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Laboratory-based characterization and traceback of Clostridium butyricum isolates linked to outbreak cases of neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in a hospital in China.
In total, 37 samples were collected during the NEC outbreak. Classical bacteriological methods were applied to isolate and identify Clostridium spp. Meanwhile, 24 samples collected after an outbreak were similarly tested. All Clostridium isolates were identified to species level as either C. butyricum or C. sporogenes. These isolates were subsequently subtyped using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Genomic DNA was purified from 2 representative C. butyricum isolates and sequenced to completion.
Of 37 samples collected during the NEC outbreak, 17 (45.95%) were positive for Clostridium spp. One species, C. butyricum, was cultured from 10 samples. Another species cultured from 2 other samples was identified as C. sporogenes. Both of these species were cocultured from 5 samples. Pulsotyping showed that the 15 C. butyricum and the 7 C. sporogenes isolates produced indistinguishable DNA profiles. No NEC cases were reported after disinfection following the outbreak, and all samples collected after the outbreak were negative for Clostridium spp. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) indicated that sialidase, hemolysin, and enterotoxin virulence factors were located on the chromosomes of 2 C. butyricum isolates.
The outbreak of NEC was epidemiologically linked to C. butyricum contamination within the hospital. This is the first report of an NEC outbreak associated with C. butyricum infection in China.
This article presents a brief review of our case studies of data-driven Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) for intelligently discovering advanced structural metal materials, including light-weight materials (Ti, Mg, and Al alloys), refractory high-entropy alloys, and superalloys. The basic bonding in terms of topology and electronic structures is recommended to be considered as the building blocks/units constructing the microstructures of advanced materials. It is highlighted that the bonding charge density could not only provide an atomic and electronic insight into the physical nature of chemical bond of materials but also reveal the fundamental strengthening/embrittlement mechanisms and the local phase transformations of planar defects, paving a path in accelerating the development of advanced metal materials via interfacial engineering. Perspectives on the knowledge-based modeling/simulations, machine-learning knowledge base, platform, and next-generation workforce for sustainable ecosystem of ICME are highlighted, thus to call for more duty on the developments of advanced structural metal materials and enhancement of research productivity and collaboration.
Dual-chirped difference frequency generation (DFG) is an advantageous technique for generating the broadband mid-infrared (IR) idler wave, which is inaccessible by a population-inversion-based laser system. In principle, the generated idler wave may even suffer a spectrum broadening compared with the driving pulsed lasers if the pump and signal waves are oppositely chirped. However, broadband phase-matching is always the determining factor for the resulting efficiency and the bandwidth of the generated idler wave. In this study, specific to an oppositely dual-chirped DFG scheme, we derive the precondition to realize broadband frequency conversion, wherein a negative
, in terms of the correlation coefficient of the group velocity (
), is necessary. However, most birefringence bulk crystals can only provide the required material dispersions in limited spectral regions. We show that the periodically poled lithium niobate crystal that satisfies an inactive Type-II (eo-o) quasi-phase-matching condition has a stable negative
and exerts the expected broadband gain characteristic across an ultra-broad idler spectral region
. Finally, we propose and numerically verify a promising DFG configuration to construct a tunable mid-IR spectrum broader based on the broadband phase-matched oppositely dual-chirped DFG scheme.
The microbiota–gut–brain axis, especially the microbial tryptophan (Trp) biosynthesis and metabolism pathway (MiTBamp), may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, studies on the MiTBamp in MDD are lacking. The aim of the present study was to analyze the gut microbiota composition and the MiTBamp in MDD patients.
We performed shotgun metagenomic sequencing of stool samples from 26 MDD patients and 29 healthy controls (HCs). In addition to the microbiota community and the MiTBamp analyses, we also built a classification based on the Random Forests (RF) and Boruta algorithm to identify the gut microbiota as biomarkers for MDD.
The Bacteroidetes abundance was strongly reduced whereas that of Actinobacteria was significantly increased in the MDD patients compared with the abundance in the HCs. Most noteworthy, the MDD patients had increased levels of Bifidobacterium, which is commonly used as a probiotic. Four Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) orthologies (KOs) (K01817, K11358, K01626, K01667) abundances in the MiTBamp were significantly lower in the MDD group. Furthermore, we found a negative correlation between the K01626 abundance and the HAMD scores in the MDD group. Finally, RF classification at the genus level can achieve an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.890.
The present findings enabled a better understanding of the changes in gut microbiota and the related Trp pathway in MDD. Alterations of the gut microbiota may have the potential as biomarkers for distinguishing MDD patients form HCs.
Residents of Hong Kong have undergone a dietary transition from a traditional Chinese diet that is high in seafood to a more Western diet. This may have affected the nutritional composition of breast milk of Hong Kong mothers. The present study aims to investigate the relationship between the dietary pattern and the fatty acid profile of the breast milk of lactating women in Hong Kong. Seventy-three volunteering healthy Hong Kong lactating mothers participated in the study. Their dietary intakes were assessed by using a 3-d dietary record and FFQ. The mean n-3 fatty acid levels were approximately 0·4 % (EPA) and 0·9 % (DHA) of total fatty acids in the breast milk of lactating mothers who had exclusively breastfed their infants aged 2–6 months. Maternal dietary intakes of n-3 fatty acids were positively associated with their levels in the breast milk. The levels of maternal intakes of freshwater and saltwater fish, especially the consumption of salmon, croaker and mandarin, were significantly correlated with the content of DHA in breast milk. The present study is among the very few in the literature to determine the fatty acid profile of breast milk in Hong Kong populations and verify certain dietary factors that influence this profile. High levels of n-3 PUFA, especially DHA, were observed in the breast milk of Hong Kong lactating women. The findings may serve as a dietary reference for lactating mothers to optimise the fatty acid profile of their breast milk.
There has been widespread recent interest in self-assembly and synthesis of porphyrin and its derivatives-based ordered arrays aiming to emulate natural light-harvesting processes and energy storage. However, technologies that leverage the structural advantages of individual porphyrins have not been fully realized and have been limited by available synthesis methods. This article provides general perspectives on porphyrin and derivative chemistry, and discussions on surfactant-assisted cooperative self-assembly using amphiphilic surfactants and functional porphyrins and derivatives. The cooperative self-assembly amplifies the intrinsic advantages of individual porphyrins by engineering them into well-defined one-dimensional–three-dimensional (1D–3D) nanostructures. Surfactant-assisted self-assembly of amphiphilic surfactants and porphyrins has been utilized to form well-defined “micelle-like” nanostructures. Driven by intermolecular interactions, subsequent nucleation and growth confined within these nanostructures lead to the formation of 1D–3D ordered optically and electrically active nanomaterials with structure and function on multiple length scales.
Graphoglyptids are biogenic structures commonly found in deep-sea flysch deposits and occasionally detected on the modern deep-sea floor. They extend principally horizontally and take a variety of geometric patterns, whose functional morphology remains an enigma in ichnology and paleoceanography. Based on published materials from 1850 to 2017 (79 ichnotaxa from 28 ichnogenera of graphoglyptids) and systematic observations of one of the largest deep-sea trace fossil collections in the world, this paper proposes that topological analysis is an important ingredient in the taxonomy and functional interpretation of graphoglyptids. Accordingly, graphoglyptids are classified into line, tree, and net forms by their key topological architecture, and are further attributed to 19 topological prototypes by detailed secondary topological features. Line graphoglyptids are single-connected structures with uniform tunnel width, representing primarily the feeding patterns of solitary animals. Tree graphoglyptids, the most diverse architectural group of graphoglyptids, are ascribed to 11 topological prototypes according to the connectivity features of burrow segments and the number and distributional pattern of the branching points. Net graphoglyptids are subdivided into three topological prototypes on the basis of the connectivity features and/or the regularity of the meshes. Multiconnected net forms are considered as a continuous morphological spectrum with different levels of complexity in the net formation. The various connected components in multiconnected tree and net graphoglyptids generally exhibit small and uniform tunnel diameter in a given structure (suggesting a tiny trace maker[s]). The whole structure shows relatively extensive linear or surface coverage and overall good preservation, indicating sustained processes of burrow construction. It is highly probable that certain multiconnected tree and net graphoglyptids represent some emergent patterns from self-organized collective behaviors of conspecific animals. Graphoglyptids thus provide us with a new perspective on the study of solitary and collective behaviors of macrobenthos in the deep-sea environment.
Nanopore tuning via atomic layer deposition (ALD) is promising but its conformality on sub-10nm pores and its homogeneity over the whole porous network is still challenging, primarily due to the slow transport within the porous network. Conventional ALD process oftentimes falls into a dilemma: higher temperature and prolonged exposure/purge time are required to overcome the slow transport issue, but higher temperature will cause the instability of surface –OH groups and prolonged exposure/purge time will result in “over purge” at the surface vicinity, leading to another type of non-homogeneity. To resolve this issue, a new dual-stage exposure/purge ALD process was developed. Each exposure/purge step contains a longer exposure/purge stage and a shorter exposure/purge stage, where the longer stage ensures ideal exposure/purge for inner pores, and the shorter stage makes up the surface depletion for the outer pores. By doing so, we’ve been able to extend the ALD nanopore tuning to sub-10nm pores with excellent coating homogeneity and conformality.
The study investigated whether dietary methionine (Met) affects egg weight and antioxidant status through regulating gene expression of ovalbumin (OVAL), nuclear factor erythroid 2 like 2 (Nrf2) and haem oxygenase 1 (HO-1) in laying duck breeders. Longyan duck breeders (n 540, 19 weeks) were randomly assigned to six treatments with six replicates of fifteen birds each. Breeders were fed diets with six Met levels (2·00, 2·75, 3·50, 4·25, 5·00 and 5·75 g/kg) for 24 weeks. The egg weight (g), egg mass (g/d), feed conversion ratio, hatchability, 1-d duckling weight, albumen weight, albumen proportion and OVAL mRNA level improved with dietary Met levels, whereas yolk proportion decreased (P<0·05). The weight of total large yellow follicles increased linearly (P<0·001) and quadratically (P<0·05) with dietary Met concentration, and their weight relative to ovarian weight showed a linear (P<0·05) effect. Dietary Met level had a linear (P<0·05) and quadratic (P<0·001) effect on the gene expression of glutathione peroxidase (GPX1), HO-1 and Nrf2, and quadratically (P<0·05) increased contents of GPX and total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) in liver of duck breeders. In addition, maternal dietary Met enhanced gene expression of GPX1, HO-1 and Nrf2, increased contents of GPX and T-AOC and reduced carbonylated protein in the brains of hatchlings. Overall, dietary Met concentration affected egg weight and albumen weight in laying duck breeders, which was partly due to gene expression of OVAL in oviduct magnum. A diet containing 4·0 g Met/kg would achieve optimal hepatic GPX1 and Nrf2 expression, maximise the activity of GPX and minimise lipid peroxidation.
Babesiosis is an emerging tick-transmitted zoonosis prevalent in large parts of the world. This study was designed to determine the rates of Babesia microti infection among small rodents in Yunnan province, where human cases of babesiosis have been reported. Currently, distribution of Babesia in its endemic regions is largely unknown. In this study, we cataloged 1672 small wild rodents, comprising 4 orders, from nine areas in western Yunnan province between 2009 and 2011. Babesia microti DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction in 4·3% (72/1672) of the rodents analyzed. The most frequently infected rodent species included Apodemus chevrieri and Niviventer fulvescens. Rodents from forests and shrublands had significantly higher Babesia infection rates. Genetic comparisons revealed that Babesia was most similar to the Kobe- and Otsu-type strains identified in Japan. A variety of rodent species might be involved in the enzootic maintenance and transmission of B. microti, supporting the need for further serological investigations in humans.
MIT economist Lester Thurow observes, “A competitive world offers two possibilities. You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.” With increasing globalisation come increased pressures for both change and competitiveness. Understanding this changing environment is a manager's first challenge. The second is building mutually beneficial interpersonal and multicultural relationships with people in different parts of the world in order to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the turbulent global environment. Meanwhile, concerns about ethical behaviour and social responsibility surround managerial actions. We suggest here in this introductory chapter that an important key to succeeding in the global business environment is developing sufficient multicultural competence to work and manage productively across cultures.
During a dinner meeting in Prague between Japanese marketing representative Hiroko Numata and her Czech host, Irena Novák, confusion quickly emerged when the Japanese guest went off to find the restroom. She began to open the door to the men's room when her host stopped her. “Don't you see the sign?” Novák asked. “Of course I do,” Numata responded, “but it is red. In our country, a red-colored sign means it's the ladies’ room. For men, it should be blue or black.” Novák returned to her table, remembering that she too had looked at the sign but had focused on what was written, not its color. She wondered how many other things she and her Japanese colleague had seen or discussed but interpreted very differently.
We live in a contradictory and turbulent world, in which there are few certainties and change is constant. Over time, we increasingly come to realise that much of what we think we see around us can, in reality, be something entirely different. We require greater perceptual insight just as the horizons become more and more cloudy. Business cycles are becoming more dynamic and unpredictable, and companies, institutions, and employees come and go with increasing regularity. Much of this uncertainty is the result of economic forces that are beyond the control of individuals and major corporations. Much results from recent waves of technological change that resist pressures for stability or predictability.
Sam Mitchell looked through the window and realised that she had to make a decision in five days on whether to accept an international assignment to Hong Kong. She had just finished a meeting with her boss, who proposed to transfer Sam to the subsidiary there. Her boss said that she would be able to climb the corporate ladder and become the regional vice president if she was successful in Hong Kong. At this moment, Sam was trying to assess how her job was going, the situation her family would face if she took the offer, and what her career could look like after completing the assignment. Of course, she also recalled her first international move, to Philadelphia.
Born in Sydney, Sam went into the IT industry after earning an IT bachelor degree. She started with a small internet services company and, three years later, she began to work with her current employer, a large American technology company with offices around the globe. Sam's career was flourishing – so much so that, within 12 months of commencing, she was promoted into an international program manager role and offered the opportunity to move to headquarters in Philadelphia. She accepted immediately and without hesitation. Although the US job was on local terms – no “expat package” – the company was willing to pay relocation expenses, a rent-free townhouse, and US salaries were much higher than those in Australia.
Sam sought out an expatriate community after arriving in “Philly”. At a weekend expat get-together Sam met her future husband, Chris, who worked in a global technology company and had moved from Melbourne to Philly at a similar time to Sam. They got married quite soon after they met and bought a house on the “main line” in leafy, middle-class Montgomery County, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Philly. To better adapt into the local community they joined the Philadelphia Country Club, where Sam made many American friends and became active in golf. They figured out that, though there were some differences between Australia and the United States in terms of living style and mentality, the cultures of the two nations shared many similarities.
International business today is characterised by global organisations seeking new markets and opportunities across national boundaries, setting up subsidiaries, and managing people, processes, and resources in foreign countries. Employees of such companies increasingly take on expatriate/inpatriate assignments in foreign climes, jetset around the world on business assignments as frequent flyers, or simply play host to foreign managers and business partners in parent companies. Another important phenomenon is the growing multicultural workforce within organisations, as employees from different cultural backgrounds migrate to foreign countries and seek employment there. In all these instances, employees inevitably come into contact with people with cultural values, customs, and practices foreign to their own way of life. In such environments one skill that comes in most handy is “cultural intelligence”.
Cultural intelligence refers to “a set of skills and traits that allow one to more effectively interact with novel cultural settings”. Cultural intelligence enables a person to “adapt effectively to new cultural contexts”. Given the increasing trend in the globalisation of business activities and interaction with a multitude of cultural groups, employees need cross-cultural training that develops their capacities and skills in “cultural knowledge, self-awareness and behavioural aspects”. This case study examines the cross-cultural training strategy of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), a company that has penetrated national boundaries and established itself as a truly international company.
IBM: the international company
IBM is a well-liked household name that represents state-of-the-art computers and technology. Established in the early part of the 20th century in the United States, the company started as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, producing commercial scales, time clocks, and a primitive assortment of punch card tabulators. However, it was in the 1950s under the judicious guidance of Thomas J. Watson Jr that the company moved on to its present business operations – that is, development and commercialisation of electronic computer technologies. Since then the company has progressed into a formidable global presence, spanning nine time zones in more than 170 countries and employing 412,000 employees worldwide. IBM was ranked at number 71 in Fortune's Global 500 list and at number 24 in its World's Most Admired Company list in 2014. Today the company specialises in technology and innovation, inventing and providing software and hardware, engaging in business consultation and the provision of technology services that enable people and organisations to solve complex problems.
According to global entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, “Starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive, and determination of the people who do it as it is about the product they sell.” It has been said that managing and motivating others – taking responsibility for their work and welfare – is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. It is something like being a parent to other adults. In a very real sense, this is the supreme test of managerial effectiveness. If a manager can't supervise others successfully, his or her value to the organisation as a whole diminishes significantly. Here is the problem, though. If managing and motivating employees is problematic in one culture, imagine the challenge when trying to supervise employees across cultures: different customs, different languages, and different expectations. How are managers expected to succeed here? In this chapter we explore this challenge. We examine the role of work values in employee behaviour, as well as the psychological contracts that exist but are often unseen – particularly by new managers on the ground. We further examine how rewards or incentives that are effective in one culture may fail in another. Throughout, the focus is on how managers can learn to improve their people skills in unique or different environments.
Advice about motivating employees in the global workplace is readily available. In Thailand, for example, we are told that the use of individual merit bonus plans runs counter to societal norms about group cooperation and can actually lead to a decline rather than an increase in productivity from employees who refuse to openly compete with each other. In the Netherlands, you can't get the Dutch to compete with one another publicly. In Mexico, everything is a personal matter; but a lot of foreign managers don't get it. To get anything done, the manager has to be more of an instructor, teacher, or parental figure than a boss.
We are further told that to improve managerial performance in the United Kingdom managers should focus more on job content than on job context. British and Canadian companies also motivate their employees primarily through financial incentives, while German and Dutch companies focus on providing employment stability and employee benefits.