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    Suitability of traits related to aggression and handleability for integration into pig breeding programmes: Genetic parameters and comparison between Gaussian and binary trait specifications. 

    König von Borstel, Uta; Tönepöhl, Björn; Appel, Anne K.; Voß, Barbara; Brandt, Horst; Naderi, Saeid; Gauly, Matthias
    PLOS ONE 2018; 13(12): Art. e0204211
    Changes in husbandry systems as well as consumers' increasing demands for animal welfare lead to increasing importance of traits such as handleability and aggressiveness in pigs. However, before using such novel traits for selection decisions, information on genetic parameters for these traits for the specific population is required. Therefore, weight gain and behaviour-related traits were recorded in 1004 pigs (814 Pietrain x German Landrace crossbred, 190 German Landrace purebred) at different ages. Behaviour indicators and tests were assessed and conducted, respectively under commercial farm conditions and included scoring of skin lesions (twice) and behaviour during backtests (twice), injections (once), handling (twice) and weighing (three times). Since behaviour scores often exhibit suboptimal statistical properties for parametric analyses, variance components were estimated using an animal model assuming a normal (Gaussian, GA; all traits) and additionally a binary distribution of variables (BI; using a logit-link function for all behaviour traits). Heritabilities for behavioural traits ranged from 0.02 ± 0.04 (finishing pig handling test; BI) to 0.36 ± 0.08 (backtest 2; GA) suggesting that some of the traits are potentially useful for genetic selection (e.g. finishing pig weighing test: h2 (GA) = 0.20 ± 0.07). Only minor differences were observed for results from binary and Gaussian analyses of the same traits suggesting that either approach might yield valid results. However, four-fold cross-validation using correlations between breeding values of a sub-set of animals for the sample trait finishing pig weighing score indicated slight superiority of the logit model (r = 0.85 ± 0.04 vs. r = 0.77 ± 0.03). Generally, only weak to moderate associations were found between behavioural reactions to the same test at different ages (rp ≤ 0.11 for weighing at different ages; rp = 0.30 but rg (GA) = 0.84 ± 0.11 for the backtests) as well as between reactions to different tests. Therefore, for inclusion of behaviour traits into breeding programmes, and considering high labour input required for some tests such as the backtest, it is recommended to assess behaviour during situations that are relevant and identical to practical conditions, while the use of indicator traits generally does not appear to be a very promising alternative.
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    Histological classification of canine ovarian cyst types with reference to medical history 

    Knauf, Yvonne; Köhler, Kernt; Knauf, Sascha; Wehrend, Axel
    Journal of Veterinary Science 2018; 19(6) p.725-734: Art. Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2018
    Ovaries of 21 bitches presented with gynecopathies were surgically removed and histologically examined. Standard histological, as well as immunohistochemical, classification of 193 cystic structures resulted in the classification of 72 cysts of subsurface epithelial structures (SES), 61 follicular cysts (FCs), 38 cystic rete ovarii (CRO), 13 lutein cysts (LCs), and 9 non-classifiable cysts (NCCs). In addition to the histological classification, results were interpreted according to subject medical history, clinical examination outcome, and macroscopic observations during ovariohysterectomy. Dogs with ovarian cysts (OCs) and associated reproductive perturbations were mostly nulliparous, of large breed, and had an average of 9.5 ± 3 years. Prolonged or shortened inter-estrus intervals of past heats, however, seemed to be relatively low-risk factors for the development of OCs in dogs. Furthermore, we provide histological observations of a rarely seen canine LC including a degenerated oocyte in the central cavity.
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    Adaptive Diversity of Beech Seedlings Under Climate Change Scenarios 

    Varsamis, Georgios; Papageorgiou, Aristotelis C.; Merou, Theodora; Takos, Ioannis; Malesios, Chrisovalantis; Manolis, Apostolos; Tsiripidis, Ioannis; Gailing, Oliver
    Frontiers in Plant Science 2019; 9: Art. 1918
    The ability of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) populations to adapt to the ongoing climate change is especially important in the southern part of Europe, where environmental change is expected to be more intense. In this study, we tested the existing adaptive potential of eight beech populations from two provenances in N.E. Greece (Evros and Drama) that show differences in their environmental conditions and biogeographical background. Seedling survival, growth and leaf phenological traits were selected as adaptive traits and were measured under simulated controlled climate change conditions in a growth chamber. Seedling survival was also tested under current conditions in the field. In the growth chamber, simulated conditions of temperature and precipitation for the year 2050 were applied for 3 years, under two different irrigation schemes, where the same amount of water was distributed either frequently (once every week) or non-frequently (once in 20 days). The results showed that beech seedlings were generally able to survive under climate change conditions and showed adaptive differences among provenances and populations. Furthermore, changes in the duration of the growing season of seedlings were recorded in the growth chamber, allowing them to avoid environmental stress and high selection pressure. Differences were observed between populations and provenances in terms of temporal distribution patterns of precipitation and temperature, rather than the average annual or monthly values of these measures. Additionally, different adaptive strategies appeared among beech seedlings when the same amount of water was distributed differently within each month. This indicates that the physiological response mechanisms of beech individuals are very complex and depend on several interacting parameters. For this reason, the choice of beech provenances for translocation and use in afforestation or reforestation projects should consider the small scale ecotypic diversity of the species and view multiple environmental and climatic parameters in connection to each other.
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    Model-based analysis of latent factors 

    Gregorius, Hans-Rolf
    Web Ecology 2018; 18(2) p.153-162
    The detection of community or population structure through analysis of explicit cause–effect modeling of given observations has received considerable attention. The complexity of the task is mirrored by the large number of existing approaches and methods, the applicability of which heavily depends on the design of efficient algorithms of data analysis. It is occasionally even difficult to disentangle concepts and algorithms. To add more clarity to this situation, the present paper focuses on elaborating the system analytic framework that probably encompasses most of the common concepts and approaches by classifying them as model-based analyses of latent factors. Problems concerning the efficiency of algorithms are not of primary concern here. In essence, the framework suggests an input–output model system in which the inputs are provided as latent model parameters and the output is specified by the observations. There are two types of model involved, one of which organizes the inputs by assigning combinations of potentially interacting factor levels to each observed object, while the other specifies the mechanisms by which these combinations are processed to yield the observations. It is demonstrated briefly how some of the most popular methods (Structure, BAPS, Geneland) fit into the framework and how they differ conceptually from each other. Attention is drawn to the need to formulate and assess qualification criteria by which the validity of the model can be judged. One probably indispensable criterion concerns the cause–effect character of the model-based approach and suggests that measures of association between assignments of factor levels and observations be considered together with maximization of their likelihoods (or posterior probabilities). In particular the likelihood criterion is difficult to realize with commonly used estimates based on Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms. Generally applicable MCMC-based alternatives that allow for approximate employment of the primary qualification criterion and the implied model validation including further descriptors of model characteristics are suggested.
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    Growing Research Networks on Mycorrhizae for Mutual Benefits 

    Ferlian, Olga; Biere, Arjen; Bonfante, Paola; Buscot, François; Eisenhauer, Nico; Fernandez, Ivan; Hause, Bettina; Herrmann, Sylvie; Krajinski-Barth, Franziska; Meier, Ina C.; et al.
    Pozo, Maria J.Rasmann, SergioRillig, Matthias C.Tarkka, Mika T.van Dam, Nicole M.Wagg, CameronMartinez-Medina, Ainhoa
    Trends in Plant Science 2018; 23(11) p.975-984
    Research on mycorrhizal interactions has traditionally developed into separate disciplines addressing different organizational levels. This separation has led to an incomplete understanding of mycorrhizal functioning. Integration of mycorrhiza research at different scales is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying the context dependency of mycorrhizal associations, and to use mycorrhizae for solving environmental issues. Here, we provide a road map for the integration of mycorrhiza research into a unique framework that spans genes to ecosystems. Using two key topics, we identify parallels in mycorrhiza research at different organizational levels. Based on two current projects, we show how scientific integration creates synergies, and discuss future directions. Only by overcoming disciplinary boundaries, we will achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the functioning of mycorrhizal associations.
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    ORCHIMIC (v1.0), a microbe-mediated model for soil organic matter decomposition 

    Huang, Ye; Guenet, Bertrand; Ciais, Philippe; Janssens, Ivan A.; Soong, Jennifer L.; Wang, Yilong; Goll, Daniel; Blagodatskaya, Evgenia; Huang, Yuanyuan
    Geoscientific Model Development 2018; 11(6) p.2111-2138
    The role of soil microorganisms in regulating soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition is of primary importance in the carbon cycle, in particular in the context of global change. Modeling soil microbial community dynamics to simulate its impact on soil gaseous carbon (C) emissions and nitrogen (N) mineralization at large spatial scales is a recent research field with the potential to improve predictions of SOM responses to global climate change. In this study we present a SOM model called ORCHIMIC, which utilizes input data that are consistent with those of global vegetation models. ORCHIMIC simulates the decomposition of SOM by explicitly accounting for enzyme production and distinguishing three different microbial functional groups: fresh organic matter (FOM) specialists, SOM specialists, and generalists, while also implicitly accounting for microbes that do not produce extracellular enzymes, i.e., cheaters. ORCHIMIC and two other organic matter decomposition models, CENTURY (based on first-order kinetics and representative of the structure of most current global soil carbon models) and PRIM (with FOM accelerating the decomposition rate of SOM), were calibrated to reproduce the observed respiration fluxes of FOM and SOM from the incubation experiments of Blagodatskaya et al. (2014). Among the three models, ORCHIMIC was the only one that effectively captured both the temporal dynamics of the respiratory fluxes and the magnitude of the priming effect observed during the incubation experiment. ORCHIMIC also effectively reproduced the temporal dynamics of microbial biomass. We then applied different idealized changes to the model input data, i.e., a 5K stepwise increase of temperature and/or a doubling of plant litter inputs. Under 5K warming conditions, ORCHIMIC predicted a 0.002K−1 decrease in the C use efficiency (defined as the ratio of C allocated to microbial growth to the sum of C allocated to growth and respiration) and a 3% loss of SOC. Under the double litter input scenario, ORCHIMIC predicted a doubling of microbial biomass, while SOC stock increased by less than 1% due to the priming effect. This limited increase in SOC stock contrasted with the proportional increase in SOC stock as modeled by the conventional SOC decomposition model (CENTURY), which can not reproduce the priming effect. If temperature increased by 5K and litter input was doubled, ORCHIMIC predicted almost the same loss of SOC as when only temperature was increased. These tests suggest that the responses of SOC stock to warming and increasing input may differ considerably from those simulated by conventional SOC decomposition models when microbial dynamics are included. The next step is to incorporate the ORCHIMIC model into a global vegetation model to perform simulations for representative sites and future scenarios.
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    MYB72-dependent coumarin exudation shapes root microbiome assembly to promote plant health 

    Stringlis, Ioannis A.; Yu, Ke; Feussner, Kirstin; de Jonge, Ronnie; Van Bentum, Sietske; Van Verk, Marcel C.; Berendsen, Roeland L.; Bakker, Peter A. H. M.; Feussner, Ivo; Pieterse, Corné M. J.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2018; 115(22) p.E5213-E5222
    Plant roots nurture a tremendous diversity of microbes via exudation of photosynthetically fixed carbon sources. In turn, probiotic members of the root microbiome promote plant growth and protect the host plant against pathogens and pests. In the Arabidopsis thaliana-Pseudomonas simiae WCS417 model system the root-specific transcription factor MYB72 and the MYB72-controlled β-glucosidase BGLU42 emerged as important regulators of beneficial rhizobacteria-induced systemic resistance (ISR) and iron-uptake responses. MYB72 regulates the biosynthesis of iron-mobilizing fluorescent phenolic compounds, after which BGLU42 activity is required for their excretion into the rhizosphere. Metabolite fingerprinting revealed the antimicrobial coumarin scopoletin as a dominant metabolite that is produced in the roots and excreted into the rhizosphere in a MYB72- and BGLU42-dependent manner. Shotgun-metagenome sequencing of root-associated microbiota of Col-0, myb72, and the scopoletin biosynthesis mutant f6'h1 showed that scopoletin selectively impacts the assembly of the microbial community in the rhizosphere. We show that scopoletin selectively inhibits the soil-borne fungal pathogens Fusarium oxysporum and Verticillium dahliae, while the growth-promoting and ISR-inducing rhizobacteria P. simiae WCS417 and Pseudomonas capeferrum WCS358 are highly tolerant of the antimicrobial effect of scopoletin. Collectively, our results demonstrate a role for coumarins in microbiome assembly and point to a scenario in which plants and probiotic rhizobacteria join forces to trigger MYB72/BGLU42-dependent scopolin production and scopoletin excretion, resulting in improved niche establishment for the microbial partner and growth and immunity benefits for the host plant.
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    Low-oxygen response is triggered by an ATP-dependent shift in oleoyl-CoA in Arabidopsis 

    Schmidt, Romy R.; Fulda, Martin; Paul, Melanie V.; Anders, Max; Plum, Frederic; Weits, Daniel A.; Kosmacz, Monika; Larson, Tony R.; Graham, Ian A.; Beemster, Gerrit T. S.; et al.
    Licausi, FrancescoGeigenberger, PeterSchippers, Jos H.van Dongen, Joost T.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2018; 115(51): Art. E12101
    Plant response to environmental stimuli involves integration of multiple signals. Upon low-oxygen stress, plants initiate a set of adaptive responses to circumvent an energy crisis. Here, we reveal how these stress responses are induced by combining (i) energy-dependent changes in the composition of the acyl-CoA pool and (ii) the cellular oxygen concentration. A hypoxia-induced decline of cellular ATP levels reduces LONG-CHAIN ACYL-COA SYNTHETASE activity, which leads to a shift in the composition of the acyl-CoA pool. Subsequently, we show that different acyl-CoAs induce unique molecular responses. Altogether, our data disclose a role for acyl-CoAs acting in a cellular signaling pathway in plants. Upon hypoxia, high oleoyl-CoA levels provide the initial trigger to release the transcription factor RAP2.12 from its interaction partner ACYL-COA BINDING PROTEIN at the plasma membrane. Subsequently, according to the N-end rule for proteasomal degradation, oxygen concentration-dependent stabilization of the subgroup VII ETHYLENE-RESPONSE FACTOR transcription factor RAP2.12 determines the level of hypoxia-specific gene expression. This research unveils a specific mechanism activating low-oxygen stress responses only when a decrease in the oxygen concentration coincides with a drop in energy.
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    Morphometric characteristics and seasonal proximity to water of the Cypriot blunt-nosed viper Macrovipera lebetina lebetina (Linnaeus, 1758) 

    Jestrzemski, Daniel; Kuzyakova, Irina
    2018; 24(1): Art. 42
    Background The blunt-nosed viper Macrovipera lebetina (Linnaeus, 1758) is a medically important snake species in the Middle East. Its nominate subspecies Macrovipera l. lebetina is confined to Cyprus, where it is the only dangerously venomous snake species and heavily pursued. Despite the viper’s large size, data on its body mass and sex-specific morphological differences are scarce. It is commonly believed that M. l. lebetina prefers freshwater proximity during summer. Hence, we aimed at investigating M. l. lebetina sex-specific morphological differences and its possible attraction to freshwater bodies in late summer. Methods Morphometric characteristics, proximity to water and conservation status of M. l. lebetina were investigated in Paphos district (Cyprus) in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Vipers were caught in different habitats, examined morphologically for metric and meristic characters, and released back into their habitat. Additionally, local people were interviewed about the conservation situation of the species. Results Of 38 recorded blunt-nosed vipers, morphological characteristics were collected from 34 (10 adult males, 16 adult females, eight unsexed juveniles). Rounded total length (ToL) ranged from 23.5 cm to 133.0 cm and weight between 10 g and 1456 g. Adult males significantly exceeded adult females in tail length (TaL), ToL and head length (HL). No significant sex-specific differences were found in snout-vent length (SVL), head width (HW), weight or body condition index (BCI), nor for the ratios TaL / SVL, TaL / ToL, HL / SVL or HL / HW. Adult females from late summer (2015) had a significantly lower mean BCI than those from spring (2014). Distances of blunt-nosed vipers to the nearest water bodies (natural and artificial, respectively) did not differ significantly between spring (2014) and late summer (2015). There was also no significant difference between the distances of vipers to natural and to artificial water bodies in spring (and late summer). Conclusions Adult male blunt-nosed vipers exceed adult females in TaL, ToL and HL. Adult females are likely in a more vulnerable body condition in late summer than in spring. Periodic drying out of freshwater bodies in summer probably does not affect the species’ occurrence. Educational workshops and habitat conservation are recommended for reducing human-viper conflict.
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    Evaluation of rapid extraction and isothermal amplification techniques for the detection of Leishmania donovani DNA from skin lesions of suspected cases at the point of need in Sri Lanka 

    Gunaratna, Gayana; Manamperi, Aresha; Böhlken-Fascher, Susanne; Wickremasinge, Renu; Gunawardena, Kithsiri; Yapa, Bandujith; Pathirana, Nishantha; Pathirana, Hasantha; Silva, Nilanthi de; Sooriyaarachchi, Monica; et al.
    Deerasinghe, ThejaMondal, DineshRanasinghe, ShalindraAbd El Wahed, Ahmed
    2018; 11(1): Art. 665
    Background Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by vector-borne protozoans. In Sri Lanka, the cutaneous form of the disease is predominant, which is usually diagnosed using Giemsa-stained slit skin smear examination and by histology. However, the sensitivity of slit skin smears and histology are reportedly low. Moreover, facilities for the highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are available only in a few highly-equipped parasitology laboratories. Therefore, there is a need for low cost, sensitive and specific screening tests for diagnosis of leishmaniasis at the point of need. Results In this study, a mobile suitcase laboratory applying novel extraction (SpeedXtract) and isothermal amplification and detection (recombinase polymerase amplification assay, RPA) methods were evaluated for the diagnosis of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Sri Lanka. First, the developed assay was applied to three different sample types (punch biopsy, slit skin smears and fine needle aspirates) at a local hospital. The results showed that the 2 mm punch biopsy sample produced the best exponential amplification curve and early fluorescence signal in the RPA assay. Secondly, punch biopsies were collected from 150 suspected cutaneous leishmaniasis cases and screened with SpeedXtract/RPA, RNAlater/PCR and ATL buffer/PCR, in addition to Giemsa-stained slit skin smears. Fifty-seven samples were negative in all detection methods. In total 93 samples were positive with assay sensitivities of 65.5% (SpeedXtract/RPA), 63.4% (RNAlater/PCR) and 92.4% (ATL buffer/PCR). The Giemsa-stained slit skin smear delivered the worst clinical sensitivity (32.2%). Conclusions The SpeedXtract/RPA method under field conditions took 35 min, while almost 8 h were needed to finalize the extraction and detection by PCR in the laboratory. The SpeedXtract/RPA method produced similar sensitivity to samples preserved in RNAlater and subjected to PCR amplification, but both were less sensitive than ATL-preserved samples subjected to PCR amplification. There is a need for a standardization of sample collection and nucleic acid extraction methods.
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    German dairy farmers’ attitudes toward farm animal welfare and their willingness to participate in animal welfare programs: a cluster analysis 

    Heise, Heinke; Theuvsen, Ludwig
    International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 2018; 21(8) p.1121-1136
    Farm animal welfare (FAW) is at the center of a controversial public debate, and the demand for higher farm animal welfare standards is growing. Nevertheless, there are hardly any dairy products from pure animal welfare programs (AWPs) on the market. Although dairy farmers are a very important stakeholder group for the successful implementation of AWPs, very little is known about their attitudes toward the introduction of such programs. For this study, 258 conventional dairy farmers in Germany were questioned about FAW and AWPs via an online survey. We identified five clusters (farmer groups) that significantly differ with regard to their attitudes toward AWPs, FAW, and their own willingness to improve the level of animal welfare or take part in specialized AWPs. Cluster A consists of farmers who strongly oppose AWPs; farmers in this cluster will probably not take part in AWPs, especially because they do not consider it profitable to do so. Farmers in cluster B also view AWPs and the associated market effects with some skepticism; however, they are willing to improve their level of animal welfare and, therefore, may someday become willing to participate in AWPs. Cluster C farmers have diverse attitudes toward AWPs; since they are slightly willing to improve the level of animal welfare on their farms and as they are comparatively most optimistic concerning the market effects of higher animal welfare standards, these farmers could also become AWP participants in the future. Farmers in cluster D have positive attitudes toward AWPs and show the highest willingness among the five clusters to improve animal welfare on their farms. However, when it comes to the market effects of higher national animal welfare standards and the market potential for more animal-friendly products, these farmers are the most skeptical; if the economic security of AWPs were guaranteed, Cluster D farmers would probably constitute an important target group. Farmers in cluster E have positive attitudes toward AWPs, show a high willingness to improve the own FAW, and tend to be less skeptical about the market effects of higher animal welfare standards; these farmers constitute the most important potential target group for AWPs. Our results can provide a starting point for the design of tailor-made AWPs that fulfill the requirements of both dairy farmers and the broader public.
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    Amphibian and reptile communities of upland and riparian sites across Indonesian oil palm, rubber and forest 

    Paoletti, Alessio; Darras, Kevin; Jayanto, Herdhanu; Grass, Ingo; Kusrini, Mirza; Tscharntke, Teja
    Global Ecology and Conservation 2018; 16: Art. e00492
    ndonesia is the largest producer of oil palm and the second largest exporter of rubber worldwide; a significant part of the country's rainforests have been converted to agriculture. Conservation measures are needed to assess and reduce the impact of agricultural intensification on the vertebrate fauna, but limited effort has been put so far in understanding the effects of habitat conversion on reptiles and amphibians. Here we study community composition, species richness and abundance of the herpetofauna of the densely farmed Jambi province, central Sumatra (Indonesia). We compared reptile and amphibian communities of upland and riparian sites of lowland rainforest as well as upland and riparian sites of oil palm and rubber plantations through visual-aural encounter surveys and pitfall trappings. Plantations tended to have lower amphibian abundance when compared to riparian forest, but not compared to upland forest. There is a trend for higher amphibian numbers and species in riparian sites of all habitat types. Rare amphibians were much more abundant in riparian forest and common amphibians were more prevalent in plantations, especially oil palm. Surprisingly, reptile richness and abundance was higher in oil palm plantations than all other habitats. Plantations comprise mostly common reptile and amphibian species of low conservation interest, and communities were markedly different between plantations and forests. Several species were recorded for the first time in the sampled region. We conclude that in our region, riparian sites appear to be important for maintaining amphibian populations, but forest is doubtlessly irreplaceable to conserve rare amphibians. Nevertheless, in our study oil palm monocultures harbored a relatively high reptile density and richness.
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    Measuring Structural Heterogeneities in Metallic Glasses Using Transmission Electron Microscopy 

    Tian, Lin; Volkert, Cynthia A.
    Metals 2018; 8(12): Art. 1085
    Local heterogeneities in the structure and properties of metallic glasses have recently been predicted by computer simulations and also observed in experiments. These heterogeneities are important in understanding the stability and performance of metallic glasses. Progress has been made in measuring heterogeneities in elastic properties and local density down to length scales of less than 10 nm. In this review, we focus on studies of structural and mechanical heterogeneities with emphasis on those achieved by transmission electron microscopy which has an excellent spatial resolution, multifunctional detection modes, as well as in-situ testing capabilities. We argue that the next important step in understanding the behavior of metallic glasses lies in understanding the spatial and temporal correlations between the various structural and mechanical heterogeneities
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    Increased Forest Soil CO2 and N2O Emissions During Insect Infestation 

    Grüning, Maren; Germeshausen, Franziska; Thies, Carsten; l.-M.-Arnold, Anne
    Forests 2018; 9(10)
    Forest soils are major sinks of terrestrial carbon, but this function may be threatened by mass outbreak events of forest pests. Here, we measured soil CO2-C and N2O-N fluxes from a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest that was heavily infested by the nun moth (Lymantria monacha L.) and an adjacent noninfested (control) forest site during one year. In the infested forest, net emissions of CO2-C were higher during main defoliation, summer and autumn, while indications of increased N2O-N emissions were found at one sampling date. On basis of this, a microcosm incubation experiment with different organic matter treatments was conducted. Soil treatments with needle litter, insect feces plus needle litter, and insect feces showed 3.7-, 10.6-, and 13.5-fold higher CO2-C emissions while N2O-N of the insect feces plus needle litter, and insect feces treatment was 8.9-, and 10.4-fold higher compared with soil treatments without added organic matter (control). Hence, the defoliation in combination with high inputs of organic matter during insect outbreaks distinctly accelerate decomposition processes in pine forest soils, which in turn alters forests nutrient cycling and the functioning of forests as carbon sinks.
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    Consumer Preferences for Superfood Ingredients—the Case of Bread in Germany 

    Meyerding, Stephan; Kürzdörfer, Annemone; Gassler, Birgit
    Sustainability 2018; 10(12)
    Although there is no legal definition of the word ‘superfood’, in recent years exotic foods and ingredients have become popular in German food retailers. The aim of the study was to determine consumer preferences for superfood ingredients in different types of bread; to accomplish this, a choice experiment was set up with a representative sample of 503 German consumers. Respondents had to choose between products with varying attributes such as type of bread, superfood ingredient, nutritional information, production method, durability, and price. The results indicate that consumers value bread that serves a functional purpose through superfood ingredients such as linseed or chia. Using latent class segmentation, the respondents were divided into four segments, of which three groups valued bread with superfood ingredients. All in all, the type of bread is the most important factor when choosing a bread. Further market research could take into account different types of superfoods (processed/unprocessed), as well as regional deviations in Germany and the EU member states to analyze differences regarding the market potential of staple foods such as bread that serve a functional purpose through superfood ingredients.
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    Defeating Fluorosis in the East African Rift Valley: Transforming the Kilimanjaro into a Rainwater Harvesting Park 

    Marwa, Janeth; Lufingo, Mesia; Noubactep, Chicgoua; Machunda, Revocatus
    Sustainability 2018; 10(11): Art. 4194
    The high availability of fluoride in surface and groundwater in the East African Rift Valley was documented during the colonial period. Since the early 1960s, many studies have been conducted to solve the fluorosis crisis in this region. At present, no cost-effective solution to mitigate fluoride contamination is available for the large majority of the population. This situation prompted a process analysis of commonly used technologies. Results revealed that the geochemistry of fluoride is the main problem. Fluoride is very difficult to remove from the aqueous phase. Thus, eliminating the need for technical water defluoridation is an excellent way out of the fluorosis crisis. This goal can be achieved by harvesting fluoride-free rainwater. Harvested rainwater can be mixed with naturally polluted waters in calculated proportions to obtain safe drinking water (blending). This paper presents a concept to transform the Kilimanjaro Mountains into a huge rainwater harvesting park for drinking water supply for the whole East African Rift Valley. However, blended water may contain other pollutants including pathogens that are easy to treat using low-cost methods such as metallic iron based-filters (Fe0 filters). The proposed concept is transferable to other parts of the world still enduring fluoride pollution.
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    Fe0/H2O Systems for Environmental Remediation: The Scientific History and Future Research Directions 

    Hu, Rui; Cui, Xuesong; Gwenzi, Willis; Wu, Shuanghong; Noubactep, Chicgoua
    Water 2018; 10(12): Art. 1739
    Elemental iron (Fe0) has been widely used in groundwater/soil remediation, safe drinking water provision, and wastewater treatment. It is still mostly reported that a surface-mediated reductive transformation (direct reduction) is a dominant decontamination mechanism. Thus, the expressions “contaminant removal” and “contaminant reduction” are interchangeably used in the literature for reducible species (contaminants). This contribution reviews the scientific literature leading to the advent of the Fe0 technology and shows clearly that reductive transformations in Fe0/H2O systems are mostly driven by secondary (FeII, H/H2) and tertiary/quaternary (e.g., Fe3O4, green rust) reducing agents. The incidence of this original mistake on the Fe0 technology and some consequences for its further development are discussed. It is shown, in particular, that characterizing the intrinsic reactivity of Fe0 materials should be the main focus of future research.
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    Early Detection and Identification of the Main Fungal Pathogens for Resistance Evaluation of New Genotypes of Forest Trees 

    Shestibratov, Konstantin; Baranov, Oleg; Subbotina, Natalya; Lebedev, Vadim; Panteleev, Stanislav; Krutovsky, Konstantin; Padutov, Vladimir
    Forests 2018; 9(12)
    he growing importance of forest plantations increases the demand for phytopathogen resistant forest trees. This study describes an effective method for early detection and identification of the main fungal phytopathogens in planting material of silver birch (Betula pendula) and downy birch (B. pubescens), based on the estimation of the size of the internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) in the 18S-5.8S-28S rDNA gene cluster, which are species-specific for most micromycetes. The electrophoretic assay of the ITS1 and ITS2 loci has allowed us to identify predominant phytopathogenic fungal species in downy and silver birch in planta. This new molecular genetic method can be used to screen birch and other forest trees for different fungal pathogens to evaluate disease resistance. This information can be useful in breeding new genotypes of forest trees, including transgenic clones with modified wood composition.
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    The Plasma Membrane: A Platform for Intra- and Intercellular Redox Signaling. 

    Nordzieke, Daniela E.; Medraño-Fernandez, Iria
    Antioxidants 2018; 7(11)
    Membranes are of outmost importance to allow for specific signal transduction due to their ability to localize, amplify, and direct signals. However, due to the double-edged nature of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-toxic at high concentrations but essential signal molecules-subcellular localization of ROS-producing systems to the plasma membrane has been traditionally regarded as a protective strategy to defend cells from unwanted side-effects. Nevertheless, specialized regions, such as lipid rafts and caveolae, house and regulate the activated/inhibited states of important ROS-producing systems and concentrate redox targets, demonstrating that plasma membrane functions may go beyond acting as a securing lipid barrier. This is nicely evinced by nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-oxidases (NOX), enzymes whose primary function is to generate ROS and which have been shown to reside in specific lipid compartments. In addition, membrane-inserted bidirectional H₂O₂-transporters modulate their conductance precisely during the passage of the molecules through the lipid bilayer, ensuring time-scaled delivery of the signal. This review aims to summarize current evidence supporting the role of the plasma membrane as an organizing center that serves as a platform for redox signal transmission, particularly NOX-driven, providing specificity at the same time that limits undesirable oxidative damage in case of malfunction. As an example of malfunction, we explore several pathological situations in which an inflammatory component is present, such as inflammatory bowel disease and neurodegenerative disorders, to illustrate how dysregulation of plasma-membrane-localized redox signaling impacts normal cell physiology.
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    Genomic Analysis of the Recent Viral Isolate vB_BthP-Goe4 Reveals Increased Diversity of φ29-Like Phages. 

    Schilling, Tobias; Hoppert, Michael; Hertel, Robert
    Viruses 2018; 10(11): Art. 624
    We present the recently isolated virus vB_BthP-Goe4 infecting Bacillus thuringiensis HD1. Morphological investigation via transmission electron microscopy revealed key characteristics of the genus Phi29virus, but with an elongated head resulting in larger virion particles of approximately 50 nm width and 120 nm height. Genome sequencing and analysis resulted in a linear phage chromosome of approximately 26 kb, harbouring 40 protein-encoding genes and a packaging RNA. Sequence comparison confirmed the relation to the Phi29virus genus and genomes of other related strains. A global average nucleotide identity analysis of all identified φ29-like viruses revealed the formation of several new groups previously not observed. The largest group includes Goe4 and may significantly expand the genus Phi29virus (Salasvirus) or the Picovirinae subfamily.
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