxidative heart damage and antioxidant enzymes activity compared to SI and TI animals, as well as reduced heart microstructural remodeling (P < 0.05). By modulating heart inflammation and redox metabolism, exercise training exerts a protective effect against T. cruzi infection in rats. However, the antiparasitic and cardioprotective effects of benznidazole chemotherapy are more pronounced, determining similar endpoints in sedentary and trained T. cruzi-infected rats.
With still limited information on vitamin requirements and considering that many commercial practices adopt dietary vitamin levels above the values suggested by nutritional tables, this study aimed to assess the effect of administering vitamin supplementation to sows in gestation and lactation and to their litters on the reproductive performance and body condition of the sows and on the performance and immune profile of the litters until slaughter. The trial was split into two phases. The first phase used 104 sows, assigned to be randomized to blocks according to parity, submitted until 21 days of lactation to two treatments: control–standard (standard levels of vitamins) and test–elevated (elevated levels of vitamins). Each sow and its respective farrow were considered an experimental unit. The sows underwent evaluations of body condition score, back fat thickness and reproductive performance. In the second phase, 60 barrows and 60 gilts at 21 days of age and mean initial weight of 5.33 ± 1.5 kg until slaughter at 164 days of age. The piglets were assigned to randomized blocks according to the weight and sex of the animals in a 2 × 2 factorial model, with 10 replicates per treatment, where a pen with three animals represented the experimental unit. Following the same treatments of the first phase, the piglets were evaluated for daily weight gain, daily feed intake, feed conversion, mortality rate and humoral immune response. Vitamin supplementation had no positive effects on the reproductive parameters or body composition of sows. However, it positively impacted the performance of the litters in the early nursery stage, but did not lead to superior effects on the immune responses to vaccination against circovirus or mycoplasma.
The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
The dietary inclusion of feed additives to improve the carcass characteristics of the final product is of great importance for the pork production chain. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effects of the association of ractopamine (RAC) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on the performance traits of finishing pigs during the last 26 days prior to slaughter. In total, 810 commercial hybrid barrows were used. Animals were distributed among treatments according to a randomised block design in a 3 × 3 factorial arrangement, with three RAC levels (0, 5 or 10 ppm) and three CLA levels (0, 0.3 or 0.6%). Pigs fed the diet with 5 ppm RAC had higher average daily feed intake (ADFI) (2.83 kg; P < 0.05) when compared with those fed 10 ppm RAC and the control diet (2.75 and 2.74 kg, respectively). Lower ADFI values (P < 0.01) were observed with the diets containing CLA compared with the control diet with no CLA (2.73 and 2.75 v. 2.85 kg/day, respectively). The average daily weight gain of pigs fed 5 and 10 ppm RAC was +148 and +173 g/dayhigher (P < 0.001), respectively, than those fed the control diet. Dietary RAC levels influenced (P < 0.001) feed conversion ratio (FCR), which was reduced as RAC levels increased, with the pigs fed 10, 5 and 0 ppm RAC presenting FCR values of 2.57, 2.71 and 3.05, respectively. FCR also improved (P < 0.05) with the inclusion of 0.6% CLA relative to the control diet (2.70 v. 2.84, respectively). There was a significant interaction between CLA × RAC levels (P < 0.01) for final BW, loin eye area (LEA) (P < 0.05) and backfat thickness (BT) (P < 0.05). The treatments containing 10 ppm RAC + 0.6% or 0.3% CLA increased LEA and reduced BT. In conclusion, the level of 10 ppm inclusion of RAC increased the overall performance parameters of pigs and therefore improved production efficiency. The combined use of RAC and CLA promoted a lower feed conversion ratio as well as better quantitative carcass traits, as demonstrated by the higher LEA and lower BT. The dietary inclusion of CLA at 0.3% improved feed efficiency, however, without affecting LEA or BT yields.
The enrichment of meat with selenium is important to improve the intake of selenium by humans. The effects of supranutritional doses of sodium selenite or selenium-enriched yeast on performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality were evaluated using 63 Nellore cattle in a completely randomized design with two sources (sodium selenite and selenium-enriched yeast), three levels (0.3, 0.9 and 2.7 mg Se/kg DM) and control treatment (without addition of selenium). Final body weight (BW), average daily gain, dry matter intake and gain to feed ratio (G : F) at the end of 84 days of supplementation were not influenced by treatments (P>0.05). Values of pH, ribeye area, back fat thickness and marbling score were also not influenced by treatments (
P>0.05). Dressing percentage was greater (P=0.02) in Nellore cattle supplemented with organic Se (58.70%) compared to animals supplemented with inorganic Se (57.94%). Hot carcass weight increased (
P=0.05) with the increasing of Se levels in the diet. Colour, shear force (SF), cooking and drip loss remained unchanged (
P>0.05); however thiobarbituric acid reactive substances was 15.51% higher with inorganic Se compared with organic Se. The selenium concentration in the meat of animals receiving organic selenium was higher (
P<0.001) than that of animals receiving sodium selenite, at all levels (0.3; 0.9 and 2.7 mg/kg DM). The meat of animals receiving 2.7 mg of organic Se/kg of DM presented concentration of 372.7 μg Se/kg in the L.dorsi muscle, and the intake of 150 g of this meat by humans provides approximately 100% of the recommended Se intake (55 μg Se/day for adults). Therefore, the use of supranutritional doses of 2.7 mg Se/kg of DM, regardless of source, is a way of naturally producing selenium-enriched meat without compromising performance, carcass characteristics and quality of Nellore bovine meat.