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The pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has posed serious challenges. It is vitally important to further clarify the epidemiological characteristics of the COVID-19 outbreak for future study and prevention and control measures. Epidemiological characteristics and spatial−temporal analysis were performed based on COVID-19 cases from 21 January 2020 to 1 March 2020 in Shandong Province, and close contacts were traced to construct transmission chains. A total of 758 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in Shandong. The sex ratio was 1.27: 1 (M: F) and the median age was 42 (interquartile range: 32–55). The high-risk clusters were identified in the central, eastern and southern regions of Shandong from 25 January 2020 to 10 February 2020. We rebuilt 54 transmission chains involving 209 cases, of which 52.2% were family clusters, and three widespread infection chains were elaborated, occurring in Jining, Zaozhuang and Liaocheng, respectively. The geographical and temporal disparity may alert public health agencies to implement specific measures in regions with different risk, and should attach importance on how to avoid household and community transmission.
In this paper, the generation of relativistic electron mirrors (REM) and the reflection of an ultra-short laser off the mirrors are discussed, applying two-dimension particle-in-cell simulations. REMs with ultra-high acceleration and expanding velocity can be produced from a solid nanofoil illuminated normally by an ultra-intense femtosecond laser pulse with a sharp rising edge. Chirped attosecond pulse can be produced through the reflection of a counter-propagating probe laser off the accelerating REM. In the electron moving frame, the plasma frequency of the REM keeps decreasing due to its rapid expansion. The laser frequency, on the contrary, keeps increasing due to the acceleration of REM and the relativistic Doppler shift from the lab frame to the electron moving frame. Within an ultra-short time interval, the two frequencies will be equal in the electron moving frame, which leads to the resonance between laser and REM. The reflected radiation near this interval and corresponding spectra will be amplified due to the resonance. Through adjusting the arriving time of the probe laser, a certain part of the reflected field could be selectively amplified or depressed, leading to the selective adjustment of the corresponding spectra.
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.
Ovarian follicle selection is a natural biological process in the pre-ovulatory hierarchy in birds that drives growing follicles to be selected within the ovulatory cycle. Follicle selection in birds is strictly regulated, involving signaling pathways mediated by dietary nutrients, gonadotrophic hormones and paracrine factors. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that dietary Ca may participate in regulating follicle selection in laying ducks through activating the signaling pathway of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)/protein kinase A (PKA)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), possibly mediated by gonadotrophic hormones. Female ducks at 22 weeks of age were initially fed one of two Ca-deficient diets (containing 1.8% or 0.38% Ca) or a Ca-adequate control diet (containing 3.6% Ca) for 67 days (depletion period), then all birds were fed the Ca-adequate diet for an additional 67 days (repletion period). Compared with the Ca-adequate control, ducks fed 0.38% Ca during the depletion period had significantly decreased (P < 0.05) numbers of hierarchical follicles and total ovarian weight, which were accompanied by reduced egg production. Plasma concentration of FSH was decreased by the diet containing 1.8% Ca but not by that containing 0.38%. The ovarian content of cAMP was increased with the two Ca-deficient diets, and phosphorylation of PKA and ERK1/2 was increased with 0.38% dietary Ca. Transcripts of ovarian estradiol receptor 2 and luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR) were reduced in the ducks fed the two Ca-deficient diets (P < 0.05), while those of the ovarian follicle stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) were decreased in the ducks fed 0.38% Ca. The transcript abundance of ovary gap junction proteins, A1 and A4, was reduced with the Ca-deficient diets (P < 0.05). The down-regulation of gene expression of gap junction proteins and hormone receptors, the increased cAMP content and the suppressed hierarchical follicle numbers were reversed by repletion of dietary Ca. These results indicate that dietary Ca deficiency negatively affects follicle selection of laying ducks, independent of FSH, but probably by activating cAMP/PKA/ERK1/2 signaling pathway.
Beef cattle are often fed high-concentrate diet (HCD) to achieve high growth rate. However, HCD feeding is strongly associated with metabolic disorders. Mild acid treatment of grains in HCD with 1% hydrochloric acid (HA) followed by neutralization with sodium bicarbonate (SB) might modify rumen fermentation patterns and microbiota, thereby decreasing the negative effects of HCD. This study was thus aimed to investigate the effects of treatment of corn with 1% HA and subsequent neutralization with SB on rumen fermentation and microbiota, inflammatory response and growth performance in beef cattle fed HCD. Eighteen beef cattle were randomly allocated to three groups and each group was fed different diets: low-concentrate diet (LCD) (concentrate : forage = 40 : 60), HCD (concentrate : forage = 60 : 40) or HCD based on treated corn (HCDT) with the same concentrate to forage ratio as the HCD. The corn in the HCDT was steeped in 1% HA (wt/wt) for 48 h and neutralized with SB after HA treatment. The animal trial lasted for 42 days with an adaptation period of 7 days. At the end of the trial, rumen fluid samples were collected for measuring ruminal pH values, short-chain fatty acids, endotoxin (or lipopolysaccharide, LPS) and bacterial microbiota. Plasma samples were collected at the end of the trial to determine the concentrations of plasma LPS, proinflammatory cytokines and acute phase proteins (APPs). The results showed that compared with the LCD, feeding the HCD had better growth performance due to a shift in the ruminal fermentation pattern from acetate towards propionate, butyrate and valerate. However, the HCD decreased ruminal pH and increased ruminal LPS release and the concentrations of plasma proinflammatory cytokines and APPs. Furthermore, feeding the HCD reduced bacterial richness and diversity in the rumen. Treatment of corn increased resistant starch (RS) content. Compared with the HCD, feeding the HCDT reduced ruminal LPS and improved ruminal bacterial microbiota, resulting in decreased inflammation and improved growth performance. In conclusion, although the HCD had better growth performance than the LCD, feeding the HCD promoted the pH reduction and the LPS release in the rumen, disturbed the ruminal bacterial stability and increased inflammatory response. Treatment of corn with HA in combination with subsequent SB neutralization increased the RS content and helped counter the negative effects of feeding HCD to beef steers.
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a planned large radio interferometer designed to operate over a wide range of frequencies, and with an order of magnitude greater sensitivity and survey speed than any current radio telescope. The SKA will address many important topics in astronomy, ranging from planet formation to distant galaxies. However, in this work, we consider the perspective of the SKA as a facility for studying physics. We review four areas in which the SKA is expected to make major contributions to our understanding of fundamental physics: cosmic dawn and reionisation; gravity and gravitational radiation; cosmology and dark energy; and dark matter and astroparticle physics. These discussions demonstrate that the SKA will be a spectacular physics machine, which will provide many new breakthroughs and novel insights on matter, energy, and spacetime.
As Bulgaria transitions away from Global Fund grant, robust estimates of the comparative impact of the various response strategies under consideration are needed to ensure sustained effectiveness of the tuberculosis (TB) programme. We tailored an established mathematical model for TB control to the epidemic in Bulgaria to project the likely outcomes of seven intervention scenarios. Under existing programmatic conditions projected forward, the country's targets for achieving TB elimination in the coming decades will not be achieved. No interventions under consideration were predicted to accelerate the baseline projected reduction in epidemiological indicators significantly. Discontinuation of the ‘Open Doors’ program and activities of non-governmental organisations would result in a marked exacerbation of the epidemic (increasing incidence in 2035 by 6–8% relative to baseline conditions projected forward). Changing to a short course regimen for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) would substantially decrease MDR-TB mortality (by 21.6% in 2035 relative to baseline conditions projected forward). Changing to ambulatory care for eligible patients would not affect TB burden but would be markedly cost-saving. In conclusion, Bulgaria faces important challenges in transitioning to a primarily domestically-financed TB programme. The country should consider maintaining currently effective programs and shifting towards ambulatory care to ensure program sustainability.
Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA), the cryogenic infrared space telescope recently pre-selected for a ‘Phase A’ concept study as one of the three remaining candidates for European Space Agency (ESA's) fifth medium class (M5) mission, is foreseen to include a far-infrared polarimetric imager [SPICA-POL, now called B-fields with BOlometers and Polarizers (B-BOP)], which would offer a unique opportunity to resolve major issues in our understanding of the nearby, cold magnetised Universe. This paper presents an overview of the main science drivers for B-BOP, including high dynamic range polarimetric imaging of the cold interstellar medium (ISM) in both our Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Thanks to a cooled telescope, B-BOP will deliver wide-field 100–350
m images of linearly polarised dust emission in Stokes Q and U with a resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and both intensity and spatial dynamic ranges comparable to those achieved by Herschel images of the cold ISM in total intensity (Stokes I). The B-BOP 200
m images will also have a factor
30 higher resolution than Planck polarisation data. This will make B-BOP a unique tool for characterising the statistical properties of the magnetised ISM and probing the role of magnetic fields in the formation and evolution of the interstellar web of dusty molecular filaments giving birth to most stars in our Galaxy. B-BOP will also be a powerful instrument for studying the magnetism of nearby galaxies and testing Galactic dynamo models, constraining the physics of dust grain alignment, informing the problem of the interaction of cosmic rays with molecular clouds, tracing magnetic fields in the inner layers of protoplanetary disks, and monitoring accretion bursts in embedded protostars.
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.
Optimizing the dietary calcium (Ca) level is essential to maximize the eggshell quality, egg production and bone formation in poultry. This study aimed to establish the Ca requirements of egg-type duck breeders from 23 to 57 weeks of age on egg production, eggshell, incubation, tibial, plasma and ovary-related indices, as well as the expression of matrix protein-related genes. Totally, 450 Longyan duck breeders aged 21 weeks of age were allotted randomly into five treatments, each with six replicates of 15 individually caged birds. The data collection started from 23 weeks of age and continued over the following 35 weeks. The five groups corresponded to five dietary treatments containing either 2.8%, 3.2%, 3.6%, 4.0% or 4.4% Ca. The tested dietary Ca levels increased (linear, P <0.01) egg production and egg mass, and linearly improved (P <0.01) the feed conversion ratio (FCR). Increasing the dietary Ca levels from 2.8% to 4.4% increased (P <0.01) the eggshell thickness and eggshell content. The tested Ca levels showed a quadratic effect on eggshell thickness and ovarian weight (P <0.01); the highest values were obtained with the Ca levels 4.0% and 3.6%, respectively. Dietary Ca levels affected the small yellow follicles (SYF) number and SYF weight/ovarian weight, and the linear response (P <0.01) was significant vis-à-vis SYF number. In addition, dietary Ca levels increased (P <0.05) the tibial dry weight, breaking strength, mineral density and ash content. Plasma and tibial phosphorus concentration exhibited a quadratic (P <0.01) response to dietary Ca levels. Plasma calcitonin concentration linearly (P <0.01) increased as dietary Ca levels increased. The relative expression of carbonic anhydrase 2 in the uterus rose (P <0.01) with the increment of dietary Ca levels, and the highest value was obtained with 3.2% Ca. In conclusion, Longyan duck breeders fed a diet with 4.0% Ca had superior eggshell and tibial quality, while those fed a diet with 3.6% Ca had the heaviest ovarian weights. The regression model indicated that the dietary Ca levels 3.86%, 3.48% and 4.00% are optimal levels to obtain maximum eggshell thickness, ovarian weight and tibial mineral density, respectively.
Laser interaction with an ultra-thin pre-structured target is investigated with the help of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. With the existence of a periodic structure on the target surface, the laser seems to penetrate through the target at its fundamental frequency even if the plasma density of the target is much higher than the laser’s relativistically critical density. The particle-in-cell simulations show that the transmitted laser energy behind the pre-structured target is increased by about two orders of magnitude compared to that behind the flat target. Theoretical analyses show that the transmitted energy behind the pre-structured target is actually re-emitted by electron ‘islands’ formed by the surface plasma waves on the target surfaces. In other words, the radiation with the fundamental frequency is actually ‘surface emission’ on the target rear surface. Besides the intensity of the component with the fundamental frequency, the intensity of the high-order harmonics behind the pre-structured target is also much enhanced compared to that behind the flat target. The enhancement of the high-order harmonics is also related to the surface plasma waves generated on the target surfaces.
Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common monogenic kidney disease and is caused by heterozygous germ-line mutations in either PKD1 (85%) or PKD2 (15%). It is characterised by the formation of numerous fluid-filled renal cysts and leads to adult-onset kidney failure in ~50% of patients by 60 years. Kidney cysts in ADPKD are focal and sporadic, arising from the clonal proliferation of collecting-duct principal cells, but in only 1–2% of nephrons for reasons that are not clear. Previous studies have demonstrated that further postnatal reductions in PKD1 (or PKD2) dose are required for kidney cyst formation, but the exact triggering factors are not clear. A growing body of evidence suggests that DNA damage, and activation of the DNA damage response pathway, are altered in ciliopathies. The aims of this review are to: (i) analyse the evidence linking DNA damage and renal cyst formation in ADPKD; (ii) evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of biomarkers to assess DNA damage in ADPKD and finally, (iii) evaluate the potential effects of current clinical treatments on modifying DNA damage in ADPKD. These studies will address the significance of DNA damage and may lead to a new therapeutic approach in ADPKD.
To investigate a Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak event involving multiple healthcare facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; to characterize transmission; and to explore infection control implications.
Cases presented in 4 healthcare facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: a tertiary-care hospital, a specialty pulmonary hospital, an outpatient clinic, and an outpatient dialysis unit.
Contact tracing and testing were performed following reports of cases at 2 hospitals. Laboratory results were confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) and/or genome sequencing. We assessed exposures and determined seropositivity among available healthcare personnel (HCP) cases and HCP contacts of cases.
In total, 48 cases were identified, involving patients, HCP, and family members across 2 hospitals, an outpatient clinic, and a dialysis clinic. At each hospital, transmission was linked to a unique index case. Moreover, 4 cases were associated with superspreading events (any interaction where a case patient transmitted to ≥5 subsequent case patients). All 4 of these patients were severely ill, were initially not recognized as MERS-CoV cases, and subsequently died. Genomic sequences clustered separately, suggesting 2 distinct outbreaks. Overall, 4 (24%) of 17 HCP cases and 3 (3%) of 114 HCP contacts of cases were seropositive.
We describe 2 distinct healthcare-associated outbreaks, each initiated by a unique index case and characterized by multiple superspreading events. Delays in recognition and in subsequent implementation of control measures contributed to secondary transmission. Prompt contact tracing, repeated testing, HCP furloughing, and implementation of recommended transmission-based precautions for suspected cases ultimately halted transmission.
Methods for the control of molecular deposition and orientation are critical for the development of organic electronic devices. Here, we show the fabrication of ribbons of the optical material polydiacetylene (PDA) using a controlled evaporative self-assembly method. The ability to form these ribbons is highly dependent on both the side groups on the PDA as well as the solvent used in the preparation. Arrays of ribbons of one type of PDA, poly[1,6-di(N-carbazolyl)-2,4-hexadiyne], with widths on the order of 1–2 µm and lengths of 100s of micrometers, could be successfully obtained with good orientation.
Background: Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the synaptic scaffolding gene SHANK2 are strongly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, their impact on the function of human neurons is unknown. Derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from affected individuals permits generation of live neurons to answer this question. Methods: We generated iPSCs by reprogramming dermal fibroblasts of neurotypic and ASD-affected donors. To isolate the effect of SHANK2, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to knock out SHANK2 in control iPSCs and correct a heterozygous nonsense mutation in ASD-affected donor iPSCs. We then derived cortical neurons from SOX1+ neural precursor cells differentiated from these iPSCs. Using a novel assay that overcomes line-to-line variability, we compared neuronal morphology, total synapse number, and electrophysiological properties between SHANK2 mutants and controls. Results: Relative to controls, SHANK2 mutant neurons have increased dendrite complexity, dendrite length, total synapse number (1.5-2-fold), and spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic current (sEPSC) frequency (3-7.6-fold). Conclusions: ASD-associated heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in SHANK2 increase synaptic connectivity among human neurons by increasing synapse number and sEPSC frequency. This is partially supported by increased dendrite length and complexity, providing evidence that SHANK2 functions as a suppressor of dendrite branching during neurodevelopment.
Chilling injury is an important natural stress that can threaten cotton production, especially at the sowing and seedling stages in early spring. It is therefore important for cotton production to improve chilling tolerance at these stages. The current work examines the potential for glycine betaine (GB) treatment of seeds to increase the chilling tolerance of cotton at the seedling stage. Germination under cold stress was increased significantly by GB treatment. Under low temperature, the leaves of seedlings from treated seeds exhibited a higher net photosynthetic rate (PN), higher antioxidant enzyme activity including superoxide dismutase, ascorbate peroxidase and catalase, lower hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) content and less damage to the cell membrane. Enzyme activity was correlated negatively with H2O2 content and degree of damage to the cell membrane but correlated positively with GB content. The experimental results suggested that although GB was only used to treat cotton seed, the beneficial effect caused by the preliminary treatment of GB could play a significant role during germination that persisted to at least the four-leaf seedling stage. Therefore, it is crucial that this method is employed in agricultural production to improve chilling resistance in the seedling stage by soaking the seeds in GB.
In the last three decades the life insurance industry was rocked by a series of mis-selling scandals such as endowment mortgage, personal pension and payment protection insurance mis-selling. Regulators have stepped in to try to address the underlying causes and improve customer protection by introducing more stringent regulation targeted at sales practices and remuneration, product design, disclosure and ongoing monitoring together with significantly larger financial penalties for non-compliance. Against this background, the paper considers whether customers understanding of risks and outcomes associated with life insurance products can be further improved and how poor customer outcomes can be avoided in the future. We acknowledge the complexity of these issues, which involve many stakeholders, covering all stages of the product lifecycle and customer journey and being impacted by a constantly changing regulatory landscape. We first review the current regulatory landscape across both the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions, concluding that whilst regulators have acted to improve customer protection, gaps still remain, particularly around the areas of disclosure and consideration of changing customers’ needs throughout product lifetimes. The paper then considers how the current situation could be improved for customers in a cost effective manner. We focus on improvements in disclosure, needs-based selling, ongoing assessment and communication as a means of ensuring that products continue to meet the customers’ needs and risk profile, and on introducing a duty of care which would force financial services firms to act in the best interests of their customers. In this paper we present our preliminary thoughts and recommendations. Some of the recommendations will cost something to implement, and should therefore be supported by cost-benefit analyses that would weigh these costs against the potentially larger benefits to both customers and the insurance industry.