SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

26

Radioactive iodine (RAI) is administered postoperatively to the majority of thyroid cancer patients. No available study has demonstrated any benefit in low-risk patients.

Concepts: Oncology, Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear medicine, Isotopes of iodine, Radiation therapy, Thyroid, Iodine, Employee benefit

26

Coriandrum sativum L. (coriander), an everyday spice in the Indian kitchen is known to add flavor to the cuisine. It is an annual herb belonging to the Apiaceae (Umbellifera) family. The hydro-alcohol extract of Coriandrum sativum L. at the dose of 1 mg/ml was subjected to a series of in vitro assays viz. 2, 2'- diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl, lipid peroxidation by thiobarbituric acid, reducing power and nitric oxide (NO) radical scavenging in order to study its antioxidant efficacy in detail. The amount of flavonoids in 70% ethanol extract was found to be 44.5 μg and that of the total phenols was 133.74 μg gallic acid equivalents per mg extract. The extracts of the leaves showed metal chelating power, with IC50 values, 368.12 μg/ml where as that of standard EDTA was 26.7 μg/ml. The IC50 values for 2, 2'-azino-bis (3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid radical scavenging was 222 μg/ml where as that of standard ascorbic acid was 22.6 μg/ml. The NO scavenging activity of the extract of the leaves showed IC50 value of 815.6 μg/ml; at the same time the standard BHA had 49.1 μg/ml. All the plant extracts provided DNA damage protection; however, the protection provided at the dose of 8 μg/ml was comparable to that of standard gallic acid. The Coriandrum sativum leaf extract was able to prevent in vitro lipid peroxidation with IC50 values; 589.6 μg/ml where as that of standard BHA was 16.3 μg/ml. Our results also showed significant ferric reducing power indicating the hydrogen donating ability of the extract. This study indicated the potential of the leaf extract as a source of natural antioxidants or nutraceuticals that could be of use in food industry with potential application to reduce oxidative stress in living system.

Concepts: Antioxidant, Oxidative stress, Reactive oxygen species, Radical, Vitamin C, Nitric oxide, Gallic acid, Coriander

17

Illegal wildlife trade has reached alarming levels globally, extirpating populations of commercially valuable species. As a driver of biodiversity loss, quantifying illegal harvest is essential for conservation and sociopolitical affairs but notoriously difficult. Here we combine field-based carcass monitoring with fine-scale demographic data from an intensively studied wild African elephant population in Samburu, Kenya, to partition mortality into natural and illegal causes. We then expand our analytical framework to model illegal killing rates and population trends of elephants at regional and continental scales using carcass data collected by a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species program. At the intensively monitored site, illegal killing increased markedly after 2008 and was correlated strongly with the local black market ivory price and increased seizures of ivory destined for China. More broadly, results from application to continental data indicated illegal killing levels were unsustainable for the species between 2010 and 2012, peaking to ∼8% in 2011 which extrapolates to ∼40,000 elephants illegally killed and a probable species reduction of ∼3% that year. Preliminary data from 2013 indicate overharvesting continued. In contrast to the rest of Africa, our analysis corroborates that Central African forest elephants experienced decline throughout the last decade. These results provide the most comprehensive assessment of illegal ivory harvest to date and confirm that current ivory consumption is not sustainable. Further, our approach provides a powerful basis to determine cryptic mortality and gain understanding of the demography of at-risk species.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Demography, Endangered species, Elephant, Asian Elephant, Elephants, Ivory, African Bush Elephant

10

The Palaeozoic form-taxon Lobopodia encompasses a diverse range of soft-bodied ‘legged worms’ known from exceptional fossil deposits. Although lobopodians occupy a deep phylogenetic position within Panarthropoda, a shortage of derived characters obscures their evolutionary relationships with extant phyla (Onychophora, Tardigrada and Euarthropoda). Here we describe a complex feature in the terminal claws of the mid-Cambrian lobopodian Hallucigenia sparsa-their construction from a stack of constituent elements-and demonstrate that equivalent elements make up the jaws and claws of extant Onychophora. A cladistic analysis, informed by developmental data on panarthropod head segmentation, indicates that the stacked sclerite components in these two taxa are homologous-resolving hallucigeniid lobopodians as stem-group onychophorans. The results indicate a sister-group relationship between Tardigrada and Euarthropoda, adding palaeontological support to the neurological and musculoskeletal evidence uniting these disparate clades. These findings elucidate the evolutionary transformations that gave rise to the panarthropod phyla, and expound the lobopodian-like morphology of the ancestral panarthropod.

Concepts: Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Cladistics, Clade, Phylum, Taxon, Ecdysozoa, Onychophora

10

The brain remains one of the most important but least understood tissues in our body, in part because of its complexity as well as the limitations associated with in vivo studies. Although simpler tissues have yielded to the emerging tools for in vitro 3D tissue cultures, functional brain-like tissues have not. We report the construction of complex functional 3D brain-like cortical tissue, maintained for months in vitro, formed from primary cortical neurons in modular 3D compartmentalized architectures with electrophysiological function. We show that, on injury, this brain-like tissue responds in vitro with biochemical and electrophysiological outcomes that mimic observations in vivo. This modular 3D brain-like tissue is capable of real-time nondestructive assessments, offering previously unidentified directions for studies of brain homeostasis and injury.

Concepts: Neuron, Brain, In vivo, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Complexity, Systems theory, In vitro

9

While assisted suicide (AS) is strictly restricted in many countries, it is not clearly regulated by law in Switzerland. This imbalance leads to an influx of people-‘suicide tourists’-coming to Switzerland, mainly to the Canton of Zurich, for the sole purpose of committing suicide. Political debate regarding ‘suicide tourism’ is taking place in many countries. Swiss medicolegal experts are confronted with these cases almost daily, which prompted our scientific investigation of the phenomenon. The present study has three aims: (1) to determine selected details about AS in the study group (age, gender and country of residence of the suicide tourists, the organisation involved, the ingested substance leading to death and any diseases that were the main reason for AS); (2) to find out the countries from which suicide tourists come and to review existing laws in the top three in order to test the hypothesis that suicide tourism leads to the amendment of existing regulations in foreign countries; and (3) to compare our results with those of earlier studies in Zurich. We did a retrospective data analysis of the Zurich Institute of Legal Medicine database on AS of non-Swiss residents in the last 5 years (2008-2012), and internet research for current legislation and political debate in the three foreign countries most concerned. We analysed 611 cases from 31 countries all over the world. Non-terminal conditions such as neurological and rheumatic diseases are increasing among suicide tourists. The unique phenomenon of suicide tourism in Switzerland may indeed result in the amendment or supplementary guidelines to existing regulations in foreign countries.

Concepts: Law, Switzerland, Suicide, Tourism, Suicide methods, Cantons of Switzerland, Zürich, Canton of Zürich

8

Liquid water has been known to occur beneath the Antarctic ice sheet for more than 40 years, but only recently have these subglacial aqueous environments been recognized as microbial ecosystems that may influence biogeochemical transformations on a global scale. Here we present the first geomicrobiological description of water and surficial sediments obtained from direct sampling of a subglacial Antarctic lake. Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW) lies beneath approximately 800 m of ice on the lower portion of the Whillans Ice Stream (WIS) in West Antarctica and is part of an extensive and evolving subglacial drainage network. The water column of SLW contained metabolically active microorganisms and was derived primarily from glacial ice melt with solute sources from lithogenic weathering and a minor seawater component. Heterotrophic and autotrophic production data together with small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequencing and biogeochemical data indicate that SLW is a chemosynthetically driven ecosystem inhabited by a diverse assemblage of bacteria and archaea. Our results confirm that aquatic environments beneath the Antarctic ice sheet support viable microbial ecosystems, corroborating previous reports suggesting that they contain globally relevant pools of carbon and microbes that can mobilize elements from the lithosphere and influence Southern Ocean geochemical and biological systems.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Organism, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Water, Microorganism, Antarctica

8

Urbanisation modifies landscapes at multiple scales, impacting the local climate and changing the extent and quality of natural habitats. These habitat modifications significantly alter species distributions and can result in increased abundance of select species which are able to exploit novel ecosystems. We examined the effect of urbanisation at local and landscape scales on the body size, lipid reserves and ovary weight of Nephila plumipes, an orb weaving spider commonly found in both urban and natural landscapes. Habitat variables at landscape, local and microhabitat scales were integrated to create a series of indexes that quantified the degree of urbanisation at each site. Spider size was negatively associated with vegetation cover at a landscape scale, and positively associated with hard surfaces and anthropogenic disturbance on a local and microhabitat scale. Ovary weight increased in higher socioeconomic areas and was positively associated with hard surfaces and leaf litter at a local scale. The larger size and increased reproductive capacity of N.plumipes in urban areas show that some species benefit from the habitat changes associated with urbanisation. Our results also highlight the importance of incorporating environmental variables from multiple scales when quantifying species responses to landscape modification.

Concepts: Habitat, Urban area, Habitats, Vegetation, Landscape ecology, Natural landscape, Orb-weaver spider, Habitat fragmentation

8

Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and other cephalopods exhibit exceptional capabilities for visually adapting to or differentiating from the coloration and texture of their surroundings, for the purpose of concealment, communication, predation, and reproduction. Long-standing interest in and emerging understanding of the underlying ultrastructure, physiological control, and photonic interactions has recently led to efforts in the construction of artificial systems that have key attributes found in the skins of these organisms. Despite several promising options in active materials for mimicking biological color tuning, existing routes to integrated systems do not include critical capabilities in distributed sensing and actuation. Research described here represents progress in this direction, demonstrated through the construction, experimental study, and computational modeling of materials, device elements, and integration schemes for cephalopod-inspired flexible sheets that can autonomously sense and adapt to the coloration of their surroundings. These systems combine high-performance, multiplexed arrays of actuators and photodetectors in laminated, multilayer configurations on flexible substrates, with overlaid arrangements of pixelated, color-changing elements. The concepts provide realistic routes to thin sheets that can be conformally wrapped onto solid objects to modulate their visual appearance, with potential relevance to consumer, industrial, and military applications.

Concepts: Biology, Organism, Mollusca, Cuttlefish, Chromatophore, Cephalopod, Octopus

7

The timing of Neanderthal disappearance and the extent to which they overlapped with the earliest incoming anatomically modern humans (AMHs) in Eurasia are key questions in palaeoanthropology. Determining the spatiotemporal relationship between the two populations is crucial if we are to understand the processes, timing and reasons leading to the disappearance of Neanderthals and the likelihood of cultural and genetic exchange. Serious technical challenges, however, have hindered reliable dating of the period, as the radiocarbon method reaches its limit at ∼50,000 years ago. Here we apply improved accelerator mass spectrometry (14)C techniques to construct robust chronologies from 40 key Mousterian and Neanderthal archaeological sites, ranging from Russia to Spain. Bayesian age modelling was used to generate probability distribution functions to determine the latest appearance date. We show that the Mousterian ended by 41,030-39,260 calibrated years bp (at 95.4% probability) across Europe. We also demonstrate that succeeding ‘transitional’ archaeological industries, one of which has been linked with Neanderthals (Châtelperronian), end at a similar time. Our data indicate that the disappearance of Neanderthals occurred at different times in different regions. Comparing the data with results obtained from the earliest dated AMH sites in Europe, associated with the Uluzzian technocomplex, allows us to quantify the temporal overlap between the two human groups. The results reveal a significant overlap of 2,600-5,400 years (at 95.4% probability). This has important implications for models seeking to explain the cultural, technological and biological elements involved in the replacement of Neanderthals by AMHs. A mosaic of populations in Europe during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition suggests that there was ample time for the transmission of cultural and symbolic behaviours, as well as possible genetic exchanges, between the two groups.

Concepts: Human, Mass spectrometry, Neanderthal, Human evolution, Pleistocene, Upper Paleolithic, Mousterian, Middle Paleolithic