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Guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) can improve the growth performance of bulls. This study investigated the influences of GAA addition on growth, nutrient digestion, ruminal fermentation and serum metabolites in bulls. Forty-eight Angus bulls were randomly allocated to experimental treatments, that is, control, low-GAA (LGAA), medium-GAA (MGAA) and high-GAA (HGAA), with GAA supplementation at 0, 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 g/kg DM, respectively. Bulls were fed a basal diet containing 500 g/kg DM concentrate and 500 g/kg DM roughage. The experimental period was 104 days, with 14 days for adaptation and 90 days for data collection. Bulls in the MGAA and HGAA groups had higher DM intake and average daily gain than bulls in the LGAA and control groups. The feed conversion ratio was lowest in MGAA and highest in the control. Bulls receiving 0.9 g/kg DM GAA addition had higher digestibility of DM, organic matter, NDF and ADF than bulls in other groups. The digestibility of CP was higher for HGAA than for LGAA and control. The ruminal pH was lower for MGAA, and the total volatile fatty acid concentration was greater for MGAA and HGAA than for the control. The acetate proportion and acetate-to-propionate ratio were lower for MGAA than for LGAA and control. The propionate proportion was higher for MGAA than for control. Bulls receiving GAA addition showed decreased ruminal ammonia N. Bulls in MGAA and HGAA had higher cellobiase, pectinase and protease activities and Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens, Prevotella ruminicola and Ruminobacter amylophilus populations than bulls in LGAA and control. However, the total protozoan population was lower for MGAA and HGAA than for LGAA and control. The total bacterial and Ruminococcus flavefaciens populations increased with GAA addition. The blood level of creatine was higher for HGAA, and the activity of l-arginine glycine amidine transferase was lower for MGAA and HGAA, than for control. The blood activity of guanidine acetate N-methyltransferase and the level of folate decreased in the GAA addition groups. The results indicated that dietary addition of 0.6 or 0.9 g/kg DM GAA improved growth performance, nutrient digestion and ruminal fermentation in bulls.
Human-computer hybrid teams can meet challenges in designing complex engineered systems. However, the understanding of interaction in the hybrid teams is lacking. We review the literature and identify four key attributes to construct design research platforms that support multi-phase design, hybrid teams, multiple design scenarios, and data logging. Then, we introduce a platform for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design embodying these attributes. With the platform, experiments can be conducted to study how designers and intelligent computational agents interact, support, and impact each other.
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.
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.
Se can enhance lactation performance by improving nutrient utilization and antioxidant status. However, sodium selenite (SS) can be reduced to non-absorbable elemental Se in the rumen, thereby reducing the intestinal availability of Se. The study investigated the impacts of SS and coated SS (CSS) supplementation on lactation performance, nutrient digestibility, ruminal fermentation and microbiota in dairy cows. Sixty multiparous Holstein dairy cows were blocked by parity, daily milk yield and days in milk and randomly assigned to five treatments: control, SS addition (0.3 mg Se/kg DM as SS addition) or CSS addition (0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 mg Se/kg DM as CSS addition for low CSS (LCSS), medium CSS (MCSS) and high CSS (HCSS), respectively). Experiment period was 110 days with 20 days of adaptation and 90 days of sample collection. Dry matter intake was higher for MCSS and HCSS compared with control. Yields of milk, milk fat and milk protein and feed efficiency were higher for MCSS and HCSS than for control, SS and LCSS. Digestibility of DM and organic matter was highest for CSS addition, followed by SS addition and then control. Digestibility of CP was higher for MCSS and HCSS than for control, SS and LCSS. Higher digestibility of ether extract, NDF and ADF was observed for SS or CSS addition. Ruminal pH decreased with dietary Se addition. Acetate to propionate ratio and ammonia N were lower, and total volatile fatty acids (VFAs) concentration was greater for SS, MCSS and HCSS than control. Ruminal H ion concentration was highest for MCSS and HCSS and lowest for control. Activities of cellobiase, carboxymethyl-cellulase, xylanase and protease and copies of total bacteria, fungi, Ruminococcus flavefaciens, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Ruminococcus amylophilus increased with SS or CSS addition. Activity of α-amylase, copies of protozoa, Ruminococcus albus and Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens and serum glucose, total protein, albumin and glutathione peroxidase were higher for SS, MCSS and HCSS than for control and LCSS. Dietary SS or CSS supplementation elevated blood Se concentration and total antioxidant capacity activity. The data implied that milk yield was elevated due to the increase in total tract nutrient digestibility, total VFA concentration and microorganism population with 0.2 or 0.3 mg Se/kg DM from CSS supplementation in dairy cows. Compared with SS, HCSS addition was more efficient in promoting lactation performance of dairy cows.
Accretionary orogens contain key evidence for the conversion of oceanic to continental crust. The late tectonic history and closure time of the Palaeo-Asian Ocean are recorded in the Mazongshan subduction–accretion complex in the southern Beishan margin of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt. We present new data on the structure, petrology, geochemistry and zircon U–Pb isotope ages of the Mazongshan subduction–accretion complex, which is a tectonic mélange with a block-in-matrix structure. The blocks are of serpentinized peridotite, basalt, gabbro, basaltic andesite, chert and seamount sediments within a matrix that is mainly composed of fore-arc-trench turbidites. U–Pb zircon ages of two gabbros are 454.6 ± 2.5 Ma and 434.1 ± 3.6 Ma, an andesite has a U–Pb zircon age of 451.3 ± 3.5 Ma and a tuffaceous slate has the youngest U–Pb zircon age of 353.6 ± 5.1 Ma. These new isotopic ages, combined with published data on ophiolitic mélanges from central Beishan, indicate that the subduction–accretion of Beishan in the southernmost Central Asian Orogenic Belt lasted until Late Ordovician – Early Carboniferous time. Structure and age data demonstrate that the younging direction of accretion was southwards and that the subduction zone dipped continuously to the north. Accordingly, these results record the conversion of oceanic to continental crust in the southern Beishan accretionary collage.
Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatry disorder with high heritability. Schizophrenic patients with early age at onset trend to have more genetic component and thus may be an attractive subpopulation for genetic studies. Brain-derived neurotrophimc factor (BDNF) is considered as candidate gene for schizophrenia. A single nucleotide polymorphism (BDNF Val66Met) was reported to be associated with schizophrenia, although discrepancy remains. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and schizophrenia using an early onset sample in Chinese Han population. Our sample consisted of 353 schizophrenic patients with onset before age 18 and 394 healthy age and sex matched controls. All subjects were ethnically homogenous Han Chinese origin. No significant differences of genotype or allele distribution were identified between the patients and controls. However, the Met allele was significantly associated with an earlier age at onset in male schizophrenic patients (Kaplan-Meier log-rank test P = 0.005), but not in females (P = 0.289). The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism has an important effect on the age at onset of schizophrenia in a gender-specific manner, and this may provided a significant genetic clue for the etiology of schizophrenia. Therefore, further studies are required to uncover the exact role of BDNF in the development of schizophrenia.
To study the relationship between insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R)and subsyndromal symptomatic depression (SSD).
In this case-control study, real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) with TaqMan MGB was used to analyzing the differences of IGF1R gene mRNA expression in peripheral leukocytes between subsyndromal symptomatic depression group(n = 47) and healthy controls(n = 52). At the same time Hamilton Depression Rating Scale -17(HAMD17) were assessed.
IGF1R gene mRNA expression was 0.21 ± 0.11 in SSD group, 0.56 ± 0.37 in healthy group, and there was significant difference between both groups on IGF1R expression(z = 39.54, P < 0.001). the expression levels of IGF1R in SSD patients was not correlated with Hamilton score(r = −0.292, p = 0.275).
This study suggested that the decreased expression of IGF1R were related with the pathophysiology of SSD.
Recently, a triple-network model suggested the abnormal interactions between the executive-control network (ECN), default-mode network (DMN) and salience network (SN) are important characteristics of addiction, in which the SN plays a critical role in allocating attentional resources toward the ECN and DMN. Although increasing studies have reported dysfunctions in these brain networks in Internet gaming disorder (IGD), interactions between these networks, particularly in the context of the triple-network model, have not been investigated in IGD. Thus, we aimed to assess alterations in the inter-network interactions of these large-scale networks in IGD, and to associate the alterations with IGD-related behaviors.
DMN, ECN and SN were identified using group-level independent component analysis (gICA) in 39 individuals with IGD and 34 age and gender matched healthy controls (HCs). Then alterations in the SN-ECN and SN-DMN connectivity, as well as in the modulation of ECN versus DMN by SN, using a resource allocation index (RAI) developed and validated previously in nicotine addiction, were assessed. Further, associations between these altered network coupling and clinical assessments were also examined.
Compared with HCs, IGD had significantly increased SN-DMN connectivity and decreased RAI in right hemisphere (rRAI), and the rRAI in IGD was negatively associated with their scores of craving.
These findings suggest that the deficient modulation of ECN versus DMN by SN might provide a mechanistic framework to better understand the neural basis of IGD and might provide novel evidence for the triple-network model in IGD.
The prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) is higher in those with the unemployed and those with low social status. Most of the available data comes from studies in developed countries, and these findings may not extrapolate to developing countries. However, the extent of unemployed status cause MDD is unclear. This study seeks to determine whether depressive disorder is associated with unemployment and to further investigate the relationship between occupation, and social class in Han Chinese women with MDD.
Data came from Oxford and VCU Experimental Research on Genetic Epidemiology (CONVERGE) study of MDD (6017 cases, age between 30 and 60; 5983 controls, age between 40 and 60). DSM-IV depressive and anxiety disorders were assessed using the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview. All subjects were interviewed using a computerized assessment system. All interviewers were trained by the CONVERGE team for a minimum of one week. The interview includes assessment of psychopathology, demographic and personal characteristics, and psychosocial functioning.
The odds ratio (OR) between employment and MDD is 0.69. An OR of less than one is protective. Lower social class is not associated with an increase in the number of episodes, or with increased rates of comorbidity with anxiety disorders.
This study suggests that in Han Chinese women, employment is positive protect factor to MDD. Lower social status and unemployment increases the risk and severity of MDD. In China, lower socioeconomic position is associated with increased rates of MDD, as it is elsewhere in the world.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Childhoods in urban or rural environments may differentially affect risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, we leveraged on dramatic urbanization and rural-urban migration since the 1980s in China to explore the hypothesis that rural or urban childhoods may differentially influence memory processing and neural responses to neutral and aversive stimuli.
Explore the underlying mechanisms of childhood environment effect on brain function and neuropsychiatric risk.
We examined 420 adult subjects with similar current socioeconomic status and living in Beijing, China, but with differing rural (n = 227) or urban (n = 193) childhoods. In an episodic memory paradigm scanned in a 3 T GE MRI, subjects viewed blocks of neutral or aversive pictures in the encoding and retrieval sessions.
Episodic memory accuracy for neutral stimuli was less than for aversive stimuli (P < 0.001). However, subjects with rural childhoods apparently performed less accurately for memory of aversive but not neutral stimuli (P < 0.01). In subjects with rural childhoods, there was relatively increased engagement of bilateral striatum at encoding, increased engagement of bilateral hippocampus at retrieval of neutral and aversive stimuli, and increased engagement of amygdala at aversive retrieval (P < 0.05 FDR corrected, cluster size > 50).
Rural or urban childhoods appear associated with physiological and behavioural differences, particularly in the neural processing of aversive episodic memory at medial temporal and striatal brain regions. It remains to be explored the extent to which these effects relate to individual risk for neuropsychiatric or stress-related disorders.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
This study evaluated the effects of rumen-protected folic acid (RPFA) and betaine (BT) on growth performance, nutrient digestion and blood metabolites in bulls. Forty-eight Angus bulls were blocked by body weight and randomly assigned to four treatments in a 2 × 2 factorial design. BT of 0 or 0·6 g/kg DM was supplemented to diet without or with the addition of 6 mg/kg DM of folic acid from RPFA, respectively. Average daily gain increased by 25·2 and 6·29 % for addition of BT without RPFA and with RPFA, respectively. Digestibility and ruminal total volatile fatty acids of neutral-detergent fibre and acid-detergent fibre increased, feed conversion ratio and blood folate decreased with the addition of BT without RPFA, but these parameters were unchanged with BT addition in diet with RPFA. Digestibility of DM, organic matter and crude protein as well as acetate:propionate ratio increased with RPFA or BT addition. Ruminal ammonia-N decreased with RPFA addition. Activity of carboxymethyl cellulase, cellobiase, xylanase, pectinase and protease as well as population of total bacteria, protozoa, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Ruminobacter amylophilus increased with RPFA or BT addition. Laccase activity and total fungi, Ruminococcus flavefaciens and Prevotella ruminicola population increased with RPFA addition, whereas Ruminococcus albus population increased with BT addition. Blood glucose, total protein, albumin, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 increased with RPFA addition. Addition of RPFA or BT decreased blood homocysteine. The results indicated that addition of BT stimulated growth and nutrient digestion in bulls only when RPFA was not supplemented.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death among infectious diseases. China has a high burden of TB and accounted for almost 13% of the world's cases of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB. Spinal TB is one reason for the resurgence of TB in China. Few large case studies of MDR spinal TB in China have been conducted. The aim of this research was to observe the epidemiological characteristics of inpatients with MDR spinal TB in six provinces and cities of China from 1999–2015. This is a multicentre retrospective observational study. Patients' information was collected from the control disease centre and infectious disease database of hospitals in six provinces and cities in China. A total of 3137 patients with spinal TB and 272 patients with MDR spinal TB were analysed. The result showed that MDR spinal TB remains a public health concern and commonly affects patients 15–30 years of age (34.19%). The most common lesions involved the thoracolumbar spine (35.66%). Local pain was the most common symptom (98.53%). Logistic analysis showed that for spinal TB patients, reside in rural district (OR 1.79), advanced in years (OR 1.92) and high education degree (OR 2.22) were independent risk factors for the development of MDR spinal TB. Women were associated with a lower risk of MDR spinal TB (OR 0.48). The most common first-line and second-line resistant drug was isoniazid (68.75%) and levofloxacin (29.04%), respectively. The use of molecular diagnosis resulted in noteworthy clinical advances, including earlier initiation of MDR spinal TB treatment, improved infection control and better clinical outcome. Chemotherapy and surgery can yield satisfactory outcomes with timely diagnosis and long-term treatment. These results enable a better understanding of the MDR spinal TB in China among the general public.
Experimental and simulation data [Moreau et al., Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion 62, 014013 (2019); Kaymak et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 035004 (2016)] indicate that self-generated magnetic fields play an important role in enhancing the flux and energy of relativistic electrons accelerated by ultra-intense laser pulse irradiation with nanostructured arrays. A fully relativistic analytical model for the generation of the magnetic field based on electron magneto-hydrodynamic description is presented here. The analytical model shows that this self-generated magnetic field originates in the nonparallel density gradient and fast electron current at the interfaces of a nanolayered target. A general formula for the self-generated magnetic field is found, which closely agrees with the simulation scaling over the relevant intensity range. The result is beneficial to the experimental designs for the interaction of the laser pulse with the nanostructured arrays to improve laser-to-electron energy coupling and the quality of forward hot electrons.
The combined addition of branched-chain volatile fatty acids (BCVFAs) and folic acid (FA) could improve growth performance and nutrient utilization by stimulating ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity. This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of BCVFA and FA addition on growth performance, ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility, microbial enzyme activity, microflora and excretion of urinary purine derivatives (PDs) in calves. Thirty-six Chinese Holstein weaned calves (60 ± 5.4 days of age and 107 ± 4.7 kg of BW) were assigned to one of four groups in a randomized block design. Treatments were control (without additives), FA (with 10 mg FA/kg dietary DM), BCVFA (with 5 g BCVFA/kg dietary DM) and the combined addition of FA and BCVFA (10 mg/kg DM of FA and 5 g/kg DM of BCVFA). Supplements were hand-mixed into the top one-third of total mixed ration. Dietary concentrate to maize silage ratio was 50 : 50 on a DM basis. Dietary BCVFA or FA addition did not affect dry matter intake but increased average daily gain (ADG) and feed conversion efficiency. Ruminal pH and ammonia N were lower, and total volatile fatty acids (VFAs) concentration was higher for BCVFA or FA addition than for control. Dietary BCVFA or FA addition did not affect acetate proportion but decreased propionate proportion and increased acetate to propionate ratio. Total tract digestibility of DM, organic matter, CP and NDF was higher for BCVFA or FA addition than for control. Dietary BCVFA or FA addition increased activity of carboxymethyl cellulase and cellobiase, population of total bacteria, fungi, Ruminococcus albus, R. flavefaciens, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Prevotella ruminicola as well as total PD excretion. Ruminal xylanase, pectinase and protease activity and Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens population were increased by BCVFA addition, whereas population of protozoa and methanogens was increased by FA addition. The BCVFA × FA interaction was significant for acetate to propionate ratio, cellobiase activity and total PD excretion, and these variables increased more with FA addition in diet without BCVFA than in diet with BCVFA. The data indicated that supplementation with BCVFA or FA increased ADG, nutrient digestibility, ruminal total VFA concentration and microbial protein synthesis by stimulating ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity in calves.
Nitroethane (NE), 2-nitroethanol (NEOH) and 2-nitro-1-propanol (NPOH) were investigated in order to determine their inhibitory effects on in vitro ruminal fermentation and methane (CH4) production of a hay-rich substrate (alfalfa hay: maize meal = 4:1, w/w). The rumen liquor collected from cannulated Holstein dairy cows was incubated at 39 °C for 72 h. The addition of NE, NEOH and NPOH slowed down the fermentation process and notably decreased molar CH4 proportion by 96.8, 96.4 and 35.0%, respectively. The abundance of total methanogen and methanogens from the order Methanobacteriales were all decreased with NE, NEOH and NPOH supplementation. Meanwhile, the nitrocompound addition reduced mcrA gene expression, coenzyme F420 and F430 contents. The correlation analysis showed that CH4 production was correlated positively with the population abundance of total methanogens, Methanobacteriales, mcrA gene expression, coenzyme contents of F420 and F430. The nitrocompound addition decreased acetate concentration and increased propionate and butyrate concentrations in the culture fluid. In summary, both NE and NEOH addition presented nearly the same inhibitory effectiveness on in vitro CH4 production; they were more effective than NPOH. The results of the current study provide evidence that NE, NEOH and NPOH can dramatically decrease methanogen population, mcrA gene expression and the coenzyme content of F420 and F430 in ruminal methanogenesis.
The effects of pantothenic acid (PA) and folic acid (FA) addition on digestibility coefficient, ruminal fermentation and urinary purine derivative (PD) excretion in dairy bulls were evaluated. Eight rumen-cannulated Holstein dairy bulls were allocated to a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square design according to a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Diets were supplemented with two levels of FA (0 or 8.0 mg/kg dietary dry matter [DM]) and two of PA (0 or 60 mg/kg DM). The PA × FA interaction was not significant for all variables. Both supplements increased DM intake and average daily gain, but decreased a feed conversion ratio. Digestibility of DM, organic matter, crude protein and neutral detergent fibre increased, but ether extract digestibility was unchanged for both supplements. Digestibility of acid detergent fibre only increased with FA supplementation. For both supplements, ruminal pH and ammonia nitrogen (N) decreased, but total volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration increased. Acetate proportion only increased with FA supplementation. Propionate proportion decreased for both supplements. Consequently, the acetate to propionate ratio increased. For both supplements, activity of xylanase and pectinase, population of Ruminococcus albus, R. flavefaciens, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Ruminobacter amylophilus and total PD excretion increased. Additionally, activity of carboxymethylcellulase, cellobiase, α-amylase and protease, and population of total bacteria, fungi, protozoa, methanogens, Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens and Prevotella ruminicola increased with FA addition. The results suggested that PA and FA supplementation stimulated ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity, resulting in an increased digestibility coefficient and ruminal total VFA concentration in dairy bulls.
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.
Estimating the feed intake of grazing herbivores is critical for determining their nutrition, overall productivity and utilization of grassland resources. A 17-day indoor feeding experiment was conducted to evaluate the potential use of Medicago sativa as a natural supplement for estimating the total feed intake of sheep. A total of 16 sheep were randomly assigned to four diets (four sheep per diet) containing a known amount of M. sativa together with up to seven forages common to typical steppes. The diets were: diet 1, M. sativa + Leymus chinensis + Puccinellia distans; diet 2, species in diet 1 + Phragmites australis; diet 3, species in diet 2 + Chenopodium album + Elymus sibiricus; and diet 4, species in diet 3 + Artemisia scoparia + Artemisia tanacetifolia. After faecal marker concentrations were corrected by individual sheep recovery, treatment mean recovery or overall recovery, the proportions of M. sativa and other dietary forages were estimated from a combination of alkanes and long-chain alcohols using a least-square procedure. Total intake was the ratio of the known intake of M. sativa to its estimated dietary proportion. Each dietary component intake was obtained using total intake and the corresponding dietary proportions. The estimated values were compared with actual values to assess the estimation accuracy. The results showed that M. sativa exhibited a distinguishable marker pattern in comparison to the other dietary forage species. The accuracy of the dietary composition estimates was significantly (P < 0.001) affected by both diet diversity and the faecal recovery method. The proportion of M. sativa and total intake across all diets could be accurately estimated using the individual sheep or the treatment mean recovery methods. The largest differences between the estimated and observed total intake were 2.6 g and 19.2 g, respectively, representing only 0.4% and 2.6% of the total intake. However, they were significantly (P < 0.05) biased for most diets when using the overall recovery method. Due to the difficulty in obtaining individual sheep recovery under field conditions, treatment mean recovery is recommended. This study suggests that M. sativa, a natural roughage instead of a labelled concentrate, can be utilized as a dietary supplement to accurately estimate the total feed intake of sheep indoors and further indicates that it has potential to be used in steppe grassland of northern China, where the marker patterns of M. sativa differ markedly from commonly occurring plant species.
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.