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The characteristic traits of maize (Zea mays L.) leaves affect light interception and photosynthesis. Measurement or estimation of individual leaf area has been described using discontinuous equations or bell-shaped functions. However, new maize hybrids show different canopy architecture, such as leaf angle in modern maize which is more upright and ear leaf and adjacent leaves which are longer than older hybrids. The original equations and their parameters, which have been used for older maize hybrids and grown at low plant densities, will not accurately represent modern hybrids. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to develop a new empirical equation that captures vertical leaf distribution. To characterize the vertical leaf profile, we conducted a field experiment in Jilin province, Northeast China from 2015 to 2018. Our new equation for the vertical distribution of leaf profile describes leaf length, width or leaf area as a function of leaf rank, using parameters for the maximum value for leaf length, width or area, the leaf rank at which the maximum value is obtained, and the width of the curve. It thus involves one parameter less than the previously used equations. By analysing the characteristics of this new equation, we identified four key leaf ranks (4, 8, 14 and 20) for which leaf parameter values need to be quantified in order to have a good estimation of leaf length, width and area. Together, the method of leaf area estimation proposed here adds versatility for use in modern maize hybrids and simplifies the field measurements by using the four key leaf ranks to estimate vertical leaf distribution in maize canopy instead of all leaf ranks.
Soybean meal is rich in soybean isoflavones, which exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anticancer functions in humans and animals. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of soybean isoflavones on the growth performance, intestinal morphology and antioxidative properties in pigs. A total of 72 weaned piglets (7.45 ± 0.13 kg; 36 males and 36 females) were allocated into three treatments and fed corn-soybean meal (C-SBM), corn-soy protein concentrate (C-SPC) or C-SPC supplemented with equal levels of the isoflavones found in the C-SBM diet (C-SPC + ISF) for a 72-day trial. Each treatment had six replicates and four piglets per replicate, half male and half female. On day 42, one male pig from each replicate was selected and euthanized to collect intestinal samples. The results showed that compared to pigs fed the C-SPC diet, pigs fed the C-SBM and C-SPC + ISF diets had higher BW on day 72 (P < 0.05); pigs fed the C-SBM diet had significantly higher average daily gain (ADG) during days 14 to 28 (P < 0.05), with C-SPC + ISF being intermediate; pigs fed the C-SBM diet tended to have higher ADG during days 42 to 72 (P = 0.063), while pigs fed the C-SPC + ISF diet had significantly higher ADG during days 42 to 72 (P < 0.05). Moreover, compared to pigs fed the C-SPC diet, pigs fed the C-SBM diet tended to have greater villus height (P = 0.092), while pigs fed the C-SPC + ISF diet had significantly greater villus height (P < 0.05); pigs fed the C-SBM and C-SPC + ISF diets had significantly increased villus height-to-crypt depth ratio (P < 0.05). Compared with the C-SPC diet, dietary C-SPC + ISF tended to increase plasma superoxide dismutase activity on days 28 (P = 0.085) and 42 (P = 0.075) and reduce plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) content on day 42 (P = 0.089), as well as significantly decreased jejunal mucosa MDA content on day 42 (P < 0.05). However, no significant difference in the expression of tight junction genes among the three groups was found (P > 0.05). In conclusion, our results suggest that a long-term exposure to soybean isoflavones enhances the growth performance, protects the intestinal morphology and improves the antioxidative properties in pigs.
Reducing dietary CP content is an effective approach to reduce animal nitrogen excretion and save protein feed resources. However, it is not clear how reducing dietary CP content affects the nutrient digestion and absorption in the gut of ruminants, therefore it is difficult to accurately determine how much reduction in dietary CP content is appropriate. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of reduced dietary CP content on N balance, intestinal nutrient digestion and absorption, and rumen microbiota in growing goats. To determine N balance, 18 growing wether goats (25.0 ± 0.5 kg) were randomly assigned to one of three diets: 13.0% (control), 11.5% and 10.0% CP. Another 18 growing wether goats (25.0 ± 0.5 kg) were surgically fitted with ruminal, proximate duodenal, and terminal ileal fistulae and were randomly assigned to one of the three diets to investigate intestinal amino acid (AA) absorption and rumen microbiota. The results showed that fecal and urinary N excretion of goats fed diets containing 11.5% and 10.0% CP were lower than those of goats fed the control diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, N retention was decreased and apparent N digestibility in the entire gastrointestinal tract was increased in goats fed the 10% CP diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, the duodenal flow of lysine, tryptophan and phenylalanine was decreased in goats fed the 11.5% CP diet (P < 0.05) and that of lysine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, leucine, glutamic acid, tyrosine, essential AAs (EAAs) and total AAs (TAAs) was decreased in goats fed the 10.0% CP diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, the apparent absorption of TAAs in the small intestine was increased in goats fed the 11.5% CP diet (P < 0.05) and that of isoleucine, serine, cysteine, EAAs, non-essential AAs, and TAAs in the small intestine was increased in goats fed the 10.0% CP diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, the relative richness of Bacteroidetes and Fibrobacteres was increased and that of Proteobacteria and Synergistetes was decreased in the rumen of goats fed a diet with 10.0% CP. In conclusion, reducing dietary CP content reduced N excretion and increased nutrient utilization by improving rumen fermentation, enhancing nutrient digestion and absorption, and altering rumen microbiota in growing goats.
A material’s properties are derived from its constituent material composition and its structural hierarchy across length scales down to the nanometer level. At submicron length scales, materials exhibit unique size-affected mechanical properties such as enhanced strength, ductility, and flaw tolerance, but these are generally lost in bulk materials. Emerging fabrication methods have enabled the creation of materials with controllable architectures down to the nanoscale. These micro- and nanoarchitected materials utilize both resilient architectures and size-affected constituent materials to achieve unprecedented mechanical properties such as ultrahigh strength at low density, recoverability after large applied strains in intrinsically brittle materials, and metamaterial properties such as chirality and negative static compressibility. In this article, we describe the governing principles behind these materials and outline recent progress in the field. We unravel the details of the deformation and failure processes to facilitate a fundamental understanding of effective materials properties and provide a guideline for the design of the next generation of nanoarchitected materials.
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.
The formation of Low mass X-ray binaries (LMXB) is favored within dense stellar systems such as Globular Clusters (GCs). The connection between LMXB and Globular Clusters has been extensively studied in the literature, but these studies have always been restricted to the innermost regions of galaxies. We present a study of LMXB in GCs within the central 1.5 deg2 of the Fornax cluster with the aim of confirming the existence of a population of LMXB in intra-cluster GCs and understand if their properties are related to the host GCs, to the environment or/and to different formation channels.
Global inequity in access to and availability of essential mental health services is well recognized. The mental health treatment gap is approximately 50% in all countries, with up to 90% of people in the lowest-income countries lacking access to required mental health services. Increased investment in global mental health (GMH) has increased innovation in mental health service delivery in LMICs. Situational analyses in areas where mental health services and systems are poorly developed and resourced are essential when planning for research and implementation, however, little guidance is available to inform methodological approaches to conducting these types of studies. This scoping review provides an analysis of methodological approaches to situational analysis in GMH, including an assessment of the extent to which situational analyses include equity in study designs. It is intended as a resource that identifies current gaps and areas for future development in GMH. Formative research, including situational analysis, is an essential first step in conducting robust implementation research, an essential area of study in GMH that will help to promote improved availability of, access to and reach of mental health services for people living with mental illness in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While strong leadership in this field exists, there remain significant opportunities for enhanced research representing different LMICs and regions.
The Centro de Laseres Pulsados in Salamanca, Spain has recently started operation phase and the first user access period on the 6 J 30 fs 200 TW system (VEGA 2) already started at the beginning of 2018. In this paper we report on two commissioning experiments recently performed on the VEGA 2 system in preparation for the user campaign. VEGA 2 system has been tested in different configurations depending on the focusing optics and targets used. One configuration (long focal length
cm) is for underdense laser–matter interaction where VEGA 2 is focused onto a low density gas-jet generating electron beams (via laser wake field acceleration mechanism) with maximum energy up to 500 MeV and an X-ray betatron source with a 10 keV critical energy. A second configuration (short focal length
cm) is for overdense laser–matter interaction where VEGA 2 is focused onto a
thick Al target generating a proton beam with a maximum energy of 10 MeV and temperature of 2.5 MeV. In this paper we present preliminary experimental results.
Plant nitrogen (N) links with many physiological progresses of crop growth and yield formation. Accurate simulation is key to predict crop growth and yield correctly. The aim of the current study was to improve the estimation of N uptake and translocation processes in the whole rice plant as well as within plant organs in the RiceGrow model by using plant and organ maximum, critical and minimum N dilution curves. The maximum and critical N (Nc) demand (obtained from the maximum and critical curves) of shoot and root and Nc demand of organs (leaf, stem and panicle) are calculated by N concentration and biomass. Nitrogen distribution among organs is computed differently pre- and post-anthesis. Pre-anthesis distribution is determined by maximum N demand with no priority among organs. In post-anthesis distribution, panicle demands are met first and then the remaining N is allocated to other organs without priority. The amount of plant N uptake depends on plant N demand and N supplied by the soil. Calibration and validation of the established model were performed on field experiments conducted in China and the Philippines with varied N rates and N split applications; results showed that this improved model can simulate the processes of N uptake and translocation well.
Thousand Island Lake (TIL) is a typical fragmented landscape and an ideal model to study ecological effects of fragmentation. Partial fragments of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene of 23 island populations of Dendrolimus punctatus in TIL were sequenced, 141 haplotypes being identified. The number of haplotypes increased significantly with the increase in island area and shape index, whereas no significant correlation was detected between three island attributes (area, shape and isolation) and haplotype diversity. However, the correlation with number of haplotypes was no longer significant when the ‘outlier’ island JSD (the largest island) was not included. Additionally, we found no significant relationship between geographic distance and genetic distance. Geographic isolation did not obstruct the gene flow among D. punctatus populations, which might be because of the high dispersal capacity of this pine moth. Fragmentation resulted in the conversion of large and continuous habitats into isolated, small and insular patches, which was the primary effect on the genetic diversity of D. punctatus in TIL. The conclusion to emphasize from our research is that habitat fragmentation reduced the biological genetic diversity to some extent, further demonstrating the importance of habitat continuity in biodiversity protection.
The oxidative study has always been particularly topical in poultry science. However, little information about the occurrence of cellular apoptosis and autophagy through the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signal pathway was reported in the liver of broilers exposed to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). So we investigated the change of growth performance of broilers exposed to H2O2 and further explored the occurrence of apoptosis and autophagy, as well as the expression of NF-κB in these signaling pathways in the liver. A total of 320 1-day-old Arbor Acres male broiler chickens were raised on a basal diet and randomly divided into five treatments which were arranged as non-injected treatment (Control), physiological saline (0.75%) injected treatment (Saline) and H2O2 treatments (H2O2(0.74), H2O2(1.48) and H2O2(2.96)) received an intraperitoneal injection of H2O2 with 0.74, 1.48 and 2.96 mM/kg BW. The results showed that compared to those in the control and saline treatments, 2.96 mM/kg BW H2O2-treated broilers exhibited significantly higher feed/gain ratio at 22 to 42 days and 1 to 42 days, ROS formation, the contents of oxidation products, the mRNA expressions of caspases (3, 6, 8), microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3)-II/LC3-I, autophagy-related gene 6, Bcl-2 associated X and protein expressions of total caspase-3 and total LC3-II, and significantly lower BW gain at 22 to 42 days and 1 to 42 days, the activities of total superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, the expression of NF-κB in the liver. Meanwhile, significantly higher feed/gain ratio at 1 to 42 days, ROS formation, the contents of protein carbonyl and malondialdehyde, the mRNA expression of caspase-3 and the protein expressions of total caspase-3 and total LC3-II, as well as significantly lower BW gain at 22 to 42 days and 1 to 42 days were observed in broilers received 1.48 mM/kg BW H2O2 treatment than those in control and saline treatments. These results indicated that oxidative stress induced by H2O2 had a negative effect on histomorphology and redox status in the liver of broilers, which was associated with a decline in growth performance of broilers. This may attribute to apoptosis and autophagy processes triggered by excessive ROS that suppress the NF-κB signaling pathway.
Litter size has a great impact on the profit of swine producers. Uterine development is an important determinant of reproduction efficiency and could hence affect litter size. Chinese Erhualian pig is one of the most prolific breeds in the world, even though large phenotypic variation in litter size was observed within Erhualian sows. To dissect the genetic basis of the phenotypic variation, we herein conducted genome-wide association studies for total number born and number born alive (NBA) of Erhualian sows. In total, one significant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (P<1.78e−06) and 11 suggestive SNPs (P<3.57e−05) were identified on 10 chromosomes, confirming seven previously reported quantitative trait loci (QTL) and uncovering six QTL for litter size or uterus length. One locus on Sus scrofa chromosome (SSC) 13 (79.28 to 90.43 Mb) harbored a cluster of suggestive SNPs associated with multiparous NBA. The SNP (rs81447100) within this region was confirmed to be significantly (P<0.05) associated with litter size in Erhualian (n=313), Sutai (n=173) and Yorkshire (n=488) populations. Retinol binding protein 2 and retinol binding protein 1 functionally related to the development of uterus were located in a region of 2 Mb around rs81447100. Moreover, four genes related to embryo implantation and development were also detected around other significant SNPs. Taken together, our findings provide a potential marker (rs81447100) for the genetic improvement of litter size not only in Chinese Erhualian pigs but also in European commercial pig breeds like Yorkshire, and would facilitate the final identification of causative variant(s) underlying the effect of SSC13 QTL on litter size.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
Piglets are characteristically cold intolerant and thus susceptible to high mortality. However, browning of white adipose tissue (WAT) can induce non-shivering thermogenesis as a potential strategy to facilitate the animal’s response to cold. Whether cold exposure can induce browning of subcutaneous WAT (sWAT) in piglets in a similar manner as it can in humans remains largely unknown. In this study, piglets were exposed to acute cold (4°C, 10 h) or chronic cold exposure (8°C, 15 days), and the genes and proteins of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)-dependent and independent thermogenesis, mitochondrial biogenesis, lipogenic and lipolytic processes were analysed. Interestingly, acute cold exposure induced browning of porcine sWAT, smaller adipocytes and the upregulated expression of UCP1, PGC1α, PGC1β, C/EBPβ, Cidea, UCP3, CKMT1 and PM20D1. Conversely, chronic cold exposure impaired the browning process, reduced mitochondrial numbers and the expression of browning markers, including UCP1, PGC1α and PRDM16. The present study demonstrated that acute cold exposure (but not chronic cold exposure) induces porcine sWAT browning. Thus, browning of porcine sWAT could be a novel strategy to balance the body temperature of piglets, and thus could be protective against cold exposure.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the leading causes of death and morbidity associated with liver disease. Risk factors identified for the transmission of HCV include contaminated blood products, intravenous drug use, body piercing, an infected mother at birth, sexual activity, and dental therapy, among others. However, the exact diversity of the HCV genotype and genetic variation among patients with low-risk factors is still unknown. In this study, we briefly described and analysed the genotype distribution and genetic variation of HCV infections with low-risk factors using molecular biology techniques. The results suggested that genotype 1b was predominant, followed by genotypes 2a and 1a. Genetic variations in the 5′ UTR sequences of HCV were identified, including point mutations, deletions, and insertions. The frequency of genetic variations in 1b was higher than in 2a. This study provides considerable value for the prevention and treatment of liver disease caused by HCV among patients with low-risk factors and for the development of HCV diagnostic reagents and vaccines.
Prior research has typically found a negative relationship between chronic pain and memory, and we examined whether cognitive control processes (e.g. reflection and rumination) moderated this relationship in individuals with Chiari malformation Type I (CM). CM is a neurological condition in which the cerebellar tonsils descend into the medullary and upper cervical spine regions potentially resulting in severe headaches and neck pain.
CM patients who had (n = 341) and had not (n = 297) undergone decompression surgery completed the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form-Revised (SF-MPQ-2), the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT), and the Rumination-Reflection Questionnaire (RRQ). Immediate recall scores were compared to those of 102 healthy controls, and delayed recall performance was compared across other variables within the CM group.
CM patients performed more poorly on immediate recall than did controls. Within CM patients, we observed main effects for reflection and age, and a pain x reflection x surgical status (surgery v. no surgery) interaction in which non-decompressed individuals with low levels of pain and high levels of reflection showed superior delayed recall relative to non-decompressed individuals with higher pain and all decompressed individuals.
CM patients show an immediate recall deficit relative to controls, regardless of surgical status. High levels of reflection were associated with better delayed recall performance in non-decompressed CM patients with lower pain levels. High levels of chronic pain may overwhelm increased focused attention abilities, but higher levels of reflection partially overcome the distracting effects of pain and this may represent a type of resilience.
A new trajectory tracking control approach for an under-actuated stratospheric airship is proposed. There is a two-level structure of the proposed controller. A low-level controller based on non-linear vectorial backstepping method, with the rigid-body dynamics expressed on vector form, stabilises the attitude and velocity of the airship, while a high-level controller performs guidance and trajectory tracking task in the three-dimensional (3D) space. Furthermore, a control allocation module based on the active set algorithm is incorporated into the low-level controller to optimise the practical control inputs under constraints of actuator saturation. The closed-loop trajectory tracking control plant is proved to be globally exponentially stable through the Lyapunov theory. Finally, simulations show that the vectorial backstepping trajectory tracking controller can achieve desired tracking performances even if the airship is affected by parametric uncertainties and exogenous disturbances.
Studies from high-income countries report moderate-to-strong positive associations between alcohol use disorder (AUD) and other mental disorders, but there is little evidence about the comorbidity of AUD from low-and-middle-income countries.
A sample of 74 752 adults from five provinces that account for >12% of China's adult population was screened using the General Health Questionnaire, and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV was administered by psychiatrists to a subsample of 9619 males. The associations between AUD and other mental disorders at each site and the characteristics of men with AUD with and without comorbid mental disorders were estimated using logistic regression and summarized across sites using meta-analysis. Generalized estimation equations estimated the associations between the clinical features of alcohol dependence and comorbidity.
Robust inverse associations were found between current AUD and any mood disorder (adjusted OR = 0.6, 95% CI = 0.4–0.8) and any anxiety disorder (OR = 0.5, 95% CI = 0.3–1.0). Compared with men without AUD, men with AUD without comorbid disorders were more likely to be middle-aged, to be currently married, and to have higher family incomes. Men with comorbid AUD and other disorders were more likely to have the clinical features of alcohol dependence than men with AUD without comorbid disorders.
Inverse associations between AUD and other mental disorders and the higher social status of men with AUD than men without AUD found in this large, representative sample of community-dwelling Chinese males highlight the importance of considering the local substance-use culture when designing clinical or preventive interventions for addictive conditions.
Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) play a fundamental role in insect olfaction. In recent years, Galeruca daurica (Joannis) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has become one of the most important insect pests in the Inner Mongolian grasslands of China. This pest only feeds on the species of Allium plants, implying the central role of olfaction in its search for specific host plants. However, the olfaction-related proteins have not been investigated in this beetle. In this study, we identified 29 putative OBP genes, namely GdauOBP1–29, from the transcriptome database of G. daurica assembled in our laboratory by using RNA-Seq. All 29 genes had the full-length open reading frames except GdauOBP29, encoding proteins in length from 119 to 202 amino acids with their predicted molecular weights from 12 to 22 kDa with isoelectric points from 3.88 to 8.84. Predicted signal peptides consisting of 15–22 amino acid residues were found in all except GdauOBP6, GdauOBP13 and GdauOBP29. The amino acid sequence identity between the 29 OBPs ranged 8.33–71.83%. GdauOBP1–12 belongs to the Classic OBPs, while the others belong with the Minus-C OBPs. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that GdauOBPs are the closest to CbowOBPs from Colaphellus bowringi. RT-PCR and qRT-PCR analyses showed that all GdauOBPs were expressed in adult antennae, 11 of which with significant differences in their expression levels between males and females. Most GdauOBPs were also expressed in adult heads (without antennae), thoraxes, abdomens, legs and wings. Moreover, the expression levels of the GdauOBPs varied during the different development stages of G. daurica with most GdauOBPs expressed highly in the adult antennae but scarcely in eggs and pupae. These results provide insights for further research on the molecular mechanisms of chemical communications in G. daurica.