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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.
Dietary supplementation with the organic chromium (Cr) has been shown to positively affect the immune function of poultry. However, to our knowledge, no experiment has been done to directly compare the impacts of Cr chloride and chromium picolinate (CrPic) on the immune responses of broilers vaccinated with Avian Influenza (AI) virus vaccine. Therefore, the present experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of supplemental Cr sources (Cr chloride and CrPic) and levels on the growth performance and immune responses of broilers vaccinated with AI virus vaccine so as to provide an effective nutritional strategy for improving immune function of broilers. A total of 432 1-day (d)-old male broiler chicks were used in a 1 plus 2×4 design. Chickens were given either a diet without Cr supplementation (control) or diets supplemented with 0.4, 0.8, 1.6, or 3.2 mg Cr/kg as either Cr chloride or CrPic for 42 d. Compared to the control, dietary Cr supplementation had no effect (P>0.05) on average daily gain, average daily feed intake and gain : feed of broilers during the starter and grower phases, but increased (P<0.05) the relative weights of bursa of fabricius on d 21 and thymus, spleen, or bursa of fabricius on d 42, serum antibody titers against AI virus on d 21, 28, 35 and 42, blood T-lymphocyte transformation rate on d 28 and 42, blood T-lymphocyte percentage on d 42, and serum interleukin-2 contents on d 28. Broilers fed the diets supplemented with the inorganic Cr chloride had higher (P<0.05) weights of thymus, spleen and bursa of fabricius than those fed the diets supplemented with the CrPic on d 42. In addition, broilers fed the diets supplemented with the CrPic had higher (P<0.05) antibody titers against AI virus than those fed the diets supplemented with the inorganic Cr chloride on d 21 and 35. These results indicate that dietary Cr supplementation improved immune responses of broilers vaccinated with AI virus, and the inorganic Cr chloride was more effective than the CrPic in increasing the relative weights of lymphoid organs, however, the CrPic was more effective than the inorganic Cr chloride in enhancing the serum antibody titer against AI virus.
Flexibility is a particularly important biomechanical property for intracranial vascular stents. To study the flexibility of stent, the following work was carried out by using the finite element method: Four mechanical models were adopted to simulate the bending deformation of stents, and comparative studies were conducted about the distinction between cantilever beam and simply supported beam, as well as the distinction between moment-loading method and displacement-loading method. A complete process as implanting a stent including compressing, expanding and bending was also simulated, for analyzing the effects of compressing and expanding deformation on stent flexibility. At the same time, the effects of the arrangement and the number of bridges on stent flexibility were researched. The results show that: 1. A same flexibility index was obtained from cantilever beam model and simply supported beam model; displacement-loading method is better than moment-loading for simulating the bending deformation of stents. 2. The flexibility of stent with compressing and expanding deformation is lower than that in the initial form. 3. Crossly arranging the neighboring bridges in axial direction, can effectively improve the stent flexibility and reduce the flexibility difference in various bending directions; the bridge number, has proportional non-linear correlation with the stent rigidity as well as the maximum moment required for bending the stent.
We report on a novel processing route to prepare La0.8Ce0.2(Fe0.95Co0.05)11.8Si1.2/Cu bulk composites by low-temperature hot pressing. With increasing copper content, the compressive strength of the composites first decrease and then increase owing to the buffering effect of copper, but the magnetocaloric effect reduces to some extent. Copper addition improves the thermal conductivity of the composites, which compensates for the decrease in thermal conductivity due to porosity. A relatively large entropy change of 5.75–7.19 J/(kg K) at 2 T near the Curie temperature (249 K), good thermal conductivity of 7.51–15.55 W/(m·K), and improved compressive strength of 151.1–248.0 MPa make these composites attractive magnetic refrigeration materials.
Recent advances in early stage failure analysis approaches have introduced behavioral network analysis (BNA), which applies a network-based model of a complex engineered system to detect the system-level effect of ‘local’ failures of design variables and parameters. Previous work has shown that changes in microscale network metrics can signify system-level performance degradation. This article introduces a new insight into the influence of the community structure of the behavioral network on the failure tolerance of the system through the role of bridging nodes. Bridging nodes connect a community of nodes in a system to one or more nodes or communities outside of the community. In a study of forty systems, it is found that bridging nodes, under attack, are associated with significantly larger system-level behavioral degradation than non-bridging nodes. This finding indicates that the modularity of the behavioral network could be key to understanding the failure tolerance of the system and that parameters associated with bridging nodes between modules could play a vital role in system degradation.
Multiple human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 genotypes in China were first discovered in Yunnan Province before disseminating throughout the country. As the HIV-1 epidemic continues to expand in Yunnan, genetic characteristics and transmitted drug resistance (TDR) should be further investigated among the recently infected population. Among 2828 HIV-positive samples newly reported in the first quarter of 2014, 347 were identified as recent infections with BED-captured enzyme immunoassay (CEIA). Of them, 291 were successfully genotyped and identified as circulating recombinant form (CRF)08_BC (47.4%), unique recombinant forms (URFs) (18.2%), CRF01_AE (15.8%), CRF07_BC (14.4%), subtype C (2.7%), CRF55_01B (0.7%), subtype B (0.3%) and CRF64_BC (0.3%). CRF08_BC and CRF01_AE were the predominant genotypes among heterosexual and homosexual infections, respectively. CRF08_BC, URFs, CRF01_AE and CRF07_BC expanded with higher prevalence in central and eastern Yunnan. The recent common ancestor of CRF01_AE, CRF07_BC and CRF08_BC dated back to 1983.1, 1992.1 and 1989.5, respectively. The effective population sizes (EPS) for CRF01_AE and CRF07_BC increased exponentially during 1991–1999 and 1994–1999, respectively. The EPS for CRF08_BC underwent two exponential growth phases in 1994–1998 and 2001–2002. Lastly, TDR-associated mutations were identified in 1.8% of individuals. These findings not only enhance our understanding of HIV-1 evolution in Yunnan but also have implications for vaccine design and patient management strategies.
It was reported that high blood cholesterol levels increased the susceptibility to mitochondrial dysfunction. This study hypothesized that the gestational hypercholesterolemia (HC) could induce the mitochondrial dysfunction in term human placenta. The eligible pregnant women were recruited from Xuanwu Hospital in Beijing during their first prenatal visit (before their 10th week of pregnancy). In total, 19 pregnant women whose serum total cholesterol levels were higher than 7.25 mm at third trimester (measured at 36–38 weeks) were selected as gestational HC. Other 19 pregnant women with normal cholesterol level matched with age, pre-gestational body mass index, and the neonatal gender were included as the control group. Full-term placenta samples were collected. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number, messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, adenosine triphosphate monophosphatase 6 (ATP6ase), citrate synthase, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) co-activator 1α, PPARγ co-activator 1β and estrogen-related receptor-α, and the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme complex were measured. Pregnancy outcomes were obtained by extraction from medical records and the labor ward register. The results showed that only placental mtDNA copy number and mRNA expression of ATP6ase were significantly decreased in HC group. No significant differences were detected of other measurements between the two groups. These findings indicated that gestational HC might not induce the damage of placental function seriously.
Nitrogen (N) application and irrigation to winter wheat may decrease leaf temperature and enhance photosynthesis: as a result, more photosynthates will be allocated to the grains, resulting in higher grain yields. To investigate this hypothesis, a 2-year field study was conducted with three levels of N fertilizer application (no fertilizer, N0; 240 kg N/ha, N1; 360 kg N/ha, N2) and two different water regimes (rainfed with no irrigation, R; irrigation at the over-wintering, stem elongation and grain filling stages, W). The results show that both N application and supplemental irrigation significantly increased grain yield with increases in both grain number/m2 and the 1000-grain weight, viz., WN2>WN1>WN0>RN2>RN1>RN0. In addition, application of N under both water regimes significantly increased flag leaf area, above-ground biomass and single stem productivity and decreased leaf temperature, which led to an increase in net photosynthesis rates and ribulose bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase activity. Moreover, analysis of the chlorophyll α fluorescence transient showed that N fertilizer application and supplemental irrigation significantly increased electron donor and acceptor performance of the photosystem II reaction centre.
It has not been well established whether dietary folate intake reduces the risk of diabetes development. We aimed to clarify the prospective association between dietary folate intake and type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk among 7333 Korean adults aged 40 years or older who were included in the Multi-Rural Communities Cohort. Dietary folate intake was estimated from all 106 food items listed on a FFQ, not including folate intake from supplements. Two different measurements of dietary folate intake were used: the baseline consumption and the average consumption from baseline until just before the end of follow-up. The association between folate intake and T2D risk was determined through a modified Poisson regression model with a robust error estimator controlling for potential confounders. For 29 745 person years, 319 cases of diabetes were ascertained. In multivariable analyses, dietary folate intake was inversely associated with risk of T2D for women, not for men. For women, the incidence rate ratio of diabetes in the third tertile compared with the first tertile was 0·57 (95 % CI 0·38–0·87, Pfor trend=0·0085) in the baseline consumption model and 0·64 (95 % CI 0·43–0·95, Pfor trend=0·0244) in the average consumption model. These inverse associations was found in both normal fasting blood glucose group and impaired fasting glucose group among women. Among non-users of multinutrients and vitamin supplements, the significant inverse association remained. Thus, higher dietary intake of folate is prospectively associated with lower risk of diabetes for women.
With so many spectroscopic surveys, both past and upcoming, such as SDSS and LAMOST, the number of accessible stellar spectra is continuously increasing. There is therefore a great need for automated procedures that will derive estimates of stellar parameters. Working with spectra from SDSS and LAMOST, we put forward a hybrid approach of Kernel Principal Component Analysis (KPCA) and Support Vector Machine (SVM) to determine the stellar atmospheric parameters effective temperature, surface gravity and metallicity. For stars with both APOGEE and LAMOST spectra, we adopt the LAMOST spectra and APOGEE parameters, and then use KPCA to reduce dimensionality and SVM to measure parameters. Our method provides reliable and precise results; for example, the standard deviation of effective temperature, surface gravity and metallicity for the test sample come to approximately 47–75 K, 0.11–0.15 dex and 0.06–0.075 dex, respectively. The impact of the signal:noise ratio of the observations upon the accuracy of the results is also investigated.
Human cystic echinococcosis is a widespread, chronic, endemic, helminthic zoonosis caused by larval tapeworms of the species Echinococcus granulosus. At present, there is no rational and effective therapy for patients with echinococcosis. The present study evaluated whether the combination of alkaloids from Sophora moorcroftiana seeds (SMSa2) and Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) was effective in the treatment of experimental echinococcosis. After 20 weeks of secondary infection with protoscoleces, mice were randomly allocated to five groups and treated for 6 weeks by daily intragastric administration of albendazole (ABZ, 100 mg/kg), SMSa2 (100 mg/kg), BCG (abdominal subcutaneous injection at 5 × 106 CFU), SMSa2 + BCG (100 mg/kg SMSa2 and 5 × 106 CFU BCG) or normal saline (untreated group), respectively. The results indicated a significant reduction in the weight of hydatid cysts in the SMSa2 + BCG group compared with the untreated, SMSa2 and BCG groups. The rate of inhibition of hydatid cyst growth in the SMSa2 + BCG group (76.1%) was obviously increased compared with that in the SMSa2 (25.7%) and BCG (26.6%) groups, respectively. Compared with the untreated control, the SMSa2 + BCG group showed a non-significant increase in serum interleukin-4 (IL-4). Furthermore, the serum levels of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) between the untreated and SMSa2 + BCG groups were not statistically different. Therefore, the combination of alkaloids from S. moorcroftiana seeds and BCG can reduce cyst burden and is an effective therapeutic regimen against echinococcosis.
The neuropsychological origins of negative syndrome of schizophrenia remain elusive. Evidence from behavioural studies, which utilised emotion-inducing pictures to elicit motivated behaviour generally reported that that schizophrenia patients experienced similar affective experience as healthy individuals but failed to translate emotional salience to motivated behaviour, a phenomenon called emotion–behaviour decoupling. However, a few studies have examined emotion–behaviour decoupling in non-psychotic high-risk populations, who are relatively unaffected by medication effects.
In this study, we examined the nature and extent of emotion–behaviour decoupling in in three independent samples (65 schizophrenia patients v. 63 controls; 40 unaffected relatives v. 45 controls; and 32 individuals with social anhedonia v. 32 controls). We administered an experimental task to examine their affective experience and its coupling with behaviour, using emotion-inducing slides, and allowed participants to alter stimulus exposure using button-pressing to seek pleasure or avoid aversion.
Schizophrenia patients reported similar affective experiences as their controls, while their unaffected relatives and individuals with high levels of social anhedonia exhibited attenuated affective experiences, in particular in the arousal aspect. Compared with their respective control groups, all of the three groups showed emotion–behaviour decoupling.
Our findings support that both genetically and behaviourally high-risk groups exhibit emotion–behaviour decoupling. The familial association apparently supports its role as a putative trait marker for schizophrenia.
Suicide-related behaviours are common in schizophrenia and are significantly associated with premature death. The objective of this meta-analysis study was to estimate the pooled prevalence of suicide-related behaviours in schizophrenia patients in China.
The relevant literature was searched systematically via the relevant electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Databases and Chinese Biological Medical Literature Database) from their inception until 14 September 2016. Only original studies that reported the prevalence of suicide-related behaviours including suicidal ideation (SI), suicide plan, suicide attempt (SA) and completed suicide were selected.
Nineteen articles met the inclusion criteria and were analysed. The pooled lifetime prevalence of SI and SA were 25.8% (95% CI 14.7–41.1%) and 14.6% (95% CI 9.1–22.8%), respectively. The 1-month prevalence of SI was 22.0% (95% CI 18.2–26.4%). Subgroup analyses of lifetime SI and SA showed that gender, sample size, survey year, study location and source of patients have no significant mediating effects on the results.
Suicide-related behaviours are common in Chinese schizophrenia patients. Due to the high mortality risk, regular screening and effective suicide prevention programmes are warranted.
The origin and characteristics of near-microcoulomb multi-MeV electrons accelerated by short pulse lasers interacting with near-critical density plasma in self-formed channels are studied using three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. According to the analysis on interaction phenomena and electron dynamics, the dominant mechanism turns out to be direct laser acceleration, which ensures the outstanding energy coupling. Additionally, self-channeling is found to be a decisive factor for the acceleration performance, as electrons obtain ultra-high energy through betatron resonance inside the channels. In our findings, by using a relativistic short laser pulse and near-critical plasma, a large amount of energetic electrons can be generated, presenting a promising and accessible route to ultraintense, high-spatial-resolution radiation pulses.
The role of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii in the pathogenesis of liver disease has recently gained much interest. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with T. gondii infection in patients with liver disease from three cities in Shandong and Henan provinces, China. A case–control study was conducted from December 2014 to November 2015 and included 1142 patients with liver disease and 1142 healthy controls. Serum samples were collected from all individuals and were examined with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the presence of anti-T. gondii IgG and IgM antibodies. Information on the demographics, clinical, and lifestyle characteristics of the participants was collected from the medical records and by the use of a questionnaire. The prevalence of anti-T. gondii IgG was 19·7% in patients with liver disease compared with 12·17% in the controls. Only 13 patients had anti-T. gondii IgM antibodies compared with 12 control individuals (1·14% vs. 1·05%, respectively). The highest seroprevalence was detected in patients with liver cancer (22·13%), followed by hepatitis patients (20·86%), liver cirrhosis patients (20·42%), and steatosis patients (20%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that consumption of raw meat (odds ratio (OR) = 1·32; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·01–1·71; P = 0·03) and source of drinking water from wells (OR = 1·56; 95% CI 1·08–2·27; P = 0·01) were independent risk factors for T. gondii infection in liver disease patients. These findings indicate that T. gondii infection is more likely to be present in patients with liver disease. Therefore, efforts should be directed toward health education of populations at high risk of T. gondii infection and measures should be taken to protect vulnerable patients with liver disease.
Understanding film initiation and growth mechanisms at the atomic level is crucial to obtain high-quality nonpolar ZnO films. Using the advanced reactive force field-based molecular dynamics method, we theoretically studied the effect of substrate temperature (350–950 K) on the quality, layer develop mechanism and defect formation of ZnO films. Investigation of the energy, radial distribution function, layer coverage, sputtering and injecting phenomena indicated that the present films grown at 500–600 K possessed the optimal quality. Further investigation of the growth condition, instant film profiles, interfacial microstructure evolutions and layered snapshots revealed that, addition of atoms on newly formed localized films can induce some partially bonded or extruded atoms out of the film plane. Further adherence of depositing atoms to these unstable or extruded atoms induces the initiation and growth of a new layer.
Much can be learned from terrestrial planets that appear to have had the potential to be habitable, but failed to realize that potential. Mars shows evidence of a once hospitable surface environment. The reasons for its current state, and in particular its thin atmosphere and dry surface, are of great interest for what they can tell us about habitable zone planet outcomes. A main goal of the MAVEN mission is to observe Mars’ atmosphere responses to solar and space weather influences, and in particular atmosphere escape related to space weather ‘storms’ caused by interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs). Numerical experiments with a data-validated MHD model suggest how the effects of an observed moderately strong ICME compare to what happens during a more extreme event. The results suggest the kinds of solar and space weather conditions that can have evolutionary importance at a planet like Mars.
Association mapping based on linkage disequilibrium is an effective approach for dissecting the inheritance of complex multi-gene traits. In the present study, association mapping was performed for yield traits based on 172 popular Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cultivars in China and 331 polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The gene diversity index of 331 markers ranged from 0·0387 to 0·7799 with an average of 0·4002, and the polymorphism information content ranged from 0·0379 to 0·7473 with an average of 0·3375. A total of 93 significantly associated markers for seven yield traits were identified across more than one environment, among which 11 were for seed cotton yield, 12 for lint yield, 11 for boll number per plant, 13 for boll weight, 21 for lint percentage, 14 for lint index and 11 for seed index. The corresponding ranges in phenotypic variation explained by markers across four environments for these seven traits were 1·75–10·49, 1·75–9·34, 2·84–11·80, 2·59–9·89, 2·38–13·97, 2·73–14·82 and 2·50–11·88%, respectively. Some of the yield-associated markers detected were found to be linked to or associated with the same traits identified in previous studies. Furthermore, elite alleles for yield traits were also mined. The present study can provide useful information for further understanding the genetic basis of yield traits, and facilitate high-yield breeding by molecular design in Upland cotton.
Feeding a high concentrate (HC) diet is a widely used strategy for supporting high milk yields, yet it may cause certain metabolic disorders. This study aimed to investigate the changes in milk production and hepatic metabolism in goats fed different proportions of concentrate in the diet for 10 weeks. In total, 12 mid-lactating goats were randomly assigned to an HC diet (65% concentrate of dry matter, n=6) or a low concentrate (LC) diet (35% concentrate of dry matter, n=6). Compared with LC, HC goats produced greater amounts of volatile fatty acids and produced more milk and milk lactose, fat and protein (P<0.01). HC goats showed a greater concentration of ATP, NAD, plasma non-esterified fatty acids and hepatic triglycerides than LC goats (P<0.05). Real-time PCR results showed that messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of gluconeogenic genes, namely, glucose-6-phosphatase, pyruvate carboxylase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase were significantly up-regulated and accompanied greater gluconeogenic enzyme activities in the liver of HC goats. Moreover, the expression of hepatic lipogenic genes including sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c, fatty acid synthase and diacylglycerol acyltransferase mRNA was also up-regulated by the HC diet (P<0.05). HC goats had greater hepatic phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase than LC (P<0.05). Furthermore, histone-3-lysine-27-acetylation contributed to this elevation of gluconeogenic gene expression. These results indicate that lactating goats fed an HC diet for 10 weeks produced more milk, which was associated with up-regulated gene expression and enzyme activities involved in hepatic gluconeogenesis and lipogenesis.
It has been demonstrated that microRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in the control of melanogenesis and hair color in mammals. By comparing miRNA expression profiles between brown and white alpaca skin, we previously identified miR508-3p as a differentially expressed miRNA suggesting its potential role in melanogenesis and hair color formation. The present study was conducted to determine the role of miR508-3p in melanogenesis in alpaca melanocytes. In situ hybridization showed that miR508-3p is abundantly present in the cytoplasma of alpaca melanocytes. miR508-3p was predicted to target the gene encoding microphthalmia transcription factor (MITF) and a luciferase reporter assay indicated that miR508-3p regulates MITF expression by directly targeting its 3′UTR. Overexpression of miR508-3p in alpaca melanocytes down-regulated MITF expression both at the messenger RNA and protein level and resulted in decreased expression of key melanogenic genes including tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein 2. Overexpression of miR508-3p in melanocytes also resulted in decreased melanin production including total alkali-soluble melanogenesis, eumelanogenesis and pheomelanogenesis. Results support a functional role of miR508-3p in regulating melanogenesis in alpaca melanocytes by directly targeting MITF.